Many research proposals have merit but don’t win funding from traditional sources, a problem that the American Association of Anatomists is tackling with a new program that provides researchers with both dollars and mentors.
With money from traditional funding sources harder to come by, the American Association for Anatomists is stepping in with a new program to fund research by members in areas as diverse as neuroscience, cell biology, and anthropology.
AAA’s new Fellows Grant Award Program harnesses funding and association fellows’ expertise to support its members’ research. It will provide up to 30 awards over 10 years, for a total of up to $750,000, marking the largest investment of funds the association has ever made in scientific research.
“Most scientists are struggling with securing and maintaining funding from external sources,” said AAA Executive Director Shawn Boynes. “The money is drying up.” The grant program is intended to help both established and young researchers continue their work in the anatomical sciences.
The program will fund research proposals that AAA members have submitted to funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, in the last 15 months and that were generally well received but not funded. Each year, up to three grants of $25,000 will be awarded, each covering a period of one year.
The idea for the program came from AAA’s fellows, senior members of the association who wanted to give back. It mobilizes funds that the fellows have been collecting, and it also taps into the association’s reserve account. Boynes noted that organizations tend to be reluctant to use money in their reserves, but AAA currently has four times its operating budget in reserves, and the association wanted to put some of it to use to help members.
“As an organization that seeks to provide access and resources to its constituents,” he said, the association opted to “put our money where our mouth is and support scientific research.”
Grantees will also get the benefit of mentoring from the fellows, who will provide guidance on how grantees can strengthen their proposals for the next time they seek funding. Providing this combination of funding and mentoring aligns well with AAA’s priorities of research, professional development, and education, Boynes said. “As a scientific society, it’s core to our mission.”
“Realizing the need to support good grants that aren’t funded, we created this award to provide members of our association with a mechanism of continuing their research programs, addressing issues raised by review panels, and eventually achieving funding success by national or international agencies,” Wayne Vogl, chair of the Fellows Grant Award Program Task Force and professor at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement.
It’s especially important to support and motivate younger investigators who are trying to “get started and get their labs launched,” Boynes said.