2023 Blue Sky RFP

Request for Blue Sky Research Proposals

To apply go to:


The McCamish Parkinson’s Disease Innovation Program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University is releasing a 2023 Request for Proposals (RFP) supported by a generous gift from the McCamish Foundation. The vision of the program is to be the technology-driven hub of far-reaching innovation for the understanding and treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other complex neurological disorders through the intersection of fundamental neuroscience, engineering, and computing. We are pleased to announce this peer-reviewed grant program to provide funding and community building for innovative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative research projects. The goals of this fund are to spark innovative research ideas, cross-pollinate faculty collaborations, and bring new Emory and Georgia Tech investigators into the Parkinson’s disease research community. See program website for previously funded projects..

McCamish Blue Sky Research Program Details

This program enables teams of engineers, scientists, and clinicians from both Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology to obtain preliminary proof-of-principle data to support new research trajectories leading to publication, translation, and subsequent funding applications and/or commercialization. The funding mechanisms are designed to facilitate these goals for projects/teams that are at various stages of research related to PD, from nascent ideas to more well-developed investigations that already have some preliminary momentum. More specifically, the Blue Sky Research Grants are larger grants intended for more well-developed projects, whereas the smaller Blue Sky Seed Grants are intended to help teams with earlier stage ideas develop enough momentum to pursue the Blue Sky Research Grants. New this year is the Blue Sky Commercialization Grant, designed to facilitate the translation of research projects to commercializable technologies.

1) Blue Sky Research Grants are designed for well-developed, collaborative projects that are ready to generate data/outcomes needed to secure federal funding or pursue commercialization. The total budget for each grant is up to $125,000 for one year, with the possibility of a second year of funding through a competitive renewal process. We anticipate funding 3–4 projects. We welcome applications from teams previously supported by the Emory Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson’s Disease Research and the APDA Center for Advanced Research. Success via this mechanism will entail the formation of new multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams; publication of data acquired using these funds; acquisition of new federal/private funding; and/or moving toward translation/commercialization.

2) Blue Sky Seed Grants are designed for new ideas that need time for development, with the goal to prepare applications for Blue Sky Research Project. We anticipate funding 2–4 projects, with each award up to $40,000 for one year (no renewal). Success via this mechanism will entail the formation of new multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams and the generation of competitive applications for Blue Sky Research Grants and/or federal/private funding.

3) Blue Sky Commercialization Grants are designed for new and existing ideas that have distinct commercialization potential. The goal of the commercialization grants is to support research projects to generate key data to advance these projects towards the marketplace and patient impact. We anticipate funding 2–3 projects, with the total budget for each project up to $30,000 for 6 months. In addition to funding, each team will receive support from the McCamish program, the BME Translational Research team, and Biolocity, with periodic meetings to guide the teams toward next phases. Success via this mechanism will entail the formation of new multi-disciplinary, collaborative teams; the generation of competitive applications for the Biolocity program, federal/private funding in support of commercialization (e.g., SBIR, STTR, GRA, etc.); and/or the formation of startups.

For all award mechanisms, successful applicants will be expected to appropriately reference receipt of award as outlined in the notice of award in all acknowledgements, as well as provide progress and final reports, and participate in program research innovation forums and annual workshops. Funded investigators are expected to participate in scientific and network activities run by the program, as well as an annual scientific meeting organized by the program, intended to share findings, promote the work of the local community, and identify new collaborative opportunities.

McCamish Blue Sky Research Program Areas of Focus

The McCamish program will support high-risk, blue-sky research that has long-term potential to impact the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of PD. Applications should address one or more of the following research areas:

  1. Integrated research in human and animal studies to uncover connections between different scales of investigation and leverage relative strengths of approaches
  2. Use of advanced data science methodologies in PD related research
  3. Linking individual-specific brain circuits function to cognitive, sensory, motor outcomes
  4. Multi-scale brain activity mapping in relationship to behavior
  5. Stimulation and/or closed-loop control strategies at the cellular/circuit or systems level
  6. Investigation of non-motor aspects related to PD and movement disorders
  7. Use or development of novel technologies for intervention in PD, across levels from genes/molecules to circuits/networks to rehabilitation

Submission Deadline: Full Proposal Deadline: 03/31/2023. The review process will be coordinated by the BME Associate Chair for Research with administrative support. Please direct all questions to Fadrika Prather (parkinsons@nullbme.gatech.edu).

Eligibility Criteria and Application Requirements:

  • Application for research support will only be accepted by teams with principal investigators who are faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology and/or Emory University. Collaborative projects between engineers/computer scientists, scientists, and/or clinicians are strongly encouraged. Preference will be given to projects that are highly reliant on the development or use of cutting-edge technology or data analytics, and that include GT/Emory Biomedical Engineering faculty.
  • An individual investigator may be a member of the key personnel on only one submitted Grant Proposal per funding cycle.
  • Funds may be used for Ph.D. student/postdoc/research staff support, animal studies, research materials and supplies, and limited travel as related to the conduct of the research. Equipment is not allowed. Salary support for the PI and other collaborating faculty is discouraged – but well justified cases for limited salary support will be considered (e.g., in case of clinical departments, in which case it may be necessary). However, the total amount of salary support for all faculty must not exceed 10% of the total budget. Note that funds utilized at Emory outside of BME will be subject to corresponding administrative fees where they apply (e.g. ESOM administrative fees of 10%). Also note that support for graduate students must include tuition remission in addition to salary. There are no indirect costs (F&A) on any expenses.
  • All proposals must contain clear timelines and deliverables, and a clear plan for subsequent extramural grant submissions or commercialization as a result of the work proposed.
  • Members receiving funding are expected to submit progress reports. Specific instructions and due dates of reports will be provided at the time of funding. Failure to submit a timely progress report will result in ineligibility for future award opportunities from this grant program.
  • Priority will be given to new projects, but we will consider proposals to continue previously funded projects.

McCamish Blue Sky Research Program Application Instructions – to apply, go to:


General Format for Full Proposal. The format for these grants is similar to that used by the NIH for standard R01 applications with the exception that there is a 4-page limit to the application (excluding cover page, abstract, budget and budget justification, abstract, references, and biosketches). The 4 pages must include 1 page of Specific Aims, and 3 pages of Research Strategy, with Significance, Innovation, and Approach (including plan for multi-investigator coordination for Blue Sky Research Grants). Applications should include the proposal, a detailed budget using NIH forms, budget justification, and NIH format 5-page biosketches for all investigators.

Detailed Formatting Instructions

Application should include:

  1. Cover page with the following information:
    • Title of Project
    • Investigator Names, Titles, Department and Institution, and Email Addresses
    • Requested Award Amount (Direct Costs)
    • Financial Manager’s Name and Email Address
  2. Application must include an abstract (<250 words) targeting lay audiences, not included in the page limit.
  3. 5-page limit NIH biosketches of all key personnel (must include eRA Commons Username).
  4. All applications must include the NIH PHS 398 Budget Form with justification, describing what portion of the funds will go to each unit when applicable. NOTE: For each institution, please submit a separate NIH PHS 398 Budget Form with justification, indicating total funds going to Emory University versus Georgia Tech. Budget should total to $125,000 max for the Blue Sky Research Grants, $40,000 max for the Blue Sky Seed Grants, and $30,000 max for the Blue Sky Commercialization Grants. See above notes regarding faculty salary support, F&A, and administrative fees.
  5. All Federal and university rules and regulations regarding the administration of grants apply to these funds. Office computers, general purpose equipment, office supplies and general research supplies, may not be charged to this award.
  6. Application must provide a statement on Human Subjects Protection, as outlined in the PHS 398 instructions (if applicable).
  7. Applicant must provide the following items before funding is released (if relevant):
    • IRB and/or IACUC approval letter
    • Approved protocol
    • Any additional relevant certifications (CITI, etc.)
  8. If Human Embryonic Stem Cells are being used, the applicant must include the registration number of the cell lines.
  9. Application must contain a Resource Sharing statement concerning the sharing of model organisms, data, and technology.

Review. Proposed projects will be evaluated and scored by experts based on the review criteria listed below, with an emphasis on innovation as well as collaborative engagement of appropriate engineering, scientific, and clinical partners. High risk projects are valued.

McCamish Blue Sky Research Program Review Criteria

Successful applications will specifically address and satisfy the following review criteria:

  • Innovation – Is the project highly innovative, investigating non-traditional aspects of PD or developing technologies or approaches that are novel in this arena?

  • Technology/Data – Does the project use or develop novel technology and data analytics to advance the research?

  • Approach – Is the proposed approach within reach for the team, well matched to the goals of the project, and logical?

  • Potential Impact – Does the project have the potential to be impactful in the understanding, treatment, or cure of PD? Will it move the needle?

  • Potential for Translation/Commercialization – Is there potential, in the short or long term, for translation and/or commercialization?

  • Plan for continued funding – Does the team present a clear plan to secure future/larger funding from federal or other private sources?

  • Cross-disciplinarity – Is the team cross-disciplinary, drawing strengths across engineering, basic neuroscience, and clinical neuroscience?

  • Investigators – Does the collaborative team consist of thought-leaders with a track record of impactful research, and is the team leadership plan clear?

  • Potential for training environment – Do the project and project team help to amplify the work through training future leaders in this area?