Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/18/2022

Career Development Award

The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) is pleased to announce the development of a scientific research career development award for optometric faculty. Priority is given to those at American schools or colleges of optometry. It has been recognized for some time that young investigators, including optometric investigators, take many years after the inception of their careers before successfully acquiring Federal research funding. In fact, the mean age of first time National Institutes of Health (NIH) grantees is over 40 years of age. These funds are critical not only for individual faculty members, but the health and sustainability of our optometric institutions. In an effort to positively influence and reduce the age at which optometric researchers attain large scale federal support and to increase the number of optometrists who receive such support, the Academy has launched this new initiative.

Basic structure of the award: This award is designed for optometric educators and scientists involved in research--including clinical, patient-oriented, educational, etc.--as long as the case can be made for the potential to acquire future extramural funding. Preference is for innovative, original, independent, Principal Investigator (PI)-driven projects, and is not intended as a supplement to senior investigator research projects. The AAO will provide a maximum of $50,000 in direct costs per year for up to two years, potentially renewable once for a total of up to four years of funding (pending evidence of significant progress and justification for additional time). The applicant’s institution will be required to provide matching funds, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 per year for each year of funding. Matching funds must be new funds to the researcher and cannot include existing support to the applicant. No indirect (i.e., facilities and administration) costs will be provided; the applicant’s institution cannot use the award for these costs. Allowable expenses, with detailed budget justification, include: PI and/or staff/student salary and benefits and research-related costs. Additional expenses such as computers, travel to the American Academy of Optometry annual meeting, and/or travel to another laboratory for additional training to enhance completion of the project are allowable, but require prior approval from the Board. Budgets will be evaluated as part of the review process and funding is contingent upon justification. The Academy reserves the right to reduce the budget to that appropriate for the amount of research effort. 



  • Required Letter of intent submission due Feb. 16, 2021
  • Invited Full proposal deadline June 7, 2021
Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements: Eligible applicants must be optometrists at schools and colleges of optometry in the United States (or optometrists in other academic settings, such as Departments of Ophthalmology). The applicant must hold a full time academic appointment at the level of assistant or associate professor at their institution.

Applicants with a prior NIH R01, R21, R34, or U10 award, NSF grant, or VA Career Development Award are ineligible. Previous and current NIH K grantees are eligible and K awards may be held concurrently with this program. However, there should be minimal overlap in the two projects. No co-PIs are allowed. Note: the goal is not to fund senior scientists’ laboratories by funding their junior colleagues through this mechanism.

Non-US based PIs must provide additional justification detailing their unique circumstances, e.g., why the work cannot be done in the US, special training opportunities and/or patient populations available abroad, etc. in the letter of intent for eligibility approval prior to proposal submission.

Funding Type