Request for Proposals: 2020 Northwestern ALACRITY Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs) Seed Grant

Digital Mental Health


The Northwestern University ALACRITY Center for Behavioral Technologies (CBITs), with support from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), will fund up to 4 R03 grants in the area of digital mental health. The purpose of these seed grants is to develop innovative research using technology for mental health that can lead to R-level NIMH grant submissions (or resubmissions) by the conclusion of the grant period. Grant applications may request up to $50,000 for one year.

We encourage cross disciplinary teams that integrate expertise across multiple areas, including psychology and psychiatry, human-computer interaction, computer science, or psychophysiology. We are interested in a broad range of research related to technology and mental health. Examples of topics include:

  • Pilots of digital mental health interventions.
  • Qualitative, user-centered design work that enables extending existing digital mental health tools to new populations or new settings.
  • Technology-enabled tools that can evaluate behaviors, psychological states, psychophysiological processes, or environmental factors related to mental health.
  • Digital mental health research within low-income and minority communities.
  • Machine learning related to mental health.

CBITs will offer support for awardees, including:

  • Grant writing support for the R-level NIH submission or resubmission
  • Consultation support through the Center’s Methods Core in design and broader HCI and clinical sciences methods


This RFA is open to all faculty at Northwestern University, except those currently funded on the NIMH P50 ALACRITY grant.

Application Instructions:

A. STUDY INFORMATION: Title, Project Contacts, Participating Organizations.

B. ABSTRACT: This should be able to stand alone and will be used in grant award announcements. (200 words max)

C. NARRATIVE (Application Document): (6 pages) The narrative should include the following:

  1. Specific Aims (1 page)
  2. Background and significance
  3. Innovation
  4. Research Methods
  5. Project timeline and milestones (including expected NIH grant submission date).
  6. Future research and grant submission plans

D. BUDGET AND BUDGET JUSTIFICATION: Proposed project budget. Note the following restrictions: Grant awards cannot be used to fund travel, conferences, or publications. Any requests for faculty salary should be well justified.



RFA Release July 30, 2020
Application Deadlines October 15, 2020

Application deadline has been extended.

Review Summary Statements Returned December 15, 2020
Funding decisions communicated December 15, 2020
Funding start January 1, 2021

Submission Process:

Grants will need to be submitted in NITROCompetitions.

The application title is 2020 Northwestern ALACRITY Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITs) Seed Grant.

Review Process:

Grants will be reviewed by ALACRITY Center core faculty and other reviewers as needed. Summary statements will provide feedback from the grant reviews. Those being considered for funding will be asked to respond to the critiques before a final funding decision is made.

Grants will be reviewed using NIMH criteria.

For grants that are pilot or feasibility studies for a clinical trial, NIMH requires an experimental therapeutics approach (based on NIMH’s RDoC Framework), in which studies not only evaluate the clinical effect of the intervention, but also generate information about the mechanisms underlying a disorder or an intervention response.  NIMH refers to these mechanisms as “targets.”  While the RDoC Framework is tailored more for biological treatments, it is nonetheless helpful to include some targets in your proposal that can explain why your intervention works.  These data will be useful for subsequent NIMH grant submissions.

Post Award:

The ALACRITY Center will continue to support the awardee during the year of the grant in the following ways.

  • Awardees will be provided a mentor from the ALACRITY Center.
  • Awardees may consult with the ALACRITY Center Methods Core for advice on design methods.
  • Quarterly meetings with all awardees will be held to support progress.
  • Quarterly progress reports will be required.
  • Awardees will be expected to present at least two times during the grant period in the Center Seminar series. They will be expected to present at the midpoint of the grant and at the conclusion of the grant.