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Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program

The State of Minnesota established the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Grant Program effective July 1, 2015. The Office of Higher Education administers the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program through Minnesota Statute 136A.901 which provides funding for research into new and innovative treatments and rehabilitative efforts for the functional improvement of people with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Eligible grant applicants are institutions/organizations located within Minnesota and fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Public/state controlled institution of higher education
  • Private institution of higher education
  • Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) IRS status (other than institution of higher education)
  • Nonprofit without 501(c)(3) IRS status (other than institution of higher education)
  • Small business
  • For-profit organization (other than small business)

Eligible principal investigators must have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research. This program is not for postdoctoral fellowships or residents (non-board eligible/board certified physicians); postdoctoral fellows and residents will not be considered as principal investigators. Post-doctorates, residents, or other individuals are eligible to be listed as key personnel or consultants.

What are Eligible Services and How Much Money Can a Grantee Receive?

Research topics may include, but are not limited to, pharmaceutical, medical device, brain stimulus, and rehabilitative approaches and techniques. The overall objective of this program is to foster and encourage innovative research for treatment and rehabilitative techniques for spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries

Three funding options are available:

Tier 1: Pilot Project Grant

  • Max Request: $125,000.
  • Project Time: 2 years + 1 year no-cost extension.
  • Project Details: Reflects early investment as the researcher prepares to seek a larger grant award from a federal program or nonprofit organization. Preliminary data is not required but encouraged.

Tier 2: Standard Research Grant

  • Max Request: $250,000.
  • Project Time: 2 years + 1 year no-cost extension.
  • Project Details: Primarily for research with strong supporting/preliminary data. If the budget is justifiable, the Standard Research Grant may also fund pilot projects. Applicants are encouraged to attach papers; in-press, pre-published drafts, and accepted papers may be cited or submitted separately as an appendix.

Tier 3: Clinical/Translational Research Grant

  • Max request: $500,000.
  • Project Time: 3 years + 2 year no-cost extension.
  • Project Details: Projects must have concurrent application for, or funding from federal or industry sources. Preliminary data must be published or in press in a scientific journal and cited or submitted separately as an appendix.

2024 Request for Proposals

In consultation with the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education is currently accepting proposals for the Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Annual Research Grant.

Please review the FY24 SCI-TBI Grant Request for Proposals before beginning the submission process.

FY24 SCI-TBI Grant Request for Proposals

Timeline and Application Process

Date Description
March 27, 2024 Request for Proposals available to applicants
May 22, 2024 Deadline for receipt of intent to submit forms at 4:30 p.m.
May 29, 2024 Deadline for receipt of full proposals at 4:30 p.m.
June 4, 2024 Committee begins review of applications no later than June 4, 2024.
June 25, 2024 Presentations and Q&A (hybrid in-person/virtual)
July 5, 2024 Applicants Notified no later than July 5, 2024

Letter of Intent to Submit

Applicants must complete a Letter of Intent to Submit through this form:

Letter of Intent to Submit

Once submitted, applicants will be able to save their responses to the form, or may email to request a copy.

Full Proposal and Presentations

Once an applicant's Letter of Intent to Submit has been approved, they will receive instructions and materials from OHE via email to complete a full proposal.

Applicants may review full proposal requirements here: Full Proposal Reference Guide
Please Note: This is not the actual proposal - it is for reference purposes only.

Proposals must be submitted by 4:30 pm on May 29, 2024.

All applicants must be available on the day of the virtual proposal review (JUNE 25, 2024) to give a five-minute presentation on their proposed project and respond to reviewers' questions. A list of time slots will be sent to the applicants at least two weeks in advance.

Who do I Contact with Questions?

For SCI-TBI questions, please contact the Minnesota Office of Higher Education at

Frequently Asked Questions:

A: Yes, you may apply for parts of your project that were cut in prior years due to a lack of funding. In your proposal, please explain how this aspect of your project connects with its larger aims/goals, and how it improves the overall quality of the project. Also keep in mind any feedback that you may have received on this portion of your project during the initial review.

A: The Letter of Intent is required for submitting a proposal.

A: No, once the RFP is released, we cannot give feedback on project ideas. However, we can help you determine if you project is eligible for funding based on the guiding statute language.

A: Yes, we encourage collaboration between institutions both inside and outside the state of Minnesota. We strongly suggest that applicants establish formal partnerships in advance of proposal submission.

A: Yes, subcontracts are permitted. You may include subcontracts in the “Consultant Cost” line. Please include the name of the institution that you are subcontracting with on that line as well.

A: The total allowable indirect cost is 8% of the total request, including indirect costs for consultants/subcontracts.

A: You are only required to submit documents on behalf of the primary institution, or the institution that is acting as the fiscal agent for the project.

Researchers are permitted to apply even if they are not considered faculty, residents, or post-docs. This is has been consistent throughout the grant program's brief history. While not required, it may strengthen a proposal if they were to submit as a co-PI with faculty oversight.

There is no proposal scoring criteria that corresponds to needing/requesting a contract extension for current projects. The reviewers evaluate proposals based on the actual proposed project submitted with the background/context provided in the by the applicant.

Grant Recipients - Fiscal Year 2023

Spinal Cord Injury Research

  • University of Minnesota: Development of Translatable Cell Transplantation Therapies to Promote Sensory Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury
  • University of Minnesota: Restoration of sexual function in spinal cord injury patients with electrical spinal cord stimulation
  • University of Minnesota: Searching for Hope: Optimization of Configuration and Therapy to Maximize Motor Outcomes in Individuals with SCI Implanted with EES for Non-Somatic Outcomes
  • Mayo Clinic: Autologous gene-modified leucoconcentrate with translesional spinal cord stimulation for restoration after spinal cord injury.
  • University of Minnesota: Spinal Windowing to Allow for Ongoing In Vivo Visualization after Rat Spinal Cord Injury
  • Minneapolis VA Healthcare System: Epidural Stimulation to Improve Corticospinal Tract Function
  • Mayo Clinic: Blocking the Thrombin Receptor to Improve Neural Stem Cell-Mediated CNS Regeneration

Traumatic Brain Injury Research

  • Children's Minnesota: Use of an Electronic Eye Tracking Device to Predict Concussion in the Pediatric Emergency and Specialty Clinic Setting after Traumatic Brain Injury
  • HealthPartners Institute: Direct Nose to Brain Delivery of Deferoxamine for Treatment of TBI
  • University of Minnesota: Beyond Performance: Characterizing Changes in Cognitive Effort after TBI
  • University of Minnesota: Generating Exogenic Microglia for Repair in Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Minneapolis VA/UMN: Examining the Efficacy and Safety of Subanesthetic Ketamine on Depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder among Veterans with Mild and Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Mayo Clinic: A novel neuroendocrine system controlling left-right neural connectivity: implication for traumatic brain injury.
  • Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute: Reading after Traumatic Brain Injury: Development of a Guiding Model for Assessment and Treatment
  • Minneapolis VA Healthcare System: Neurodynamics of Disorder of Consciousness Related to Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Center for Veterans Research and Education: Predicting the consequences of chronic effects of neurotrauma in the VA population using image processing, machine learning, and MRI analytics


Download reports to the Minnesota Legislature on the institutions receiving grants and their purpose.