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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:

BASSER RESEARCH CENTER FOR BRCA External Research Grant Program Announcement

Letter of Intent Due:  March 30, 2015
Application Due Date:  May 11, 2015

The Basser Research Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center announces the Basser External Research Grant Program, which focuses on projects that have the potential to advance the care of individuals living with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Research grant applications in basic science, prevention, early detection, or targeted therapeutics and relevant to the study of BRCA1/2 will be considered. Grants that demonstrate a potential for translation into clinical practice will be prioritized for funding.

Funding Level: Basser Innovation Award. Three $100,000, one-year, high-risk idea projects will be awarded.

The deadline for mandatory Letters of Intent is Monday, March 30, 2015.

The deadline for full applications is 5:00PM EST on Monday, May 11, 2015.

FOR INFORMATION go to: http://www.penncancer.org/research/investigators-only/funding-opportunities/basser-external-research-grant-program/

CONTACT: Cecilia Scavelli; Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania; Phone: 215-349-8387; Email: cecilia2@upenn.edu

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 for Molecular Studies in Digestive & Liver Diseases:  Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program

Application Due Date:  May 29, 2015

Purpose and Research Focus:

The purpose of Penn’s Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive & Liver Diseases is to unite investigators with interests in digestive and liver physiology and disease and to stimulate others in the biomedical community to enter this area of research. One of the most important aspects of this effort is the funding of Pilot/Feasibility Projects.

The Pilot/Feasibility Project should be related to the focus of the Center, which encompasses molecular studies on the biology or disease of the alimentary tract, pancreas and liver. Relevant investigations include those in developmental biology, nutrition, regulation of gene expression, growth, differentiation and carcinogenesis, the biology of stem cells, molecular genetics, gene therapy and immunology, including growth factors and cytokines.


All faculty members of the University scientific community who meet the eligibility requirements below are invited to submit proposals. Applicants must be a US citizen or have a permanent visa.

1. New investigators who have never held extramural support (R01 and P01).

2. Established investigators in other areas of biomedical research who wish to apply their expertise to a problem in digestive and liver disease.

3. Established digestive and liver investigators who wish to study an area that represents a significant departure from currently funded work.

4. Pilot project awardees are eligible for two years of funding; renewals are evaluated competitively.

Proposal Preparation:

1. Submit a PDF via email to kimmeyer@upenn.edu Complete proposals are due by Friday, May 29, 2015.

2. Format:

  • Cover page: includes abstract of up to 250 words and list of approved or pending IACUC/IRB protocols.
  • NIH biographical sketch
  • NIH other support
  • Budget and justification: one year, $20,000, one page only.
  • Background, preliminary results, estimated core usage, research plan and future directions, up to four pages total.
  • Senior investigators should indicate how this project represents a new direction in their research.
  • References: one page only.
  • Appendix: pertaining to preliminary data only, no reprints.

For additional information: Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive & Liver Diseases; (215) 573-4264, fax: (215) 898-0573, email: kimmeyer@upenn.edu

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.

Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) Interdisciplinary Awards in Maturational Human Biology

Application Due Date:  May 15, 2015

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 be interdisciplinary and translation in nature and bridge the pediatric to adult divide.  All proposals must have at least two Co-Principal Investigators, including at least one from the University of Pennsylvania and at least one from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The proposals are due by May 15, 2015 at noon for a proposal start date of July 1, 2015. 

Please visit our website at http://www.itmat.upenn.edu/funding.shtml for detailed instructions. 

Please note that the linked PDF document contains all of the documents required for submission via our Pilot Grants system.

Penn Genome Frontiers Institute (PGFI)

The Penn Genome Frontiers Institute provides support to PENN researchers in several ways, including providing funding opportunities for faculty and graduate students.

PGFI has funded research in strategic areas of the genome sciences. These pilot grants provide the means to pursue innovative, and often risky, ideas to the point that the investigators are able to apply for conventional funding mechanisms. Typically grants are awarded for one to two years, for up to $120,000.

For more information, please visit the PGFI website.

Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) Funds Available for Patient Centered Outcomes Research Pilot Studies

Application Due Date: May 8, 2015

The Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania is providing pilot funds for studies in patient centered outcomes research (PCOR). For purposes of this funding announcement, the working definition for PCOR is that which is provided by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) on its website (http://www.pcori.org/)

The goal of this pilot grant program is to advance PCOR at Penn and assist Penn faculty in preparing applications for PCORI and/or NIH funding. Applications will be viewed most favorably that address PCORI’s national priorities and research agenda (http://www.pcori.org/research-we-support/priorities-agenda/) and respond to specific PCORI funding opportunities (http://www.pcori.org/funding-opportunities/).

The focus of the pilot should be related to at least one of the following: research methods, patient engagement, or the collection of pilot data leading to a large-scale intervention.

Some examples include:

  • Developing, assessing, and/or applying novel study designs for adapting therapeutic approaches based on patient response
  • Examining how the communication of genetic risk information affects health behavior
  • Quantifying the effectiveness of patient-centered components of a hospital-based initiative to improve transitions of care
  • Methods to use patient portals (e.g., myPennMedicine) to improve patient engagement and communication
  • Developing improvements in mixed-methods approaches


Grant Term:  Up to one year beginning as early as July 1, 2015. Unexpended funds must be returned at the end of the funding period.

Budget:  Applications for funds up to $40,000 in total direct costs per project will be considered to cover appropriate direct expenses. Salary support for faculty is not allowable. No indirect costs will be covered.

Eligibility:  The principal investigator must be a full-time Penn faculty member or trainee from any Penn school. The PI must have a primary appointment at the University of Pennsylvania, UPHS, or the VA, and funds are limited to non-CHOP personnel. If the principal investigator does not hold the rank of assistant professor or above at Penn, a full-time Penn faculty member at this rank must agree to serve as faculty mentor.  PIs will be expected to acknowledge PSOM support, as appropriate, in resultant presentations and publications.

Evaluation criteria:

  • applicability to PCOR research
  • scientific merit, creativity, and innovation
  • the degree to which the project is responsive to PCORI’s national priorities and research agenda
  • prospects for future extramural funding
  • clinical and/or public health significance
  • feasibility

Application Instructions

Use the following format:

    • Cover letter that must include the following:  PI name, academic degree, rank/title, address, phone and email; mentor’s name if applicable; title of study; study site; signature of approval of your department chair or their surrogate.
    • Abstract, 250 words maximum
    • Research proposal including: Specific aims, Significance, Innovation, Approach, and Plans for Future Funding (not to exceed a total of 5 pages combined, single space, 11 inch font, ½ inch margins.)\
    • Budget and brief budget justification
    • Investigator(s) biosketch(s) (NIH format)
    • Human Subjects (NIH format)
    • References

Deadline for applications is May 8, 2015 and selected applicants will be notified in June, 2015.

Send Cover letter and a PDF application by May 8, 2015 to sabarile@mail.med.upenn.edu

Please direct any questions to sabarile@mail.med.upenn.edu.

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.

Please visit www.upenn.edu/rwjhssp for more information and further details.

For additional information please contact:

Melissa Kulynych
Program Coordinator