Before considering a proposal for a research project, the MDA research department ensures that the project conforms to MDA’s mission of advancing research aimed at developing effective treatments for the neuromuscular diseases in its program. The researcher submits a “Letter of Intent”—a one-page summary describing the intended project, its relevance to MDA’s mission, and the qualifications of the investigator. For basic research grants, MDA accepts Letters of Intent twice a year—before each of the two six-month grant review cycles. For translational research grants through MDA Venture Philanthropy and for Clinical Trials grants, letters of intent are accepted throughout the year on a rolling basis.
If a proposal is relevant to MDA’s mission, MDA invites an applicant to submit a full application. Successful research proposals typically fill between 30 and 50, and take great care and thought to prepare. An important aspect of the life of a scientist, writing a grant proposal affords researchers the opportunity to step back from the lab bench, assess the research team’s recent findings, review the scientific literature, and formulate new experimental strategies. Successful proposals are comprehensive, yet concise. They anticipate and address every possible concern from critical reviewers, who analyze the data supporting the project, the plans to move the project forwards, the proposed budget for the program and its potential importance to the field as a whole.