About the SAGA 23 grant
The Sex and Gender in Alzheimer's (SAGA 23) request for applications 2023 funding program aims to support scientific investigation into the contributions of sex, gender, and gender identity to understanding the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementia (ADRD).
This grant is open to U.S. and international researchers.
View program objectives, eligibility, submission process and more.
Apply for the SAGA 23 research grant by submitting your LOI through the ProposalCentral website. Registration is required.
The Alzheimer's Association recognizes that even though Alzheimer's and dementia research has significantly advanced in recent years, the field still faces challenges in the knowledge and ability to fully understand the sex, gender, and gender identity differences in AD and ADRD. Building off the 2017 SAGA program and the continued investment by the Alzheimer's Association, the SAGA-23 funding program will aim to fund projects to directly advance the understanding and fill in gaps in knowledge of the contribution of sex, gender, and gender identity contributions to AD/ADRD.
Women are at the epicenter of the AD/ADRD epidemic; in the United States alone, two-thirds of the more than 6 million individuals living with AD are women and women account for nearly 60 percent of the more than 11 million caregivers (2022 Facts & Figures). Similar trends are seen globally. The increased incidence of these disorders with aging may be due to the higher longevity women generally experience; however, recent evidence suggests that there are biological contributions of the lived experience for females (i.e. hormonal contributions, immune system changes, brain structural and network differences). Funding aimed to explicitly advance research to understand how biology and societal considerations of sex assigned at birth, gender, and gender identity contribute to risk, to disease pathogenesis and to progression are essential to accelerate our understanding.
There may be biological underpinnings that contribute to AD/ADRD pathogenesis, progression and symptom manifestation. Gender, represented as socially constructed and enacted roles and behaviors, may also be tied to AD/ ADRD risk and progression. Epidemiological and clinical studies to date have provided conflicting data regarding gender differences in incidence that may be reconciled by close examination of such biological and lifestyle variables. Sex differences contribute to mortality in males relative to females, but how these differences affect dementia risk and progression is not clear. For example, the higher number of women living with AD compared to men may be linked to the higher rates of obesity, diabetes, depression and other related conditions also associated with increased risk of AD.
There are also gaps in understanding of dementia risk and progression among gender minorities, including transgender and non-binary adults and intersex individuals (or individuals born with diverse congenital differences relating to gonads, chromosomes, sex-specific hormones, and genitals that fall outside of binary notions of male and female sex). Metabolic disorders such as type-2 diabetes are often related to perimenopausal changes in women. The aging brain undergoes irreversible changes during perimenopause, and at certain stages of life, women may experience cognitive problems directly linked to hormonal changes that are not related to AD/ADRD. The role of hormonal disruptions in AD pathogenesis warrants further investigation. Further, with the Alzheimer's Association increased focus on research regarding the relationship between sex hormones and the brain, there is also a need to incorporate menopause transition, estrogen levels, and use of gender affirming hormones into studies as a consideration.
The role of hormone therapy also remains elusive. Studies such as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) suggested that use of hormone therapy during midlife may have impacted later life cognitive decline; however in the two decades since the WHI reported, other studies have suggested the hormone therapy does not cause or prevent dementia and may be beneficial for sleep. This could also include studies aimed to understand impact of gender-affirming hormone therapies, cognitive functioning and later life risk of AD. Such understanding of the intersection of how hormonal intervention may impact other factors also associated with ADRD risk remains elusive.
There are a number of different genetic factors associated with increased risk or resilience in AD, some of which are linked to known sex, gender, and gender identity differences in some populations (i.e. APOE). Many advances are enhancing our understanding of genetic contributions as a result of GWAS but there are also potentially widespread roles of sex-biased expression patterns. Several studies suggest sex chromosomes verses gonadal chromosomes may account for longer survival rates in animal models, yet how this translates to human studies is yet to be investigated, and how sex chromosomes (genetic, biological, etc) influence AD-like pathological changes are also undefined. Some studies looking at sex chromosomes - referred to as XWAS - and assessing specifically the X chromosome and the relationship with AD, suggest a relationship to AD-related brain changes, including differences in cognition and levels of tau present throughout the brain. Additionally, transcriptomic analyses suggest that a subset of cells from females from different disease-related models are overrepresented in disease-associated subpopulations. Further understanding of the biological mechanism(s) of action and the implications for disease pathogenesis of genetic differences of sex chromosomes (X and Y) as well as the potential genetic interactions related to risk and resilience are also not well understood.
The use of neuroimaging methods to measure AD-related brain changes also identifies sex-related differences. There is however a continued need to standardize analysis of sex, gender, and gender identity differences using these methods; for instance, females have higher meningeal off-target binding compared to males in all three of the PET amyloid-related tracers. It is also important that studies using neuroimaging or any other fluid biological measurement - cerebrospinal fluid, blood or other - powers appropriately to incorporate analysis of sex, gender, and gender identity differences not only as a focus but also as a potential consideration for interactions with sex, gender, and gender identity and other disease factors. Environmental and societal contributions may also have a differential impact on individuals, including stress and response to stress, sleep and the presence of sleep disorders, and depression.
The SAGA-23 requests applications targeting unanswered questions that will provide greater understanding of the underlying pathogenesis of AD/ADRD.
SAGA-23 is the second offering of an Alzheimer's Association funding program focuses on understanding the contributions of biological sex and gender to Alzheimer's Association. AD/ADRD and aims to address the gaps in our understanding of the role sex assigned at birth and related genetic, biological, lifestyle and societal factors may play in increasing vulnerability to ADRD.
Areas of focus are defined broadly, and the examples cited are not intended to preclude or constrain other projects or proposals. Potential applicants are encouraged to submit proposals in their own areas of interest or formulate questions different from those presented in this announcement but with a focus on sex differences. Innovative and novel ideas to address challenges in research are the core of the Alzheimer's Association's research funding. In addition, there is a need to incorporate novel approaches from developing biology fields to contribute to our expanding field of sex biology research with AD pathophysiological studies.
Potential themes may include but not be limited to investigations that:
• Investigate biological sex differences in aging and AD/ ADRD, including link of hormones, telomeres and other aging-related factors; as well as studies aimed at other biological factors of disease related to sex, gender, and gender identity contributions
Genetic links with APOEe4, X chromosome and other genes, including biological mechanism(s) of action, implications for disease pathogenesis
• Understanding sexual dimorphism in brain function, as it relates to vulnerability to AD/ADRD
• Investigating links between hormone levels (i.e. perimenopause, use of gender affirming hormone) and energy metabolisms (i.e. shift from glucose to ketone energy usage) for disease pathogenesis
• Advancing research on the immune system contributions to sex differences, including understanding the roles of pregnancy, sex hormones, and reproductive aging in the context of the immunological function and response to aging and cognitive decline
• Investigating sex, gender, and gender identity contributions to brain networks, pathology and link to clinical phenotypes of AD/ADRD
• Understanding how various life course contributors (i.e. stress, vascular and metabolic contributions, sleep, depression) impact neurobiological context on vulnerability for AD/ADRD
• Investigating stress response differences between male/
female/men/intersex/women/trans men/trans women/non-binary adults and
impact on disease vulnerability as well as ways to ameliorate stress-related impact
• Advancing research on measurement of disease including biological measures or cognitive/ function measures that may differ or contribute to disease progressions or diagnosis that may be sensitive to sex differences
• Clinical observational studies, preclinical studies or the use of human tissue samples are appropriate.
Discovery science (i.e. basic and translational studies) and human based studies of investigation are encouraged; clinical trials are likely to be considered outside of the scope for this request for this application call.
Funding and award period
The Association anticipates funding up to six SAGA awards. Each award is limited to $250,000 (direct and indirect costs) for up to three (3) years. Requests in any given year may not exceed $100,000 (direct and indirect costs). Indirect costs are capped at 10 percent (rent for laboratory/office space is expected to be covered by indirect costs paid to the institution).
• Letter of Intent launch: January 3, 2023
• Letter of Intent deadline*: Februay 15, 2023, 5 p.m. ET
• Letter of Intent notifications: Week of March 13, 2023
• Application deadline*: April 26, 2023, 5 p.m. ET
• Application review: April-June 2023
• Awards notifcation: By August 15, 2023
*The Letter of Intent and application must be received by February 15, 2023, 5 p.m. ET on their respective deadlines. They will not be accepted after these dates - no exceptions will be made. Hard copies or emails will not be accepted.
Eligibility and ineligibility requirements
To avoid disqualification, investigators are encouraged to carefully consider these eligibility and ineligibility requirements before applying. The Alzheimer's Association reserves the right to find an investigator ineligible to submit for a particular program, based on the guidelines below. This section describes general inclusion and exclusion criteria. Specific requirements and additional exclusions to eligibility are noted in some detailed competition descriptions.
Postdoctoral researchers, researchers with full-time staff or faculty appointments (Assistant Professor and above) are encouraged to apply. Any proposal must have a clear focus on AD/ADRD, the contribution of sex differences and be translational in nature. All proposals should clearly and explicitly outline the measure to be investigated, the methods for study, and outcomes. Researchers from underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.
• In general, public, private, domestic and foreign research laboratories, medical centers, hospitals and universities are eligible to apply. State and federal government-appropriated laboratories in the U.S. and abroad and for-profit organizations are prohibited from serving as the applicant institution. However, state and federal government scientists can participate as collaborating scientists with research teams from other eligible applicant institutions.
• For the Letter of Intent (LOI), you will be required to upload proof of your organization's not-for-profit status. An IRS Letter of Determination is no longer accepted and you must submit either of the following:
1. W-9 that is signed and dated by the signing official for US entities
2. W-8 or W-8-BEN that is signed and dated by the signing official.
3. Each must include the EIN, TIN or VAT number.
• For non-profit organizations (non-academic), additional documentation may be required to confirm your organization has segregation of duties between transaction execution and transaction recording.
• The Alzheimer's Association recognizes the need to increase the number of scientists from underrepresented groups in the research enterprise. Researchers from these groups are encouraged to apply.
• Overlapping funding
of more than one Alzheimer's Association grant is not allowed
. Investigators who currently have an active Association grant may apply for another award in the last year of their grant if that last year concludes by 6 months of the award announcement. There are some exceptions so please contact email@example.com
if you have questions regarding your eligibility.
• Investigators delinquent in reporting.
The Alzheimer's Association will not accept new grant applications from investigators currently awarded an Association grant who are delinquent in submitting required reports and other deliverables on active grants. Investigators that have previous Alzheimer's Association awards closed as 'Incomplete' are not eligible to apply without exception. This policy will be strictly adhered to with no exceptions.
• Current members of the Association's Medical and Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG), the International Research Grant Program (IRGP) Council and current employees of the Alzheimer's Association are ineligible to (a) compete for any research grant or (b) be included as a co-investigator or to receive any financial benefit from an application. These individuals may be listed as key personnel or collaborators on an application and will be recused from participating in their peer-review.
"Budget summary" for the proposed research project is required and must be submitted with the application and within the allowable two-page limit. Your budget must not exceed $100,000 in any given year (direct and indirect costs) nor exceed $250,000 total across all years, including indirect costs. The minimum duration of award is 18 months and the maximum duration is up to 3 years – awards cannot be for only one year. 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 award may be used for indirect costs; this is inclusive of indirect costs for the implementing institution as well as any to subcontracts.
Allowable costs under this award 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 proposed budget)
• Computer software if used strictly for data collection
• Salary for the principal investigator, scientific (including postdoctoral fellows) and technical staff (including laboratory technicians, and modest administrative support) Research supplies needed for the proposed studies
• Support for travel to scientific and professional meetings, not to exceed $1,000 in any given year
• Participant travel for studies involving human volunteers is an allowable cost. Travel that is for participants would not be included in the travel expenses but should be listed as an "other expense" (itemized in the budget).
Not allowable as Direct Costs under this award include:
• Computer hardware or standard software (e.g. Microsoft Office, monitors, computer parts)
• Major pieces of laboratory equipment such as freezers, ultracentrifuges, RT-PCR machines, microscopy/imaging equipment
• Equipment service contract fees
• Construction or renovation costs
• Rent for laboratory/office space
• Expenses such as Data Network Recharges and Computing and communication device support services However, data sharing and/or data storage for imaging, sequencing and other study data is allowed
• General liability insurances, such as GAEL
•The Alzheimer's Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG), the International Research Grant Program (IRGP) Council members and current employees of the Alzheimer's Association are allowed to be key personnel or collaborators on projects, however they are not allowed to receive any salary or compensation. A complete list of MSAG and IRGP Council members can be found on our website at alz.org/grants.
Proposal submission procedures
1. Letter of Intent Submission
The first step in applying to the Alzheimer's Association for any research grant is to create and submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) through the online application system at proposalcentral.com. Applications will not be accepted without an approved LOI. First-time users must register and fill out a Professional Profile to begin the LOI/application process. The LOI and completed application must be submitted by a single Principal Investigator (PI). Applicants must submit an LOI for the current active cycle that they are interested in, NO EXCEPTIONS. All LOIS must be approved or rejected in the current grant cycle. Hard copies or emails of the LOI will not be accepted. The purpose of the LOI is to ensure that all applicants are eligible for the competition they are applying to and to assist Association staff in planning for peer reviews. LOIs will not be accepted after the deadline date. No exceptions will be made. The applicant is responsible for adhering to the space limitations (described below) and any decision regarding moving an LOI forward will be evaluated based on the submitted information.
The Letter of Intent (LOI) is completed through the online interactive system. Applicants must complete the required tabs and upload any required documents. Some of these required fields are described below:
• Name of the principal investigator
• Contact information for the principal investigator
• Lead Institution - applicant must be a full-time employee at time of submission (institution/organization name must be in English)
• List your current academic rank/position at the time of submission, do not list pending promotions
• Proposal title
• Area of focus of the submission, such as diverse populations, social and behavioral, or biological (options will be available to choose from within the system)
• Brief project description, including methodology, specific aims of the project, innovation/novelty of the project, and the impact on Alzheimer's and all other dementia field are required. Each section is limited to 1,000 characters including spaces, and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure the space limit is adhered to.
• Employer (institution) Identification Number (EIN) -must match the EIN listed in the non-profit documentation
• All applicants must include an ORCID ID. This is a required field, you will not be able to submit your LOI without this information.
• Provide a W9 signed and dated by the Signing Official for US entities. For non-US entities provide a W8 signed and dated by the signing official. This document should not contain the applicant's information.
• Biosketch is required for the primary applicant only. Additional biosketches can be included at the full application stage. It is highly recommended to use NIH biosketch format.
• Budget details are not required at the LOI stage
• Additional attachments not specifically outlined above are not allowed and will be removed
The LOI will be evaluated in a blinded manner. Applicants should not identify themselves, collaborators and or/institution in the project summary of the LOI.
Each LOI is evaluated by the Alzheimer's Association and a select panel of experts to decide whether to triage or invite a full proposal, with special attention given to:
• 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 AD/ADRD
• Evidence of methodological rigor that address the research question(s) being proposed
• Past and potential future contributions of the investigator to AD/ADRD research
Note: Due to the high volume of submitted Letters of Intent, specific feedback and reviewer comments are not provided at the LOI stage.
The Alzheimer's Association requires that all applicants be registered as a reviewer with the Association in order to submit a Letter of Intent. If you submit a Letter of Intent/application and are NOT currently registered as a reviewer, you will be automatically added to the Alzheimer's Association reviewer roster. As a requirement to submitting an LOI/application, you agree to review at least one grant proposal within your area of expertise in one of the other granting mechanisms outside of the specific grant program to which you are applying.
2. Full Application Submission
If you are invited to submit a full application, the required materials including the application format, templates, and instructions, will be available online at proposalCENTRAL after your LOI has been approved in the system. The full application must consist of the following documents:
1. Problem Statement (1 page)
2. Work Plan (5 pages)
3. Recruitment Plan (1 page) – If applicable
4. Available Resources & Budget Justification (2 pages)
5. Biosketch(es) - PI/CO-PI/Key personnel - limited to 5 pages each
6. W9 signed and dated by the signing official for US entities. For non-US entities, a W8 signed and dated by the signing official.
7. Plan for Data Sharing (1 page)
8. References (1 page) – use the reference style that is most common in the major journal(s) for your discipline, specialty or sub-specialty.
Applications will be reviewed by Alzheimer's Association and a select panel of experts with special attention to:
• Significance of the question being studied
• Applicant information
• Quality of the work plan
• Quality and adequacy of available resources and budget
• Impact-Risk of the proposal and how it will add to the field's overall knowledge and advancement
• Response to prior review (if applicable)
The Pl who submits the application must be the same Pl who submitted the approved LOI. An LOI submitted on behalf of another applicant or by an administrator will result in a rejected LOI. Once the applicant enters the application system, on-screen instructions will be provided to complete the application process. The application does not need to be completed in one session; a partially completed application can be saved and completed at any time before the deadline.
It is imperative that you proofread your application before submission; you will not be allowed to make any changes to the application after the deadline or once applications are under review.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that:
1. The application is submitted by the receipt date/time deadline. Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation e-mail from proposalCENTRAL that your application was successfully submitted. If you do not receive a confirmation, click the Proposals tab and under the "Status" column make sure it says Submitted and not In Progress which indicates you have not yet submitted your application.
2. The application is complete and accurate before submission. Only a single copy of
an application will be accepted. Signatures are not required at the time of submission, the signature page provided is only used should your institution/organization require signatures; we do not override any institutional policies and/or procedures. Please do not submit the signature page with your application.
3. Revisions, additional materials, letters of collaboration/support and/or reference, manuscripts, appendices, etc., are not allowed, and if attached, will be removed from your application.
If selected for funding, the Alzheimer's Association requires that any necessary ethical and/or regulatory approvals are kept current and also requires specific reporting throughout the lifetime of the award. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Animal and Human Subject Assurances, and/or rDNA Certification
Animal welfare and human subject assurances are not required at the time of application. Investigators have up to 90 days after receipt of their award notification to submit these documents. However, the Alzheimer's Association encourages investigators to initiate their certification applications on a schedule that recognizes that rDNA certification, IRB/IACUC approval at many institutions can take more than 90 days. The Association accepts only certifications that apply specifically to the funded project and must include the name of the awardee. An award letter will not be issued unless the appropriate certifications are in place and include the name of the awardee within the 90 days from award notification. Clinical trials should be registered at an appropriate trial registry within the first year of the award. Appropriate registries can be found here: www.who.int/clinical-trials-registry-platform/network/primary-registries. The trial ID must be included in all publications resulting from the funded research.
Recruitment Efforts for Clinical Studies
Projects involving human participants must address the appropriate inclusion or exclusion of individuals in the proposed research project and describe recruitment efforts to represent the community in which the study is planned or being conducted. Prior to distribution of funding, the researcher must provide a description of their recruitment plan, including an outline describing how their recruitment efforts will ensure diversity in their participants (see www.nimhd.nih.gov/about/overview/ for NIH operationalization). Recruitment efforts should focus on diversity within key target groups, including a diverse representation of, but not limited to: sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. This will be tracked throughout the duration of the grant and continued funding is contingent on applications addressing these goals.
Annual Scientific and Financial Reports
Interim Scientific & Financial Reports must be submitted at the end of each reporting period as long as the grant remains active. Final Scientific & Financial Reports must be filed within 90 days of the grant's end date. All reports must be submitted electronically via proposalCENTRAL. The Financial Report must be approved and signed by someone with financial authority in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the recipient's institution.
Publications, Presentations and Abstracts
Electronic copies of publications, presentations and abstracts that report research supported by funds from the Alzheimer's Association must be submitted electronically at the time of publication. These copies will become part of the official file of the grant and will be provided to the Communications Division of the Alzheimer's Association to assist in the efforts to further inform the public about the International Research Grant Program of the Association.
Recruitment Efforts for Clinical Studies
Projects involving human subjects must address the appropriate inclusion or exclusion of individuals in the proposed research project and describe recruitment efforts to represent the community in which the study is planned or being conducted. Prior to distribution of funding, the researcher must provide a description of their recruitment plan, including an outline describing how their recruitment efforts will ensure diversity in their participants. Recruitment efforts should focus on diversity within key target groups, including a diverse representation of (but not limited to): sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity. This will be tracked throughout the duration of the grant.
Checks are awarded to the institution, not to the individual principal investigator. The principal investigator or a first degree relative cannot be listed as the signing official or financial officer, or have checks sent to their attention if awarded.
Multiple and Overlapping Submissions
If an applicant submits proposals to different grant competitions in the same grant cycle, each proposal submitted must address a distinctly different topic. Only one proposal will be funded if scores for multiple submissions fall within the funding range of different grant competitions. Applicants cannot submit more than one proposal in the same grant competition—even if the proposals cover distinctly different topics.
Review Process Overview
All proposals are subject to a multi-stage peer-review process carried out through an online system. In the first stage, applications are reviewed and rated by a minimum of three peer scientists with expertise in the proposed area of research. Applicants may include recommended reviewers and also have the option to exclude specific reviewers from evaluating their application if a conflict of interest exists. Conflicts of interest include (but are not limited to):
1. The Applicant trained with/or by the reviewer.
2. The Reviewer published with the Applicant in the last four (4) years. This excludes workshops or large consortia (i.e. ADNI, IGAP, etc).
3. The Reviewer has been a co-investigator on a grant application or award with the Applicant in the last four (4) years.
4. Reviewer has a conceptual difference of opinion with the Applicant that will prevent a fair review.
5. Reviewer will receive financial benefit from the Applicant receiving an award.
The second stage includes further review and discussion of the scores and comments resulting from the initial review process. This second review is carried out by the International Research Grant Program (IRGP) Council and invited review committee members, to ensure fairness and equity in the initial review procedures and to make funding recommendations to the Association. Final recommendations from the IRGP Council are shared with the Medical and Scientific Advisory Group (MSAG) and with the Alzheimer's Association for final approval. Members of the IRGP Council and MSAG are internationally recognized experts with distinguished careers in Alzheimer's and all dementias.
This multi-stage process is central to our award decisions and is designed to ensure both scientific rigor and fairness in the review of all submitted applications.
Appeals of Scientific Peer-Review
To maintain a fair and rigorous review system, the Alzheimer's Association has established a process for appeal of funding decisions. An appeal is intended to address extraordinary circumstances. Appropriate reasons for initiating an appeal might include:
• Evidence that a reviewer has an undeclared conflict of interest
• An egregious error or misunderstanding in the review process
• Active malfeasance or demonstrable lack of due diligence
The appeal process is not intended to provide a mechanism for routine protest of failure to receive a grant. Disparities in peer reviewers' enthusiasm for a proposal and the scores they assign are nearly always considered part of the normal variation in human judgment. The reality is that the Alzheimer's Association International Research Grant Program is extremely competitive and is limited by availability of funds. In recent grant cycles, 10 to 15 percent of full applications have been funded, although about twice that number fall into the "fundable" category based on overall score.
If an applicant believes an extraordinary circumstance has contributed to failure to receive funding, the principal investigator may send a two-page, double-spaced formal letter of appeal (Word document) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any supporting documents must be submitted as a single PDF. Appeals must be submitted within two weeks from the date your application outcome notification is sent. Notification of action on the appeal will be made via email, usually within 90 days of the appeal deadline.
Nondiscrimination and Harassment Statement
The Alzheimer's Association is committed to providing an environment free from harassment and discrimination. The Alzheimer's Association strictly prohibits harassment and discrimination based race; creed; color; religion; sex; sexual orientation; national origin; ancestry; age; veteran status; citizenship status; marital status; physical or mental disabilities; pregnancy, gender identity or expression (including transgender status); genetic information; and any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.
For any inquiries or additional information, please contact a member of the Alzheimer's Association Research Grants Team at email@example.com.
This program was made possible from the generous support of the Women's Alzheimer's Research Initiative (WARI).