Nicholas Hobbs COVID-19 Research Grants

2020 Request for Proposals Closed


For the past twenty-two years, Nicholas Hobbs Discovery Grant Awards have been an internal grant mechanism available to Vanderbilt University faculty who are Investigators or Members of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. The traditional purpose of this grant mechanism, which is made possible by the generous gifts of donors, is to encourage Kennedy Center researchers to conduct multidisciplinary, innovative pre-clinical or clinical pilot studies in preparation for submitting competitive grant applications to federal agencies or substantial applications to private foundations.

While the overarching purpose of the Nicholas Hobbs Discovery Grant Awards program has not changed, in response to the COVID-19 crisis and the needs of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center members and investigators, the focus and timeline of the 2020-21 competition has been modified.

Period and Amount of Awards

The timeline for the 2020-21 awards has shifted and will run from November 1, 2020-June 30, 2021. Awards are non‐renewable and cost carry‐over is not possible. Budgets allow up to a maximum of $10,000 in direct costs. Please note that the program is not meant to serve as bridge funding or extensions of previous Hobbs awards.

Research Objectives and Eligibility

This competition is open to VKC faculty Investigators or Members to facilitate continued research activity that may be more challenging during COVID-19 restrictions or for existing research that addresses other COVID-19 related issues. All proposed research should be consistent with the overall mission of the VKC to facilitate discoveries and best practices that make positive differences in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

The primary goal is to provide additional funding that allows for adaptations of current research to enable success during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Application Procedure

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, October 16, 2020. Applications submitted beyond that date will not be considered. Applicants should email a pdf file to Julia Harrison. A return confirmation will be sent to you electronically. Award decisions will be made in November 2020.

Slightly modified PHS 398 templates (Word format) are available for download here, or by using the button to the left. Applications should outline the background/significance, impact, and innovation of the ongoing research project; the challenges completing the research during COVID-19 pandemic; and the adaptations necessary for successful continuation of the research project. All should be written at a general level in order to give reviewers an understanding of the feasibility and scope of the work. Arial 11 pt. font should be used. The only required signature on the Face Page is from the PI.

IRB and IACUC Approvals

It is not necessary for your project to be approved by the IRB and/or Animal Care Committees at the time you submit your proposal; however, if your proposal is awarded, funds will not be made available until you have submitted your approval notification to Julia Harrison. (Your IRB or IACUC approval notification should include the title of your Hobbs COVID-19 Discovery proposal, and the funding source should state Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Hobbs COVID-19 Discovery Award.)

Application Contents

The following items should be completed using the modified application forms:

  • Cover/ Face Page (Note. PI is the only required signature)
  • Page 2: Abstract, not to exceed the space provided
  • Page 3: Table of Contents
  • Page 4: Budget (Detailed Budget for Initial Period only)
  • Page 5: Budget Justification (provide brief summary)
  • Page 6: Biographical Sketch for each Key Personnel
  • Page 7-8: Research Plan (See below for requirements)

Research Plan (2-page limit for sections a-d)

  • (a) Introduction - Statement of Problem and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Mission Relevance
  • (b) Specific Hypotheses
  • (c) Background and Significance
  • (d) Research Design and Methods
  • (e) Human Subjects--if applicable
  • (f) Vertebrate Animal--if applicable
  • (g) Literature Cited (optional, 2-page limit)

Appendices: limited to three reprints, preprints, or other essential documentation.

Specific Instructions Regarding Budget and Allowable Costs

Applicants must provide a detailed budget and brief budget justification. Maximum is $10,000 in direct costs. Please include only direct costs on the budget form: other costs will vary depending on VU/VUMC status, and we will add that information after awarding.

Allowable expenses are salaries for part‐time research staff (or term appointments) and student assistants, small equipment, consumable laboratory supplies, travel necessary for carrying out research, participant reimbursements, research computer software and supplies, and other miscellaneous costs necessary for carrying out the proposed research. Examples of costs that are NOT allowable are investigator or co‐investigator faculty salaries (tenure or research track), travel expenses to and from conferences (including registration fees, hotels and meals), tuition, subscriptions, books, office renovation or equipment and furnishings, local meals with guests, and other non‐research costs.

Submission Procedure

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, October 16, 2020. Applications submitted beyond that date will not be considered. Applicants should email a pdf file to Julia Harrison. A return confirmation will be sent to you electronically. Award decisions will be made in November 2020.

Evaluation Process

The VKC Director and Associate Director will assign two faculty reviewers (in most instances, VKC investigators/members) to review each application to assure a competent and impartial review. An NIH Peer Review Scoring system will be used in which applications will be scored on a scale of 1.0 to 9.0 (Outstanding to Disapprove). Mean scores will be rank ordered. Final decisions will be made jointly by the VKC Director and Associate Director (providing no conflict of interest).

Typically, applications will be funded in ordinal sequence of priority scores. However, other factors, such as the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the proposal, may be involved in the final funding determination. In addition, two applications on closely related topics emanating from the same laboratory or program are unlikely to be funded in the same round even if their priority scores are ranked in close proximity.

Acknowledging Hobbs Discovery Grant support

When reporting research findings from Discovery Grants, please acknowledge this support. Sample: Research reported in this publication was supported by an intramural Hobbs Discovery Grant from the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Development and Developmental Disabilities.


Inquiries are encouraged in order to clarify procedures or priorities. Questions regarding procedures should be directed to Julia Harrison or Tim Stafford. Substantive questions regarding research priorities should be referred to VKC Director Jeffrey Neul.

See Hobbs Discovery Grants by year.

For more information contact:

Julia Harrison or Tim Stafford