Collaborative Pairs Pilot Project Awards (Cycle 2)

Funding Agency:
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative invites applications for the second cycle of the Collaborative Pairs Pilot Project Awards. These grant awards support pairs of investigators and their teams to explore innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to address critical challenges in the fields of neurodegenerative disease and fundamental neuroscience. Awards are $200,000 in total costs per collaborating pair for a period of 18 months, after which successful projects will be eligible to apply for additional four-year acceleration grants that build on pilot phase studies. Collaborative Pairs teams will benefit from the support, mentoring and collaborative interactions of the Challenge Network, as well as interactions with the broader CZ Science programs and grantee network.

The CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network (NDCN) was launched in 2018 as a new type of collaborative research network that brings together biologists, computational scientists, engineers, and physicians from across broad research areas who are motivated by collaboration and open science to tackle unsolved challenges in neurodegenerative disease. Collaboration has been at the core of the vision for the Challenge Network approach and in developing the NDCN program strategy, we have sought to develop funding mechanisms that motivate and support novel collaborative approaches that will lead to bold, innovative, risk-taking science.

Interested faculty at Duke can contact Brooke Church ( for assistance.

Deadline for Letter of Intent: Jun. 22, 2023

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

All applications must be submitted by a primary applicant principal investigator (PI) on behalf of the pair. For questions about eligibility, please contact us in advance of the proposal deadline at

  • Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign non-profit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local governments; and eligible agencies of the federal government. For-profit organizations are not eligible. All grants will be awarded to institutions, not individuals.
  • Collaborations should include two principal investigators (PIs). There will be opportunities to work across collaborative projects, but each collaboration will be limited to two PIs.
    • All applicants must hold a PhD, MD, or equivalent degree and have an academic faculty position or equivalent independent investigator status at a college, university, medical school or other research facility.
    • Independence is typically demonstrated by a full-time academic faculty appointment, a tenure-track position, allocated space, a start-up package, and institutional commitment as defined or verified in a letter from a department chair or equivalent. Independence may be defined differently in different types of organizations. Note: an upload of the letter or proof of independence is not required at the time of application.
  • The Collaborative Pairs RFA is aimed at motivating new collaborations among partners who have not yet had the opportunity to work together. While it is permissible for applicants to have previously worked together, the pair cannot have received joint funding for either this or any other project.
  • While collaborations among two principal investigators from the same institution are eligible, we strongly encourage applications from pairs affiliated with different institutions (including any potential international collaborations).
  • Collaborations among pairs of investigators with prior mentor/mentee relationships at the graduate, post-doc, or junior faculty levels are strongly discouraged from applying. Examples may include pairings between a PI and their former graduate student or post-doc, or pairings between junior faculty and senior colleagues in the same department.
  • At least one of the applicants must be an early-career investigator or a mid-career investigator in an independent academic faculty position or equivalent.
    • In the context of this RFA, we are defining early-career investigators as individuals who have been in their independent academic faculty role for zero to six years at the time of the Letter of Intent due date, i.e. have started their first independent position between June 22, 2017 and June 22, 2023.
    • A mid-career investigator is defined as in their faculty role for more than six years but not more than 10 years at the time of the Letter of Intent due date, i.e. have started a first independent position between June 22, 2013 and June 21, 2017.
    • CZI will make exceptions to these criteria in cases of institutionally approved career breaks, e.g. family or medical leave, etc. (If you believe this applies to you, please contact
  • Current NDCN Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Award grantees and NDCN Collaborative Science grantees are eligible to apply.



Funding Type



Junior Faculty
Women and minorities encouraged


Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational

External Deadline

June 22, 2023