The Grand Challenge supports high-impact proposals by funding milestone-driven research over a 12-month timeframe.

The Grand Challenge is made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation. Up to $650,000 is available in 2019 to fund the development of diagnostic, device, therapeutic, or health IT solutions that address the initial ‘golden hours’ of care after severe traumatic brain injury (generally the first 48 hours). New for 2019: an accelerator fund of $40,000 will be awarded, at the judge’s discretion, to the team whose project illustrates the greatest impact to TBI care.

Click here to see previous projects that were awarded funding.

Note: To be considered for funding, you must attend the Grand Challenge event.

Competition Timeline

Grand Challenge Kickoff Event - February 22

Stage 1 (February 22 - March 24): 
Teams submit two-page proposals to be reviewed and scored by the Massey Review Committee (comprised of U-M clinicians and DOD Neurotrauma leadership).

Stage 2 (April 15 - May 13):
Based on scores assigned during Stage 1, ten teams will be invited to submit a detailed, ten-page proposal.

Pitch Day - May 31

Teams will then pitch their idea ('Shark Tank' style) to an expert panel comprised of neurointensivists, DOD representatives, entrepreneurs, and U-M clinicians and Business Development.

Awards Announced - June

Collaboration with the Department of Defense


Department of Defense (DOD) service members and families represent the largest U.S. population suffering from the impact of TBI. Working with MCIRCC, the DOD will bring expertise and resources to help accelerate the movement of translational research outputs into the field.

DOD Neurotrauma Leadership will assist in reviewing and selecting proposals for funding.

Funded projects that drive toward proof of concept and human testing have the potential to receive follow-on funding from the DOD for solutions, therapies and products that can be used by DOD medics in the field.

The Massey Family Foundation


Don and Joyce Massey moved to Michigan in the 1950s, lured by stories of great opportunities in the Motor City. In the mid-1960s, Don opened his first Cadillac dealership—long a dream of his. He lived by his slogan 'The Caring, Servicing, Selling Dealer' which is what ultimately led to his success in opening and acquiring a total of 20 Cadillac dealerships in Michigan and around the country.

In 1983, the family was dealt a terrible blow when Joyce rolled her car and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI). When she regained consciousness after two weeks in a coma at the University of Michigan Hospital, it became obvious that the trauma to her brain had been devastating. After another month in intensive care, the family was told there were few treatment options available—research into TBI was in its infancy.

Through their gift to the University of Michigan, the Joyce and Don Massey Family Foundation hope to spare other families from what they endured.

Learn more about the Massey Family Foundation and their gift to U-M.