Competition objectives

Apply for the AARF-D Grant

Apply for the AARF-D research grant by submitting your LOI through ProposalCentral.

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The Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship to Promote Diversity (AARF-D) award is intended to support exceptional scientists from underrepresented groups who are working in Alzheimer’s or all other dementias research and who are engaged in their post-graduate work (i.e. postdoctoral fellows) and before their first independent faculty positions (i.e. Assistant Professor) and working in diverse areas of research, including basic, translational, clinical, functional and social-behavioral research. Investigators doing clinically-focused research without clinical practice are encouraged to apply to this AARF-D program.

Individuals applying to the program will be accepted from postdoctoral fellows with full time positions at their respective institution who have less than 10 years of research experience after receipt of their doctorate or other terminal degree. Individuals who have a position of an Assistant Professorship or above are not eligible.

The objective of this award is to increase the number of highly trained investigators from diverse backgrounds whose basic, clinical and social/behavioral research interests are grounded in the advanced methods and experimental approaches needed to solve problems related to Alzheimer’s and all dementias in general and in health disparities populations. The Alzheimer’s Association recognizes the need to increase the number of scientists from underrepresented groups participating in biomedical and behavioral research. The Association anticipates that by providing these research opportunities, the number of scientists from underrepresented groups entering and remaining in biomedical research careers in Alzheimer’s and all other dementia will increase.

The Alzheimer’s Association feels strongly that the mentoring and involvement of researchers from diverse backgrounds and perspectives is essential to engaging cutting edge ideas and thinking in addressing scientific gaps for Alzheimer’s and all dementias.

The mechanism of the award is the individual research grant. The maximum allowable duration is three years (minimum two years).

Funding and award period

Each AARF-D award is limited to $175,000. Component parts of the award include:

  • A total of $155,000 will be awarded for costs related to the proposed research for up to three years (minimum two years = $120,000) for direct (including travel) and indirect costs. Requests in any given year may not exceed $60,000 (direct and indirect costs). Indirect costs are capped at 10% of total direct costs and are inclusive of indirect costs for the implementing institution as well as any to subcontracts.
  • A total of $5,000 over a three-year period may be requested for travel purposes and is not to exceed $3,000 in any given year. If you request the full $5,000 towards just two years of travel and are requesting a three-year award you will not be able to request travel funds for one of those years. Note: a portion must be allocated to support registration and travel to the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®), as AAIC attendance is a condition of the award.
  • The remaining funds are two $10,000 research stipends ($10,000 to the applicant and $10,000 to the primary mentor), which are not guaranteed and are awarded only upon successful completion of the award. Successful completion of the award includes, but is not limited to, successfully achieving project aims and accomplishing all of the Fellowship benchmarks. These research stipends are to be applied to sustaining ongoing research in the Alzheimer’s field and will be paid to the applicant‘s and mentor‘s respective institutions at the time of release.

The Principal Investigator (PI) must commit to a 50% effort toward the proposed project each funding year.


Applications will be accepted from postdoctoral fellows (or an equivalent level position) with full-time positions at their respective academic institution and less than 10 years of research experience after receipt of their terminal degree.

Specific for the AARF-D program, eligible applicants have the same requirements as the AARF program, but are an underrepresented faculty in biomedical and behavioral research on a national, international or institutional basis.

Applicants must submit a Diversity Self Statement (1 paragraph max) during the letter of intent (LOI) stage outlining the applicant’s status and eligibility for this program. Additional details regarding what may be defined as underrepresented include:

  • Applicants from the United States will be subject to the definitions as stated by the National Institutes of Health: NIH-designated U.S health disparity populations include Blacks/ African Americans, Hispanics/ Latinos, American Indians/ Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, persons with disabilities (defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities), sexual and gender minorities and Individuals from economically developing nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America (Table C).
  • Applicants born in any of the economically developing nations of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are eligible granted that all other criteria regarding career stage are met. The Alzheimer’s Association will not require proof of American citizenship or a Permanent Resident Status.
  • Applicants employed by a university that is located in an economically developing nation of Africa, Asia and Latin America, are eligible granted that all other criteria regarding career stage are met.

Any questions related to eligibility, please contact the Alzheimer’s Association at prior to submitting an LOI. No exceptions will be made after the LOI deadline has passed. The Alzheimer’s Association reserves the right to require additional documentation if necessary.

The self-statement will not be included in the information shared with reviewers and will only be used to confirm eligibility to this program. This statement will only be accessible to the applicant and the Alzheimer’s Association through their Proposal Central Account (if the applicant gives others access to the LOI, they will be able to view all attachments).


Ineligibility criteria include:

  • Individuals who have a position of an Assistant Professorship or above are not eligible.
  • Please refer to Section III: B. Eligibility & Ineligibility for additional ineligibility criteria, which are applicable to both Applicant/Fellow and the Mentor.

Deadlines and award dates

Letter of Intent deadline: Oct. 8, 2021, 5 p.m. EST.

Each AARF LOI is evaluated with attention to:

  • Demonstrable innovation/novelty of the proposed project (especially in the context of the PI's recently funded work).
  • Alignment with the research priorities of the Alzheimer’s Association.
  • Impact of project on Alzheimer’s and all other dementia research.
  • Evidence of methodological rigor that address the research question(s) being proposed.

Letter of Intent notifications: Week of Oct. 25, 2021.

Note: Due to the high volume of submissions, specific feedback and reviewer comments are not provided at the LOI stage.

Application deadline: Nov. 19, 2021, 5 p.m. EST.

If invited to submit a full application, each AARF application is evaluated on:

  • Quality and nature of the training to be provided and the institutional, departmental and mentor-specific training environment, this includes available resources to support the applicant in their training (30%).
  • Quality and emphasis of applicant and originality of the research plan (40%).
  • Significance of the question being studied, quality of the work plan and the impact-risk of the proposal (30%).
  • Resubmissions will have the opportunity to provide a response to prior review.

Award notifications: Prior to Feb. 15, 2022.

Mentoring plans and Fellowship benchmarks

Each Fellowship award must identify a primary mentor. The mentor should be experienced in conducting Alzheimer’s and dementia research and in mentoring junior investigators. The application must include a 2-3 page statement from the selected mentor that includes information on his/her research qualifications, experience as a research supervisor and commitment to the applicant. This statement will be a significant part of the application review. The application must also include information to describe the mentor's research support relevant to the applicant‘s research plan and the nature and extent of supervision and training that he/she will provide during the period of the award. Only one primary mentor is allowed; however, additional team members who might function as mentors can be listed as key personnel.

Note: The primary mentor must agree to provide annual evaluations of the applicant’s progress for the duration of the award, as required for the yearly progress report.

Mentors can be early-career researchers and/or mid-career scientists who choose to shift into Alzheimer’s and all dementia research. The applicant and proposed mentor must specify a mechanism for ensuring effective mentoring. The application should contain a plan for and an evaluation strategy of the mentoring process for enhancing diversity in the professional research workforce. A successful plan will include specific details on the mentoring goals designed towards achievements both related to research and other professional development.

Additionally, a successful mentorship plan should include the following Fellowship Benchmarks, which are required to receive the research stipends, but should not be limited to only these.

Fellowship Benchmarks are as follows:

  • Attendance at an Association-sponsored networking event at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference (AAIC) REQUIRED.
  • Acceptance of an abstract at AAIC REQUIRED.
  • Mandatory documentation of hours spent on face-to-face mentoring REQUIRED.
  • Citation of specific exercises of mentorship such as supervision of manuscript writing and submission or grant writing and submission REQUIRED.
  • Reviewing grant applications. This is not limited to the Alzheimer’s Association review process, as reviewing for other funding organizations, but supervised reviews are encouraged for those with little to no review experience. The Alzheimer’s Association staff will provide additional resources for those new to reviewing for the Association REQUIRED.
  • Documentation of specific instances of the facilitation of networking, including introductions to colleagues, inclusion in discussions at scientific meetings, etc... REQUIRED.
  • Submission of funding proposal(s) to other funding agencies, including Alzheimer’s Association, National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation, Medical Research Council (UK), Canadian Institutes of Health Research, etc. REQUIRED.


A “budget summary” for the proposed research project is required and must be submitted with the application and within the allowable two-page limit. However, if the application is to be awarded, a more detailed budget will be required and must be approved before the disbursement of funds.

Allowable costs under this award

It is required that most of the funds awarded under this program be used for direct research support. No more than 10% of the total direct costs may be included as indirect costs; this is inclusive of indirect costs for the implementing institution as well as any to subcontracts.

Allowable costs include:

  • Purchase and care of laboratory animals.
  • Small pieces of laboratory equipment and laboratory supplies.
  • Purchases over $10,000 require prior approval, even if included in the project proposal budget.
  • Computer software if used strictly for data collection (requires prior approval).
  • Salary for the principal investigator, scientific (including postdoctoral fellows) and technical staff (including laboratory technicians and administrative support directly related to the funded grant).
  • Membership to scientific association.
  • Support for travel to scientific and professional meetings not to exceed $3,000 in any given year; additional support for travel expenses necessary to carry out research planned not to exceed $1,000 in any given year – this may include site visits. Total travel cost should not exceed $5,000 for the duration of the award and must include attendance to the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Direct costs not allowed under this award

Direct costs not allowed include:

  • Computer hardware or standard software (e.g., Microsoft Office).
  • Construction or renovation costs.
  • Tuition.
  • Rent for laboratory/office space.
  • Expenses such as Data Network Recharges and Computing and communication device support services.
  • General liability insurances, such as GAEL.
  • Salary and/or compensation for Alzheimer’s Association Staff or current members of the Alzheimer’s Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG) and the International Research Grant Program (IRGP) Council. A complete list of MSAG and IRGP Council members can be found on our website under Grants.

Reporting requirements

Please see Section III, I: Reporting Requirements for additional details. This award requires:

  • Annual scientific progress reports.
  • Annual Mentor evaluations (including tracking progress towards Fellowship benchmarks).
  • Annual financial reports.
  • Annual reports on recruitment & retention efforts (if applicable).

Note: The continuation of the grant over the awarded duration is contingent upon the timely receipt of all required reports.

Additional information

Due to the nature of this grant being awarded to the Fellow, in large part to their uniquely tailored mentoring plan towards achieving specific professional goals, it is expected that the Fellowship will transfer with the Fellow to their future institution. Additionally, any potential change in Mentor role must be approved by the Association. This will be strictly adhered to and only in extreme circumstances will an exception be considered.

Contact information

For any inquires or additional information, please contact a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Grants staff at