Pilot Research Fund Program (PFUN-HBI/Mathison)

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), in partnership with the Mathison Centre, is pleased to offer the Pilot Research Fund Program award competition 2021-2022.

Two HBI/Mathison PFUN awards are available in this current competition.

Award selection: Investigators may not hold more than one HBI Pilot Research Fund (PFUN) grant at any one time. 

Objective: To fund early-phase studies in promising new directions of mental health research, with the potential to develop into a new area of investigation with sustainable funding from other sources.

Terms and value of award:

  • Value of award: up-to-maximum of $20,000
  • Term of award: two years
  • Extensions will not be granted.  Unspent funds are to be returned to the HBI.

Eligibility criteria: 

To be eligible for HBI/Mathison PFUN, the principle investigator must be a member of the Mathison Centre.

Preference will be given to more junior investigators.  Applications that include significant involvement of a clinical fellow or a resident are strongly encouraged.  The proposed research must have a clear translational or clinical component, with defined benefit to a Mental Health (BMH) Team or the Mathison Centre.  Preliminary data are not necessary.

Open Science: HBI adheres to the five principles of Open Science.  These principles guide all research conducted using HBI resources.  If funded, successful applicants agree to abide by Principles 1 to 4.

Eligible expenses: Funds may be used for salaries, minor equipment (<$5,000 without prior approval), materials and supplies, and research subject costs, including reasonable patient reimbursement, but not for travel or publication costs.  Supplementary or “top-up” funding is not allowed; projects must explore a new avenue of research for the investigator.

Evaluation criteria: An independent committee will review applications according to the following five criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Scientific priority
  • Feasibility
  • Likelihood of generating additional funding if the project is successful
  • Impact that funding will have on the career trajectory of the principal investigator

Selection of awardees: Applications that meet eligibility criteria will be forwarded to an independent grant review committee.  The committee will have a chair and at least 2 other members.  Committee members will be selected according to these principles:

  • content knowledge relevant to the received proposals
  • representation from diverse HBI themes 
  • representation from senior research scientists
  • representation from former award winners

Each application will have a primary and secondary reviewer.  An on-line meeting will be held at which the top 5-ranked proposals will be discussed in depth and the successful proposals will be selected by consensus.  If a consensus does not naturally emerge, a voting process will be used to select the successful proposals.  The committee will have leeway to fund projects with a reduced budget if budget items are deemed unjustified.

Applications will consist of:

  • Application form (click below to download; 4 pages maximum, including cover page)
  • Budget with justification (1 page maximum)
  • Figures and/or tables attachment (1 page maximum)
  • References (no limit)
  • Letter of support from your BMH Team lead, or Mathison Centre Director, outlining the benefits of the proposed research to the Team/Centre’s program, and the role of the pilot study within the larger research program.

Deadline: 1 February 2022

Please submit application as a single PDF file via email to hbi.research@ucalgary.ca.


Key Dates

Nov 22, 2021

Call for proposals 

Feb 1, 2022

Application deadline 

HBI/DCNS PFUN 2020 awardees:

  1. Gerald Pfeffer (Co-applicant: Lawrence Korngut)
    Title: Characterizing the high prevalence and founder effects for spinobulbar muscular atrophy in Indigenous peoples residing in Alberta
  2. Carlos Camara-Lemarroy (Co-applicant: V. Wee Yong)
    Title: The gut-brain axis in MS: targeting the intestinal barrier
  3. Colin Josephson (Co-applicants: Samuel Wiebe, Tolulope Sajobi, Nils Forkert, James White, Karl Klein, Jordon Engbers)
    Title: Leveraging multisource precision medicine and advanced analytics to reduce the burden of pharmacoresistant epilepsy

HBI/Mathison PFUN 2020 awardee:

  1. Alexander McGirr (Co-applicant: Patrick Whelan)
    TitleA Retrosplenial Cortex - medial Zona Incerta circuit in anxiety behavior

HBI/DCNS PFUN 2019 awardees:

  1. Zahinoor Ismail (Co-applicant: Alex McGirr)
    Title: Neurofilament light in mild behavioural impairment - a proof of concept study
  2. Karl Klein (Co-applicants: Walter Hader, Julia Jacobs, Jessica Rosin)
    Title: Somatic mutations in DNA extracted from cells adherent to stereo-EEG electrodes

HBI/Mathison PFUN 2019 awardees:

  1. Quan Long (Co-applicants: Paul Arnold, Eric Smith)
    Title: Characterizing genetic basis of brain diseases using meta-learning and explainable AI
  2. Frank McMaster (Co-applicants: Alex McGirr, Kayla Stone)
    Title: Prospective pilot study of glutamate as a predictive biomarker of response to transcranial magnetic stimulation in youth with major depression

HBI/Tourmaline PFUN 2019 awardee:

  1. Aaron Phillips (Co-applicants: Steven Casha, Ian Rigby, Christopher Grant, Sean Dukelow, Denise Hill, Dan Mcgowan, Richard Yu)
    Title: Harnessing epidural stimulation to stabilize hemodynamics in the ICU after spinal cord injury

HBI/DCNS PFUN 2018 awardees:

  1. Gerald Pfeffer 
    Title: Investigating somatic mosaicism for the diagnosis of genetic muscle disorders
  2. Rodney Li Pi Shan (Co-applicants: Chantel Debert, Jacqui Stone)
    Title: Ultrasound Guided Platelet Rich Plasma Injections for Post Traumatic Occipital Neuralgia: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study
  3. Ashley Harris (Co-applicants: Chantel Debert, Sean Dukelow, Keith Yeates, Kathryn Schneider)
    Title: Neuroimaging of the brain changes associated with aerobic exercise therapy in patients with persistent post‐concussion symptoms

HBI/Mathison PFUN 2018 awardees:

  1. Carly McMorris (Co-applicants: Signe Bray, Ashley Harris)
    Title: Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviours in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Identification of Neurological Biomarkers 
  2. Jean Addington (Co-applicants: Matt Hill, Olga Santesteban‐Echarri, Mohammed Shakeel Kalathil)
    Title: A Mobile‐based Application to Monitor Cannabis Use for Youth at‐Risk of Psychosis: Development Through Participatory Design, Acceptability and Feasibility

HBI/Tourmaline PFUN 2018 awardee:

  1. Taylor Chomiak (Co-applicants: Bin Hu, Davide Martino, Kyle Mathewson, Richard Camicioli)
    Title: Towards the development of a novel predictive model and biomarker for recurrent faller phenoconversion in Parkinson's disease 

The Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCNS) and The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education are pleased to announce the awardees for the fifth annual pilot funding program (2017) with the goal to fund early-phase studies in promising new directions of clinical brain research. 

HBI/DCNS PFUN 2017 awardees:

  1. Signe Bray (Co-applicants: Ashley Harris, Carly McMorris)
    Title: Sensory function in Autism Spectrum Disorder in early childhood
  2. Elizabeth Condliffe (Co-applicants: Adam Kirton, Ephrem Zewdie)
    Title: Generating a laterality index to represent functional corticospinal representations in people with cerebral palsy
  3. Aaron Philips (Co-applicants: Patrick Whelan, Jonathan Epp)
    Title: Harnessing spinal electrical stimulation to neurorehabilitate sympathetic pathways after spinal cord injury

HBI/Mathison PFUN 2017 awardees:

  1. Alexander McGirr (Co-applicants: Adam Kirton, Frank MacMaster)
    TitleEnhancing Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Induced Plasticity: a pilot randomized controlled trial of a repurposed NMDA receptor partial agonist as a strategy for improving therapeutic efficacy
  2. Scott Patten (Co-applicants: Gina Dimitropoulos, Andrew Bulloch)
    Title: Exploring the utility of linked national survey and discharge abstract data for child and youth mental health research

On behalf of the PFUN award applicants, we gratefully acknowledge the time and efforts of the PFUN Review Committee. Your careful consideration and constructive feedback are deeply appreciated.

Award criteria: The principal investigator must be either a full member of the HBI or a member of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences; preference is given to less senior investigators. Applications that include significant involvement of a clinical fellow or a resident are strongly encouraged. The proposed research must have a clear translational or clinical component, with defined benefit to an HBI NeuroTeam. Applicants should also demonstrate the potential for their research to generate additional, sustainable funding from other sources.