Funding Opportunities
Funding Opportunities

Since 1981, AFAR has provided more than $181 million to nearly 4,200 talented investigators and students. To learn more about each grant, click below or contact the AFAR grant program staff at grants@afar.org.

Things To Consider When Submitting an Application to AFAR

Please take into consideration the following suggestions when preparing your AFAR Letter of Intent or Application.

  • Read the guidelines carefully to determine whether you and/or your project meet the eligibility criteria. If you are not sure, please contact the AFAR grants department at grants@afar.org. They can answer your questions.

  • If you are eligible, please be sure to re-read the guidelines to understand the goals of the program. Also carefully read the instructions, and more importantly, follow the instructions! If your letter of intent or application does not follow the instructions (such as exceeding the page limit, using the wrong font size or smaller margins) we will administratively eliminate your application.

  • Is your proposal idea something AFAR would be interested in funding?  Again, refer to the guidelines for the grant program you are interested in. For most of our biology of aging grant programs, we look for research projects that focus on understanding the basic mechanisms of aging. Projects investigating age-related diseases may be of interest as well, as long as they are approached from the point of view of illuminating how basic aging processes are involved in disease outcomes. For example, if you have a project that focuses on cancer, and you say that this cancer mostly occurs in older adults, this is not enough to be considered for funding from AFAR. You will need to show you plan to investigate how basic aging processes play a role in the disease. Contact the AFAR grants department if you are not sure your project fits.

  • You may find it helpful to review the most recently funded projects which are available on the AFAR website, https://www.afar.org/research/grantees/ .

  • Reviewers are very busy so make sure you write your application in a way that will want them to read more. First thing reviewers go to are the abstract and the specific aims so be sure to pay careful attention to these sections. 

  • Aging studies are a bit different and you need to pay attention to using the right model for your studies, as well as the appropriate age groups if you are using animals or human subjects in your studies.  A good rule of thumb is to justify the ages of the animals you wish to use.  Are you using 2 month old mice as “young adults”?  Why should they be considered adults in your study?  Are you using 18 month old C57BL/6 mice as “old mice.”  By what criteria are you defining them as “old.”  In a well-managed aging colony, median longevity of C57BL/6 mice is around 27 months.  Eighteen months may indeed qualify as “old” in your specific study, but you need to explain why you think so. This is a very common fatal flaw in many applications we receive. We highly recommend you review this link https://www.afar.org/research/funding/animal-use/

  • If you are new to the field of aging, identify collaborators and/or mentors with expertise in aging research who can help you with your research.

  • It’s good to be ambitious but be careful not to turn your ambition into something that is infeasible, given the grant period and funds available. We see many projects fail because they are overambitious. Therefore, make sure the outcomes you want to deliver with your research fit well within the timeframe and available budget. You should address whether your proposal is part of a larger effort, but focus your aims and proposal on what you can realistically do during the grant period and the available funds.  However, it is often useful to point out how your project can be expected to lead to larger, longer-term project of interest to federal funding agencies.

  • Your application’s reviewers include not only experts in your field, but will include other aging research experts from various scientific backgrounds. This means that not all of them will easily understand the meaning of your research topic and idea. Highlighting the significance of your research in layman’s language, therefore, is very important to boost your chance of being accepted. Make sure you write in clear and concise language and avoid jargon.

  • Does your expertise match the complexity of your project? Make sure you have the research staff with relevant and appropriate expertise level for the complexity of the project.

  • A common mistake is not adequately addressing statistical power or information about your projected methods of analysis in your proposal. Underpowered studies waste your time and our money.  Do you know you have an adequate sample size? Is there someone on your team who has the necessary expertise in statistical analysis and experimental design or have you sought statistical advice before planning your experiments?

  • Pitfalls – many applicants do not adequately address potential pitfalls or limitations. Do you have a contingency plan? Reviewers want to know not only the positive side of your research idea but also its potential problems or limitations and how you plan to address them.

  • Ask a colleague to review and comment before you submit your application. Sometimes you get the best input from colleagues who are not intimately familiar with your field. They will point out places where you need clearer explanation, or need to explain specialized terminology.


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