The Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) program has funded 107 projects (including 2011) since it inception in 1978. This program has been extremely valuable and effective by providing monies for the support of diabetes-related projects. The goal of the program is to support small research projects by new investigators (who have little or no independent research support) or established investigators who are turning to diabetes research for the first time. The vast majority of the proposals are in the former category. Three new projects are normally initiated each year. After a university-wide solicitation of proposals, four individuals (two internal and two external to the institution) review each grant. The critiques of the proposal are evaluated by the P&F Review Committee (equivalent to an NIH study section), and each proposal is assigned a priority score. The proposals and priority scores are then presented to the DRTC Executive Committee (equivalent to the NIH Council) for a funding decision. Support for a second year of research is awarded when satisfactory work is completed in year one and if support for the projects has not been obtained in the interim. The success rate of this program, measured either by the number of investigators who remain involved in diabetes research, or who convert their P&F into a nationally awarded, peer-reviewed grant, is high (57% of grants funded from 2000-2010 (20 of 35, illustration VI). In addition, this program funds applications from a wide variety of departments within the institution. For example, faculty members from Departments of Medicine, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Biochemistry, Biomedical Engineering, Anesthesia, Pediatrics, Cell and Developmental Biology, Chemistry, Nursing, and Pathology were funded over the past five years. The P&F program also provides visibility for the VDRTC within the Vanderbilt scientific community and thus makes the scientific community more aware of the VDRTC, its research efforts, and its core facilities. The importance and effectiveness of the VDRTC P&F program is underscored by the decision of the VUMC leadership to provide additional funds ($100K/year) for this program in the next funding cycle.

Public Health Relevance

Vanderbilt DRTC Pilot and Feasibility Program provides support for studies in biomedical, epidemiological, or behavioral research in diabetes. This program attracts more investigators in the fight to find cures and/or novel treatments for diabetes, obesity and metabolic disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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