Application & Review Timeline

  • Call for Submissions (January 7, 2022)
  • Letter of intent submission deadline (February 18, 2022)
  • Invitation to submit proposal (March 14, 2022)
  • Grant proposal submission deadline (June 10, 2022)
  • Review Committee completes review of proposals (September 2, 2022)
  • AAO Board of Directors ratifies review committee recommendations (October 2022)
  • Notification of awards (at Academy 2022 San Diego)
  • Funds disbursed January 2023

Applications and questions should be directed to Helen Viksnins, Senior Director, Programs, at


Eligibility Requirements


Past Recipients

Purpose of Award

  • To answer clinically meaningful questions that will have a significant impact on patient care in optometry.
  • To provide a mechanism for Academy Fellows to conduct clinical research.
  • To promote collaborations between optometrists and researchers with the goal to build strong clinical and academic partnerships

Makeup of the Award

  • Up to $100,000 award per project.
  • Project must be completed within two years.
  • Academy will fund direct costs only (no funding for indirect expenses/Facilities & Administration Expenses (F&A).

Eligibility Requirements

  • The PI and all other clinical investigators must be Academy Fellows or Candidates in good standing.
  • In addition to the PI, the majority of the research team should be comprised of optometrists primarily engaged in clinical practice inside or outside of an academic institution.
  • Each PI must name an ‘Academic Partner’ who has strong research experience and training (e.g., MS or PhD and has published in refereed journals in the area of investigation). The Academic Partner must also be an Academy Fellow or Candidate.
  • The research project must address a relevant clinical question and have the potential to positively impact patient care in optometry.
  • If any of these criteria are not able to be met, a specific explanation must be provided within the letter of intent.

The Letter of Intent

1. Prospective applicants should submit a letter of intent (LOI) for the purpose of defining the applicant’s eligibility, LOI must be no more than 5 pages of single-spaced, Arial 11 point font with half-inch margins, uploaded as a single PDF file, and include the following:

        a. Rationale and Background for Proposed Research: Briefly describe what important clinical problem the research project is addressing and how the proposed study achieves the purpose of the American Academy of Optometry Clinical Research Award. Pertinent background for the proposed research question should also be provided.

        b. Objectives and Research Aims: Describe the overall scientific question including proposed hypotheses, specific study aims and objectives.

        c. Description of Methods: Provide a concise but thorough overview of the proposed study design and methods, including primary outcome measure(s), sample size justification, and data analysis plans.

        d. Research Team: List key members of the research project team, including PI, clinical investigators, academic partner, and consultants. Indicate whether or not members are an Academy Fellow or Diplomate. Provide a description of each member’s role in the project, their expertise, and their affiliations/appointments. If members of the research team are separated geographically, outline the proposed methods for collaboration.

        e. Budget overview: Provide an overview of the budget and any additional support.

2. In addition, the CVs of each member of the research team should be provided, which do not contribute to the 5 page LOI limit.

3. In a given application cycle, an applicant (PI) can only submit one LOI, and upon approval/invitation, one full proposal. Additional LOIs or proposals from the same PI per funding cycle will not be considered.

Download the full description (Word).

Submission of the Completed Application

1. The grant proposal should follow the standard NIH format with modifications as outlined below. Instructions and forms can be found here.

       a. Applications should be in Arial 11 font with half-inch margins and be single spaced.

2. In general the following items should be included in the proposal:

      a. Cover Letter
      b.Title Page with Approval from Institutional Signing Official
      c. Table of Contents
      d. Detailed Budget and Justification for All Years*budget must include a statement that describes the              importance of the investment to optometry and optometric practice.
      e. Biosketch(es) in NIH format
      f. Resources and Environment
      g. Scientific Abstract
      h.Specific Aims and Scientific Impact (1 page)
      i. Significance and Innovation (1 page)
      j. Research Plan (6 pages)
      k. Project Timeline (1 page)
      l. Literature Cited
      m. Human Subjects (inclusion of women, children, etc.)
      n. Biohazards, if applicable
      o. Letters of Support from Collaborators
      p. Applicant’s Highest Impact and/or Relevant Paper Published or In Press

3. The LOI and full application should be sent as a PDF via email to Helen Viksnins at the Academy office.

4. Awardees will be announced at the 2020 annual meeting awards ceremony.

Review Process

1. The AAO Research Committee and external reviewers with topical expertise provide a scientific merit review. All applicants will receive a detailed summary statement. Following scientific review, the Programs Approval Committee (PAC) selects recipients based on merit and programmatic goals. Results are provided to the Foundation Board for final decisions on funding.

Program Notes

In accepting a Clinical Research Award, recipients agree to:

      a. comply with all programmatic requests and to notify AAOF of changes in faculty or project status

      b. submit an abstract to the Academy Scientific Program in the year of application submission/review and all years of funding
      c. plan to attend the full Annual Meeting and the AAOF Celebration Luncheon in the application submission/review and all years of funding.
      d. consider submitting a manuscript to Optometry and Vision Science 
      e. acknowledge the AAOF in written and oral presentations

  • 2017    Tawna Roberts, OD, PhD, FAAO
                 Akron Children's Hospital
  • 2019    Ava Bittner, OD, PhD, FAAAO
                 University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center
  • 2020    Not Awarded
  • 2021    Maria Walker, OD, PhD, FAAO
                 University of Houston