Root Causes and Interventions for Mental Health Problems Grants

The President’s Initiative on Student Mental Health and the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain

Small Grant Opportunity for Faculty
Root Causes and Interventions for Mental Health Problems

The Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain (MIDB) and the President’s Initiative on Student Mental Health (PRISMH) are pleased to announce a joint funding initiative focused on the root causes, antecedents, and risk factors for mental health struggles as well as novel interventions. We invite faculty from across the University of Minnesota, system-wide, who conduct work in this area to apply. This program is designed to support new research teams and to promote novel ideas that have strong potential for advancing our understanding of mental health challenges and increasing the visibility of the University of Minnesota as a leader in this area.

Mental health issues among children, adolescents, and young adults are increasing markedly from what has been observed in past years, resulting in perhaps unprecedented levels of human suffering in younger people and elevated rates of service utilization. Despite these increases, relatively little is understood about recent epidemiological patterns, antecedents of mental health difficulties, and long-range consequences. In recognition of these knowledge gaps, we invite applications from faculty who are not currently collaborating with one another and whose work is innovative and has the potential to transform our understanding of mental health risks, setting the stage for preventive efforts and novel interventions that can be directed to high-risk populations.

The total budget available for this program is $100,000, and applicants can request up to that amount. We will allocate one or more one-year awards depending on the types of applications received and the scope of the proposed work.

Because the budget for this award is relatively modest, researchers may want to consider secondary analyses of available large-scale datasets as a means of approaching novel questions of interest. We also strongly encourage community-based approaches. However, other empirical approaches will be considered including preclinical work, mechanistic studies that focus on processes of interest, longitudinal studies, causal modeling approaches, and work that includes consideration of youth mental health in the context of multiple interacting systems of influence.


Oct. 15, 2022: Letter of Intent due (by 11:59 p.m.)

Oct. 16, 2022: Application opens

Nov. 30, 2022: Submission deadline (by 11:59 p.m.) The proposal does not require a Proposal Routing Form (PRF).

January 2023: Award notification

Feb. 1, 2023: Award period begins

Awardees will be asked to present their work to the University community at the conclusion of the award period. The details and timing of this presentation will be negotiated with the investigators to assure that the presentation is maximally informative.

Eligibility Requirement

Applicants’ primary appointments must be as faculty at the University of Minnesota

The project must be led by a UMN investigator if the work is to be conducted off-site.

Priority will be given to work that is conducted at the MIDB or uses MIDB resources, although this is not a requirement for a successful application. Please see and the link to “Process for Engagement Request” for more information.

Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Interdisciplinary nature of the proposed work and novelty of the proposed collaboration
  • Expertise of the investigators and their ability to conduct the proposed work
  • Significance/impact of the work, including the potential of the work to lead to
  • external funding
  • Innovation
  • Rigor of the experimental design and analytic plan

To apply, please submit the following materials as an integrated PDF document to [email protected] by Nov. 30, 2022:

  1. Research proposal (limited to 4 single-spaced pages; 0.5 inch margins; Times New Roman font); within the proposal, include a detailed description of the project (aims, background, methods, data analytic plan).
  2. Applications should provide a clear statement of how the work addresses antecedents, risk factors for, or causes of, mental illness or novel intervention strategies (½ page).
  3. Applications should provide a clear statement of the significance/impact of the work, including, but not limited to, the potential for external funding (1/2 page).
  4. Please describe the novel collaboration that will be promoted for the participating faculty members (1/2 page). For the collaboration to be novel, it must be clear that the group has not worked together before. There can be some limited history of collaboration between different sets of the collaborators. Within this section, provide a narrative of how the new group was formed and describe how it is distinct from the members’ prior work.
  5. Does the work fit the mission of the MIDB? Proposals that incorporate neurobehavioral methods and probes are preferred but not required. (1/2 page).

    Items 2-5 are in addition to the four pages allowed for the research proposal.
  6. NIH-formatted biosketch for each faculty member involved in the proposal; clearly indicate the affiliations of each faculty collaborator. Priority will be given to proposals that include faculty from at least two departmental or collegiate units OR to collaborations between a UMN investigator and a community partner.
  7. Detailed budget and budget justification with timeline. Applicants may request up to $100,000. Note that budgets cannot include funds for faculty salaries. Applicants must propose a one-year research plan. Awards will be allocated in January 2023.
  8. For all participating faculty, please list sources of non-sponsored funding available for your use and current balances in these non-sponsored accounts. Plans for cost-sharing will be favorably considered.
  9. Please include information regarding the project’s IRB/IACUC status. Awards will not be processed until IRB/IACUC approval has been obtained. 

Instructions for the Letter of Intent (due Oct. 15, 2022)

Letters of intent will be used to plan for the review of submitted proposals. Everyone who submits an LOI may submit a full proposal unless you hear from us.

Include the following information within your letter, which should be submitted to [email protected] as a PDF file on institutional letterhead; please include the subject line “PRISMH/MIDB initiative letter of intent”:

  1. The title of the proposal
  2. Principal investigator(s) (PI) name, department, and email address (there can be multiple PIs but one must be designated as the lead)
  3. Other faculty collaborators’ names and areas of discipline
  4. Total funding to be requested
  5. A brief description of the proposed project (250 words or less)
  6. The names and email addresses of 3 potential UMN faculty reviewers who are not directly involved with the project and do not have conflicts of interest in reviewing the proposal.