Carnegie Mellon University
BrainHub Seed Grants

ProSEED/BrainHub Seed Grants

BrainHub seed grants are funded through generous gifts from Henry L. Hillman and Kris Gopalakrishnan. 

Note: The details below refer to the most recent round of funding and are for reference only.  Criteria and details may be changed in future funding cycles.  This site will be updated as the next funding cycle opens.  Details on the next projected funding cycle are maintained on the ProSEED homepage.

A community wide announcement will be made in 2019 detailing changes to the current ProSEED BrainHub program. 

Read full details on program and review criteria below.

Objective and Overview

The goal of the ProSEED/BrainHub seed grant program is to initiate or develop new projects that promote the application of novel approaches to the study of brain and behavior or the connection between these two. Proposed projects should have strong prospects for federal or foundation funding via mechanisms such as the federal BRAIN initiative programs that have been announced by NIH, NSF and DARPA. Projects that develop new links or collaborations across CMU’s colleges and/or between CMU faculty and faculty at international BrainHub partner institutions will be given special consideration.  

The following types of ProSEED/BrainHub proposals will be considered:

  • New Collaborative research proposals: typically for $50k-100k for 1 year aimed at a new collaborative research projects, with special consideration for collaborations with BrainHub partner institutions and new cross-college collaborations (2-5 research grants are expected to be awarded). 
    • Note: Proposals involving collaborations with other institutions are expected to pursue matching funding from the collaborative institution. Matching funds should be commensurate with the funding requested from ProSEED/BrainHub. Potential sources of matching funds should be identified at the time of submission (see further details below).
  • Continuation Proposals: up to $50k for 1 year as a continuation of a previously awarded ProSEED/BrainHub seed grant project (no more than 2 continuation awards are expected).
  • Workshop or symposium organization proposals: up to $10k of support towards the organization and execution of a workshop or symposium intended to foster new collaborations and/or strengthen CMU’s leadership and reputation in a significant area of brain, computation and behavior research (1 workshop proposal will be awarded this funding cycle).

Additional details are below.


Full time faculty at any of the CMU Global campuses are eligible to apply.  Post-docs may act as co-PI's but may not be the lead invistigator on a proposal.


New Collaborative Research Proposals:

Proposed projects will be evaluated based on:

  • Scientific Merit: Would the proposed work represent important initial steps towards achieving a significant advance in the study of brain, behavior or the connection between these two? What specific plans are in place for seeking larger scale support if this project achieves its goals? The proposal should list specific mechanisms and application deadlines for seeking other funding.
  • Collaborative Character: Does the work involve a NEW collaboration between multiple faculty, especially faculty from different departments, fields or institutions (particularly BrainHub partner institutions)? How will this work serve to link the collaborating groups?  Preference will be given to proposals that do one or more of the following:
    • Establish new links across CMU colleges;
    • Establish new links between CMU and BrainHub partner institutions;
    • Connect brain and cognitive science with learning sciences

Proposals should discuss opportunities for obtaining additional sources of support and likelihood of the project being sustained beyond seed funding.  Applicants are encouraged to identify specific sources and application deadlines for other funding mechanisms.

Continuation Proposals:

Proposals for continuation funds for previously awarded projects will be evaluated using the same criteria of merit & collaborative character as described above.  Applicants are expected to clearly describe the progress that has been made with the initial ProSEED/BrainHub grant and how supplemental funds will enable the project to have significant impact and further improve the likelihood of additional outside funding. 

Workshop or Symposium Proposals:

Proposals for support for workshops or symposiums will be evaluated based on their likelihood to lead to the development of new collaborations and proposals OR their ability to highlight CMU’s expertise and leadership in areas of particular emphasis for funding agencies.  More details on the expectations for workshop/symposium proposals are described in the proposal content outlined below.

Funding Details and Budget Guidelines

New Collaborative Research Proposals AND Continuation Proposals

  1. Proposals for new collaborative research projects are expected to be $25,000-100,000/year to cover CMU-related personnel and expenses.  Proposals for more than $100k (but no more than $150k) may also be considered. 
  2. Continuation proposals may request up to $50,000 for one year of support.
  3. Matching funds from external collaborators:  Proposals involving outside institutions are expected pursue supplemental or matching funds from the other institution commensurate with the funding requested from BrainHub.  Collaborators should inquire about matching funds from their institution.  The status of this inquiry should be indicated at the time of submitting your ProSEED/BrainHub proposal.
  4. It is expected that most proposals will be for one year.  Requests for funding extensions beyond the first year will be subject to the approval of the ProSEED reviewing committee  at the end of the first year.
  5. Proposals in which the majority of funds are budgeted for student and post-doc support, and equipment are most likely to be successful.  Request for summer salary or course buyout is discouraged.  If requested, such expenses must be sufficiently justified.
  6. Any personnel-related expenses must be limited to CMU personnel only.
  7. Depending on funding availability and the budget justification provided, the review committee may award partial funding to any proposal received.
  8. It is expected that 2-5 grants for new projects and no more than 2 continuation grants will be awarded.

Workshop/Symposium Proposals

  1. Workshop/symposium proposals may be for up to $10k in support for a workshop or symposium that will occur within the next 18 months.
  2. Other funding sources for the workshop/symposium should also be identified.
  3. It is expected that funding will be used primarily to cover travel, space reservation and catering expenses.  Small honorariums for invited speakers/instructors are also welcome.
  4. It is expected that one workshop/symposium grant will be awarded.

Application Process

Proposal Formatting

New Collaborative Research Proposals AND Continuation Proposals

Research proposals should be prepared as a single PDF with the following components:

  • Cover Page (1 page) with the following information:
    • Principal (or Co-Principal) Investigators' names, affiliations, and contact information
    • Type of proposal (indicate one of the following):
      • “New Collaborative Research Proposal”
      • “Continuation Proposal”
    • Title of the project – Note: If you are submitting a continuation proposal, please use the same title as your previous award.
    • Abstract (up to 200 words)
  • Project Narrative (2 pages maximum): Summarize the proposed activities, including the motivation for the project and any relevant prior work, who will be involved in the work and the projected timeline. (Note: Figures DO count toward the page limit but references do NOT.)
  • Project Budget (1 page maximum):
    • Identify specific budget items and amounts requested, with brief justifications as needed.  Please group budgeted items into relevant categories (ex: “Salaries”, “Tuition”, “Travel”, “Equipment” etc.).
    • If the project involves an external collaborator, indicate how matching funds are being pursued (see above section on “Funding details” for additional info.)
    • See the above section on “Funding details” for restrictions/guidelines on how funds should be used.
    • Overhead will not be charged. However, fringe benefits do need to be accounted for if using funds to pay for salary.

Note: It is the responsibility of the PI of funded proposals to ensure that all appropriate and IRB approvals are in place prior to the initiation of the project.

Workshop and Symposium Proposals

Workshop proposals should be prepared as a single PDF with the following components:

  • Cover Page (1 page) with the following information:
    • Principal (or Co-Principal) Investigators' names, affiliations, and contact information
    • Title of the project
    • Type of proposal: “Workshop/Symposium Proposal”
    • Abstract (up to 200 words
  • Project Narrative (2 pages maximum): Summarize the proposed activities for the workshop or meeting. Be specific about the following:
    • How will this workshop foster new research collaborations and/or increase the likelihood of success for future or existing funding opportunities?
    • How is this workshop/meeting distinct from existing or previous workshops?
    • When will the meeting/workshop occur?
    • Who do you envision participating in the workshop? – List participants at CMU and outside of CMU – Note: special consideration will be given to workshops that engage BrainHub partner institutions
    • What disciplines/research areas will be the focus of the workshop?
    • What faculty members or staff will be leading the workshop?
    • What administrative support will you utilize to plan and execute the workshop? (Note: Neither BrainHub nor ProSEED have administrative resources available for planning workshops.)
    • What other sources of support will you pursue for the workshop/symposium?
  • Project Budget (1 page maximum):
    • Outline the budget for the entire workshop and indicate the other sources of funding that will be used or pursued for the workshop.
    • Provide a brief text justification for budgeted items.

Proposal Submission

All proposals should be submitted using the online form.

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel, who will make recommendations for funding.  Final funding decisions will be made by the Vice Provost for Research and the Provost in consultation with the Deans of respective academic units. 

Dates and Deadlines

Next Call for Proposals: Fall 2019