The Robin McKenzie Primary Grant

Program Announcement


This Foundation is seeking grant applications to further research into the usefulness and limitations of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) which could include basic and clinical sciences with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of care for patients with musculoskeletal conditions.
New or experienced investigators are encouraged to apply. Proposals will be subjected to a peer-review process and only the highest quality projects will receive funding.

A maximum of $50,000 can be requested. Funds are for work to be performed, not for works in progress or already completed. Budget items can include subject expenses, equipment and supply purchases, technical support, consultant fees, and travel expenses for performing the project as well as disseminating results. We do not approve salary support for the PI.

All correspondence is with the principal investigator (PI). Grants are awarded for 2 years.


Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT) is an assessment and classification system for musculoskeletal problems that governs treatment recommendations.
The system was created by Robin McKenzie (1931 – 2013), a New Zealand physiotherapist and is currently taught by faculty of the McKenzie Institute International in more than 40 different countries. Physiotherapists, doctors, chiropractors and other allied health professionals are educated in the McKenzie system. In MDT, patient self-care and empowerment are essential to the management interventions used.
Since epidemiological studies demonstrate high prevalence and recurrence rates for musculoskeletal symptoms, self-management emerges as a critical tool for the patient.
Further information on MDT can be found at the website of McKenzie Institute International .

Although the concepts and ideas that underpin MDT are supported by the scientific literature, there are clear gaps. Well-designed studies related to MDT are needed to further explore issues of reliability of evaluation and classification systems, prognostic validity of diagnostic categories, treatment effectiveness and efficacy, longitudinal outcome studies, and comparisons of treatment paradigms. Other project proposals could include the integration of basic sciences with clinical observations.


Individuals are encouraged to network with other clinicians and researchers to develop and complete projects at single or multi-clinic sites. Individuals are allowed to submit more than one application as long as each application is distinct.

Grant Agreement

All applicants receiving an award for a research grant are required to submit annual reports to the Board of IMDTRF. A format for this report will be provided by the Board. Reports are due to the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of IMDTRF by February 1st at the completion of each grant year.

It is expected that the PI will prepare and submit a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal within 4 months following project completion. It is also expected that:

  • a poster or platform presentation will be submitted for consideration at an appropriate national or international conference

  • the proposal abstract will be published on our website.

If a grant is awarded the funding source should be cited in all publications and presentations resulting from the award.

If the PI fails to submit an annual report or fails to implement the proposed project, the PI will be requested to return all funds distributed to them within 30 days. This policy goes into effect six months past the due date of any delinquent report or the expected starting date of the project.


Letter of Intent:

A Letter of Intent must be submitted by midnight of April 1st 2024 in order to be considered for a full proposal submission. This letter will include an abstract that contains the following components:

  • Specific aims and hypothesis

  • Background and clinical significance

  • Research design and methods

Specific aims: Describe concisely and realistically what the research is intended to accomplish. List the specific research hypotheses. Give hypotheses when possible.

Background and significance: Critically evaluate the existing literature and identify existing shortcomings. Only consider the most important literature. Do NOT simply give a list of all literature on the topic. Discuss the clinical importance and relevance to the strengths and weaknesses of MDT.

Research design and methods: Describe the research design and the methods to accomplish the listed specific aims. The methods should, at least, include the following topics:

  • subjects – include description of the population sample, inclusion/exclusion criteria, recruitment method, power analysis to support sample size

  • data collection – identification of independent and dependent variables, outcome measures including reliability and validity, description of raters and rating instruments where applicable

  • data analysis – identify appropriate statistical analyses

Maximum length is two pages.
Notification of eligibility to submit full proposals will be sent by May 1st 2024.


After receiving approval of the Letter of Intent by the Board of IMDTRF, the secretary of the foundation will provide the applicant with an application form that has to be completed and submitted together with all required materials to [email protected]. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

  • July 1st To be considered for review, submissions must be received by 17.00 Greenwich Mean Time on 

  • Late submissions will be returned without review.

  • The PI will receive electronic notification by July 15thfor proposals that have adhered to the submission guidelines and have been referred on to the peer-review process.

  • All PIs will receive feedback from the peer review by December 31st 2024

  • The Board of Directors will determine funding during their annual meeting.

  • Applicants receiving funding must notify the Vice-Chair of acceptance of funds within 14 days.

  • All awarded applicants must provide evidence of project approval by an Ethical Review Board before funds are dispersed.

  • The expectation of the Board is that the project will be completed within 2 years from the starting date. Funds are granted only once at the beginning of the project.

The initial screening is performed by the Secretary of the Board. This initial screen determines if the applicant has fulfilled all requirements detailed in the research program announcement and submission guidelines.
Reasons for rejection without further consideration:

  • Incomplete or late submissions

  • Submissions that do not adhere to the GRANT APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

  • requests for funds for more than $50,000

  • projects that are not related to the mission statement of the Foundation

The Peer Review Committee will review and rank all grant proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Significance – the extent to which the research project makes an original and important contribution to the body of evidence related to the usefulness and/or limitations of MDT

  • Research design– the extent to which the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses are properly developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the specific aims of the project

  • Feasibility – the likelihood that the proposed research project can be completed by the PI given his/her experience, expertise, and resources.  The institution or clinic sponsoring the project must submit in writing tangible evidence that may ensure the completion of the project.

Any consultants must submit letters of agreement.

Board of IMDTRF review

The Board of Directors of IMDTRF has the final review of the proposals and their budgets. The Board will award funding based on the recommendations of the peer review process.


PIs submitting applications do so with the understanding that they will abide by the conditions, deadline policies, and decisions of the Board of IMDTRF. The Board reserves the right to change the amount of any award at its sole discretion. The Board of the IMDTRF makes no guarantee that requested grants will be awarded or that if your proposal is accepted you will receive the total amount of funds requested.

Contact Information

Questions regarding the application process can be directed to the secretary of IMDTRF via [email protected].

Application Instruction and Form

After you provided the LOI we will send you the application form.

The application form is provided as a fillable PDF document with the intention of its electronic completion and submission via email.

A detailed budget itemizing and justifying all costs is required.
It is expected that each budget area will include a detailed description and justification for all items. The only exception to this rule is for any requested office supplies which can be listed as “office supplies” with a single justification for this category.

This summary has to be provided by the PI within 2 months of the completion of the funding year. 

This summary has to be provided by the PI within 2 months of the completion of the project.


Re-submissions should include a one-page Introduction before the Specific Aims where a summary is provided of any additions, deletions, and changes to the application following the initial review and resulting feedback. Please do not mark specific text with highlighting, bold, etc…where changes are made, simply summarize the changes in the Introduction that address the specific comments raised by reviewers.