spark award

The Spark Award is a partnership program between the Firefly Foundation and the Alzheimer Society of Canada (ASC)  that will be awarded through the 2016 competition of the Alzheimer Society Research Program.

program objectives

The Firefly Spark Award was created to support efforts to open new paths of discovery in research into Alzheimer’s Disease and related neurodegenerative diseases.

The Spark Award is designed to fill a perceived gap in research funding that the Firefly Foundation believes is critical to opening up new research possibilities that can contribute to one day conquering neurodegenerative research. In the competition for grant funding, there is often an emphasis on familiarity, feasibility and ‘safe bets’, rather than innovation and potentially breakthrough ‘long shots’; this often leads peer review panels to be more conservative and risk adverse in their selection process. At the same time, breakthrough ideas with a strong ‘reason to believe’ in truly game-changing research are often able attract major funding. The gap: funding for potentially breakthrough research ideas for which there is only an informed hypothesis from innovative scientists. These pioneers need proof-of-concept research to substantiate promising new pathways of discovery and development.

The goal of the Firefly Spark Award is to support novel research into neurodegenerative disease that is well-informed but requires evidence to be pursued further. Projects considered will include a thoughtful hypothesis on envisioned solutions, approaches or methodologies that are new and novel. Research proposals must represent the potential to open new scientific pathways and/or generate noteworthy learning.

Testing these new hypotheses will lead to valuable learning, whether proven or disproven, and must be publishable to the broader research community.

It is hoped that this grant program will accelerate the introduction of groundbreaking innovation in neurodegenerative disease research and contribute to the scientific idea pipeline.  It is Firefly’s hope that the recipient of the Spark Award will generate substantial findings in their research that may be leveraged for future on-going funding from other traditional sources who offer on-going support, such as ASC or CIHR.

scientific focus of the program

The purpose of the Firefly Spark Award is to support unique, creative research ideas that will impact brain health and prevent, defer or effectively treat neurodegenerative disease. Although this grant program is primarily designed to support the biomedical, translational and clinical research communities, we also welcome and encourage cross-disciplinary pursuits within academia, or a post-doc who is working with industry to develop new treatments or technologies.

Applicants are required to submit proposals for studies using the ASC online application system for work that that explicitly address the Firefly Foundations mission to find treatment for prevention or cures to eradicate neurodegenerative disease.

mechanisms of support

The funding partners, The Firefly Foundation and the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) will co-fund a Spark Award in the amount of $100,000 ($50,000 per year) over two years.

program eligibility

Applicants must be within the first 18 months of completing their PhD and must pursue their postdoctoral fellowship in Canada. Further eligibility criteria can be found within the ASRP Application Guidelines.