UCP Research Initiative & Grant Program




UCP Research Initiative

It is an exciting time, as up-and-coming biomedical and therapeutic innovations have the potential to change the course of a child’s life. Advances in our understanding of early brain injury and genetic determinants of disease are changing concepts of cerebral palsy and related disorders. Understanding how the complex interaction of genetics and a child’s experiences shape the developing brain creates urgency. The opportunity to impact a life’s trajectory is most substantial at its beginning—we know that to provide early diagnosis and early treatment for a young child with cerebral palsy is to help an individual throughout their life span.

UCP Research Grants

In response to this urgency, the United Cerebral Palsy Research Committee (URC) created a new grant research program in 2022.  This program awards grants that advance clinical and translational research, with a knowledge transfer implementation focus to advance the state of the science that culminates in real-life advances, bridging the gap between research and care to transform the lives of children with cerebral palsy and related neurodevelopmental disabilities.

The UCP Research Committee began its grant program with small awards up to $20,000 for direct costs for translational, clinical and knowledge implementation research. While we welcome applications on any topics relevant to cerebral palsy and related neurodevelopmental disabilities from researchers and clinicians in the U.S. and Canada, the URC gives preference to (1) those that are focused on early diagnosis and early treatment of cerebral palsy and to (2) research applicants from or collaborating with UCP’s affiliates. Both biomedical and therapy-focused studies are welcomed.

  • A new grant application form will be posted March 25, 2023.

Research Grant       

  • Pilot Grants:  Small pilot grants to provide preliminary data for larger scale future projects or to perform novel analyses on existing data sets.
  • Extension Grants: Grants to expand an existing research project (e.g., add additional interventions, outcome measures, follow up assessments, etc.), or to set up the infrastructure for a collaborative research effort.


  • Pediatric population (0-21 years)
  • Cerebral palsy and related neurodevelopmental disorders

Special Consideration:

  • Early diagnosis
  • Early treatment
  • Research applicants from or collaborating with affiliates of UCP

The UCP Research Committee will sponsor and support high-quality proposals, addressing shared goals and priorities. Grant applicants should consider the following criteria:

  • A research idea should address treatment for cerebral palsy or a related neurodevelopmental disability.
  • Appropriate project goals should be set considering SMART design principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Data collection, compliance, and progress reporting will be required.
  • The Principal Investigator and all co-investigators on the grant must in professional good standing and have relevant expertise related to the research proposal.
  • Applicants must have the infrastructure appropriate to their project, including study design and implementation, facilities and services, patient recruitment, and staffing.

Other considerations:

  • Applicants do not have to be part of the UCP affiliate network, but preference will be given to those applications from centers who are UCP affiliates or have a strong association with UCP.
  • Applicants can work with other centers on the same project (multi-center project), but these centers should submit a common application to better ensure collaboration.
  • Projects that will facilitate sustainable, ongoing novel treatments or services that can be adopted by other center after completion of the project will be given preference.

Note: Awardees may be eligible to apply for additional grants to complete the next step of their project if the initial project demonstrates success and ongoing goals are appropriate.

  • Grant application form will be posted March 25, 2023.

The following criteria will be scored by UCP Research Committee member reviewers and outside reviewers (ad hoc).

  • Significance: How might this work support or enhance the community or advance the science in the field of cerebral palsy?
  • Innovation: How original and/or novel are the ideas of the application? Both the setting and the field of investigation will be considered (e.g., bringing a novel intervention to a center where it is not currently available may be innovative).
  • Investigators: Does the research team have appropriate expertise or have they shown commitment to obtaining the necessary expertise?
  • Approach: Are the investigators well trained or have they shown commitment to obtaining training? Are the methods sound? Is the research plan realistic?
  • Environment: Is the setting supportive of the research? Will it facilitate the project’s success?
  • Award recipients will be expected to provide an annual progress report to the URC on a web-based short-answer format. For multi-year projects or no-cost extensions, fund disbursement will be dependent on completion of this process and predicated upon demonstration of adequate progress. The final disbursement of funds for single year projects will depend on receipt of this data but can be supplied early by awardees.
  • Award recipients should expect to present accomplishments at the UCP Board of Trustees, UCP Town Hall meetings and/or at the UCP Annual Meeting. Findings from URC-supported research may warrant press releases and videos highlighting investigators and describing URC-sponsored discoveries may be used in support of national fundraising efforts.

Questions? Email research@ucp.org