CCTS: Pilot Grants

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Pilot Grant Program

The CCTS announces the availability of pilot grant funding for 2011

August 23, 2010

To: UIC Clinical, Research, and Tenure Track Faculty

From: Theodore Mazzone, MD, Director, CCTS

The Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) announces the availability of pilot grant funding for 2011.

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; 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.

For funding for the Winter 2011 funding cycle, priority will be given to letters of intent focused on one of the two areas listed below.

  • Pediatric and Child Health Research: The purpose of the Pediatric and Child Health Research Pilot Grant Program is to cultivate outstanding new clinical and translational research at UIC that will lead to improvements in child health. The specific goal of the program is to stimulate novel research directions, and ultimately to launch new externally‐funded research projects with a focus on child health. The CCTS also encourages interdisciplinary research, in which investigators from disparate scientific areas collaborate to bring unique approaches to child health issues. Comparative effectiveness studies within this area are welcome. At the end of the grant period, the CCTS expects that investigators will be able to submit competitive grant proposals to external funding sources.
  • Community Research: The purpose of the CCTS Community Research Pilot Grant Program is to stimulate innovative research that focuses on reducing health disparities and improving the health of individuals or communities. We are particularly interested in research in which community partners are actively engaged as members of the research team throughout the research process. It is anticipated that this approach will strengthen the community-academic partnership to improve research design, execution, and translation. Evidence of community endorsement and involvement are required. Proposals that include community co-investigators or collaborators will be favorably considered. Proposals may include effectiveness trials in community-based settings. At the end of the grant period, the CCTS expects that the investigators will submit competitive grant proposals to external funding sources.

The CCTS intends to fund applications in each of the two priority areas.

The pilot grant program funds both Planning and Preliminary Study grants. Planning grants of $25,000 will be one year in duration and focus on preparatory work for interdisciplinary collaborations. Preliminary Study 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.

Deadlines for the Winter 2011 pilot grant program:

  • Letters of intent (REQUIRED) due by 5:00 pm, Monday, September 20, 2010.
  • Based on review of letter of intent, applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Monday, October 4, 2010
  • Complete pilot grant application due by noon Friday, November 5, 2010
  • Award decisions: December 3, 2010
  • Award Start Date: February 1, 2011

Pilot Grant Guidelines

Eligibility

  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). Existing projects or collaborations will only be considered provided they demonstrate how the Pilot funding will lead to new avenues of research that otherwise would not have occurred. Examples could include early stage collaborations that are required to develop relevant preliminary data, multidisciplinary groups with the potential to develop new interdisciplinary science, or those needing support to develop the capacity to work as a group.
  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.

Award Types and Amounts


  1. Planning grants: Planning grants are one year in duration in amounts up to $25,000. The primary focus of planning grants is on preparatory work for interdisciplinary collaborations. Examples of planning grant funding uses include: secondary analysis of existing data from an interdisciplinary perspective to generate study hypotheses; preparation of joint publications from a newly formed interdisciplinary team to strengthen their competitiveness for NIH funding; or support for the logistics of preparing a center grant or program project application, including convening a pre-proposal advisory board. Planning grants may lead directly to submission of extramural funding applications or they could lead to subsequent pilot studies.
  2. Preliminary Study grants: Preliminary study 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.

Submission Process


Letters of Intent (3 pages maximum) are required of all applicants and must be submitted electronically to: Lauren Walsh (laurenw@uic.edu) 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 laurenw@uic.edu. 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 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, Translational Technologies and Resources, and Regulatory Support , Advocacy and Bioethics Core. To access these services, please contact Lauren Walsh at 312-413-7316, or laurenw@uic.edu, to discuss your interests and available appointments.

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

Application Content

Planning grants: Planning 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) that includes the following information:
    1. Abstract (500 words) that provides a narrative summary of the proposed planning grant activities in language appropriate for a multidisciplinary review panel.
    2. Specific Aims (1/2 page) that describes the purpose of the planning grant
    3. Background and Significance (1 page) that describes the significance of the proposed are of research and how the planning grant activities will create the potential for new directions and innovation in the proposed area
    4. Qualifications of the study team (1 page) that describes the expertise and background of the proposed collaborative team. This section should make it clear to the reviewers how the research team will accomplish translational and clinical research goals together that would not be possible working independently.
    5. Planning grant activities (up to 4 pages) that describe in detail the proposed planning grant activities. This section should include a description of the anticipated next steps from the planning grant and specific, measurable criteria for evaluating the planning grant's success.
    6. Detailed budget*: NIH-style budget is required.
      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 is not an eligible expense. This will be covered by campus.
      4. Indirect costs are prohibited
      5. Limited travel for purpose of professional meetings or essential collaboration may be approved

      Click here for link to Budget document.

    7. 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
    8. NIH biosketches*: NIH biosketches including current and pending support for past five years for all key personnel noting areas of potential funding overlap with this proposal.
    9. Letters of support* from the Department Heads of all key personnel for the development of the proposed collaboration.

    10. * Budget, biosketches, and letters of support are not included in the page limits.

Preliminary Study pilot grants:

Preliminary Study 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 RFA topic area. Should be consistent with the goals and objectives of the NIH Roadmap CTSA initiative (http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ovcr/research/funding/NIH-Clinical.shtml).
    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.

      NOT INCLUDED IN THE 6-PAGES:
    7. 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 is not an eligible expense. This will be covered by campus.
      4. Indirect costs are prohibited
      5. Limited travel for purpose of professional meetings or essential collaboration may be approved
        Click here for link to budget document.
    8. 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
    9. Timeline: Provide a summary time-line for the scholarship by major aims, goals, or milestones.
    10. NIH biosketches*: NIH biosketches including current and pending support for past five years for all key personnel noting areas of potential funding overlap with this proposal.
    11. 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

Review process


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.


Selection criteria

Selection of proposals for funding will consider the following:

a) 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.

b) 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.

c) PI Qualifications. The qualifications and credentials of the PIs, and their past productivity will be considered.

d) Institutional Commitment. The nature and level of resources available from the colleges/departments and from other sponsoring units will be considered.

e) 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.

Deadlines
Letters of Intent are due Monday, September 20, 2010. Applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Monday, October 4, 2010. Complete pilot grant applications are due Friday, November 5, 2010.

Award Decisions
Awards will be announced February 2011. 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 interdisciplinary 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 laurenw@uic.edu.