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Posted By Lori Snyder



2021 Application Cycle is Now Closed.


The Center for Smart Use of Technology to Assess Real-world Outcomes (C-STAR) will fund four projects per year. Each project may receive up to $25,000 in direct costs that must be expended within 12-months of study start date. Awardees will also receive mentorship from top leaders in engineering, clinical, outcomes and implementation science research.

The mission of C-STAR is to leverage the collective experience of our clinicians, scientists, engineers and patients to support the development of novel pilot studies that explore the smart use of technology to assess motor and cognitive performance and/or outcomes in laboratory, clinical, or community settings. We are looking for projects with the potential for significant clinical impact that will likely lead to successful grant applications to NIH and other national funding agencies.

See our previously awarded projects.

Eligibility and Submissions


Clinicians and researchers with innovative ideas for the use of technology in rehabilitation research are eligible to apply. Applicants must be affiliated with US-based institutions. They must be eligible to submit an R01 or equivalent and receive NIH funding as Principal Investigators. Preference is given to clinical and basic scientists who are in the early stages of their independent career in rehabilitation research. 

Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible.

Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

If you have an idea that accelerates the use of sensor and video technology in rehabilitation research, consider also applying for a pilot project award offered by our partner center, Restore Center at Stanford University in addition to submitting to C-STAR.


Key Dates


Letter of Intent Due: May 17, 2021

Applicants will be notified whether to submit a full proposal: by June 1, 2021

Full Proposal Submission Period: June 1, 2021 - July 13, 2021

Full Proposals Due: July 13, 2021

Pilot Project Awardees Announced: August 25, 2021

Earliest Pilot Project Start Date: October 4, 2021 *pending submission approval and completion of all post award documentation


Letter of Intent Submission Instructions


Submission of a Letter of Intent (LOI) is required from all pilot project applicants.

Applicants must complete and follow the instructions outlined within the LOI form (download below). Once completed, the form should be submitted online via REDCap along with the principal investigator’s NIH biosketch.

You will be asked in the LOI form to describe how you wish to use C-STAR’s resources to help you with your career. You may find the resources offered on the C-STAR website and a description of our cores of expertise on our C-STAR Cores webpage.

Only individuals who receive “An Invitation to Submit” may submit a full proposal application for consideration.

Full Proposal Application Instructions (due July 13, 2021)


Letter of Intent applicants who receive an invitation to submit their full application
must submit each of the following elements to the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Competitions site. 

  • First time users will need to sign up at the login page.
  • All Northwestern University (NU) affiliates will log in with their NetID.



Once the application process is open, a link will be provided - on this page - to start the application process for Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Center for Smart Use of Technology to Assess Real-World Outcomes Pilot Study Funding.

First time users will need to sign up at the login page. All Northwestern University (NU) affiliates will log in with their NetID. 

Required information for submission will include:

1. Cover Sheet That Includes:

  • A descriptive project title
  • Key personnel with their title, position and institution
  • Total budget amount requested
  • The population(s) you wish to study
  • The location(s) the study assessments will occur. Identify which apply: (a) Lab/scientific research or teaching (b)  Clinic, medical or rehabilitation services (inpatient or outpatient)  (c) Community, the natural environment (home, work or recreation)
  • Sponsored Program Office administrative contact information
  • Disclose any other submissions for this pilot project. If this is the only submission, include the statement, “This pilot project has not been submitted elsewhere.”

2. Specific Aims (1-page max)

3. Research Plan (3-pages max)

  • Introduction (background information, significance and implications of the project)
  • Methods
  • Outcomes measured
  • Project timeline for completing the proposed project, preparing and submitting a manuscript to an appropriate professional journal, and preparing and submitting a competitive grant application by or shortly after the end of the award period
  • C-STAR resources you are planning to use in addition to pilot project funding.
  • How your project will be used to promote your career and future research.
  • Your specific plans for securing extramural funding from this pilot project once completed.

4. Budget and Justification (2-page max)

  • Please use PHS 398 Form Page 4: Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period in MS Word Version (1 page) found in the Instructions and Form Files for PHS 398. Use ONE continuation pages as needed for the budget justification.
  • Facilities and Administrative costs (indirect costs) - F&A costs are capped at 58.5% Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC).   Institutions with federally approved F&A rates below this cap must apply their federally approved F&A rate.  For institutions that do not have a federally negotiated F&A rate, a rate not to exceed 10% of MTDC may be applied.  A current copy of your F&A rate agreement will be required prior to award issuance.
    *SRAlab applicants will NOT be eligible for F&A costs.
  • Funds may not be requested for general office supplies, computers and laptops, travel, conferences, publication fees, entertainment of visitors, capital equipment, membership dues and fees, tuition or teaching activities.

5. Literature Cited (not part of the 3-page limit)

6. NIH Biosketches of Key Personnel

7. Letter(s) of Support (optional)



Application Review Criteria & Process


Each application will be reviewed by two to three reviewers with relevant expertise. Applications will be scored on the 1-9 point NIH scale. Recommendations for funding will be based on: 1) quality of the research (scientific merit, innovation, and impact); 2) relevancy to the mission of the C-STAR; and 3) qualifications of the research team to lead the research effort toward securing extramural funding.

Please contact cstarpilotprojects@sralab.org with any questions or for more information.

CSTAR is funded by the National Institutes of Health (Grant #P2C HD101899) supported by NICHD and NINDS

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