Seed Grants

Call for Proposals

Through commitments from the University of Virginia’s schools of engineering and medicine, a grassroots effort in building UVA into a center of excellence in fibrosis research has begun. The goal of the Fibrosis Initiative is to stimulate and support the research enterprise across Grounds with the explicit goal of defining the constitutive rules of fibrosis.

Fibrosis is an enigmatic process, characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix by transformed fibroblasts/myofibroblasts/cancer-associated fibroblasts. This impacts native tissue function, impairs tissue repair and regeneration, and plays critical roles in the morbidity of numerous diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and many others. The World Health Organization has estimated as many as 40 percent of all worldwide fatalities have a fibrotic component to their etiology and/or progression.

Funds have been dedicated to support a unique seed grant mechanism for multi-investigator teams working toward MPI R01, P01, or Center grants on a 1- to 2-year submission trajectory. Successful applicants will receive funds to support the salary and fringe of a postdoctoral fellow (renewable up to two years) intended to directly support the acquisition of the preliminary data needed for a successful application to the National Institutes of Health.

Application Guidelines

Applicant teams (each application must include 2 or more PIs) should submit:

  1. A cover letter briefly describing: the hypothesis/research goals, the potential for a successful future NIH application, including why the team of PIs and/or hypothesis/research approach represents a strategic strength; what the explicit goals of the postdoctoral fellow will be (what are the critical experiments that need to be performed?); and who the corresponding PI will be.
  2. A one-page NIH-style specific aims page of the intended (future) MPI R01, PO1, or center grant application.
  3. NIH bio-sketches of the PIs.

Review Process

Applications will be reviewed by scientifically applying NIH’s five criterion (significance, innovation, approach, investigators, and environment) and additionally for their strategic fit. We particularly seek applicants proposing innovative and cross-disciplinary approaches to investigating:

  1.  The extracellular information impacting stromal cell/fibroblast behaviors (i.e. the “inputs”);
  2.  Quantitative and/or computational biology of stromal cell/fibroblast integration of external signals toward profibrotic phenotypes (i.e. “information processing”); and
  3. Quantitative approaches to detection and monitoring of fibrotic progression in both clinical and model systems (i.e. “outputs”).

Applications will be reviewed on a quarterly basis beginning July 1, 2018, until the postdoctoral positions have been filled. We estimate funding approximately 12 postdoctoral years over the course of approximately 3 years. Applicants who intend to submit an application after July 1, 2018, are encouraged to submit an informal letter of intent. Short-listed applications not immediately funded will be automatically re-reviewed in the following rounds, and partial funding will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Apply Now

All Applications, LOIs and Questions should be directed to

Thomas H. Barker, PhD    
Biomedical Engineering and Cell Biology    
Schools of Engineering and Medicine