AFSP's Research Grants support studies that will increase our understanding of suicide or test treatments and other interventions that save lives.
2015-16 Grant application and review cycle
|Review Cycle||Letter of Intent Due||Due Date||Review Dates||Funding Decisions||Earliest Start Date|
|Innovation Grants||None||Nov. 16, 2015||Spring 2016||End of May 2016||July 2016 (Postdoc) October 2016 (All others)|
|Focus Grants||Aug. 1, 2015||Dec. 7, 2015||Spring 2016||End of May 2106||October 2016|
|Focus Grants||Up to $500,000 per year for up to three||Each year our research department requests applications for innovative, high-risk, potentially high-yield projects that focus on a specific area of suicide prevention. These areas have been determined by AFSP and its Scientific Council, and are reviewed and updated annually. Applicants must submit a Letter of Intent by August 1st to be eligible to apply.|
|Linked Standard Research Grants||up to $300,000 over 2 years||Grants awarded to investigators at any level performing research involving three or more unique sites with each site contributing unique expertise, as well as data collection.|
|Distinguished Investigator Grants||Up to $125,000 over 2 years||Grants awarded to investigators at the level of associate professor or higher with an established record of research and publication on suicide.|
|Postdoctoral Research Fellowships||Up to $104,000 over 2 years||Grants awarded to investigators who have received a Ph.D., M.D., or other doctoral degree within the preceding six years and have had no more than three years of fellowship support. Fellows receive a stipend of $46,000 per year and an institutional allowance of $6,000 per year.|
|Standard Research Grants||Up to $100,000 over 2 years||Grants awarded to individual investigators at any level.|
|Young Investigator Grants||Up to $85,000 over 2 years||Grants awarded to investigators at or below the level of assistant professor. These grants must allocate $10,000 ($5,000 per year) of their award for an established suicide researcher to mentor the Young Investigator. AFSP is available to assist you in identifying a suitable mentor.|
|Pilot Grants||Up to $30,000 over one or two years||Awarded to investigators at any level, these grants provide seed funding for new projects that have the potential to lead to larger investigations. These grants typically entail feasibility studies rather than hypothesis-driven research.|
AFSP suicide research priority areas
We define priorities for funding every two years to stimulate research in understudied areas. We also encourage applications that address the priorities set out by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Research Prioritization Task Force. Priority area research applications are reviewed along with the general pool of grant applications, with priority given to strong grants in the designated areas.
AFSP suicide research grants program priority areas for 2014–16
- The high risk period following discharge from an inpatient hospital or emergency department or
- Assessment and/or intervention in primary care settings.
We aim to fund at least one to two rigorously designed priority area grants among those awarded in each cycle. Our two-year priority period allows for resubmission of unsuccessful applications in the second year. While we encourage applications in the priority areas, we also encourage and welcome all applications related to preventing suicide. In addition we continue to maintain a strong interest in research related to survivors of suicide loss.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has defined its priorities in terms of six questions
- Why do people become suicidal?
- How can we better or optimally detect/predict risk?
- What interventions are effective? What prevents individuals from engaging in suicidal behavior?
- What services are most effective for treating the suicidal person and preventing suicidal behavior?
- What other types of preventive interventions (outside health care systems) reduce suicide risk?
- What new and existing research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?
The full text of the alliance’s priorities is available here.▲ Back to Top
AFSP Suicide Research Grants support studies aimed at increasing our understanding of the causes of suicide and factors related to suicide risk, or that test treatments and other interventions designed to prevent suicide. At least one suicide outcome measure must be included in all grant projects. We also consider studies of treatment feasibility, and studies that add a suicide component (e.g., population or treatment) to an existing grant in another area.
Grant Period: AFSP grants are awarded for 2-year periods with the exception of Pilot Research Grants.
Eligible Applicants: Investigators from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply, and both basic science and applied research projects will be considered, provided that the proposed study has an essential focus on suicide or suicide prevention.
A current grantee may submit a new application as their grant nears completion but it will not be funded until completion of the current grant and submission of a Final Report.
New grantees must begin their studies within 6 months of the approved start date. Failure to begin the study within this time frame may result in withdrawal of the grant award.
Exclusions: Grant applications are not accepted from for-profit organizations, or from federal or state government agencies. Applications from the Veterans Administration are eligible.
Resubmission: If your application is not funded, you may resubmit your grant application up to two times after your initial submission. AFSP strongly encourages resubmission. If you decide to resubmit please include a letter outlining your consideration of the feedback provided on previous applications.
Grantee Expectations: AFSP expects funded investigators to assist us with the important task of disseminating new research findings. In particular, we aim to disseminate findings to our constituents and donors who generate financial support for our research grants program. Following grant completion, we may invite you to present your study results at an AFSP-sponsored research forum, and expect you to provide us with periodic updates on your publications and research projects. Acceptance of AFSP grant funding assures your place in a growing community of suicide prevention researchers, and we appreciate your willingness to play an active role in that community, and in assisting us to communicate with our constituents.
Applicants should carefully review AFSP’s grant policy statements for additional guidelines and restrictions. Grant applications that do not conform to our stated policies will not be reviewed.
Assessing for Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation
Survey data suggest that individuals who are LGBT are at greater risk for suicide attempts (Haas, Eliason et al. 2011). However, confirmation of this finding is needed across a wider range of samples and using a wider range of data collection methods. In an effort to learn more about this issue we suggest that all AFSP-funded researchers who are collecting original data systematically assess research participants for sexual orientation and gender identity. Recommended methods of assessment can be found in the policy manuals. It is designed to serve as a model for federal agencies and other funders of mental health and suicide research. Click on the link below for full guidelines.▲ Back to Top
Application review process
Participants in the grant review process
Each year Scientific Council members are invited to recommend scientists to become Scientific Advisors. Scientific Advisors serve as reviewers for grant applications as well as AFSP experts. We seek a broad range of reviewers to address the array of scientific areas necessary to effectively review applications. We maintain a geographically diverse, international review panel. If advisors in specific areas are needed, this is noted in the request for nominations. The active list of Scientific Advisors is available on AFSP’s website and Scientific Council members are encouraged to review the list and provide suggestions based on areas of expertise that may be underrepresented.
Scientific Advisors must hold positions at the Associate Professor level or above and must be actively engaged in research. All suggestions are submitted to the Vice President of Research for review with the Chief Medical Officer. Those that meet eligibility requirements are sent letters of invitation describing the role of Scientific Advisors. Once an individual agrees to become an AFSP Scientific Advisor they are asked to complete an Expertise Form indicating their areas of expertise for entry into our data base. The form is used as a tool for assisting in the matching of Scientific Advisors and applications.
Scientific Advisors who have reviewed grants for several years and have provided exemplary reviews may be considered for membership in the Research Grants Committee (RGC). The Scientific Council approves Scientific Advisors for eligibility as potential members of the RGC. Efforts are made to maintain geographic and scientific diversity in the membership of the RGC. RGC members serve a three year term with the option of an invitation to serve another three year term. They must rotate off the RGC for at least one year before they can be considered for re-eligibility as a member. They may serve as an ad hoc reviewed if needed.
Process of AFSP grant reviews
AFSP grant review is a multi-staged, peer-reviewed process. Applications are submitted electronically through our grant application program. All applications are reviewed unless they: 1) do not relate to suicide; 2) do not come from an eligible organization as outlined in the application procedure manual; 3) there is no Institutional Review Board to oversee the research; 4) they do not comply with the application guidelines; or 5) they do not represent a research project (e.g., requests for funding a clinical project).
Once eligibility for review is confirmed, each application is reviewed and an Application Focus Checklist is completed indicating the characteristics of the grant including sample, setting, methodology, type of study, and outcome measures. The application is then assigned to two Scientific Advisors for independent review. These reviewers are vetted for conflict of interest and matched with the grant based on relevant expertise using the Expertise Form in combination with the Application Focus Checklist. Reviewers who have submitted an application do not review other applications in the grant category in which they submitted. The reviewer is sent the abstract of the grant including a list of personnel and asked to complete a conflict of interest form documenting that they have no conflict. The criteria for a conflict are outlined in AFSP’s policy on COI. If there are no conflicts they are given access to the grant to review. Each Scientific Advisor may review up to 5 applications.
After the first round of reviews, two groups of applications are sent to an RGC member (who has also been vetted for conflict of interest and expertise) for a summary review: (1) those applications with an average score in the top range (for this year 2015, a 3.5 or better on a scale of 1-9), and (2) applications with a significant discrepancy between reviewers (more than 5 points). Reviewers are asked to specifically identify the rationale for ratings (particularly in cases when their rating is significantly worse or better than an initial reviewer’s). The matching of reviewer and application is conducted in the same manner as the first level of review. Based on the RGC summary review, the top scoring grants (again, this year 3.5 or below on a scale of 1-9) are then advanced for discussion by the Research Grants Committee (RGC) during an in-person meeting modeled on an NIH study section.
The RGC Committee meets for one to two days and discusses the top-scoring grant applications as determined by the priority scores assigned by the two initial reviewers and the RGC reviewer. RGC reviewers are also asked to consider the entire list of applications sent for individual RGC review and permitted to add applications that they reviewed and think ought to be discussed. Following presentation by the RGC reviewer, each application is discussed by the Committee. Members then assign the application a priority score on their anonymous ballots. Final priority scores are then determined by averaging the individual scores of the voting members of the RGC.
Committee members having conflicts of interest do not see the specific applications or reviewer scores and are not present for the deliberations or scoring of those applications. Every effort is made to ensure that reviewers who have submitted applications are not present for reviews in the grant category to which they applied. The Committee scores all grant applications presented at review.
If a member cannot attend the RGC meeting, an ad hoc member from the list of eligible RGC reviewers with relevant expertise serves on the committee. The ad hoc member participates as a full member during that review.
Applications are then ordered based on average RGC score and recommended to the Scientific Council for funding based on allocated budget and quality. Funding is complete when all funds are allocated or the next application requires significant modification to be conducted, whichever comes first. Grants that meet the designated AFSP priorities outlined in the application instructions may be funded out of order if they are of sufficient quality to be funded had there been enough funds. Fundable grants are then submitted to the Scientific Council for approval for funding and those approved are presented to the AFSP Board of Directors for funding approval.▲ Back to Top