ISN Industry Collaborative Grant Process

The Institute for Social Neuroscience is calling for expressions of interest (EOI) for its Social Neuroscience Industry Collaborative Grants

These industry collaborative grants are for research to be conducted at a recognised Australian university or research institute in collaboration with ISN, to investigate the social, behavioural and epigenetic effects of calorie restriction.

Calorie restriction is thought to promote the adoption of a slow life history strategy (LHS). Slow LHS is an evolutionary adaptation to an environment with limited resources. It is associated with delayed mating and breeding, intense parental care, and planning for the future. On the other hand, fast LHS is an evolutionary adaptation to a harsh and unpredictable environment and is associated with fast breeding, reduced parental care and short term orientation [1].

Fast LHS has been linked to a range of behavioural and psychological problems, including drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling, poor parental behaviour, unstable relationships, impulsivity, aggression, poor educational outcomes, lower income, shorter lifespan, risk-taking, antisocial behaviour and mental illnesses including depression and schizophrenia [2]. Therefore finding ways to promote slow LHS is likely to be beneficial to society.

Research has shown that mild food restriction in rodents (25% below ad libitum) promotes behaviours that are consistent with adoption of a slow LHS [3-6]. It has also been shown that exposure to olfactory cues from calorie restricted rodents is sufficient to illicit similar effects [7].

Therefore, ISN is seeking to fund projects that investigate:

  • The effect of exposing alcohol-preferring rats to the urine of calorie restricted rats upon alcohol consumption and behaviours associated with slow LHS (such as increased exploration, improved maternal behaviour and fear of predators)
  • Identification and testing of hormones present in the urine of calorie restricted rats, to assess whether exposure to these hormones promotes behavioural changes associated with slow LHS
  • Identification of epigenetic changes associated with calorie restriction across different stages of development, and investigation of direct epigenetic manipulations that promote slow LHS
  • Investigation into other methods that could be used to promote slow LHS
  • The effects of episodes of calorie restriction or stress upon social behaviour/social hierarchies in rodents across different stages of development, and associated epigenetic/physiological changes
  • Can exposure of captive animal populations to intermittent food shortages induce cyclic changes in behaviour and temperament every 10 generations (similar to that seen in muskrats and lemmings)? If so, what are the epigenetic and behavioural changes associated with each stage of the cycle?
  • Do epigenetic changes associated with calorie restriction correlate with economic and career success in humans? What epigenetic differences can be seen across generations?
  • Are there epigenetic changes resulting from calorie restriction that confer increased parental care in rodents?  Do people who experienced their late childhood and adolescence in the 1930s have a similar epigenetic profile? Could this explain the baby boom of the 1950s?

Additional projects that ISN is seeking to fund:

  • Investigation into the behavioural, psychological, physiological and epigenetic effects of periods of sexual restriction
  • Do people born at the end of major historical conflicts have higher aggression- or anxiety-related traits than those born earlier or later? Do they possess epigenetic markers associated with aggression?
  • How does ethnicity influence parenting styles towards children of different ages? What is the effect of different parenting styles on personality? To what extent can different parenting styles explain cultural differences in attitudes to authority, religion etc.?
  • Can society-wide changes in levels of hormones such as cortisol and testosterone predict economic recessions?
  • Other research projects related to the physiology of social behaviour as outlined in chapter 17 of Biohistory [1]

Important information:

  • Research grants are valued at up to $100,000, which can be used over 1, 2 or 3 years
  • No budget information is required at this stage
  • Short listed candidates will be invited to submit a full application by the end of November
  • Multiple applications may be made by the same investigator for different projects
  • Successful candidates will be invited to present their findings at the ISN symposium to be held in late 2018
  • Successful candidates will have the opportunity to apply for additional funding once their grant has expired
  • Applications will be judged on science, feasibility, track record of the investigator(s) and alignment with ISN research interests

To apply, download and complete the EOI form and send to by COB Friday 20th October

Important dates:

Friday 6th October: EOIs open

Friday 20th October: EOIs close

Late October: Short listed candidates notified and requested to submit full application

Thursday 30th November: Full applications due

Friday 22nd December: Successful candidates notified

2018: Funding commences

Funding rules and eligibility

  • ISN industry collaborative grants are only available to researchers with a current position at a recognised Australian university or research institute
  • Principal investigators must hold a position for the duration of the grant
  • Preference will be given to applicants who are able to offer their project and supervision to ISN honours/masters students
  • Successful applicants will receive an additional $5000 per year for every ISN honours/masters student that they supervise
  • All budget items must be justified in the proposal to the satisfaction of ISN
  • ISN will retain ownership of any intellectual property arising from research funded by the industry collaborative grants scheme, and any profits arising from commercialisation of IP will be split 60:40 in favour of ISN
  • In-kind or cash contributions from the administering organisation will be looked upon favourably, and may confer eligibility to apply for additional funds through the Australian Research Council Linkage Projects scheme:
  • The principal investigator must submit a progress report to ISN every twelve months from the start of the project
  • If ISN is not satisfied with the progress of any project, funding may be withdrawn
  • All proposals must conform to the principals outlined in the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (2007) and as applicable the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (2013) and the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2015)

For further information about the process of applying for grants, contact

For further information on the research questions, contact Jim Penman on

  1. Penman, J., Biohistory, 2015, Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  2. Del Giudice, M., An evolutionary life history framework for psychopathology. Psychological Inquiry, 2014. 25(3-4): p. 261-300.
  3. Govic, A., et al., Calorie restriction and corticosterone elevation during lactation can each modulate adult male fear and anxiety-like behaviour. Horm Behav, 2014. 66(4): p. 591-601.
  4. Govic, A., et al., Testosterone, social and sexual behavior of perinatally and lifelong calorie restricted offspring. Physiol Behav, 2008. 94(3): p. 516-22.
  5. Govic, A., et al., Alterations in male sexual behaviour, attractiveness and testosterone levels induced by an adult-onset calorie restriction regimen. Behav Brain Res, 2008. 190(1): p. 140-6.
  6. Levay, E.A., et al., Effects of adult-onset calorie restriction on anxiety-like behavior in rats. Physiol Behav, 2007. 92(5): p. 889-96.
  7. Abbott, J.D., et al., The effects of calorie restriction olfactory cues on conspecific anxiety-like behaviour. Behav Brain Res, 2009. 201(2): p. 305-10.

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