2020 Call for Proposals: Rennie Fund for the Study of Epilepsy


The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute (HWNI) calls for proposals to the Rennie Fund. This fund provides 1-year awards to support new research on epilepsy. Proposals can be directly related to epilepsy, or to closely related areas in neuroscience. The funding amount is in the range of $20-50K, for 1 year of support, for a single research group or a team. Funds can be used to support research, development, conferences, and postdoc/graduate student support. Faculty salary should be no more than 10% of total expenditures.  

Proposals consist of a 1-page research description, a lay summary, a 1-page budget justification, and CV(s) or biosketch(es) for PI(s).

Applications for 2020 are now closed.


History of Program and Donor 

The Rennie Fund was created in 1962 as the result of a bequest from the Mary Elizabeth Rennie Trust. Although she wasn’t an alumna, Ms. Rennie’s brother, William Rennie, Jr., had been a member of the Berkeley class of 1919. The bequest was initially made to the UC Regents to be used at their discretion for the study of epilepsy, but in 1981, the fund was allocated to the UC Berkeley campus.

From 1981 to 2017, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate funded 2-3 grants per year to faculty doing research on epilepsy as part of the Senate’s faculty grants program. Many of those faculty are now affiliated with HWNI. In 2017, the Senate transferred the fund to HWNI.

Award Amount

Awards will be $20-50K per funded proposal. The award will be provided in a single installment on September 1, 2020, available for a period of one year. We anticipate making up to 3 awards per year.

Proposal Requirements

At least one participant should be a UC Berkeley ladder-rank faculty member whose area of research includes epilepsy or an epilepsy-related area.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should describe how the support will enable new knowledge development and/or target major gaps in our current knowledge of epilepsy. Eligible activities for the Rennie Fund include, but are not limited to: research and development, conferences, and postdoc/graduate student support. Faculty salaries should be no more than 10% of total expenditures.

Applications should be submitted electronically as a single PDF file that includes:

  • Title page listing PI (and co-PIs, if relevant) and department affiliations
  • 1-paragraph lay summary of project
  • 1-page project description
  • 1-page budget and justification
  • CVs or biosketch(es) for PI (and co-PIs)

The lay summary should be accessible to non-scientists and speak to the goals as well as the potential societal impact of the project. Send applications to hwni@berkeley.edu by April 10, 2020 at 5pm. Please direct questions to hwni@berkeley.edu. Proposals should not be routed through SPO. Please name the PDF as follows: lead PI “Last name_first name_RennieFund_2020.pdf”. Include a running header on the top right hand corner of the PDF with the lead PI’s last name, first name, proposal title, and year.

Timeline and Process

Feb 26, 2020 – Program announcement

April 10, 2020 – Applications due by 5pm

May 15, 2020 – Selection notifications to applicants

September 1, 2020 – Project start date

September 1, 2021 – Progress report to selection committee

Selection Committee/Process

The selection committee is composed of the director of HWNI and a panel of faculty selected from the HWNI membership.

The selection committee members are asked to rate the proposals based on a rubric created by HWNI. The committee members recommendations are forwarded to the director of HWNI for ultimate determination.

Reporting Requirements

At the completion of the project (September 2021), a one page progress report will be required.

Recent Past Recipients