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. Please contact the individuals listed below for current information:

Cardiovascular Institute (CVI)


Periodically, generally in preparation for multi-disciplinary awards (PO1'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.

The Penn Center for AIDS Research


The Penn Center for AIDS Research (Penn CFAR) Pilot Grant Program

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 behavioral research are encouraged. The CFAR is especially interested in proposals that bridge programmatic areas and, in particular projects that link clinical, basic and behavioral scientists, and investigators outside the HIV/AIDS field turning their focus to relevant projects linked with CFAR HIV/AIDS investigators. Note that per NIH guidelines, Clinical Trials cannot be supported through this funding mechanism.  Two types of award are available: Mentored Research Scholar Award, and a General Pilot Research Award, further described below.

All proposals must address medium to high priority areas in the NIH Priorities for HIV/AIDS research.

We especially encourage proposals that address areas of particular interest such as:

  • HIV eradication and HIV reservoirs
  • HIV and disparities
  • HIV and liver disease (including hepatitis co-infection)
  • AIDS-associated malignancies (basic to clinical, must involve some HIV-linked aspect of study)
  • Inflammation, metabolic complications, and comorbidities of HIV infection
  • Application of novel engineering and other technologies to critical problems in HIV diagnostics or monitoring, understanding of pathogenesis, or other areas.

Amount:  We offer awards up to $40,000 for each grant. Grants are for a one-year period and are not renewable.   

Award Types and Eligibility

Please note that Post-docs and Fellows are not eligible for CFAR Mentored Research Scholar Awards or General Pilot Awards.

Mentored Research Scholar Awards: Young Investigators (Non-Faculty)

Young investigators at the Instructor/Research Associate level who are poised to begin an independent project within a mentored environment are eligible, and should 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 Web Site.  

General Pilot Awards: Faculty members

Eligible applicants must have a faculty appointment equivalent to Assistant Professor or Staff Scientist and above in any track at a Penn CFAR institution.

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.

General Pilot Awards Eligibility
  • 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
International Applications:
  • All applications that include planned research activities at international sites outside the U.S. should be discussed with Dr. Pablo Tebas prior to preparation of the application. Pablo.Tebas@uphs.upenn.edu
  • Applications with research activities in Botswana must be reviewed and approved by Dr. Harvey Friedman before submission.  hfriedma@mail.med.upenn.edu

Cover page and instructions can be found at the CFAR website.

*Note that the application should include a brief section that describes how this pilot project will lead  to future independent funding. Awardees will be contacted 6 months after the completion of the funding period with the request for a written progress report.

For further information or questions please contact:

Pablo Tebas, M.D. — (Director, CFAR Developmental Core) — pablo.tebas@uphs.upenn.edu
Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., M.Sc., D.Phil. — (Co-Director, CFAR Developmental Core) — montaner@wistar.org
Kate Gordon — (Associate Director, Penn CFAR) — gordonk@pennmedicine.upenn.edu

Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE)


Roybal Pilot Program

The Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) invites proposals from affiliated faculty for pilot projects that translate ideas from behavioral economics into practice in ‘real world’ settings, specifically testing interventions that reach middle-aged and elderly Americans at high risk for premature morbidity and mortality.

The pilot program aims to: 1) give research opportunities to junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students in behavioral economics; 2) encourage interaction between affiliated researchers; 3) build collaborations with new partner organizations that have access to populations and potential willingness to translate results from the research studies into practice.

The Penn Roybal Center will distribute up to $250,000 in pilot funding.  Each pilot project will be funded for a 1-year duration and awards will range between $25,000 and $100,000.   Priority will be given to applications which are particularly innovative, meet some of the aims listed above, and which are seen as likely to be good candidates to advance through the NIH stage of behavior intervention development and successfully compete for external peer reviewed funding.


A CHIBE affiliated faculty member must be the principal investigator in order for a proposal to be considered.  If the faculty member is not already affiliated with CHIBE, s/he must affiliate to be considered eligible to apply for pilot funding (this requires submission of a current CV, short description of your research for our CHIBE website, and a willingness to attend at least one annual Penn Roybal Center Retreat every two years).

Other Requirements

A one-page annual progress report must be submitted which includes a description of the project’s specific aims, significance, summary of the research conducted and results found to date, total enrollment, and future plans.  A member of the research team must present study findings at one of the annual Penn Roybal Center Retreats.  To receive funding you will need to have obtained IRB approval, if applicable, and posted the project on ClinicalTrials.gov, if applicable, prior to enrolling participants. The proposed project and budget will need to be approved by the National Institute on Aging.  These pilots will be part of the UPENN Roybal Center Competing Renewal. To this end, additional documentation may be required if selected. You must list the Penn Roybal Center in any publications resulting from this work.  Any publications that are the result of this funding must mention:  “The project described was supported in part by Grant Number P30AG034546 from the National Institute of Aging."

For additional information, please contact Samantha Fellman by email at safellm3@upenn.edu or by phone at 215-746-4011.

Center for Molecular Studies in Digestive and Liver Diseases


The purpose of the Center 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 carcinogensis, 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 U.S. citizens or have permanent visas.

  • New investigators who have never held extramural support (R01, P01).
  • Established investigators in other areas of biomedical research who wish to apply their expertise to a problem in digestive and liver disease.
  • Established digestive and liver investigators who wish to study an area that represents a significant departure from currently funded work.

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

Epigenetics Institute Pilot Grants


At-Large Pilot Project Grant

The Penn Epigenetics Institute announces a request for applications of a Pilot Project Grant for faculty to conduct epigenetics-related research projects. A broad spectrum of proposal topics will be considered, including those that involve fundamental studies in epigenetics as well as more applied or disease-oriented studies that utilize epigenetics as a central component of the research.

2019 At-Large Epi Pilot Grant RFA

Mass Spectrometry & Epigenetics Pilot Project Grant

The Penn Epigenetics Institute announces a request for applications of a Pilot Project Grant for faculty to conduct epigenetics-related research projects involving the use of mass spectrometry. A broad spectrum of proposal topics will be considered, including those that involve fundamental studies in epigenetics as well as more applied or disease-oriented studies that utilize mass spectrometry as a central component of the research.

2019 Mass Spectrometry & Epigenetics Pilot Grant RFA

Chemical/Genetic Screening Epigenetics Institute Pilot Grant Program

The Epigenetics Institute at Penn in collaboration with the High-throughput Screening Core (HTSC) at Penn is announcing a Pilot Grant Program to highlight the expertise and services of the core available to members of the Epigenetics community.  The specific scientific focus of 2019 pilot grant applications is non-restrictive, but applications must utilize the services of the HTSC.  Applications with a focus to utilize the cores’ ability to screen either a) FDA approved/FDA-like drug libraries or b) siRNA libraries of Gene Ontology (GO) categories or user-defined gene sets to identify/validate candidate gene targets are encouraged.  In preparing a proposal, applicants are encouraged to consult with the core directors about the feasibility of a candidate screen, e.g., reporter gene assay.  Importantly, pilot grants that are responsive to an upcoming RFA, future NIH Concept or other future funding mechanisms will be given priority.  The science remains a priority; however, it is important to emphasize how results from utilizing the core’s services will be capitalized on in future studies.

High-throughput screening core: The Penn High-throughput screening core (HTSC) provides the PSOM community with HTS resources to identify genes or organic small molecule inhibitors of signaling pathways and cellular phenotypes in models of human disease.  To meet the needs of investigators, the HTS provides consultation and assistance with assay development and high-throughput screening of chemical and genetic libraries. For a consultation contact David C. Schultz, PhD, Technical Director (dschultz@pennmedicine.upenn.edu)

2019 Chemical_Genetic Screening Epigenetics Pilot RFA

More info can be found on our pilot grants page.

The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT)


The Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) maintains current grant funding opportunities on their own website, including a dedicated Pilot Grant Application System. For further details please visit our funding page.

Featured ITMAT Funding Opportunities:

For any technical questions please contact Lorri Schieri, schieril@upenn.edu.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at CHOP/Penn New Program Development Award


New Program Development Award for the Institutional Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at CHOP/Penn

The New Program Development Award program was previously supported as part of the IDDRC at CHOP/Penn with funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) when the Center was supported as a P30 mechanism.

With the most recent competitive renewal, the mechanism switched to a U54 and New Program Development was excluded from eligibility. Thankfully, Dr. Bryan Wolf, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President at CHOP and Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice Dean at Penn, have agreed to provide funding so that the program can be reinstated. This program is also supported from funding received from The Philadelphia Foundation.

The Center anticipates making three to four awards of up to $50,000 per year for two years. The second year of support is contingent upon demonstration of adequate progress. For more information about this award, please contact Kristen Pidgeon at pidgeonk@email.chop.edu.

Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders


Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program

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 our member page for instructions on joining).

Potential applicants are encouraged to send Dr. Lou Soslowsky 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 3 Research Cores (Biomechanics, Micro-CT, Histology) you would use (core use is required for pilot funding). Please send your e-mail asap, so that you can be advised and guided 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 website.

Only Full Members are eligible. If you are not currently a member, please visit our website.
Please see the complete guidelines for the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program.
To upload an application please go to our pilot grant upload form.

Please contact Lou Soslowsky at soslowsk@upenn.edu or 215-898-8653 with any questions or comments.