The Pilot &Feasibility Program has been markedly successful over our first DRC/DRTC cycle. We have impelled career development of junior investigators who received most of these awards (70%), launched innovative projects, and enticed established investigators in other areas to apply their expertise to the study of diabetes. We have had robust responses (average 43/year) to our RFAs every year, and have leveraged institutional support to fund numbers of grants beyond that made possible by NIH support;39 pilots have been awarded to-date, 26 from the NIH DRC allocation, 4 from institutional funds through the Comprehensive Diabetes Center, and 9 through ARRA supplements. All funded applications were judged to be highly meritorious by a rigorous NIH study section-style review process consisting of intramural and extramural experts with an average funding rate of 18%. Recipients have taken advantage of these awards by publishing manuscripts, submitting extramural research applications, and securing larger funding to continue the line of investigation initiated with the pilot award. The pilot program has been a critical tool responsible for the growth in membership numbers and extramural funding of our DRTC/DRC since 2008. Our overall goal for the Pilot &Feasibility Program continues to be to faculitate new research development through pilot projects that synergize with other Cores and Programs in a manner that promotes the overall goals and objectives of the DRC.
The specific aims are: 1.To identify and support new research projects of outstanding quality and innovation for pilot funding, ultimately resulting in larger extramural support for development of the new line of investigation. 2.To support promising junior faculty in career development through funding of outstanding pilot research. 3.To augment the breadth and quality of DRC research by funding innovative projects of established researchers with valuable expertise who are new to diabetes, or of established diabetes investigators who want to test new high-impact hypotheses. 4.To increase the number of independent investigators funded by NIH to conduct diabetes research.
Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in the US and the developing world as a whole. The Deep South has suffered a disproportionate increase in the incidence and prevalence of diabetes. In fact, the state of Alabama and surrounding Southeast region served by UAB may be considered the epicenter of the epidemic. Our DRC pilot program will serve as a beacon to address this problem, fostering development of inovative diabetes research and researchers .
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