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Pilot Project Program

The Pilot Project Program (PPP) will support research proposals of up to 2 years duration (renewal of Year 1 funding upon satisfactory progress and recommendation by the EAC) with an annual budget per project between $50,000 and $75,000.  

The PPP will involve a three-step process via survey, submission of pre-application that will be used as screening tool to identify and rank those research topics that best fit into the MCHD and integrate core resources into their proposal, and review of submission of full-NIH style grant application (R21, 6-page format), including the submission of all required assurances/compliance involving human subjects, vertebrate animals, and/or biohazards. These applications will undergo a full-review by the PPP review committee (selected ad hoc based on experience and expertise) using NIH scoring criteria and ranked. Ranked applications will be reviewed by the EC/IAC for input on which application will be forwarded to EAC for final review and funding recommendation. The below processed was utilized to select major project investigators (with the exception of EAC review) as well as identify future PPP applicants. The process is designed to be systematic and unbiased to allow all researchers an equal opportunity to pursue research funding. 

All eligible applicants will be given the opportunity to submit a pre-application. The pre-application will include four components; (1) hypothesis/specific aims page; (2) short justification/relevance of how the project fits into the mission of the MCHD and a relevant NIH Institute; (3) potential Co-I/collaborators; (4) NIH format biosketch. The window to submit a pre-application will be a period of 2-4 weeks and will follow the below procedure: 

During the invitation period a seminar or virtual meeting will be scheduled by the Core Director (Garrett) to provide an overview of the MCHD, core capabilities, outline important aspects to emphasize in the pre-application, and answer any questions 

Received pre-applications will be reviewed by the PPP Review Committee (composed of experienced grant reviewers with appropriate expertise) using an abbreviated review critique based on NIH scoring scale (1-10), significance, investigator, innovation, approach, and overall score. 

Applications ranked at the ~top 50% and/or fall in the moderate impact-strong range will be invited to submit a complete application. Before applicants are invited to submit a full-application, selected applications will be shared with the EAC for early feedback to identify any issues and ensure alignment with their expectations. 

Submission and Review of Full Proposals. Applicants selected to submit a full application will be required to follow all instructions for submission of NIH R-level grant [SF424]. Applications will be reviewed via PPP Review Committee using NIH criteria and scoring scale (1-10) for significance, investigator, innovation, approach, and overall score with a written critique form. Reviewers will be experienced, funded investigators with expertise in evaluating proposals. The proposals will be ranked and the committee will identify grants deemed to have the best opportunity for extramural funding (relevance to MCHD mission, scientific merit and feasibility given timeline and budget, recent productivity, and likelihood the project will lead to independent funding). In addition, considering these criteria, priority will be given to projects with novel collaborations. A recommendation will be made to the EC/IAC, and those deemed to have the highest priority will be forwarded to the EAC for final review and funding recommendation. Those applicants recommended for funding will be notified by email, which will include written reviews, scores, and funding pending approval by NIGMS.