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Pilot & Seed Grants

Many of the PSOM's centers and institutes sponsor pilot and seed grant programs. Each of these programs has different deadlines and these vary from year to year. Contact the individuals listed below for current information:

Abramson Cancer Center Funding Opportunity
Breakthrough Bike Challenge / American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant Program 2016
Application Deadline: 11/25/2015

Using funds raised by the Breakthrough Bike Challenge (BBC), a non-profit organization established in 2013 and dedicated to raising funds for cancer research, and with support from an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (ACS IRG), the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania will provide research project grants to junior faculty members (e.g., Assistant Professors within six years of their appointment) to initiate promising new cancer research projects. Projects that have relevance across multiple types of cancer are encouraged, and the BBC has a particular interest in grants related to brain cancer, lymphoma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, although a focus on one of these cancer types is not a prerequisite for application for funding. Proposals that span basic, translational, clinical, or population science research are welcome. The object of these grants is to facilitate the collection of preliminary data, which enable junior faculty to successfully compete for national, peer-reviewed research grants.

·        Via the ACS IRG funds, we anticipate awarding five ($30K/each) pilot projects to junior faculty members who do not currently have nationally peer-reviewed research project funding.
·        Via the BBC funds, we anticipate awarding additional seed money grants (ranging from $5K - $30K/each) that represent new ideas, which may come from junior faculty who currently have nationally peer-reviewed research project funding. These BBC seed money requests must be matched by 10% from the applicant’s Department Chair, and a letter of commitment indicating this support must be included in the application.
Junior investigators who currently have a nationally peer-reviewed research grant are welcome to apply for BBC funds, but must demonstrate in their application the need for funding of a non-overlapping innovative project that could culminate in additional external peer-reviewed funding. However, institutional funds that originate from the ACS IRG must not be awarded to junior faculty who currently hold nationally peer-reviewed research grants. Furthermore, all applicants must identify a mentor at the time the application is submitted and provide the mentor’s NIH Biosketch and a brief statement describing the mentor’s supervisory experience.

Covered costs include direct costs only, such as laboratory personnel costs (non-faculty), data management or research nursing support, laboratory supplies, animals, and small equipment; no travel or patient costs are allowed. Projects must have all necessary certifications to be eligible.

- Only junior-level faculty members are eligible, i.e., within six years of their first independent faculty appointment or equivalent (e.g., Assistant Professor, Research Assistant Professor).
- For ACS IRG funds, only junior-level faculty members who do not currently hold nationally peer-reviewed funding are eligible.
- Citizens, non-citizen nationals, and permanent residents of the United States and its possessions or territories are eligible.

- Non-faculty (e.g., residents, fellows) are not eligible.

Funding Levels: $5,000 - $30,000

Award Period: 02/01/2016 – 01/31/2017

Application Deadline: 11/25/2015

Please see the application instructions for detailed information.

Link to Online Submission Site: https://grants.penncancer.org/
(Please note that Letters of Intent are not required for this grant mechanism.)

For more information please contact:

Cecilia Scavelli

Associate Director for Research Administration

Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania




Cardiovascular Institute (CVI)

Periodically, generally in preparation for multi-disciplinary awards (PO-1's, SCCORs, Roadmap initiatives), the Penn CVI leadership will issue Request for Proposals (RFPs) in order to generate strategically targeted preliminary studies required prior to, or in preparation for, an institutional application or award.

Any Penn faculty member working in the strategically-targeted area, or a closely related area, is encouraged to apply for this funding. These funds are not restricted to investigators with a track record of cardiovascular investigation. Applications from research scientists who have not historically focused their studies in cardiovascular science are encouraged to apply for funding.

The amount of available funding will vary depending upon the RFP, but generally range from $25,000 per year to $200,000 per year. The application process has been streamlined to encourage faculty members to apply for funding.

For more information, please visit the Penn CVI Business Office.


Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET)

Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Pilot Project Opportunity
Application Deadline: January 4, 2016

The Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology announces the following pilot project opportunity. 

 I. Focus Research Awards:

Applications related to exposure biology are currently being accepted.  Applications that use modern approaches to determine population or personal environmental exposures are encouraged, using tools such as GIS or cartographic modeling, fabrication and or deployment of biosensors, and biomarkers of exposure and effect. Biomarkers can be small molecule, genomic, proteomic, or metabolic signatures of exposure.  For applications that are biomarker-based, both animal and human subject or derived material (urine, serum and cell lines) are allowable in the experimental design. Applicants can request up to $50,000 for one year. No salary support for the faculty member is allowable.

 For ALL Awards: The awards cannot be used to support research that is already funded by an external agency. If funded, a progress report is required within 3 months of the end of the funding period and awardees must present their findings at a CEET Seminar within 6 months of the end of the funding cycle. The CEET must be acknowledged on all publications resulting from the supported research

Applications must be submitted in a single PDF for internal review by Monday January 4th to webster@upenn.edu.

Please see the complete guidelines for the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology Pilot Project Opportunity.

Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Safety (CHIPS)

CHIPS supports comparative effectiveness research and research designed to reduce human and system errors and thereby improve the outcomes for patients in hospital and ambulatory care settings.

In an effort to stimulate quality improvement and patient safety research within the Penn community, the Center offers grants of up to $10,000 to new investigators to conduct pilot studies in preparation for larger research projects. The awards provide new investigators with funds to obtain preliminary data regarding feasibility and methodology, effect sizes and findings relating to new research ideas relevant to healthcare quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness. Eligible pilot projects should be designed to collect sufficient preliminary data to enable the investigator to prepare a hypothesis-based proposal for future research funding.

To apply for pilot grant funding, please complete the CHIPS pilot grant application form and return it via email to crosset2@mail.med.upenn.edu.


Diabetes Research Center

Diabetes Research Center Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program
Application Deadline: December 7, 2015 by 5:00 pm.

The Diabetes Research Center (DRC) of the University of Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for support to perform pilot and feasibility studies in diabetes and related endocrine and metabolic disorders.

The P&F program is particularly directed at new investigators and established investigators new to diabetes research. Established diabetes investigators pursing high impact/high risk projects or projects that are a significant departure from their usual work are also eligible for support under the DRC P&F program. Applications are welcome from basic, clinical and translational investigators.

Up to two applications will be awarded for funding of metabolomics projects to be conducted by the DRC Regional Metabolomics Core at Princeton University

Grants will be reviewed by the DRC Pilot and Feasibility Review Committee, as well as internal and external reviewers.  Funding level maximum is $50,000.

For detailed information and instructions: http://www.med.upenn.edu/idom/derc/pilots.html

Investigators who are currently in the first year of support through this P&F Program may reapply for an additional year of funding.  Such continuation requests need to be carefully justified, however, and will be considered as competing renewals.  Applications must be received by December 7, 2015 by 5:00 pm.

For more information please contact:  Lisa Henry at: henryli@mail.med.upenn.edu;

(215) 898-4364 or Dr. Doris Stoffers, Director, DRC Pilot & Feasibility Grants Program, at: stoffers@mail.med.upenn.edu; (215) 573-5413.





Transdisciplinary Awards Program in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (TAPITMAT)

The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) invites proposals from ITMAT Members and ITMAT Associate Members in the Research Associate or Instructor A category.  It is not too late to become a Member or an Associate Member if you would like to apply for the grant and meet membership criterion.  If you are interested, please visit the membership section of our website (http://www.itmat.upenn.edu/membership.shtml) for details.

The proposals must center on the translational space – in terms of drug development, from proof of concept in cells or model systems through to mechanistic studies in humans or, in drug development, completion of dose selection in Phase II.  Programs that plan to progress within that space and which deploy technologies and approaches conventionally segregated from each other within the traditional boundaries of academic medicine will be especially favored.  The proposals are due by December 4, 2015 for a proposal start date of February 1, 2016


TAPITMAT grants are available to registered members of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) as well as Associate Members who hold Instructor A or Research Associate positions.

  • We will offer the inaugural Hwang Transdisciplinary Award in Translational Medicine and Therapeutics during this funding cycle. This award will favor an application with particular potential for commercialization.
  • Proposal must have at least two Co‐Principal Investigators, ideally from different disciplines within the University of Pennsylvania, and at least one Co‐Principal Investigator must have a primary appointment in the School of Medicine. Novel collaborative applications between faculty located in distinct schools in Penn are encouraged.
  • The proposals must center on the translational space – in terms of drug development, from proof of concept in cells or model systems through to mechanistic studies in humans or, in drug development, completion of dose selection in Phase II. Programs that plan to progress within that space and which deploy technologies and approaches conventionally segregated from each other within the traditional boundaries of academic medicine will be especially favored.
  • Proposals that focus on translational therapeutics or on bridging the pediatric to adult divide are particularly encouraged.
  • All proposals are due by December 4, 2015 at noon for a project start date of February 1, 2016. LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED NOR WILL EXTENSIONS BE GRANTED

Please see the complete guidelines for the TAPITMAT Call for Applications for detailed instructions.

Application or Funding Questions

Please direct any questions to Jessica Bickhart, bickhart@mail.med.upenn.edu

 or Jason Molli, molli@upenn.edu.


PennCHOP Microbiome Program

PennCHOP Microbiome Program Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program
Application Deadline: January 26, 2016 by 5pm

Purpose and Research Focus

The mission of the PennCHOP Microbiome Program is to facilitate research across campus focused on understanding the microbiome and altering its composition and activity to improve health. Pilot/Feasibility Grants are designed to bring together microbiome investigators and to stimulate other researchers to enter the field and investigate the influence of the microbiome in their subject areas. The Pilot/Feasibility Projects can focus on the microbiota at any body site of the human or animal hosts. Projects can focus on composition and/or function of bacterial, fungal, archaeal, viral communities as well as their physiological and pathological effects on their hosts.

There will be two pilot funding mechanisms that will support up to seven pilot grants

1) Up to five general microbiome pilots.

2) One matching pilot with the School of Veterinary Medicine and one with the Institute for Immunology.

Please click here for more information.


Penn Translational Neuroscience Center (PTNC)

Translational Neuroscience Initiative (TNI): Bridging the Divide between Basic science and Clinical Medicine
 Application Deadline:  December 1, 2015

To promote greater integration and translation of scientific discoveries for a high impact on patient care, the Penn Medicine Translational Neuroscience Center (PTNC) is establishing the Translational Neuroscience Initiatives (TNIs). The TNIs are designed to catalyze the formation of high-impact teams and promote greater integration between basic laboratory neuroscience, clinical research, and clinical practice. The obvious and immediate benefits of such integration include greater attention by basic neuroscientists to the most pressing clinical issues as well as the opportunity for their research hypotheses to be informed by clinician experience with treatment successes and failures. The anticipated downstream consequence is to create new scientific collaborations and consortia, thereby increasing the rate of translation of discoveries of novel molecular targets and neural systems into therapeutics that transform the care of patients with neuropsychiatric and neurological diseases.

Given the excellence of Penn neuroscience investigators and their ability to achieve important, if not dramatic, effects on patient outcomes, resources have been committed to establish at least 4 TNIs at Penn over the next 3 years. Two of these will be selected and awarded in 2016. To entice both junior and senior investigators to come together to produce highly innovative, transformational research concepts, the TNIs will be funded at a level of $400,000 direct costs over a period of 2-3 years. A brief overview of the focus areas, submission guidelines, and review process can be found below. Please see the complete guidelines for the TNI Call for Applications for detailed instructions. The submission deadline for the brief proposals is December 1st, 2015.

Focus Areas

Through a scientific strategic planning process involving basic and clinical neuroscientists across 16 departments and 4 schools, we have identified two broad focus areas for the first issuance of this RFA. Applicants may submit a proposal focusing on one of these two thematic areas:

 1) Modulation of Neural Circuits for Preventive Health Behaviors or Recovery from Neuropsychiatric or Neurological Diseases

Applicants are encouraged to focus on one or more of the following scientific topics:

Develop and validate minimally invasive biomarkers of neuroplasticity to predict vulnerability to neurological/neuropsychiatric disorders, phenotypic variation in disorders, and/or clinical outcomes

  • Elucidate neural circuits that explain behavior and develop novel approaches to modulate these circuits to improve decision-making, motivation and behavior change

2) Neuroimmune Mechanisms and Treatment for Neuropsychiatric or Neurological Diseases

Applicants are encouraged to focus on one or more of the following scientific topics:

  • Integrate genomic, immune, neural and behavioral data to understand the role of the immune system in neuropsychiatric or neurological diseases
  • Adapt CART and other immunotherapy approaches to manipulate cellular responses
  • Repurpose pharmacologic immune modulators as potential novel therapeutics in neurology and psychiatry

With respect to all of the above priority areas, experiments to understand the relationship between peripheral biomarkers and brain biomarkers, studies that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques or incorporate other novel technologies, and studies that consider the dynamic trajectories of these processes are of particular (but not exclusive) interest.

While a clinical component is not a requirement, proposals that have a clear pathway to translate data for treatment or devise development for neuropsychiatric or neurological conditions are of high priority. Studies that build upon established cohorts with longitudinal follow-up, and examine repeated exposures and changes in biomarkers will also be considered provided the work can be accomplished within a 2-3 year window. Proposals that include a single team science project or a set of multiple collaborative projects are acceptable. Proposals from a single laboratory will not be considered, as this is intended to be a collaborative team science initiative.

 General Guidelines

TNIs must focus on one of the two overarching thematic areas above. In addition, the following features of TNI applications are strongly encouraged.

  • Integrated team of research scientists and clinicians/clinical investigators
  • Breadth of scientific disciplines, including basic, clinical and/or population sciences
  • Cross-departmental and/or cross-school collaborations, highlighting use of any unique resources at Penn
  • Innovative and new directions, rather than existing approaches
  • Contribution by participating departments for cost-sharing

Application Process

The first phase of the application requires submission of a concept proposal. This document must be no more than 8 pages (including tables and figures) and utilize no smaller than Arial 11 point type (font) size. The required budget and the 5-page NIH format biographical sketches for the PIs and key faculty members of the TNI do not count toward the page limit. The required budget must include a letter of support from the PIs’ Department Chair supporting release of time to conduct the research. Please see the complete guidelines for the TNI Call for Applications for detailed instructions.

 Submission Instructions

Please send applications to Bridget Callaghan at bridgemc@mail.med.upenn.edu.

For scientific questions, please feel free to contact the Co-Directors of the PTNC directly:

Frances Jensen, MD and Caryn Lerman, PhD

For budgetary or administrative submission questions, please contact Rosellen Taraborrelli at



Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Pilot Program

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania (RWJF H&SSP at Penn) has set aside a Competitive Research and Education Fund to promote interdisciplinary research and education in population health at Penn. These funds will be used to help Penn faculty develop pilot projects which will attract external support for larger-scale studies, as well as new and innovative didactic material.

For additional information please contact:

Melissa Kulynych
Program Coordinator


UPenn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS)

TCORS P50 Center of Excellence
Application Deadline: December 11, 2015

The UPenn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) announces a Pilot Project Funding Opportunity. The TCORS P50 Center of Excellence is a joint research initiative led by the Annenberg School for Communication and the Perelman School of Medicine, and funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  This pilot project initiative supports research to provide the scientific evidence base for these regulations. The overarching goals of the TCORS pilot program are: (1) To engage junior faculty (Assistant Professors) in tobacco regulatory science research, and (2) to assist established faculty (Associate or Full Professors) who are not already conducting regulatory science research to develop new lines of research in this area. 

Scope of Projects and Budgets: We will consider two levels of pilot projects: 1) smaller one-year pilot projects with a budget no greater than $20,000, and 2) larger one- to two-year pilot projects with a budget up to $50,000.  Although the numbers and types of pilot projects funded will depend upon the merit of the submitted applications, we anticipate funding 3 smaller projects and 1-2 larger pilots.  The research being proposed cannot be funded by an external funding agency. Priority will be given to projects that have a clear pathway to future NIH grant submission and, among the larger projects, to those that involve investigators from more than one discipline.

For detailed information: UPenn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS)


Translational Biomedical Imaging Center (TBIC)

TBIC: New Collaborative Pilot Grant Program
Application Deadline: December 4, 2015                 


The Translational Biomedical Imaging Center (TBIC) was established under the leadership of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) in part “to broaden and accelerate translational imaging research through the development of a center to bring together investigators with diverse backgrounds that contribute to various aspects of imaging science and who share a vision of contributing to the advancement of clinical medicine.” Among the approaches adopted by the TBIC to promote the use of imaging technology to facilitate translational research are the support of core facilities, collaborative imaging scientists and retreats/seminars. Building on this foundation, the TBIC announces a new collaborative pilot grant program to help catalyze collaborations between primary imaging scientists and primary biomedical/clinical researchers that integrate novel imaging approaches to enhance translational science and medicine.

These proposals require at least two co-principal investigators: one investigator whose primary research focus is in imaging methodology development and another investigator whose research is focused on biomedical science. At least one of the co-principal investigators should have a primary appointment in the Perelman School of Medicine. All investigators must be members of ITMAT. Please visit http://www.itmat.upenn.edu/membership.shtml  for details.

The TBIC adopts a broad definition of imaging science and seeks proposals that focus on anatomic or functional imaging approaches that span from the microscopic to in vivo regimes.  Proposals that include a broad range of imaging methods including image acquisition techniques, image analysis and imaging probe development will be considered. Funding will be based on scientific merit, potential downstream clinical impact and the likelihood that the project will generate independent funding to sustain the effort. Post-pilot award outcomes will be surveyed. The deadline for applications is December 4, 2015 at noon for an award start date of February 1, 2016.

Visit http://www.itmat.upenn.edu/funding.html#tbicshtml for more information related to funding.

For additional information related to TBIC, visit http://www.itmat.upenn.edu/tbic.html or contact Mitchell Schnall at mitchell.schnall@uphs.upenn.edu or James Gee at gee@mail.med.upenn.edu