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Research / Internal Funding / Research Innovation / Pilot Grant

Research Innovation/Pilot Grant Program


Applications Due: Monday, April 1, 2024 by noon.

No late applications will be accepted.

Background: The Research Innovation/Pilot Grant Program was established to assist College of Medicine faculty with generating preliminary data necessary to develop highly competitive NIH or other grant applications, or to take their research in a new direction. 

This program seeks to support the development of innovative studies with a high potential for future extramural funding and is designed to enhance new or current faculty research programs. A research study is responsive to the RFA if it:

  • Uses innovative approaches or discoveries to address relevant problems in the field of biomedical science;
  • Contributes critical experiments or data gathering to an existing research program that will enhance funding success;
  • Brings interdisciplinary expertise to initiate a new research direction for the principal investigator.

Project priorities: A wide spectrum of projects can be considered relevant. Proposals can include basic, translational, epidemiological, outcomes, data analytics or clinical studies. Priority will be given to those projects that carry the highest potential for a critical finding and are most likely to lead to successful application for extramural funding. Projects with well-developed concepts where additional data are required for proposal submission and/or where innovative ideas require additional testing are also responsive.

Funding pool: Funding for this program is derived from the Dean’s Office of Research, College of Medicine. It is anticipated that up to 4 awards not to exceed $30,000 each will be awarded.

Eligibility: Applications will be accepted from UC paid, full-time faculty members whose appointment is at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and where said faculty member will submit any resulting application for funding to an outside agency through UC’s Sponsored Research Services. Investigators from affiliated institutions, e.g. VAMC, CCHMC or Colleges may not be the principal investigator. Applicants who have received CoM Research Innovation/Pilot funds in the past will need to indicate how the funding contributed to their research program, e.g. resulted in an R21, R01.  

Collaborations: Collaborations among investigators spanning disciplines and programs are encouraged, including those between basic scientists and clinicians to foster the development of translational research projects.

IRB and IACUC: If applicable, applicants must have already submitted or have received IRB or IACUC approval. Applicants who have not yet submitted for IRB or IACUC approval are not eligible. These awards are intended to provide funding for a year and the lack of such approval can significantly delay the start of the proposed studies.

Overview of review process: The review of applications occurs in 2 phases: (1) Application/Scientific Review by a panel of peers and (2) Administrative Review. During the first phase, applications are reviewed by three UC faculty members using a rubric similar to the NIH scoring system. Applicant rankings and scores are then reviewed by CoM Office of Research, which has final decision authority. Some budget cuts may be made during this phase if necessary. Critiques will be provided to the applicants after awards are announced, upon request.

Priority of funding will be given to applicants who clearly articulate how the outcomes of their proposed research will lead to future extramural grant funding.

Supplemental items: Supplemental items cannot be submitted and will not be accepted.

Submission of applications: Use NIH margins and font requirements. All applications must be submitted to the online portal: Applications received after the deadline will not be reviewed. The final application should be submitted as one pdf document.

Composition of applications: 

  • Face page, budget, budget justification, NIH biosketch, current and pending internal and external funding (use required forms). Be sure to include a biosketch for PIs and all Co-Is. You must use this application package: COM Research Innovation/Pilot Application
  • Application to include specific project details with sufficient rationale and appropriate background/significance information. (limit to 3 pages)
  • Outcomes of Research. Must include specific information and a plan of how this pilot funding will be specifically used to support a future grant submission, including the broad hypothesis and/or specific aims to be examined. Applications will not be reviewed if this section is missing from the application package. (limit to half a page, not included in the 3-page application page allocation).
    • Example: “We propose to use (enter expected pilot data or innovation) obtained from this funding to support our central hypothesis of XXX and thus expand the study into an R01 grant through the following aims….”
    • Include an estimated timeline for a subsequent extramural grant application.
      • Literature cited (limit to 1 page, not included in the 3-page application page allocation)
    • Applicants who have received CoM Research Innovation/Pilot funds in the past should include the impact of the previous funding as demonstrated by any extramural funding (e.g. R01, R21) received based on pilot funding data. (limit to 1 page)

    Funding restrictions: Funds may not be used to support faculty salaries, travel, meetings, or publication costs.

    Acceptance of this award: Recipients of College of Medicine Office of Research support are expected to assist with future activities (i.e. internal grant reviews, serving on appropriate research committees, etc.). Recipients are expected to report metrics associated with the award, such as a funded grant or publication, when solicited by the Office of Research and to acknowledge pilot awards on any resulting publications.

    Grant awardees are expected to use a grant pre-review mechanism for subsequent NIH applications related to data gathered using these Pilot funds. Either the OoR Grant Pre-Review program or a department-specific program can be used.

    For questions, please contact Brieanne Sheehan,


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