Hearing Health Foundation
Policy on Emerging Research Grants (ERG)

I. OVERVIEW OF  POLICIES AND OBJECTIVES

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), the largest nonprofit funder of hearing and balance research in the U.S., awards Emerging Research Grants (ERG)  annually for the project period of July 1 - June 30. An ERG grant is a mutual joining of interests on the part of HHF, the grantee, and their institution in the pursuit furthering hearing and balance science.

The primary purpose of the ERG program is to enable the investigator to become established and/or to produce innovative, quality research that will allow him/her to successfully compete grants from the National Institutes of Health or other sources.

Both fundamental and clinical research proposals are welcome for submission to ERG. Applications will be considered for research of “General Hearing Health” or in specific hearing and balance topic areas. of designated topic areas..

  • HHF grants up to $30,000 per year for each research project and provides a maximum of one year of support.

  • For Emerging Research Grants in the “General Hearing Health” category, only early career investigators who are in the early stages of their careers may apply. To be considered in the early career investigator category:

    • The applicant must be no more than 7 years beyond the date that the first professional, advanced professional, or terminal academic degree was awarded, whichever is most recent.

    • And, the applicant cannot be a current or prior Principal Investigator (PI) on a major independent research award (e.g., R00, R03, R21, R01, VA Merit, DoD, or equivalent). Prior appointment on fellowship/training grants, or prior service as a PI on a mentored career development award, is permissible.

  • For Emerging Research Grants in specific hearing and balance topic areas (e.g. Auditory Processing Disorder, Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, Ménière’s Disease), both early career and senior established investigators may apply. Please note that early career investigators will be given priority for funding in these categories.

 

HHF’s Council of Scientific Trustees (CST), in conjunction with HHF’s Scientific Review Committee (SRC), will consider:

  • the subject of the research;

  • the quality of its design, including the data collection and evaluation components;

  • the potential for significant advancement in basic knowledge or clinical application;

  • the available facilities and personnel at the institution in which the research will be carried out; and

  • the qualifications of the investigators.
     

In accepting a research grant, the institution and the applicant are responsible for using grant funds only for purposes set forth in the application and approved in the HHF award letter.

 

II. SUPPORT OF A RESEARCH PROJECT TERMS & CONDITIONS 

A. Approved Project: This is an identified activity or program approved by HHF for support for a specified period of time.

B. Project Year: This is the one-year period (July 1 - June 30) for which a maximum of $30,000 of funding is awarded. Double dipping is prohibited. The project year may be extended up to one year without additional funding, if requested before the end of the project’s calendar year by the applicant and approved by HHF. No extensions greater than one year are allowed. 

C. Project Period: The estimated length of time it will take to complete the research project should be one year. (HHF may approve a no-cost extension for another year if needed.)

D. Awards: An Award will be made in an amount estimated to be needed for one project year up to a maximum of $30,000. Awards will only be funded in the research topic areas (e.g. General Hearing Health, Auditory Processing Disorder, Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, Ménière’s Disease) specified in the Request for Applications.

E. Available Funds and Budget: Grant funds may only be used for the direct costs of carrying out approved projects such as:

  • salaries of technical and supporting personnel;

  • limited alteration and renovation of existing facilities;

  • purchase of equipment (cost of equipment should be equal to/greater than $5,000);

  • supplies including drugs and services; and

  • other specifically authorized expenses as may be essential to carrying out the project.

  • If an institution requires an allocation for indirect costs that amount may not exceed $3,000 (10% of the total grant award). The total HHF award will not exceed $30,000.

Grant funds may not be used for the following:

  • salary of applicant, co-investigator or individuals with a doctorate degree;

  • travel;

  • living expenses;

  • reprints;

  • computers, including laptops

  • overhead costs exceeding 10% of project costs; and

  • public information, education programs or training costs (including tuition).

The Council of Scientific Trustees and the Scientific Review Committee of HHF will evaluate and approve the proposed itemized project budgets.

HHF expects that the applicant’s institution, in authorizing expenditures for the research project, will follow the budget approved within the application. The investigator and institution may transfer dollars from one budgeted category to another with specific approval from his/her institution within the categories specified by HHF. HHF should be notified immediately and, a revised budget and justification of changes, as well as the approval from the Institution, should be provided to HHF. A letter from the Primary Investigator (PI) should also be provided to HHF explaining the changes between budgeted categories with justification for these changes. Any proposed change in the direction of the project must first receive written approval from HHF. All obligations of grant funds must be incurred within the project year unless otherwise granted by HHF.

F. Publications & Publicity

  • Investigators are expected to make the results of their research promptly available to the scientific public. Acknowledgment of HHF support must be made when findings are reported to scientific audiences or scientific journals or when publicity is given to a project.

  • Publications resulting from work supported in whole or in part by HHF must contain a credit line to that effect. Two PDF copies should be submitted to HHF.

  • When a project is awarded, HHF has the right to publish its abstract and results, when available, on its website, in its Annual Report, and through other public channels.

G. Reporting

  • Mid-Year Report: All HHF grantees are required to submit a mid-year grant report by the first Friday in January of the grant period. If a mid-year report is late or not submitted, final payment to the institution will be withheld until report is received or may not be made. The mid-year report must be submitted in accordance with the instructions accompanying the report. Failure to submit a progress report or to demonstrate research progress will be grounds for grant termination.

  • Terminal Report: All HHF grantees must submit a Terminal and Expenditure report due two months after the termination of grant in accordance with the instructions accompanying the report. Unless otherwise authorized by HHF, unexpended funds must be returned to HHF with this report.

 

III. ELIGIBILITY, APPLICATIONS, NOTIFICATION & PAYMENT

A. Eligibility:

Candidate:

  • Applicants must hold an M.D., Ph.D., Au.D., or an equivalent degree.

  • Applicants should demonstrate experience and strong research training as well as sufficient institutional support (facilities, time, and mentorship) to carry out the proposed work.

  • If the applicant is a postdoctoral fellow, it is expected that he or she be at the senior level (e.g., 3 or more years of postdoctoral training). Further, the applicant must demonstrate in the application that he or she is on a pathway to independence. Specifically, the applicant should indicate how the proposed aims will help with his or her transition toward independence from the mentor, including how the proposed research is distinct from the mentor's research program.

  • Applicants to be considered an early career investigator cannot be a current or prior PI on a major independent research award (e.g., R00, R03, R21, R01, VA Merit, DoD, or equivalent). Prior appointment on fellowship/training grants, or prior service as a PI on a mentored career development award, is allowable.

  • PIs in early stages of independent research careers will receive top priority for funding.  

  • The applicant must hold an appointment at a non-profit educational, governmental or research institution within the U.S. Appointments may include faculty, postdoctoral fellow, or clinical/research fellow. Graduate students and medical residents are not eligible to serve as PIs

  • The proposed research must address one of the hearing and balance topics advertised in the ERG Request for Applications. In the application, the applicant must provide justification for the relevance of the proposed research to the designated ERG topic area.

Subject Matter/Scientific Merit:

  • Proposed research that is significant and innovative, addressing a question or a set of questions in the new designated topic area that are new and emerging, or that applies an innovative approach to an established question or set of questions.

  • Proposals should contain well defined hypotheses, significance, experimental design (including planned methods and data analysis), expected outcomes, and interpretations.

  • If the applicant is a post-doctoral fellow, the proposed project must address a question or set of questions that are distinct from the mentor's (or Co-PI's) lines of research.

  • PI should have relevant experience and strong research training.

  • If applicable, research team should demonstrate complementary expertise.  

  • Institutional and scientific environment suitable for the proposed research, including mentorship as appropriate.

  • Institutional support, equipment, core facilities, research subjects, and other resources should be adequate for the proposed research and available to the investigators.

Total duration of HHF funding allowed:

An individual applicant is eligible to receive one year of funding from HHF. The project timeline should not exceed one year. Applications for continuations of research supported by prior ERG or other awards or for bridge funding will not be considered.

A. Ineligibility: The following applications will not be considered:

  • From individuals researching at institutions outside of the U.S.

  • From graduate students.

  • For research continuation or bridge funding.

  • Applies to Early Career Investigators only:

    • Individuals concurrently receiving support for the proposed project of >$75,000 per annum in direct costs from any other combined source(s) during award period. Funding of pending awards during HHF award period may necessitate the return the balance of HHF award.

    • Individuals who have received one or more year of HHF support within 7 years.  

B.  Other Funding: An application shall state whether the same project is receiving support from another source, and whether an application has been submitted to another source for such funding. If, after application to or funding by HHF, this same project receives support from another granting agency, the applicant and the grantee institution shall promptly notify HHF of such funding and make provisions to return any unexpended HHF funds.

C.  Notification: In the Spring, HHF will notify each applicant whether or not his/her project has received a grant for the upcoming project year, and if so, the amount of that grant.

D.  Payments: Grants will be paid in two equal payments disbursed in June and February. Second payment will ONLY be made after the midyear report is approved by HHF.

E.  Budget Deviation: Any budget deviation during the program year requires an updated budget and justification of change. In the interim, remittance of payment cannot be provided.

F. Conflict of Interest: An institution awarded a grant from HHF must sign and submit a Conflict of Interest statement to be provided by HHF.
 

IV. PROJECT CHANGES

A. Transfer of Institution: No research grant can be transferred from one institution to another without the written approval of HHF. If a grantee wishes to have such transfer made, that grantee must:

  • request, in writing, the approval of HHF for the transfer;

  • secure written approval for the transfer from fiscal officer at the present institution;

  • submit an expenditures report covering the project period at the present institution up to the time of the transfer approved by HHF, and provide for the return to HHF of all unexpended funds received by the present institution for the grant;

  • provide HHF with the name and address of the fiscal officer of the new institution;

  • secure from the appropriate chairman at the new institution both a confirmation for HHF of the investigator's new appointment, and confirmation that the new duties and the available facilities and personnel will permit the prompt continuation of the research project;

  • letter of support from mentor at the new institution; and

  • submit a progress report on the work done at the present institution since the beginning of the grant period.

B. Change of Objective: If the applicant wishes to make changes that could alter the approved objectives for which the original grant was made, prior approval of HHF is required.

C. Change of Investigator: If the investigator relinquishes or expects to relinquish active direction of the project, HHF must be notified immediately. The grantee institution may:

  • request termination of the grant, in which case a terminal progress report and expenditure report must be submitted and unexpended funds must be returned to HHF, or;

  • with the approval of HHF, continue the project under the direction of another investigator. In this instance, biographical data, an interim progress report, and other pertinent information required by HHF must accompany the request for continuation.

D. No-Cost Extension: The applicant must request a no-cost extension on his/her institution's letterhead before the end of the initial project year (June 30). The request must be approved by HHF. The letter must include the reason for a no-cost extension and the duration of the extension. The project year may be extended, up to one year, without additional funding. No additional extension beyond one year will be approved.
 

V. LIMITATIONS

A. Geographical: Grants are limited to institutions within the United States of America.

B. Time: Awards are approved for a period of one year.

C. Amount: A grant cannot exceed $30,000 for one project year.

D. Grant: HHF applies a policy of funding grants receiving a high priority score without the number limitation based on available funds.

E.  Non Tax-exempt organizations: Grants may be made to public or private not-for-profit tax-exempt institutions, to support research at those institutions by investigators who are formally attached to them. Research conducted cannot directly benefit for-profit companies and/or be directed toward a for-profit company's product development unless otherwise agreed to by the HHF Board of Directors in their sole discretion. Awarding grants to for-profit companies may disqualify HHF for tax-exempt status.

F. Funding: HHF grants are intended for the support of research endeavors carried out by investigators who are beginning to work in the field of hearing and balance.  Under some circumstances (described above), support will also be provided to established investigators.

 

VI. CONDITIONS

In the event that the grantee breaches any of the provisions of the policy described above, HHF reserves the right to withhold further payments of the grants, and to require the grantee to repay to HHF any funds expended in contravention of such provisions.