To build upon the success of our COBRE program and the achievements that our COBRE investigator's made in Phase I and II, in Phase III we will implement the Pilot Project grant program as a means to support innovative research studies in the area of cardiovascular biology. The objective of this program is to provide funds to allow investigators collect adequate preliminary data for submission of highly competitive NIH R01 or equivalent extramural grant applications. It is expected that the program will also expand the scope of the current Cardiovascular Center research efforts in cardiovascular biology, including identifying new approaches to treat cardiovascular disease. In order to accomplish these objectives, the Phase Ml COBRE will support meritorious Pilot Projects that fall under two categories;1) Junior Investigator grants, and 2) New Project grants. The total direct costs allowed for each project will be $50,000 per year for a maximum of two years pending demonstration of satisfactory progress. Project areas of particular interest to be funded include, but are not limited to, investigations that will expand the Center's thematic focus in fundamental vascular and cardiac biology, cardiac and kidney ischemia and reperfusion injury, neurohumoral control of blood pressure and kidney function, and cardiopulmonary patho-physiology. Following internal review, the project selection process is based on an NIH style review conducted by the members ofthe External Advisory Committee. As established in Phase I and Phase 11, our COBER Mentors will play a pivotal role in guiding the scientific and career development of new Junior Investigators. The Pilot Project program will provide opportunities to purse new avenues of cardiovascular research while stimulating use of COBRE Core Facilities. Together, this will facilitate expansion of our Cardiovascular Center, which will help to recruit new investigators to our program and retain the most talented and qualified investigators in our area.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death (~ 600,000 per year) for people of most ethnicities in the United States. The Pilot Project grant program will build upon the structure and success of our COBRE program by funding highly promising pilot research projects that will expand our Center's scope of research in cardiovascular hioloav and disease.