DIBS Research Awards

Mission of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS)

DIBS advances interdisciplinary research and education that transforms our understanding of brain function and translates into innovative solutions for health and society. One important way DIBS accomplishes this mission is to provide funding for innovative projects involving researchers from multiple disciplines. 

DIBS Research Awards Program

DIBS has two competitive research awards: Research Incubator Awards and the Research Germinator Awards, new for 2018-2019. Through these funding mechanisms, DIBS aims to encourage innovative approaches to problems that transcend the boundaries of traditional disciplines, integrating the brain sciences with the social sciences, physical sciences, gene sciences, humanities, law, business, public policy, mathematics, computer science and engineering. Each award requires a one-page, non-binding Letter of Intent, due March 1, 2018, and a follow-up application (Germinator) or full proposal (Incubator), due June 1, 2018.

Research Incubator Awards

DIBS Research Incubator Awards provide up to $100,000 for one year (non-renewable) to support research projects involving interdisciplinary, collaborative brain science research within Duke. The projects must represent exceptional innovation and broad significance to the field. These awards are open to Duke faculty.

The projects must engage at least two faculty representing multiple fields or levels of analysis and bring together investigators from across the University whose individual programs of research are not already connected. Projects that include investigators from multiple schools within the University (e.g., School of Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, etc.) are encouraged. The Incubator Award Proposal Form may be found HERE (Word document).

Research Award Recipients

Research Germinator Awards 

The DIBS Research Germinator Awards (new for 2018-2019) are designed to support smaller, targeted requests for training, pilot data, salary and/or equipment that would facilitate new research and lead to new external funding. Projects are awarded up to a maximum of $25,000 (non-renewable). A letter of intent and brief application are required. These awards are open to Duke graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. 

The application should describe how this targeted investment would catalyze a new program of research or collaboration and/or enhance chances of obtaining external funding. DIBS can assist in identifying appropriate funding sources. It should also describe clearly and concisely how a project’s scope matches its duration (up to 1 year) and requested funding. If a grant or other award proposal has been submitted to another funding source (e.g., NIH, NSF, foundation) on a similar topic, the rationale for DIBS funding should be clearly articulated. Note: Unlike the DIBS Incubator Awards, Germinator Awards may go to single investigators. Please click HERE for link to Germinator Award Application (Word document).

Please click HERE to see the 2018-2019 Research Germinator Award recipents and projects.


Please contact Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Ph.D., DIBS Chief Operating Officer:

2018-2019 Research Awards Schedule



Feb. 1, 2018

Call goes out for one-page Letters of Intent (LOIs)

March 1

Letters of intent due to Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Ph.D., DIBS Chief Operating Officer, at  by 5 p.m. ET. Please be sure to indicate in the subject line the award for which you are providing a letter of intent.

March 5

Applicants are informed whether or not they have been approved to proceed with applying for an award

June 1

Full applications due to Dr. Schramm-Sapyta via email, by 5 p.m. ET


Projects evaluated by review committee with relevant expertise


DIBS Faculty Governance Committee selects and approves final awards

Nov. 1, 2018

Applicants are notified of the outcome



Learn more about DIBS

The Duke Institute for Brain Sciences is a scientific institute with a collaborative spirit and a commitment to education, service and knowledge across disciplines. We encourage creativity, taking risks, sharing ideas and working together.


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