Overview & Goals

This funding opportunity will sponsor investigations on any aspect of human sensory systems or systems enabling sensory perception in human health or disease. Although traditional sensory systems (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) gather, organize, and integrate external stimuli, proposals for internal sensory systems (vestibular, spatial orientation, pain, and others) would also be welcome.

Proposals can address but are not limited to sense functionality, injury, disease states, treatment, mitigation, social and societal impacts, or public policy. Examples include human health-related issues such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Physiology or mechanistic aspects of sensory reception or perception;
  • Innate or acquired impairments of any sensory reception or perception system:
    • age-related changes
    • inborn or acquired physical impediments
    • illness or treatment-related effects
  • New therapeutics, e.g., drugs, mechanical aids, gene & cell based therapies, etc.;
  • Impacts on individuals/families/society, e.g., social isolation, depression, ostracization, mental health issues, etc.;
  • Legal/public policy aspects, e.g., ADA, accessibility of public buildings, etc.

As deficits in sensory reception or perception may affect several systems simultaneously, e.g., vision and hearing, proposals describing the formation of interdisciplinary teams to address multi-sensory integration projects would also be welcome.

This RFA was intended to offer applicants opportunities to conduct important translational research across a wide range of topics.

Proposals addressing healthcare disparities and/or health equity or focus on or actively recruit underserved, understudied, or special populations, and impacts across the lifespan are encouraged.

This was an open call for proposals.  Any investigator with an innovative idea related to the purpose of this RFA was welcome to apply.

Areas of inquiry must focus on translational research and human health. Proposals requiring the use of nonhuman samples/models will only be considered if there is a clear and direct link to subsequent investigations of human health. Proposals investigating basic research questions or those solely limited to pre-clinical applications will not be considered.

Application Deadline

All application materials must be submitted by 5:00 pm EDT on November 10, 2021. There will be no exceptions.



Any Harvard investigator from any academic field is welcome to apply.

Any faculty member who holds a Harvard University appointment as assistant professor, associate professor, or professor, irrespective of degree or institutional affiliation, is eligible to serve as the PI.

Investigators who hold appointments such as lecturer, instructor, or research scientist/associate are eligible to apply as PI if approved by and with the support of their department chair. Investigators at these ranks must provide a letter from their department/division chief as appropriate, verifying their appointment title, status at Harvard, and departmental/divisional support of their application.

This RFA encourages applications from junior or mid-level investigators. If the PI does not have independent space, the space holder must agree to the use of their space/resources.

For questions regarding eligibility contact Translational Innovator.

Funding level

  • Up to $50,000 per award
  • Up to 10 pilot grants will be awarded

Sponsoring Program

Translational Innovator

Contact Information

Direct all inquiries regarding the suitability of a proposal, the application process, or eligibility to Translational Innovator 

Direct inquiries regarding financial or grants management to Emanuel Amaral, Harvard Catalyst’s manager of research and grants administration.

Application Details

Key Dates
Funder Statement
Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility
Co-Investigator (Co-I) Eligibility
Allowable and Unallowable Costs
Application Link
Supporting Documentation Requirements (uploaded as on PDF)
Scientific Proposal Requirements (to be uploaded as one PDF)
Review Process

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How many pilot grants will be funded with this opportunity?
I am submitting an application on behalf of the Principal Investigator (PI). Will he/she be notified?
Do I need a Co-I for my project?
Can I submit more than one application?
What is the review process?
What is a Community Engagement Studio?
Will feedback be provided on my application?