Letter of intent required: Prospective applicants should submit a letter of intent for the purposes of defining the applicant’s eligibility and their institution’s material support of their potential success in obtaining future federal funding. The LOI must stipulate that the applicant is an optometrist, a faculty member at the assistant or associate professor level, a member of the AAO (candidate or Fellow), and is at least a 50% full-time equivalent faculty member at an academic institution in the United States. Applicants must be an assistant or associate professor at the time of application. Applicants with a faculty appointment contingent on receiving this award are ineligible.
Download the required letter of intent form.
If there are exceptions to the faculty requirement described above or if the applicant will be outside of the United States, these should be defined and a case should be made in the Letter of Intent that this eligibility requirement should be waived.
A senior academic administrator with institutional signing authority should provide a letter of support verifying the university’s commitment to the applicant including the availability of matching funds and protected time for research of at least six calendar months.
In a given application cycle, an applicant can only submit one letter of intent and upon eligibility approval, one proposal. Additional LOIs or proposals from the same applicant (PI) per funding cycle will not be considered.
After review of the LOI by the review committee for eligibility, a notice will be sent to the applicant inviting the submission of a full proposal.
Proposal Contents and Format: The grant proposal should follow the standard NIH format with the following modifications as outlined below. Instructions and forms can be found at the following web site: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html.
In general the following items should be included in the proposal:
Title Page with Approval from Institutional Signing Official
Table of Contents
Detailed Budget and Justification for All Years
*budget must include a statement that describes the importance of the investment to optometry and optometric practice.
Biosketch(es) in NIH format
Resources and Environment
Specific Aims, Growth Potential*, and Scientific Impact (2 pages)
Significance and Innovation (1 page)
Career Development Plan with Timeline, including Time-Specific Goals (2 pages)
Research Plan (6 pages)
Human Subjects (inclusion of women, children, etc.), if applicable
Animal Care and Use, if applicable
Biohazards, if applicable
Letters of Support from Collaborators
Applicant’s Highest Impact and/or Relevant Paper Published or In Press
*Respond to: “How will funding of this proposal make you more competitive for extramural funding 3-5 years from now?”
Applications should be in Arial 11 font with half-inch margins and be single spaced.
Review process: A Standing Review Committee has been appointed by the AAO President in consultation with the Chair of the AAO’s Research Committee, consisting of six members including an appointed Chair. All applicants will receive a detailed summary statement. Following committee review, results will be provided to the AAO Board of Directors for final decisions on funding.
Review criteria: The overall score will be based primarily on: (1) Potential for growth and (2) Potential for future major extramural funding. A 1-9 NIH priority score scale will be utilized. No subscale scores will be provided to the applicant. Projects must be in line with the purpose of the award and have relevance to optometry. While mentorship is not required, it is encouraged. In areas where the applicant is expanding or developing their skillset, the inclusion of a senior collaborator or advisors to assist them would be an asset and strengthen their research team.
Resubmission: One resubmission (two submissions total) will be allowed. One additional page, “Introduction to Revised Application,” will be required in the resubmission. The applicant must submit the first summary statement with the resubmitted application. An LOI is required for a resubmission application.
Grants Management: Awards will not be made unless appropriate human subjects and/or animal care and usage approvals are in place. Annual progress reports are required, with a summary of goals achieved, a mandatory, detailed timeline for accomplishments for year two, and a detailed report on funds expended. (No more than $12,500 can be carried forward to any successive year). No no-cost extensions will be granted.
Materials must be emailed to Helen Viksnins, Senior Director, Program at HelenV@aaoptom.org.