Scaling Success Grant

Scaling Success Grant

The new Scaling Success Grant is designed to support faculty as they scale up to increasingly impactful team research, scholarship, and creative works, including larger awards from external sponsors. This program will specifically support faculty on projects that have already generated interest and encouragement from a federal, foundation, or industry sponsor for the purpose of further developing the project or team prior to formal submission to the sponsor. If needed, Research Development and Support can assist faculty in gauging sponsor interest and developing relationships with sponsors.

Faculty are encouraged to right-size their Scaling Success proposal budget to their immediate needs.

Scaling Success facilitates a stronger proposal and increases the possibility of a significant external award relative to the lead investigator's own discipline and award history. 

Click here to visit the Scaling Success application portal. 

Fund Uses

The Scaling Success Grant may generally be used for:

  • Capital expenses
  • Postdoctoral hires
  • Graduate student wages, stipends, and fees
  • Term limited consultants or skilled workers such as a web programmer or survey developer
  • Scientific and technical staff salaries
  • Travel
  • Materials or supplies

Unallowable uses generally include:

  • Book subventions
  • Faculty salaries
  • Tuition or financial aid support for students.

Award Eligibility & Terms

We encourage you to reach out to with questions regarding your project's suitability for this program or about the application in general.

  • Project funding is $5,000 to $60,000 within 12 months of award receipt, with larger amounts considered if the proposal warrants and the program project allows.
  • Funds may be used for a variety of purposes, including course buyout with dean support.
  • All full-time, VU-employed faculty are eligible.
  • Faculty may submit up to one proposal per application cycle as lead faculty.
  • Applicants are encouraged to consider how their proposal advances inclusive excellence.
  • Faculty are not eligible to submit another proposal until all reporting requirements have been met for previous internal awards.
  • Each participating faculty member must disclose all institutional research support funds, including endowed-chair funds, annual allocations, and other such sources.
  • All funds must be used within the awarded project period (i.e. no carry forward).
  • Course buyout may be requested in Scaling Success proposals in the amount of $35,000. Course buyout must be approved by your dean before applying. Written documentation of approval must be included in the application
  • Applicants may apply for up to $60,000 in salary and fringe support from OVPRI awards for postdoctoral researchers. Any amount over the $60,000 must be covered by the PI. Additionally, the application should cover:
    • The necessity of a postdoc to the project
    • The work the postdoc will be doing on the project
    • Detail plan to sustainably support the postdoc after their internal award period ends

Review Process

  • Proposals will be reviewed on a monthly basis in order to ensure that faculty researchers can be responsive to external interest. Please see the monthly dates below.
  • Application dates for 2024-2025

    May 20, 2024
    No Review in June

    July 19, 2024
    August 16, 2024
    September 20, 2024
    October 18, 2024
    November 15, 2024

Internal Awards Reviewer Committee

Internal Awards Reviewer Committee

Application Checklist & Requirements

Click here to access the InfoReady Application Portal

Part One: Applicant Information

This information will need to be entered into text boxes on InfoReady.

  • Lead Faculty First and Last Name
  • Lead Faculty VUnetID
  • Lead Faculty Department
  • Lead Faculty Appointment Title
  • Project Collaborators and Personnel
  • Department Administrator Name and Email
  • Total Amount of Funding Requested
  • Select primary category of project proposed (Basic Science/Engineering/Social Science/Humanities/Arts)
  • Targeted Sponsor
  • Targeted Program
  • Targeted Submission Date

Part 2: Proposal Information

These responses will be entered into text boxes on InfoReady.

  • Proposal Title
  • Project Abstract (100 words)
  • Research & Methods (750 words)
    Briefly explain your proposed project, the research question(s) it addresses, and the methodological approach and rationale of your project. Also discuss the significance and impact of the work proposed on your field and subfields. References are not required, and any included will count toward the word count, though you may upload an optional references/bibliography document to this application. Please make sure that your response is free of field-specific jargon and will be accessible to readers in your selected discipline group (Science & Medicine, Arts & Humanities, Engineering, and Social Science).
  • Scaling and Sponsorship Information (750 words)
    To what sponsor and/or program are you applying? Please explain your relationship, communication with the sponsor, and the feedback you have received from the sponsor on your work.  How have you incorporated their feedback into your proposed activities? How does this represent an opportunity to scale your work? How has your past work, grants, awards, collaboration, etc., prepared you for this targeted external opportunity?
  • Workplan (500 words)
    Describe your workplan, timeline, and all notable benchmarks for the 12-month grant period, including when you plan to submit your proposal to the external sponsor.
  • Collaboration (500 words max)
    If applicable, please describe the role of all individuals listed on the project, including the PI and any co-collaborators.
  • Postdoctoral Workers (500 words max)
    If hiring a postdoc, please explain a) the necessity of the postdoc to the project, b) the work the postdoc will be doing on the project, c) if a postdoc has already been selected or will be a new hire, d) if hiring a new postdoc, please discuss the desired qualifications of the postdoc, and e) a sustainable plan for supporting the postdoc after the Scaling Success Grant ends. Please note that OVPRI Internal Awards will only cover up to $60,000 for postdoc hires.
  • Budget Justification (500 words)
    Please explain and justify what the requested funds will cover, if awarded. This section should correlate to the attached budget.
  • Disclosure of Internal Funds
    Disclose specific dollar amounts of all internal funds currently available (start-up funds, annual allocations, endowed-chair funds, other internal awards, etc.) for each VU faculty member listed. Indicate why these monies cannot be used for the proposed project expenditures and if there will be any cost-sharing on the part of the PI/co-investigators from those internal funds.
  • IRB Approval
    Does this project require IRB approval? If so, has this process been initiated?


The following items must be uploaded to the application portal on InfoReady in pdf format. Additional written content or files, other than what is listed below, will not be reviewed.

  • Detailed budget (Please use this template)
    Upload a detailed budget using the template provided on the Details page of this competition. Please be thorough in describing your costs. For example, if there is any staff support listed on this grant, you must list the % effort and how the rate is calculated, etc.  The expenses listed should be justified in the budget justification above.
  • Documentation of Sponsor Interest
    Applicants should have positive communication from a sponsor regarding their project, though this may vary in form and content. Examples include, but are not limited to, feedback on a prior application, written communication with a program officer, transcript or summary of communication with program officer, etc.
  • Scholarship and Sponsorship Information
    All VU faculty listed on this application must upload a list of their five most recent and relevant (to this project) publications or works. Please do not upload entire copies of these publications; citations are sufficient. All VU faculty listed on this application must also include a list of all external sponsorship from the last five years, including:
    • Project Title
    • Sponsoring Group/Agency
    • Grant or Award Type
    • Individual role
    • Dates of Award
    • Total Award Amount
  • Optional References/Selected Bibliography:  Please limit your bibliography/references to one page. An optional supporting image or attachment may be included on a separate page below your references. Additional written content will not be reviewed. (You may include brief captions to any images, but they should be short and descriptive.)

Previous Scaling Success Awardees

  • January 2024 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Sean Davies, Associate Professor, Pharmacology, School of Medicine Basic Sciences, “Development of small molecule NAPE-PLD activators,” Targeted Sponsor: National Institutes of Health/National Institute for General Medical Sciences, R01.
    • Rebecca Ihrie, Associate Professor, Cell & Developmental Biology, School of Medicine Basic Sciences, “Mapping Preferential Translation in Neural Development,” Targeted Sponsor: Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program – Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research Program, Idea Development Award.
  • November 2023 Scaling Success Awardees
    • F. Peter Guengerich, Tadashi Inagami Chair, Biochemistry, School of Medicine Basic Sciences, “Selective inhibition of cytochrome P450 17A1 (CYP17A1)- cytochrome b5 (cyt b5) interaction to block androgen production in prostate cancer and other androgen-driven diseases,” Targeted Sponsor: Deerfield/Ancora, Ancora Innovation Program.
    • Jessica Perkins, Assistant Professor, Human & Organizational Development, Peabody College, “Misperceived Peer Norms and HIV/STI Prevention and Treatment Among Secondary School Students in Rural Uganda,” Targeted Sponsor: NIH, NICHD R01
  • October 2023 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Sophia Vinci-Booher, Assistant Professor, Psychology and Human Development, Peabody College, “MRI-compatible eye-tracking to capture brain mechanisms of visual attention,” Targeted Sponsor: National Institutes of Health, R01.
    • Eric Spivey, Research Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, “Next-generation neurovascular unit: a human microphysiological system with defined neural circuits and a blood-brain barrier that supports multi-modal analysis of spatiotemporal correlations,” Targeted Sponsor: National Institutes of Health, R01.
  • July 2023 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Noam Lupu, Associate Professor of Political Science, "Security and Migration in the Latin America & Caribbean Region," College of Arts and Science, Department of Political Science
    • Bob Webster, Richard A. Schroeder Professor of Mechanical Engineering, "Transformative Autonomy at at Disruptively Less Invasive Scale in Surgical Robots," School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering
    • Zhenzhong Ma, Research Assistant Professor, "Synaptic and molecular mechanisms of the DUSP6-ERK pathway to sustain antidepressant effects of ketamine," School of Medicine Basic Sciences, Department of Pharmacology
  • February 2023 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Mikail Rubinov, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, "Integrative Benchmark Models for Systems and Network Neuroscience," School of Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • November 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Lauren Buchanan, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, "Amide-based Vibrational Strong Coupling through Hyperbolic Polarition Nanocavities", College of Arts and Science, Department of Chemistry
  • October 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Bennett Landman, Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, "Regional Computing: AI for Interdisciplinary Imaging Interpretation", School of Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • September 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Robert Barsky, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, "Those College Years: The Making of Nathan Glazer, Public Intellectual", College of Arts and Science, Department of French & Italian
    • Emily Phillips Galloway, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, "A Pilot to Evaluate a Novel Reading Curriculum for Multilingual Middle Grade Readers", Peabody College Co-PI: Sandra Simonns, Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • July 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Professor of Astronomy, "Bringing Dark Matter to Light", College of Arts and Science, Department of Physics & Astronomy
  • May 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Vesna Pavlović, Associate Professor, "Woven Wind," College of Arts and Science, Department of Art 
  • February 2022 Scaling Success Awardees
    • Ann Kaiser, Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development, "Building a culturally derived early language intervention for young children with Autism who speak Spanish," Peabody College, Department of Special Education
      Co-PI: Tatiana Peredo, Special Education
    • Steven Wernke, Associate Professor of Anthropology, "Scaling GeoPACHA: Geospatial Platform for Andean Culture, History and Archaeology," College of Arts and Science, Department of Anthropology
      Co-PI: Yuankai Huo, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering
    • Karl Zelik, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, "Taking a Load Off: Novel Wearable Device to Reduce Solider Back Injuries from Heavy Body Armor," School of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering



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Purchase Requisitions & Expense Reporting

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