Funding Opportunities
Funding Opportunities

Since 1981, AFAR has provided more than $178 million to more than 4,100 talented investigators and students. To learn more about each grant, click below or contact the AFAR grant program staff at

Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Award

(Formerly called the Glenn/AFAR Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Awards.)

The 2019 awards are closed and Letters of Intent are no longer being accepted. Please check back in fall 2019 for updated materials.


The connection between aging research and disease or disability prevention has become increasingly important as the global population ages.  Substantial progress has been made in defining conserved biological pathways underlying aging processes. Early discoveries are now showing potential for prevention of diseases and disorders of aging.

Future progress depends on gaining a deeper understanding of how aging processes affect health span and how we can translate that knowledge as quickly as possible to benefit human health and promote the overall well-being of our aging population.


The Program

Sponsored by the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, in collaboration with the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), the "Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG)" initiative provides timely support to a small number of research projects that are relatively high risk but which offer significant promise of yielding transforming discoveries in the fundamental biology of aging. Projects which build on early discoveries that show translational potential for clinically-relevant strategies, treatments and therapeutics, addressing human aging and health span are also considered.

Projects that focus on specific diseases or on assessment of health care strategies will receive lower priority, unless the research plan makes clear and direct connections to fundamental issues in the biology of aging and/or on the translational aspects of basic discovery to human aging and healthspan.

Two three-year awards will be made in 2019, at the level of $300,000 total ($100,000 per year), of which a maximum of 8% may be used for indirect expenses or institutional overhead. The amount and the duration of the award may be modified if during the review process or at the funding stage it is evident that such modifications would better serve the objectives of the program.

Recipients of this award are expected to attend the AFAR Grantee Conference. The purpose of the meeting is to promote scientific and personal exchanges among recent AFAR grantees and experts in aging research.


To be eligible, applicants must at the time they submit their proposal be full-time faculty members at the rank of Assistant Professor or higher. To be competitive at the Assistant Professor level, a candidate would be expected to have established R01 or equivalent funding. The BIG award is not intended to substitute for the R01 funding mechanism, but rather to provide support for novel “breakthrough” research projects in established laboratories. A strong record of independent publication beyond the postdoctoral level is a requirement. Individuals who are employees in the NIH Intramural program are not eligible.

The proposed research must be conducted at qualified not-for-profit setting in the United States. Former AFAR Research Grant for Junior Faculty awardees may apply. If you are applying for a 2019 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grant for Junior Faculty, you may not also apply for the 2019 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research BIG Award. Principal Investigators supported through the Paul F. Glenn Centers for Biology of Aging Research are not eligible to apply.

Questions about eligibility and suitability of research project can be addressed to

Applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Qualifications and research record of the applicant
  • Quality, creativity, promise and feasibility of the proposed research that will lead to improved understanding of basic aging processes and/or translational potential and relevance to human aging and health span.
  • Excellence of the research environment

Application Procedures

The deadline of receipt of the Letters of Intent (LOI) is December 17, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Please refer to the BIG LOI for instructions. Incomplete or improperly completed LOIs cannot be considered.  All LOIs should be submitted as PDFs to the email The Letters of Intent will be reviewed by a committee. Applicants will be notified by late-February, and a subset of applicants will be invited to submit a full application. The deadline for receipt of full applications will be in April 2019.

All LOI candidates who are invited to submit applications must have it endorsed by their institution. Final awards are announced by early June. The award start date is July 1, 2019. AFAR will not provide reviewer critiques to any applicants at any review level.

If you are using animals in your research, please review Principles of Animal Use for Gerontological Research.

Click here for our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Reporting Requirements

Investigators will be required to submit a brief narrative report annually on the progress of their research. Final narrative and financial reports are required within three months following the end date of the award.

The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research

Founded by Paul F. Glenn in 1965, the mission of the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research is to extend the healthy years of life through research on mechanisms of biology that govern normal human aging and its related physiological decline, with the objective of translating research into interventions that will extend healthspan with lifespan.