Catalyst Grant


Catalyst Grant Program

Funding Opportunity for Innovative Ideas from All Employees


Do you have an idea that could help patients or improve the way we do things? Do you need time or funding to make it happen? We have an opportunity for you!

The Catalyst Grant Program at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab accelerates our vision “to be the global source of science-driven breakthroughs in human ability.” This program is designed to enhance translational research, support innovation and fund ideas that vary in complexity and cost.

There are five categories of Catalyst Grants—Project Grant, Quality Grant, Mentorship Grant, Foundational Grant 1, and Foundational Grant 2. Please be sure to read the following information carefully in order to select the most appropriate category for your idea.

Award Amounts: $1,000-$50,000
Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Eligibility and Application Information

1) Every application must include a researcher and non-researcher (clinician or non-clinician). Individuals who participate do not need to have previous research experience, but must have a research partner. If you need assistance identifying a research partner, please contact Melissa Briody 

2) Submitted projects must be relevant to the vision of Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of senior SRAlab faculty. The Review Committee is authorized to examine and modify budgets for any/all grant types, as is determined appropriate.

3) See the summary table with expanded descriptions of grants available. Applicants should complete the application appropriate to their grant submission.

4) Application resources available below.

5) Applications and proposed budgets for all grant types should be submitted in a single PDF file at Use the budget calculator to help plan your budget.

This cycle includes the unique opportunity for funding one Project Grant up to $5,000 that is specific to the care and rehabilitation of individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Thus, individuals with ideas related to this population are especially encouraged to apply.








Easy to implement and produces rapid results.

$1,000- $10,000


▪ New product, device, process, or intervention
▪ Presentation (internal/external)


Leads to clinical or research quality improvement.

$10,000- $25,000

12-18 months

▪ Change in processes or outcomes
▪ Presentation (internal/external)


Involves mentorship from experienced researcher to support an applicant’s professional research development.

$10,000- $25,000

12-18 months

▪ Evidence of research skill development
▪ Presentation (external)
▪ Publication (highly recommended)
- Abstract
- Manuscript


Develops a translational research idea that results in a publication and national presentation.

$10,000- $25,000

12-18 months

▪ Presentation (external)
▪ Publication
- Abstract
- Manuscript


Develops a translational research idea that results in publication, national presentation, and application for extramural grant funding.

$25,000- $50,000

18-24 months

▪ Federal grant application
▪ Presentation (external)
▪ Publication
• Abstract
• Manuscript


Category Descriptions


PROJECT ($1,000-10,000): The Project Grant is intended for “quick win” projects. They are low cost, easy to implement and produce specific results that immediately impact our patients and/or organization. Project Grant topics are unlimited, but may include projects that modify patient care, develop equipment or devices (e.g., developing a new trach tube connector, creating a prototype orthotic) or refine a system or process (e.g., ordering food, creating training videos for patient/family education, etc.).

QUALITY ($10,000-25,000): The Quality Grant is intended for quality improvement projects that lead to a change in process or outcomes resulting in improved operational efficiency or patient care. Quality Grants should utilize the Plan-Do-Study Act (PDSA) Cycle (a quality improvement framework) as well as research methodology to document efficacy. As an example, a past Quality Grant project involved redesigning the process of ordering durable medical equipment to reduce inefficiencies. This project identified a problem and completed a root cause analysis that identified the breakdown in the ordering process. Then, they implemented a new process, created an educational module to train employees on the updated process, and measured the outcomes.

MENTORSHIP ($10,000-25,000): The Mentorship Grant is intended for individuals who have limited research experience but would like to become more competent in translational research and have a potential project that will impact patient care. Their work will be mentored by an experienced researcher, and one primary goal of this grant is to develop the research skills of the mentee. Consequently, the mentee will be expected to demonstrate evidence of newly developed research skills at the conclusion of the project. In addition, these projects must address a clinical problem or develop a research tool that is clearly translational.

Level 1 FOUNDATIONAL ($10,000-25,000): The Level 1 Foundational Grant is intended to fund a scientist and clinician collaborative project that impacts patient care and/or outcomes but will not likely lead to extramural funding. The goal of this grant is to perform high quality research that warrants dissemination to the rehabilitation community at the national/international level.

Level 2 FOUNDATIONAL ($25,000-50,000): The Level 2 Foundational Grant is intended to fund a scientist and clinician collaborative project that will potentially impact patient care and/or outcomes and lead to external funding and additional research. In addition to serving as the foundation for future work, these larger grants, compared to the Level 1 Foundational Grants, are intended specifically to create the pilot data necessary to apply for national level external grant support (e.g., NIH, VA, DOD).


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