Request for Proposals – Due June 14, 2019

Purpose and Eligibility

The Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development (VKC) announces a call for U54 Research Project Grant Proposals. The mission of the VKC is to facilitate discoveries and best practices that make positive differences in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. A centerpiece of the VKC is the longstanding Intellectual and Developmental Disorders Research Center (IDDRC), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development). The VKC IDDRC grant is up for renewal, with the anticipated due date of December 2019.

One major component of the VKC IDDRC is the requirement of a research project. The research project serves as a centerpiece signature project that represents the work of the VKC IDDRC, emphasizes the centeredness of the VKC IDDRC, and uses at least 3 of the 5 Core services of the VKC IDDRC. The purpose of this call is to open a competition for the Principal Investigator of the U54 Research Project Grant. More details regarding the scope, requirements, and key areas of scientific interest for this call are outlined below.

Scope, Requirements, and Key Areas of Scientific Interest

  1. This competition is open to all Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty who are Investigators or Members of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, or who have begun the Membership process at the time of the application submission.
  2. The project should be multidisciplinary, novel, innovative, and focused on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilties (IDDs).
  3. The project should have a scientific scope consistent with a budget not exceeding $125,000 direct costs per year, for 5 years.
  4. The project should capture one of the emphasis areas for the VKC IDDRC competitive renewal and must be original, empirical research. Broadly speaking, the theme of the VKC IDDRC renewal will be precision care and supports (PCS). The underlying rubric for PCS is based on the notion of “precision medicine,” which simply put is the right medicine for the right person at the right time. However, we recognize that an optimal approach to improving the lives of people with IDDs requires a diversity of methods. This means the project selected will not be limited to medical approaches, but may span from biomedical to behavioral to educational to community supports and ultimately to policy. Under the PCS umbrella there are several key themes of interest for the VKC IDDRC research project: (a) multi-modal interventions, including but not limited to those combining pharmaceutical agents with behavioral interventions, combining different behavioral approaches within interventions, and use of biomarkers combined with behavioral measures; (b) projects that utilize trans-species evaluations, such as linking mouse models of IDDs to human phenotypes; (c) use of big data methods; and (e) implementation science. Proposals that leverage the unique strengths of Vanderbilt such as:
  5. The VKC IDDRC Research Project is required to use at least 3 of the 5 Cores; it is anticipated that any project that addresses the requirements outlined in (4) will use at least 3 of the 5 Cores. For example, a trans-species project that involves neuroimaging of mice and humans would involve Core A (administrative services such as assistance with journal figures), Core B (to assist in behavioral assessments), Core C (to assist with neuroimaging), Core D (to assist with mouse models), and Core E (to assist with statistical analysis).

Application Procedure

Applications are due by 5 p.m. Friday, June 14, 2019. 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 in July 2019.

Application Contents:

This zip file contains templates for:
  • Cover/Face Page
  • Specific Aims page
  • Biographical Sketch for each Key Personnel – PHS 398 template

Applicants should complete the application forms and Specific Aims page as though they were applying for an R21 (extending for 5 years); however, note that only the Cover/face page, Specific Aims page, and Biosketches are required. Arial 11 pt. font should be used. The only required signature on the Face Page is from the PI.

Selection Process

The Director and Associate Director will review all submitted proposed projects in terms of overall fit for VKC IDDRC’s renewal goals, and up to three potential projects will be selected. Each of the projects that are selected will receive $10,000 to collect pilot data. This money must be spent by 10/01/2019; no carryforward of funds will be allowed. After 10/01/19, each of the three Principal Investigators will be asked to provide a brief presentation of their proposed project, including any pilot data generated over the specified time period for pilot data funds. One of the three applicants will then be selected for the VKC-IRDDC research project, at which point VKC faculty and staff will begin working with the PI to develop the budget, as well as be available to facilitate scientific aims and scope.


Inquiries are encouraged in order to clarify procedures or priorities. Questions regarding procedures should be directed to Julia Harrison in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Grants Development Office,; substantive questions regarding research priorities should be referred to the Center Director Jeffrey Neul, or Associate Director Laurie Cutting,