CCTS: Pilot Grants

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Pilot Grant Program

The Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) announces the availability of pilot grant funding for Fall 2011. The CCTS Pilot Grant program started in 2006 and is designed to provide funding for trainees, new investigators, and other researchers that will increase the competitiveness of extramural proposals and increase the number of investigators motivated to conduct clinical and translational research. The goals of the CCTS Pilot Grant Program are: 

  • To foster outstanding new clinical and translational research at UIC by supporting the development of preliminary data that can be used to launch new NIH or other externally-funded research proposals;
  • To encourage interdisciplinary teams of investigators to develop collaborations or new research avenues;
  • To promote interactions between basic and clinical scientists; and
  • To support research collaborations with community partners and organizations.

This program focuses on clinical and translational research, and as such, all applications should meet at least one of the following criteria: involve human subjects, facilitate human subject investigations, establish infrastructure related to human subject investigation, or concern disease mechanisms with clear implications for pathophysiology of human disease, including animal models. Pilot funding aims to support several aspects of successful, extramurally funded research programs, including: proof of principle studies for new methodologies; feasibility studies for patient recruitment; measurement validation studies; pilot intervention studies to inform sample size and power estimation; establishment of collaborative community partnerships for research; development of new technologies to address a clinical research problem; improvements in biomedical informatics architecture and/or delivery of services, new methods for structuring or analyzing data sets; and stimulating pediatric clinical research.

Pilot grants can be up to 2 years in duration ($30,000 each year, with second year funding contingent upon progress made during year 01) and focus specifically on activities needed to prepare competitive NIH grant proposals.

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Deadlines for the Fall 2011 pilot grant program:

* Letters of intent (REQUIRED) due by 12 noon, Friday, September 30, 2011
* Based on review of letter of intent, applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Friday, October 14, 2011
* Complete pilot grant application due by noon Friday, November 18, 2011
* UPDATE: Award decisions: Friday, January 27, 2012
* Award Start Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012

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Pilot Grant Guidelines

1. P.I. Eligibility: Principal Investigators must be clinical, research, or tenure track UIC faculty or must be affiliated with other CCTS partners. CCTS partners include the Jesse Brown VA, Advocate Health Care, and other U of I campuses. Applications from partners are encouraged, but must also involve a UIC co-PI. Although adjunct faculty and academic professionals cannot serve as PIs, they may serve as named investigators, collaborators, or key personnel. Post-doctoral fellows who have dual mentorship from a clinical translational discipline and a basic, physical, or engineering discipline may also serve as key personnel.
2. Project Eligibility: Preference will be given to studies from investigators who wish to move their work into new, clinically relevant areas, to studies that involve new interdisciplinary collaborations, and to studies that show involvement of CCTS core resources (e.g., clinical/patient interfaces).  
3. Invitations to Apply for Pilot Grants: Letters of intent are required and will be reviewed. Only applicants who have submitted a letter of intent and who are invited to complete a full application will be eligible.

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Award Duration and Amounts
Pilot grants are up to 2 years in duration ($30,000 each year, with second year funding contingent upon progress made during year 01) and focus specifically on activities such as conducting preliminary research to inform study design, demonstrate feasibility of research protocols, pilot test novel methodologies, or initiate and establish new interdisciplinary research.

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Submission Process
Letters of Intent (3 pages maximum, on form provided below) are required of all applicants and must be submitted electronically to: Lauren Walsh ( with "CCTS Pilot Grant Letter of Intent" as the subject line.

Click here for link to Word Document of LOI.

Following an initial review of the letters of intent, applicants may be invited to submit full proposals.

Proposals are to be submitted in two forms:

    * One PDF file of complete proposal to This should be one file and not a series of attachments.
* One original paper copy to the attention of: Ms. Lauren Walsh, CCTS, 914 S Wood Street, MC 595, Rm 217 MCA, Chicago, IL 60612.

Applicants are encouraged but not required to work with the CCTS Cores in the development of their pilot grant proposals. These cores include: Design and Analysis, Clinical Interface, Community Engagement, Biomedical Informatics, and Regulatory Support , Advocacy. To access these services, please contact Lauren Walsh at 312-413-7316, or, to discuss your interests and available appointments.

IRB Approval: IRB approval is not required at the submission stage. If you receive a Pilot Grant award, pilot grant funds will be made available only after IRB approval (or exemption) has been granted.

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Application Content
Pilot grant submissions should include the following:

  1. Cover Page: Click here for link to cover page.
  2. Lay Language Summary: (500 word) Present a concise statement of what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and the significance to the topic RFA. Summaries will be included on website if funded.
  3. Narrative Summary - up to 6 pages (exclusive of references)
    1. Abstract: Provide a concise statement of what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and why in language suitable for a multidisciplinary clinical review panel.
      1. Identify what issues or questions will be explored and the possible long-term societal impact and benefits.
      2. Define any terms that are unique to the field
    2. Specific Aims: The questions or problems to be addressed including the hypothesis to be tested. This might describe current efforts in this area and why the why pursuit of these questions will benefit from an interdisciplinary approach.
    3. Significance and Innovation: How will the project impact the topic area. Should be consistent with the goals and objectives of the NIH in translational research (
    4. Preliminary Data: Include only the preliminary data that are highly pertinent to the proposal.
    5. Experimental Design/ Methods: Outline the strategies proposed to accomplish the specific aims of the project and discuss the innovative aspects of the approach. Any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies should be described. A description of the resources and working arrangements required to implement each project should be described. A distinction must be made between those resources that already are in place (including staff) and those resources that must be added to advance the project.
    6. Plans for extramural funding: Detailed plan for submission of competitive applications to external funding agencies (priority will be given to applications planned for NIH funding). Program announcements and other pertinent NIH initiatives should be included. If known, applicants should specify the institute and program officer for the planned submission.


  4. Budget: NIH-style budget is required for each requested year of funding.
    1. Budget cannot include salary support for any investigator but should specify their time commitment.
    2. Post Doc support and student stipends/fringes are eligible expenses.
    3. Tuition remission for graduate assistants is allowable at the non-grant remission rate (21%). Approval from the student’s home college may be required prior to hiring.
    4. Indirect costs are prohibited.
    5. Limited travel for purpose of professional meetings or essential collaboration may be approved

    6. Click here for link to budget document.

  5. Budget Justification: Provide full justification of personnel, materials, supplies, equipment, animal and patient care costs, costs associated with human subjects, and other expenses necessary for the proposed project period.
    1. Each PI's expected contributions and responsibilities should be outlined. You may wish to discuss any long-term management plans.
    2. Highlight critical administrative plans and agreements that will be prerequisites
  6. Timeline: Provide a summary time-line for the scholarship by major aims, goals, or milestones.
  7. NIH biosketches: NIH biosketches including current, pending, plus past support for past five years for all investigators and key personnel noting areas of potential funding overlap with this proposal. Click here for link to NIH Biosketch form.
  8. We ask applicants to submit the names of up to three potential reviewers (who are not collaborators nor in the same division/department as the applicant).
  9. Letters of support: Include letters from the relevant Department/Unit head(s) affirming their agreement to the needed protected time, space, and other resources necessary for all study investigators to conduct the research. Provide letters describing pledged resources and or support/collaboration from other sources/collaborators.

Application Format for both planning and preliminary study pilot grants:
• Single-spaced
• 11-point Arial font
• 0.5 in (1.27cm) all around

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Review process
We invite applicants to submit the names of up to three potential reviewers (who are not in the same division/department as the applicant). Members of the CCTS Translational Research Academy will serve as reviewers, with membership on the review panel augmented to assure knowledgeable reviewers for all submitted proposals. The review committee will score the proposals and forward their recommendations to the CCTS Steering Committee. The CCTS Steering Committee will serve as the council making final funding recommendations.

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Selection criteria
Selection of proposals for funding will consider the following:

  1. Intrinsic Merit. The overall quality, relevance and innovation of the work to the CCTS goals; the likelihood that the work will (a) lead to fundamental advances, to new clinical discoveries, or to new technological developments, and/or (b) improve the quality of life in Chicago and the broader community; (c) representation of pilot funding across the continuum of translational and clinical sciences; (d) the likelihood that the application will lead to successful funding in extramural competition will be factors in review.
  2. Appropriateness. The need for and suitability of the initiative to the CCTS goals and mission; whether the proposed approach will add significantly to what could be accomplished through existing methodologies. In addition, the integration of component projects is important and should be described explicitly.
  3. PI Qualifications. The qualifications and credentials of the PIs, and their past productivity will be considered.
  4. Institutional Commitment. The nature and level of resources available from the colleges/departments and from other sponsoring units will be considered.
  5. Appropriateness of Management Plans and Arrangements. The adequacy of the organizational and administrative plans; the appropriateness of the budget; and the mechanism to evaluate project progress will be considered.

Funding and Compliance Requirements
Funded projects are required to submit brief semi-annual progress reports as well as a final report. Investigators must acknowledge CCTS funding in all publications and presentations. Investigators will also be invited to participate in further activities with the CCTS as appropriate (e.g., seminar presentations, training course lectures, and review of future applications). No pilot funds will be released without complete IRB approval or exemption from UIC's Internal Review Board.

Letters of Intent are due noon, Friday, September 30, 2011. Applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Friday, October 14, 2011. Complete pilot grant applications are due noon, Friday, November 18, 2011.

Award Decisions
Awards will be announced January, 2012. Funding for the selected studies will not begin until there is an IRB-approved research protocol.

Progress and Post Award Reporting:
A semi-annual progress report must be submitted to the CCTS Steering Committee at the end of the first six months of funding, and at the end of the funding cycle.

Grant Conditions:
Grantees will be expected to participate in the CCTS Translational Research Seminar Series, including a presentation of their findings. They may also be asked to serve as peer reviewers in subsequent intramural grant competitions.

Questions: Faculty with questions should contact Lauren Walsh, Investigator Interface Coordinator, at 312-413-7316 or

Links To Previous Awards

Click on the following link archives for more pilot grant informations.

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