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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:

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 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.

Penn Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)

Application Due Date:  March 30, 2015

The Penn Center for AIDS Research (Penn CFAR) invites Pilot Grant applications in HIV/AIDS clinical care, pathogenesis, virology, immunology, structural biology, vaccine development, epidemiology, or prevention research.  The CFAR is especially interested in proposals that bridge programmatic areas and, in particular, (a) projects that link clinical, basic and behavioral scientists, and (b) investigators outside the HIV/AIDS field turning their focus to relevant projects linked with CFAR HIV/AIDS investigators. 

Awards are up to $40,000 for each grant. Grants are for a one-year period. 

All HIV/AIDS topics are welcome, and proposals are especially encouraged that address our high priority Scientific Working Group areas:

  • HIV and Viral Hepatitis co-infection (with broad focus spanning basic, clinical, behavioral)
  •  HIV and Substance Use
  • Strategies targeting HIV Eradication, HIV Reservoirs and Residual Inflammation

Award Types: 

Mentored Research Scholar awards: Young Investigators (Non-Faculty members)

 Instructor and Research Associate level

A one-page mentorship plan with a mentor at the assistant professor level or above is required.  Guidelines for the Mentorship Plan are available through the CFAR Web Site:


General Pilot Awards: Faculty members

Post-graduate degree with an appointment equivalent to a staff scientist or assistant professor (or above) in any track at the University of Pennsylvania, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or The Wistar Institute.

For junior faculty applicants, a one-page mentorship plan with a senior faculty member is strongly encouraged; for non-HIV/AIDS investigators of any level, a partnership plan with an established HIV/AIDS investigator is strongly encouraged.


  • Young investigators (Instructor/Research Associate) who have not received independent funding in HIV/AIDS and are poised to begin an independent project (Mentored Research Scholar award)
  • New investigators who never have held extramural R01-level support from the NIH
  • Investigators who have not previously been funded for work in HIV/AIDS
  • Investigators who have worked in HIV/AIDS who wish to study an area that is a significant departure from their currently funded work
  • New interdisciplinary collaborations involving investigators from different disciplines who have not previously worked together

Application Deadline:  Monday, March 30, 2015

Cover page/instructions may be found at


Note: should include a brief section that describes how this pilot project will lead to future independent funding.

Important info:

Pre-Submission Pilot Workshop:    

A Pre-Application Workshop will be offered to help with the preparation of their pilot grant application.  This is especially valuable for (a) junior investigators to help them craft a stronger research proposal and (b) all investigators to gain more information about the research services and resources provided through Penn CFAR Shared Resource Cores.  For further information on the workshop or mentoring plans, contact Evelyn Olivieri, oliviere@mail.med.upenn.edu.

Pre-Submission Pilot Workshop:   

Friday, January 30, 2015

1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

253 Biomedical Research Bldg, 421 Curie Boulevard 19104

 International Applications:  specific requirements apply

For further information or questions please contact:

Pablo Tebas, M.D.   (Director, CFAR Developmental Core)


 Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., M.Sc., D.Phil.   (Co-Director, CFAR Developmental Core)


 Evelyn Olivieri   (Associate Director, Penn CFAR)


Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program

Application Due Date:  February 27, 2015

The Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders is once again accepting applications for its Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program.  Submissions should be related to musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair which is the broad focus of the Center and Grants are only eligible for Full Members (if you are not a member but would like to become one, please visit: www.med.upenn.edu/pcmd/memberinfo.shtml for instructions on joining). 

Pilot grants will be due on February 27, 2015 with a planned start date of July 1, 2015 and we are expecting to award 3 new grants in this round.

Potential applicants are encouraged to send me a short e-mail, with your name, a rough title of your proposed project, a sentence or two (at most) describing the global hypothesis or objective, and a note as to which of the 4 Research Cores (Molecular Profiling, Biomechanics, Imaging, Histology) you would use (core use is required for pilot funding). I would appreciate receiving this e-mail asap, so I can advise and guide you on the appropriateness of your application idea within the framework of the overall Center.  For more information on our Cores and Center in general, please see our web site at www.med.upenn.edu/pcmd.


• Only Full Members are eligible.  If you are not currently a member, please visit our website at www.med.upenn.edu/pcmd/memberinfo.shtml

• Categories of applicants include: 1) Established investigators with a proposal to test the feasibility of a new or innovative idea in musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair representing a clear and distinct departure from their ongoing research, 2) Established investigators with no previous work in musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair interested in testing the applicability of their expertise on a problem in this area, and 3) New investigators without significant extramural grant support as a Principal Investigator to develop a new project.

• Pilot and Feasibility Grants must use at least one of the Center's Research Cores.

• Pilot project awardees are eligible for one year, with a second year to be considered. The second year of funding, the dollar amount of which would only be for up to half the year one budget, will be considered based on the progress report submitted after the first year of funding and funding availability in the Center. Please note that second year funding will most often not be awarded, and when awarded, will be done so primarily to new investigators; second year funding to senior investigators will be quite rare.

• Budgets will be for $25-50,000 per year and timelines should be for one or two years.

• It is expected that these Pilot grants will lead to funding through other independent, extramural mechanisms. Therefore, the likelihood of future extramural funding will enter into the evaluation of these proposals explicitly.


• Applications should be formatted loosely in the style of an NIH R03 grant (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-12-045.html).  The main body of the application (Specific Aims through Approach: sections 4-7 below) should be no more than 5 pages total. The format is:

1) Cover Page (not NIH face page) with grant title, PI name, affiliation, contact information

2) Budget and brief budget justification (note that equipment is not allowed)

3) NIH Biosketch of PI

4) Specific Aims

5) Significance

6) Innovation

7) Approach

8) Brief Statement of Category of Investigator per guidelines above

9) Brief Statement of How this Funding will lead to other Extramural Funding

10) Human Subjects and/or Vertebrate Animals Subjects (if applicable)

11) Consultants (if applicable)

12) Literature Cited

13) Certification of Patient Oriented Research (if applicable)

The completed application should be submitted as a single PDF file to pcmd@mail.med.upenn.edu by February 27, 2015 at 5pm.  Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.

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.

The Penn Mental Health AIDS Research Center (PMHARC) Developmental Awards Program
Application deadline:  March 1, 2015                                                                                            

The PMHARC seeks applications for its pilot research program.  This competitive program will select up to six projects with clear potential to lead to larger, funded research initiatives.   All applications will be evaluated for scientific merit, programmatic relevance, utilization of PMHARC Core services and feasibility for completion within one year.   The PMHARC will support a broad range of research topics related to the treatment of individuals with serious mental illness and HIV infection.  Priority will be given to applications that are responsive to the research priorities of the PMHARC (http://www.med.upenn.edu/pmharc).   Applications must pair an established investigator with an early career investigator.  Research strategies may include small feasibility trials and secondary analysis of large data sets.  Potential areas of research include:

•    Treatment of psychiatric disorders among people living with HIV infection who have co-occurring medical conditions—metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancers, HCV, TB, substance use disorders (alcohol and illicit drugs)
•    Novel, as well as conventional, treatments and/or interventions of psychiatric conditions to improve access to, and retention in, HIV treatment and improved adherence to antiretroviral medications
•    Adaptations of evidence based psychiatric treatment to the unique needs of HIV patient populations
•    Research that links the effective treatment of mental illness among people with HIV infection to improvements in biological measures of health status
•    Research focused on the treatment of HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND)
•    Studies of interaction effects between psychiatric  and antiretroviral medications

Funding amount:  $25,000 plus support from PMHARC Cores.  Funds may be used for personnel (including up to 10% of salary for senior investigator), supplies and/or equipment.  

Core Utilization:  Full use of appropriate PMHARC Core services is strongly encouraged and will be viewed as responsive to this announcement.  Details can be found at: http://www.med.upenn.edu/pmharc/cores.shtml

PMHARC Core Assessments and Repository:  All studies involving human subjects will be expected to utilize a core battery of clinical and lab assessments which, for most projects, will be completed by the Clinical Assessment Core and the Laboratory Biomarkers Core.   All subjects will be offered participation in the PMHARC data and specimen repository.

Eligibility:  All projects must be led by a member of the Penn Faculty, including Instructors.  Post Docs and Senior Fellows at Penn are also eligible with a faculty sponsor.

A pre-application meeting will be held on Thursday, January 29th at 12:00 p.m. in room 640 at 3535 Market Street.  This will be an opportunity to meet the Core directors and learn about Core services for pilot projects.  Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to attend.

Applications and Instructions:  Forms and application details can be found at: http://www.med.upenn.edu/pmharc .  
Page limit:  Five pages not including the literature cited, budget, budget justifications, and biosketch in NIH format.

Please include the attached cover page and budget page with each application, and submit as a single PDF file attachment to: Chelsea Voytek, MPH at chelseav@mail.med.upenn.edu and David Gettes at dgettes@mail.med.upenn.edu.  For further information, please contact Dave Metzger, PhD, Director of Developmental Core at dsm@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

UPenn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) Pilot Project Funding Opportunity

Application Due Date: March 6, 2015

The UPenn Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) announces a new 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).  The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the FDA broad authority to regulate tobacco product manufacturing, distribution and marketing. 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.  Applications are due Friday March 6, 2015.

Research priorities supported through the NIH-FDA Tobacco Regulatory Science Program include:

  1. Nicotine dependence threshold among youth and adults and impact of nicotine reduction on tobacco product use behavior (e.g., topography, compensation, switching, multiple use, initiation, cessation, and relapse).
  2. Cigar (small, large, cigarillos) initiation, use (including transitions to other tobacco products and multiple use), perceptions, dependence and toxicity
  3. Smokeless tobacco initiation, use (including transitions to other tobacco products and multiple use), perceptions, dependence and toxicity
  4. E-cigarettes initiation, use (including transitions to other tobacco products and multiple use), perceptions, dependence, toxicity
  5. Other tobacco product (e.g., hookah, pipes, dissolvables) initiation, use (including transitions to other tobacco products and multiple use), perceptions, dependence, toxicity
  6. The impact of tobacco product characteristics, (e.g., ingredients, constituents, components, additives such as flavors, and labeling and marketing) on initiation, especially among youth and other vulnerable populations
  7. Toxicity thresholds for each of the 20 harmful and potentially harmful constituents identified in the March 2012 Guidance for Industry
  8. Computational/mathematical modeling and simulation and/or statistical modeling of the public health impact of FDA/CTP regulation of potential modified risk tobacco products, e.g., product standards, communications regarding risks of tobacco products
  9. Consumer perceptions of tobacco products including the impact of labeling and marketing
  10. Effective communication strategies regarding harmful and potentially harmful constituents and risks of tobacco products

Pilot Project Topics. The focus of the UPenn TCORS is on tobacco product messaging in a complex media environment and the development of interventions to counter misinformation and promote reductions in tobacco use.  Research relevant to this theme (and priorities #9 and 10) are encouraged in response to this announcement. However, FDA relevant research that addresses any of the above priorities will be considered. See also: (http://prevention.nih.gov/tobacco/research.aspx

Who is Eligible to Apply. Standing or Research Faculty within any school at the University of Pennsylvania are eligible to apply, provided the proposed research is relevant to the priorities described above. 

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- 5 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. If funded, a progress report is required at the end of the funding period and awardees are expected to present their findings at a TCORS Data Meeting. Two-year projects will require progress reports after year 1, with additional funding contingent on progress.  Applications are due by Friday, March 6, 2015.


1. Cover page with grant title, PI name and contact information

2.  Budget with brief budget justification.  The total budget cannot exceed 20K for the smaller project or 50K for the larger project competitions. Items that can be requested include salary of support personnel, supplies and minor equipment. Investigators cannot claim salary support for themselves and requests for travel are not permitted.

3. NIH Biosketch of PI, including a list of current and pending grant support

4. An abstract with a statement regarding how the proposed pilot project is relevant to the FDA priorities and may lead to extramural funding

5. A maximum 5 page proposal including specific aims, significance which must state relevance to the FDA priorities

6.  References

7.  Certification of patient-oriented or animal research (if applicable)


Please e-mail completed applications to kerns@mail.med.upenn.edu by March 6, 2015. Completed applications and all documentation above should be submitted as a single PDF file.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of senior faculty, and external experts as necessary.  Successful applicants will be notified before July1 2015.  The awards will have a start date of October 1, 2015 at the latest. Funding availability will reflect amount and timing of FDA TCORS FY16 budget commitments.