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 Winter, 2013.

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; pilot feasibility studies demonstrating working collaborative community research 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; pilot development of mHealth technologies; and drug development.

For funding for the Winter 2013 funding cycle, we encourage a broad range of applications related to clinical-translational research. In addition, we hope to fund one pilot grant in each of the following three areas:

  • Health Information Technology: The goal of this pilot initiative is to stimulate collaborative research between UIC and UIUC related to the use of Health Information Technology to support health and healthcare. Pilot projects incorporating use of technology for clinical populations or with health-related behaviors are a priority for funding. Investigators considering a pilot proposal in this area may seek consultation or “matchmaking” assistance to help identify potential collaborators from each campus
  • Focused Drug Discovery: The goal of this pilot initiative is to stimulate collaborative, multidisiciplinary team research on focused drug discovery. Pilot projects may be ones that will lead to invention disclosure or that involve target identification, target validation, or assay development.
  • Public Health/Health of the Population: The goal of this pilot initiative is to stimulate collaborative, multidisciplinary research on topics relevant to improving the health of the population. Proposals may include a focus on health-behaviors, health equity enhancement, or policy relevant 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.

Deadlines for the Winter 2013 pilot grant program:

  • Complete pilot grant application due by noon Friday, February 1, 2013
  • Award decisions: April 1, 2013
  • Award Start Date: May 1, 2013

Pilot Grant Guidelines


  • 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 and other U of I campuses. Applications from partners must also involve a UIC co-PI. Senior Research Scientists may serve as PIs with a letter of support from their Department Head. Post-doctoral fellows are not eligible to serve as PIs, but may serve as key personnel.
  • 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.

Submission Process

Proposals are to be submitted in two forms:

  • One PDF file of complete proposal to Pankaja Desai at This should be one file and not a series of attachments.
  • One original paper copy to the attention of: Dr. Pankaja Desai, CCTS, 914 S Wood Street, MC 595, Rm 304 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 and 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 for a planning grant or a pilot grant. If you are selected as an awardee, pilot grant funds will be made available only after IRB approval (or exemption) has been granted. We encourage applicants to start the IRB review process immediately after submission of their pilot grant application.

Application Content

Please include the following in your application:

  • Cover Page
  • click here to download the Cover Page.

  • 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 clinical-translational research. Summaries will be included on website if funded.
  • Narrative Summary - up to 5 pages (exclusive of references)
    • 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.
      • Identify what issues or questions will be explored and the possible long-term societal impact and benefits.
      • Define any terms that are unique to the field.
    • 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 pursuit of these questions will benefit from an interdisciplinary approach.
    • 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. click here for the link.
    • Preliminary Data: Include only the preliminary data that are highly pertinent to the proposal or that establish the team’s qualifications to conduct the research.
    • Approach: 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.
    • Plans for extramural funding: Provide a 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 5-pages:

    • Budget*: NIH-style budget is required for each requested year of funding.
      • Budget cannot include salary support for any investigator but should specify their time commitment.
      • Post Doc support and student stipends/fringes are eligible expenses.
      • Tuition remission is not an eligible expense. This will be covered by campus.
      • Indirect costs are prohibited.
      • Limited travel for the purpose of professional meetings or essential collaboration may be approved.
      • click here to download Budget form.

    • 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.
      • Each PI’s expected contributions and responsibilities should be outlined. You may wish to discuss any long-term management plans.
      • Highlight critical administrative plans and agreements that will be prerequisites.
    • Timeline: Provide a summary time-line for the scholarship by major aims, goals, or milestones
    • 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.
    • 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: Minimum formatting includes:

  • Single-spaced
  • 11-point Arial font
  • 0.5 in (1.27cm) all around.

Review process

Each applicant is asked to provide the names of up to 5 potential reviewers from UIC or UIUC. Final funding decisions will be made by the CCTS Senior Management Committee.

Selection criteria

Selection of proposals for funding will consider the following:

  • 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; (b) represent pilot funding across the continuum of translational and clinical sciences; and (c) lead to successful funding in extramural competition will be factors in review.
  • 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.
  • PI Qualifications. The qualifications and credentials of the PIs, and their past productivity will be considered.
  • Institutional Commitment. The nature and level of resources available from the colleges/departments and from other sponsoring units will be considered.
  • 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, and demonstrate this in their annual progress report. 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.

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 Pankaja Desai, click to mail(

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