Tufts Initiative on Substance Use and Addiction


Standard Deadlines: Submissions are due every other year.

Submissions by: Project Start Date: Project End Date:
Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at 12pm October 1, 2024 September 30, 2025





In response to the nationwide crisis, Tufts Initiative on Substance Use and Addiction (TISUA) is committed to supporting innovative programs aimed at understanding, preventing, and treating addiction and substance use, as well as related morbidity and mortality.

Funded by Tufts University, this initiative provides a platform for members of our research, scholarly, and arts communities to drive local and national transformative ideas related to substance use and addiction. Our mission includes promoting proactive measures and transformative solutions to address the depth and complexity of substance use and addiction, as well as related health concerns, with the overall goal of leading to external funding focusing on substance use and addiction that will build on and sustain the work completed as a result of this award.

Focus Areas/Priorities:
Projects that address any aspect of substance use and addiction, from fundamental science to clinical science to social science to creative and scholarly work. While all such proposals are welcome, this year’s TISUA program encourages proposals that encompass diverse themes crucial for transformative action:

  1. Community-Engaged Projects: Collaborative initiatives involving community-based organizations focused on preventing, treating, and addressing the societal impacts of substance use and addiction.
  2. Humanities or Arts Approaches: Projects leveraging humanities or arts perspectives to understand, combat stigma, and address substance use and addiction.
  3. Postdoctoral Fellows Involvement: Proposals encouraging and prioritizing the engagement of postdoctoral fellows in innovative projects dedicated to substance use and addiction.

As always, including students at all levels is encouraged. Successful proposals should demonstrate impact on communities affected, through direct involvement of communities, through outreach, or for research, through a description of how the results have the potential to lead to future interventions.

TISUA aims to create long-lasting and sustainable solutions to address substance use and addiction, including the opioid overdose crisis, and other substance use-related morbidity and mortality. Leveraging Tufts' extraordinary constellation of extensive research capabilities, scholarly achievements, and unwavering commitment to civic engagement, our goal is to support individuals and families affected by the opioid crisis, forging a path toward enduring change and societal well-being.

Any Tufts faculty or research staff who is actively contributing to scholarship, research, and/or creative work is eligible to apply. Please note that everyone on the project must be eligible to conduct research or scholarship according to applicable School requirements and restrictions. All applicants must hold a primary appointment at a Tufts University School or unit. Clinicians from Tufts Medicine may be co-PIs.

Only ONE application per PI per cycle is allowed. A specific project may only be resubmitted one time. Resubmissions should specifically note changes made to strengthen the project.


  • TISUA will not fund projects related to currently funded Provost/OVPR programs, including Tufts Springboard, MUSE, and Tufts Launchpad Accelerator.
  • Investigators may receive TISUA funding no more than once every three years.

Awards will be made up to $25,000 for up to one year. A timeline, detailed budget, and budget justification must be provided. Decisions will be made within five months of submission date, and all applicants will be provided de-identified reviewer feedback. All expenditures must be made by the project end date and any unused funds must be returned to the OVPR. No-cost extensions will not be permitted except under special circumstances, and only one NCE per project will be granted for any reason. Feasibility of the budget and timeline related to the proposed work are key review criteria.

Funds may be to support undergraduate/graduate assistants, travel, materials/supplies, community engagement activities, publicity materials, or other direct costs. Faculty/research staff salary is not an allowable expense. For a complete list of allowable costs and budget restrictions, please see Award Conditions. TISUA funding must lead to a planned proposal for external funding.

TISUA will use a peer review process that includes a committee of substance use and addiction experts, with oversight from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) and the Provost’s office.

  • While committee members will be chosen for their expertise, applicants should remember that committee members will likely be outside their immediate field, so proposals should be written for a general scholarly audience, and any (sub)field terms or processes should be explained. Proposals will be evaluated based on the weighted criteria below.
  • All applicants recommended for funding must receive approval from the Dean(s) (or their delegates) of School(s) involved in the project.
  • The Review Committee will review proposals and make recommendations to the OVPR. Funding decisions will be based primarily on the Committee’s recommendations; however, final decisions will rest with the OVPR.

In subsequent years, TISUA awardees will be selected up to two times in a three-year period to serve as reviewers. Awardees may delay their reviewer service once due to conflicts such as sabbatical or other time restraints. Willing reviewers may be asked to serve on additional occasions, beyond the three-year period.



Max Score

Innovative Approach & Impact

  • Are the goals and objectives of the project clearly defined and measurable?
  • How innovative and original is the proposed project in addressing substance use, addiction, or related morbidity and mortality? Does it introduce new methodologies or perspectives?
  • To what extent does the proposal introduce new perspectives or innovative solutions in combating substance use, addiction, and/or the stigmas associated with them?
  • How well does the proposal align with and advocate for community-engaged projects aimed at preventing, treating, and addressing the societal impacts of substance use and addiction?


Background & Significance

  • How well does the proposal articulate the context and depth of the specific substance use and addiction-related issue of focus?
  • Does the project leverage humanities or arts approaches to enhance understanding, combat stigma, and address key issues related substance use and addiction?
  • Do the investigators present any preliminary evidence to support their hypothesis or proposed line of inquiry?
  • How significant is the proposed project in addressing the salient issues associated with substance use and addiction?
  • Does the proposal address the needs of the affected community, and how likely is it to bring about positive change?


Investigative Team

  • Does the work build on the existing strengths of the investigator(s) and/or Tufts?
  • Is the team qualified to complete the research?
  • Does the proposal prioritize and encourage the involvement of postdoctoral fellows and/or students in innovative projects dedicated to substance use and addiction?


Feasibility & Sustainability

  • Does the proposal outline a realistic plan for utilizing available resources, including personnel, facilities, and budget?
  • Are the proposed activities feasible within the specified timeline, and are there well-defined milestones and deliverables?
  • Does the proposal identify potential challenges or risks, and are there strategies in place to mitigate them?
  • Does the proposal outline a credible plan for sustaining the initiatives beyond the funding period?
  • Did the proposal address a feasible plan to obtain extramural funding and to achieve other concrete impacts beyond the funding period?  A plan for submitting proposal(s) for external funding must be provided.


The principal investigator or designate (grants administrator/local research administrator) will be responsible for financially managing the award. Funds will be disbursed to the School/unit where the lead PI is primarily affiliated based on the approved budget. The budget should follow the policies of the University and the applicable School(s). Expenses will be periodically reviewed to ensure the allowability of funds and that the project is progressing on time.

Funds can only be used for the activities or experiments described in the proposal. All funds must be used within the project period; any unused funds must be returned to the OVPR. No-cost extensions (NCEs) to extend the project using unspent funds will not be permitted without a strong justification, and these must be requested at least 90 days before the project’s end date. Please note that NCEs will be granted only with strong justification and no more than one NCE will be granted for a particular project. Re-budget requests (i.e., should funds need to be moved from one category to another) should be submitted to Springboard@tufts.edu and no-cost extension requests should be submitted via the NCE form.

Each investigator on the award must be eligible to participate in research, scholarship, or artistic endeavors according to School guidelines to receive funding.

Expenditures for course releases are permitted according to School policies and appropriate approvals. Approvals must be provided as a contingency for receiving the funding.

Reasonable requests to cover student pay are allowed. Fringe benefits charges for personnel must be included in preparing the project’s budget based on the University’s established rate.

Funds can be requested for materials/supplies, temporary space (e.g., for exhibits or speakers), honoraria, catering for public events (catering for internal Tufts events must have a very strong justification), publicity materials, travel, or other direct costs supporting the project.

The budget may not be used to pay for the following:

  • Indirect costs and overhead
  • Tuition costs
  • Faculty/investigator salary (please note that postdoc/undergraduate/graduate student pay is allowed)
  • Laptops/computers or general office supplies
  • Equipment (defined as >$5,000)
  • Student health insurance
  • Salary for collaborators outside of Tufts (please note that honoraria for speakers and payment for consultants are allowed as long as University/School policies are followed)

The proposal review committee and the OVPR retain the right to veto any budget item it deems unallowable. The receipt of an award may be conditional on budget modifications.

Awards involving human research participants, biohazards, use of animals, hazardous materials, and radiation sources must be approved through the respective regulatory office in the OVPR.

All awards are subject to the Tufts IP Policy.

Awardees must commit to preparing a final report on the outcomes of the work. Additionally, outcomes of the project must be reported to the OVPR team for a period of at least three years post-funding period.

All applications must be submitted electronically via InfoReady by 12pm on the submission due date.

In addition to completing the proposal demographic data (PI, collaborators, etc.) in InfoReady, applicants must prepare and upload the following components: 

  1. Project Description (five-page limit, including graphics)
    Please remember that reviewers may not be in your field, so write your project description for an audience who will not have your specific expertise. Address each element in enough detail that the reviewers can determine the extent to which your proposal adheres to the review criteria:
    • Present a comprehensive overview outlining the contextual background and depth of the substance use and addiction issue. Discuss key factors, prevalence, societal implications, and challenges associated with substance use and addiction.
    • Describe how the project aims to introduce groundbreaking innovations in addressing substance use and mental health, emphasizing the anticipated positive impact on society.
    • Outline the specific goals, objectives, and expected results of the project related to substance use and addiction, and related to morbidity and mortality.
    • Detail the methodology while addressing anticipated barriers or technical challenges. Explain how these obstacles will be recognized and effectively addressed.
    • Highlight opportunities for collaborative, cross-disciplinary, and translational research, scholarship, and educational programs, both within Tufts and in external collaborations.
    • Emphasize how leveraging existing resources, expertise, and infrastructure will strengthen the proposed project.
    • Outline a practical and credible post-completion plan ensuring enduring impact and sustained financial support for the project's outcomes.
    • Describe the feasibility of completing the work within the School, Division, or unit environment, considering timeline constraints, available space, equipment, and other resources.
    • Provide a plan for submitting external proposal(s) and describe expecting lasting impacts of the proposed work.
    • Provide a detailed timeline for the proposed activities, including key milestones and deliverables (example below).


      Year 1













      Example activity 













      Example activity 2








































      Year 1





      Example activity 





      Example activity 2















  2. Key References (1-page limit): Attach a list of references relevant to the project.
  3. Abbreviated CV or NSF/NIH-style Biosketch (no more than five single-spaced pages per person).
  4. Letters Committing Support of External Collaborators and Service Providers (limited to one page each): Letters should describe the roles and responsibilities of the external collaborator/service provider as well as a brief description of their qualifications and justification for their inclusion on the project.
  5. Budget Justification (2-page limit): Provide the following details for your budget request:
  • Details explaining the necessity of each budget item.
  • Description of each person's role in the project, percentage of effort, and estimated costs.
  • List of any in-kind (no cost to the grant) contributions from Tufts central services, any other school or department, and faculty mentors or consultants (e.g., salaries and supplies).
  • Justify use of non-Tufts service of cores when similar resources are available at Tufts.
Request for Proposal (RFP) released March 15, 2024
Applications due in InfoReady April 24, 2024
Awards announced September 16, 2024
Grant performance period begins October 1, 2024
Pre-award meeting requested by OVPR October 1 - 15, 2024
Project update meeting requested by OVPR April 1 - 15, 2025
All funds must be spent September 1, 2025
Grant performance period ends September 31, 2025
Final project report due November 1, 2025
Extramural grant/long-term impacts report due (1 year post project completion) September 30, 2026
Extramural grant/long-term impacts report due (2 years post project completion) September 30, 2027