The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, Inc.

About AFSA
What is Fibromyalgia
Projects Funded
Grant Guidelines
Contact Us

AFSA is an all volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research that investigates the causes and treatments for fibromyalgia syndrome.

A 501(c)3 Nonprofit Charitable Organization.

Grant Guidelines & Application

Amount: Up to $50,000
For One-Year Grant Period

Deadline Dates:

There are no deadlines for Letter of Intents (LOIs) or applications. Scientists are encouraged to submit an LOI prior to preceding to the application phase. LOIs and applications will be reviewed as they are received. If an application is accepted for funding, AFSA will promptly award the funds (assuming the IRB has been approved).


Interested in learning more about AFSA’s research granting process? You are at the right place. While we continue to raise funds, we currently have enough to award 8 individual grants that focus on fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Maximum grant award size is $50,000 in U.S. funds.

Please read through the sections below, and if you have any questions, e-mail me (Kristin Thorson) at You may also call me at (520) 733-1570 between 2-5 p.m. weekdays. My role is to assist potential applicants and facilitate the grant review process. I look forward to working with you!

Kindest regards,

Kristin Thorson
President and Founder of AFSA

This page of our website contains everything you need to know about submitting a proposal to AFSA and includes the following:

Guidelines for a Letter of Intent

  1. A Letter of Intent (LOI) is preferred before submitting a formal grant application to AFSA. An LOI consists of a brief synopsis of your proposal that is only one or two pages long (attachments many be added if deemed necessary). Understandably, investigators may not have all of the details worked out at this stage, however AFSA encourages applicants to include the following six components in their LOI:

    Study investigators: Name of principal investigator, degree and area of speciality (as documented by previous studies), and the names and degrees of primary people involved in the study. Also, indicate if this study will be performed within an institutional environment (such as a university, hospital, or research center), please identify the institution.

    Study hypothesis: This consists of a one-sentence statement with supporting sentences that may include documented references, clinical data on a small number of subjects, or whatever else has led you to your hypothesis.

    Study goals or objectives: Please specify what you hope to prove by conducting your proposed study.

    Study design: Identify the study population(s), duration of study, primary testing methods to be used, and other comments that describe how the study will be conducted.

    Estimated budget: Include a total dollar amount (in U.S. funds) as well as a breakdown into the following sections: (a) principal investigator salary, if any; (b) technician(s) or other supportive staff salary, if any; (c) permanent equipment costs, if any (and identify the equipment); (d) cost of consumable supplies; and (e) cost of other expenses (itemize as much as possible). AFSA realizes that these budget figures are only estimates, but if possible, please provide anticipated budget totals for each of the five categories. The maximum award size is $50,000 in U.S. funds. Contact AFSA if you are considering a proposal for a larger sum of money. Exceptions to the one-time maximum award amount may be made on a case-by-case basis.

    Patient-relevance: Describe how your study will lead to the improved well-being of patients with FMS. Please be specific, and be certain that your project proposal offers something "new" in terms of guiding treatment directions. Keep in mind, AFSA does not fund studies related to behavioral, psychosocial, self-help, or movement therapies. If you are assessing a medication that is commonly prescribed for patients, then your project should provide new insights about the drug’s mechanism of action.

    Note: No institutional overhead is allowed because all funds for research are obtained from patients with FMS and/or CFS. If you are concerned about being able to meet this requirement, please contact AFSA. We usually can persuade your institution to waive its overhead fees should you be approved for funding by AFSA.

  2. Response to your LOI will be provided approximately one month after we receive it. Responses may also include recommendations for improving your proposal or suggestions for modifying your application to make it more suitable to AFSA's funding priorities.

  3. Applications submitted without a "favorable" response from an LOI may not be formally reviewed if the proposal does not meet AFSA's funding needs or if it duplicates an "in progress" project that has been funded. Please review our website section on "Research Projects Funded" prior to submitting (even before an LOI), and be aware that the website may not include projects awarded during the past 6-8 months.

  4. In its 14-year existence, AFSA has yet to turn down a project due to lack of funds. We have surpassed $1.7 million in fund raising for research, and welcome patient-relevant, "budget-appropriate," proposals related to AFSA's research funding priorities (see section below for a description of priority funding areas).

  5. If you are unsure about what to do, just contact AFSA (ask for Kristin Thorson). We are eager to discuss AFSA's application process with any investigator meeting our application requirements and wishing to propose a project that is related to our research funding priorities.

  6. You may contact AFSA by any of the following methods:
    Phone: (520) 733-1570 (preferably between 2 and 5 p.m. MST)
    Fax: (520) 290-5550
    Your LOI should be e-mailed to the above address.

Priority Areas for Research Funding

Proposals submitted for review should be relevant to AFSA's research priorities. By investigating the areas described below, AFSA believes that better diagnostic tools and treatments will be made available to patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) and its overlapping conditions.

In the past, AFSA’s focus has been on pain mechanisms and treatment. While advances have been achieved in these areas, little progress has been made toward characterizing the sleep disturbances in FMS patients. This is why AFSA is putting aside $300,000 for studies pertaining to sleep. The purpose of AFSA’s sleep research initiative is to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the neurobiology of sleep in people with FMS and the various symptoms of this condition.

In addition to sleep, AFSA strongly encourages investigators to submit proposals that address the “other important priorities” listed in the second section. AFSA currently has $300,000 available to fund grants up to $50,000 for each proposal that addresses these other priorities. Depending upon AFSA’s fund-raising success, additional funds may be available to study these other areas of priority.

Investigator qualifications, guidelines for LOIs and full grant applications (submitted after a favorable review of your LOI), and conditions of award are explained on AFSA’s website at If you reside outside the United States, AFSA still welcomes your LOI as long as you are fluent in English.

Keep in mind, AFSA does not fund studies related to behavioral, psychosocial, self-help, or movement therapies. If you are assessing a medication that is commonly prescribed for patients, then your project should provide new insights about the drug’s mechanism of action.

Sleep-Related Priorities:

  • Identify sleep polysomnography (PSG) characteristics (particularly EEG brain patterns and anomalies in sleep architecture) that may be specific to FMS and/or correlate with symptoms.
  • Evaluate the occurrence of sleep disorders, such as upper airway resistance syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome (the latter can be diagnosed with clinical interview; PSG not required). Tag-on proposals to ongoing epidemiologic studies involving larger patient populations or community-based samples are welcomed.
  • Test effectiveness of interventions for improving sleep, either pharmacologic agents or therapies designed to enhance airflow, to determine if they lead to improvements in pain, fatigue, dyscognition, function, or other measures.
  • Correlate sleep PSG characteristics (including brain wave patterns and sleep architecture) with neuro-endocrine-immune abnormalities or specific physiologic measures in FMS patients.

(All sleep proposals must be of a clinical nature and involve FMS patients who meet the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. Budget-conscious proposals exceeding $50,000 may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Include in your LOI a budget outline with justification.)

Other Important Priorities

  • Test therapeutic interventions for FMS pain, particularly medications that are effective with minimal side effects. In particular, evaluate medications approved for other indications or those currently being tested in Phase III clinical trials for other conditions.
  • Identify the chronic pain mechanisms in FMS. This includes brain imaging studies that build upon the recent findings of gray matter loss (or altered gray matter densities), as well as therapeutic manipulations that may elucidate the cause of the findings.
  • Investigate the role of neuro-endocrine-immune modulators and their receptors in the central nervous system and the peripheral systems. Proposals to test medications to alter or correct documented abnormalities in the above neuro-endocrine-immune modulators would be of interest to AFSA.
  • Identify/develop potential lab markers, genetic indicators, or other test measures for use as diagnostic and clinical evaluation purposes.
  • Explore the physiologic mechanisms responsible for the symptom of fatigue and test pharmacological treatments to alleviate this symptom.
  • Evaluate neurocognitive deficits (or dyscognition) in people with FMS by correlating it to neuro-endocrine-immune abnormalities, brain imaging findings, or PSG. This symptom is often the most disabling and deserves special attention.

NOTE: If the mechanisms of fatigue or the role of dyscognition will be evaluated in relationship to improvements in sleep architecture or sleep therapies, such a study proposal would fall into our sleep research initiative. Again, all proposals must be of a clinical nature and involve FMS patients who meet the 1990 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria.

Keep in mind, AFSA does not fund studies related to behavioral, psychosocial, self-help, or movement therapies. If you are assessing a medication that is commonly prescribed for patients, then your project should provide new insights about the drug’s mechanism of action.

Grant Application Requirements

Potential applicants for AFSA funding should meet the following requirements and budget constraints:

  1. The Principal Investigator (PI) must be fluent in English and, ideally, published in peer-reviewed English language medical journals. If applicant resides outside the United States, please indicate the budget in U.S. dollars.

  2. The PI must be a board certified "M.D.", "D.O.", or "D.D.S." or a Ph.D. with applicable basic science research experience. If the applicant has not previously published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, AFSA strongly recommends that the applicant team up with a co-PI with research experience.

  3. An application may be submitted with an institutional review board (IRB) pending, but the IRB must be approved before the project can be funded.

  4. All funded projects must be capable of testing your hypothesis without reliance upon another funding source. AFSA is open to funding tag-ons to NIH-funded projects, but the AFSA portion must be clearly defined with a study hypothesis.

  5. The methodology used to determine the required sample size for the proposed study must be provided.

  6. No institutional overhead or other indirect costs will be paid and should not be included as part of any grant request. A letter to your institution explaining this condition can be requested if needed.

  7. Beware that substantiative equipment costs or salaries for the PI and co-PI may jeopardize project funding. AFSA awards are intended for the collection of preliminary data needed to assist investigators with obtaining much larger sums of money from the NIH or other financial institutions.

  8. AFSA does not fund studies related to behavioral, psychosocial, self-help, or movement therapies. If you are assessing a medication that is commonly prescribed for patients, then your project should provide new insights about the drug’s mechanism of action.

Conditions of Award

In addition to the above application requirements, the following conditions must be met:

  1. All funds awarded shall be used in accordance with the submitted and approved proposal and accompanying budget. Any unused portion thereof shall be returned to the American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, Inc. (AFSA). If an unforseen problem occurs with the study design (e.g., you find out that the proposed medication dosage is too high or too low, or that a planned assay has been accidently contaminated, etc.), please notify AFSA immediately. Potential changes to the study design with additional financial assistance from AFSA could salvage the study and still lead to a favorable outcome.

  2. A one-year grant period is assumed, unless otherwise specified in the application. At the midpoint of the grant period (6 months) a progress report indicating the number of study participants and/or assays completed as well as a financial report must be submitted. A final report must be submitted within 90 days of the completion of the project (i.e., 15 months after award is made). This report shall include a project summary or scientific abstract, a financial summary, and a less technical lay language article (4-5 paragraphs) to be used in certain AFSA publications. Confidential data that could jeopardize formal publication in a peer-reviewed journal should not be disclosed in the lay article. If a delay in project completion of more than 3 months duration is anticipated, AFSA should be notified promptly with a brief explanation. All investigators are encouraged to communicate and work with AFSA for the best possible outcome of their study.

  3. The principal investigator must assure AFSA of his or her intended work location. AFSA must be advised at the time of application of all moves, contemplated or real. Even address, phone number, fax number and e-mail changes within the same institution should be promptly conveyed to AFSA. The institution at which the proposed project will be completed must be stated at the time of application. A project can be moved during a funded period only with the expressed permission of AFSA.

  4. All publications resulting from AFSA-funded research must include AFSA in a footnote/credit line/disclosure, and copies of such publications must be provided to AFSA. This includes scientific abstracts for conference posters. All publicity and information disseminated about such research must acknowledge AFSA support. This is an essential part of AFSA's conditions of award. Publicity or information about the project is used to keep patient-contributors to AFSA informed about how their donations are being spent. This condition does NOT involve disclosure of any information that might jeopardize the applicant's ability to formally publish their findings.

  5. AFSA-funded investigators should avoid discussing or writing about their project for other organizations or media as it causes confusion about the funding source and adversely affects contributions. Principal investigators need to submit their findings to AFSA and the research should be published before being released to other entities.

  6. The recipient of any research grant awarded must certify that all research will be conducted according to the rules and regulations of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The recipient must agree to hold AFSA harmless from any and all claims that may arise from such research.

  7. All work involving human subjects must show documented compliance with HHS and NIH guidelines for human subjects as provided by the sponsoring institution's committee for clinical investigation. All work involving animal experimentation should comply with NIH guidelines for care and use of laboratory animals (applicants outside the United States need to comply with similar guidelines set forth by their country). Grant applications may be submitted to AFSA with the Institution Review Board (IRB) pending approval, but no awards can be issued until a favorable letter certifying IRB approval has been sent to AFSA. This can be faxed to AFSA at (520) 290-5550.

  8. Any grants awarded by AFSA are for one time only. If the applicant desires further assistance, a new application must be submitted at such time as additional grant funding may be available. In the past, however, we have approved the funding of a two-part project - all pending on the success of the first part of the project. Applicants must consult AFSA if a two-part application is being considered.

  9. Any discovery made under a program supported by AFSA must be reported promptly to AFSA, and application for a patent may not be made without the prior written notice to AFSA.

  10. All human subjects studied must be assessed to determine whether they meet the ACR criteria for FMS and the CDC criteria for CFS/ME. The overlap between these two syndromes is substantial and it is in the best interest of the patients that both syndromes be acknowledged because the findings may be relevant to both FMS and CFS/ME.

Grant Application and Instructions

Please download the following PDF files. Both of these files need to be signed independently and returned together as a package for formal submission.

  1. Conditions of Award/Instructions

  2. Research Grant Application

(Submissions that do not contain both the Conditions of Award and Research Grant Application could result in a delay of the grant review.)

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Grant Application.

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

Home | Grant Guidelines | Contact Us | Donations | Site Map

The American Fibromyalgia Syndrome Association, Inc. (AFSA)
PO Box 32698, Tucson, AZ 85751 • Phone: (520) 733-1570 • Fax: (520) 290-5550
Federal Tax I.D. 77-0355224 • Copyright © 1998-2021

This site is provided for informational purposes only.
Patients should always consult their physician for medical advice and treatment.