CCTS: Pilot Grants

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Pilot Grant Program

The CCTS announces the availability of pilot grant funding for Summer 2011

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

  • Strategic Research Initiative:  The purpose of the Strategic Research Initiative is to boost the probability of funding and to leverage existing grant opportunities and connections to cultivate and promote clinical and translational research at UIC. Under this initiative, any clinical translational research topic may be considered, but it must fulfill one of the following criteria: 1) represent a new direction on a current funded project that is not otherwise supported and that is likely to lead to future R level proposals; or 2) provide pilot data needed to support an initial, but unfunded, grant application (that is, be responsive to summary sheet critiques). 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. Proposals that are community-based, population-focused, that emphasize translation from efficacy to effectiveness trials or implementation research will be favorably considered.  Proposals may include effectiveness trials in community-based settings. Proposals for research investigations taking place in practice-based research networks will be especially welcome. At the end of the grant period, the CCTS expects that the investigators will submit competitive grant proposals to external funding sources.

  • Bioethics Research: The purpose of the Bioethics Research Pilot Grant Program initiative is to promote innovative research that addresses ethical questions related to clinical translational research. Proposals may address, for example, how patients, research participants, health care providers understand and handle ethical issues related to biobanks, informed consent, genetics testing, on-line direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic information, or issues related to disparities in seeking informed consent. Preference will be given to multidisciplinary teams of investigators. At the end of the grant period, the CCTS expects that investigators will submit competitive grant proposals to external funding sources.

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 Summer 2011 pilot grant program:

  • Letters of intent (REQUIRED) due by 12 noon, Friday, March 4, 2011 Click Here for LOI Form
  • Based on review of letter of intent, applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Monday, March 21, 2011
  • Complete pilot grant application due by noon Friday, April 29, 2011
  • Award decisions: Wednesday, June 8, 2011
  • Award Start Date: Monday, August 1, 2011

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.

Award Types and Amounts
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, 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 to work with the CCTS cores and services in the development of their pilot grant proposals. These include: Design and Analysis, Clinical Interface, Community Engagement, Biomedical Informatics, Translational Technologies, and Regulatory Support , Advocacy and Bioethics Core. 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 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

  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 (

    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.


  1. Budget*: NIH-style budget is required for each requested year of funding. Click here for link to budget document.
    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. CCTS services are provided at no cost to CCTS pilot grant recipients.
  2. 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
  3. Timeline: Provide a summary time-line for the scholarship by major aims, goals, or milestones.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
• 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.

Letters of Intent are due noon, Friday, March 4, 2011. Applicants invited to apply for pilot funding: Monday, March 21, 2011. Complete pilot grant applications are due noon, Friday, April 29, 2011.

Award Decisions
Awards will be announced June 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.

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