Penn Center for AIDS Research

Pilot RFA - Fall 2020

The Penn Center for AIDS Research (Penn CFAR) invites Pilot Grant applications offered through its Developmental Core.  Proposals in all areas of HIV/AIDS clinical, basic and bio-behavioral research are welcomed. The CFAR is especially interested in proposals that bridge programmatic areas and, in particular, investigators outside the HIV/AIDS field turning their focus to HIV/AIDS and projects linked with CFAR HIV/AIDS investigators.

We especially encourage proposals that address areas of particular interest, including:

  • Implementation Science to End the HIV Epidemic in Philadelphia, including collaborative projects with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • The overlapping HIV and opioid use epidemics
  • HIV reservoirs and tissue immunology involved in persistence and control
  • AIDS-associated malignancies (basic to clinical, must involve some HIV-linked aspect of study)
  • Comorbidities of HIV, including but not limited to cardiovascular, metabolic, bone, ageing, weight gain, and other complications that persist despite therapy, along with persistent inflammation

All proposals must address high or medium priority areas in the NIH Priorities for HIV/AIDS research. (  These areas are:

  • Reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS
  • Next generation of HIV therapies (better safety and ease)
  • Research toward a cure
  • HIV-associated comorbidities, coinfections, and complications
  • Cross cutting:  Basic research, health disparities, and training of workforce 

Two types of award are available:  a General Pilot Research Award and a Mentored Research Scholar Award, described below.

Amount:  We offer awards up to $60,000 for each grant. Grants are for a one-year period and are not renewable.  It is expected that funds will be available in July 2021.  

Application Deadline:  Monday, January 18th, 2021

The required cover page and instructions can be found here.



General Pilot Awards: Faculty members 

Eligible applicants must have a faculty appointment equivalent to Assistant Professor or Staff Scientist or above in any track at a Penn CFAR institution (or a commitment for such an appointment at the time the award would start). 

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 also encouraged.

Mentored Research Scholar awards: Young Investigators (Pre-Faculty)

Young investigators at the Instructor/Research Associate/Staff Scientist level who are poised to begin an independent research program within a mentored environment at a Penn CFAR institution are eligible, and must include a letter of support from their scientific mentor.  In addition to the above letters, a one-page mentorship plan is required. Guidelines for the Mentorship Plan are available through the CFAR website.                       

Please note that Post-docs and Fellows are not eligible for CFAR Mentored Research Scholar Awards or General Pilot Awards unless they have institutional commitment for a Pre-Faculty (Instructor/Research Associate/Staff Scientist) position at the time the award will start.

Pilot Awards Eligibility:

  • New investigators who never have held extramural R01-level support from the NIH
  • Investigators who have not previously been funded by the NIH 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

If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact Developmental Core Director Dr. Pablo Tebas (

Community-based Organizations & Department of Health: Please contact Kate Gordon at for more information about eligibility.

Clinical Studies:  The NIH has restrictions on the type of clinical studies that can be supported by CFAR Pilot Grants. If you are planning to propose a human intervention study (biomedical, behavioral, etc.), please contact Developmental Core Director Pablo Tebas at so we can help ensure that your study, if approved, can be supported by CFAR. 

Use of Fetal Tissue: Research plans using fetal tissue are not permitted in pilot awards.

International Applications:   

  • Applications with research activities in Botswana must be discussed with and approved by Dr. Robert Gross prior to preparation of the application.
  • Applications that include planned research activities at other international sites outside the U.S. should be discussed with Dr. Pablo Tebas prior to preparation of the application.

Application Deadline:  Monday, January 18th, 2021

The required cover page and instructions can be found here.

*Note that the application should include a brief section that describes how this pilot project will lead to future independent funding

Note that successful awardees will be contacted at several points throughout the project period for progress reports, mentoring activities, human subjects study record completion, and to participate in feedback seminars. Pilot recipients will be followed for a 5+ year period following the close of the award for additional NIH reporting requirements. 

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


Kate Gordon

Executive Director, Penn CFAR 








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