Major goals of the COBRE III Center are to increase the scope of research conducted in Montana related to zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases and to continue increasing the competitiveness of Montana investigators for extramural funding. One of the key components utilized during the past nine years to achieve these goals has been Pilot Project Programs, which have been part of the Adiministrative Core of our Phase I and Phase II grants. These programs have been instrumental in expanding the scope of the Center, accelerating productivity of collaborative studies, and increasing infectious disease grant funding in Montana. These achievements have significantly contributed to the growth of the COBRE Center and continue to foster its evolution into a sustainable Center at Montana State University. In Phase III, we propose an enhanced Pilot Grants Program so that it not only utilizes the best features identified during COBRE l/ll, but also includes improved elements to address any shortcomings of our prevoius programs. This enhanced Pilot Grants Program emphasizes collaborative, multidisciplinary, translational studies on zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases and includes extensive mentorship, guidance, and evaluation in order to develop these projects so that they can become competitive for major national research grants. To achieve these goals, the Specific Aims of the Pilot Grants Program are:
Specific Aim 1 : to increase the scope and impact of zoonotic and emerging infectious disease research conducted by our COBRE Center, Specific Aim 2: to increase support of collaborative studies that lead toward larger program-type grants, and Specific Aim 3: to increase utilization of Center Scientific Core research facilities. Proposals for Pilot Grants will be solicited on a yeariy basis using an request for applications (RFA) mechanism and will be reviewed by a panel consisting of the Steering Committee and External Advisory Committee members and other experts as needed. Awards will be for one year, with the possibility of renewal for a second year. The general criteria for selection will include: responsiveness to the solicitation specifications, likelihood the pilot studies will lead to longer term funding, excellence of the science, and alignment of the project with the mission of our COBRE Center. Based on our past record of success with Pilot Projects and the enhancements proposed under COBRE III, we feel confident that this program will significantly enhance the competitiveness of our research programs and contribute to the overall quality and impact of the COBRE Center.
Pilot Grants represent an essential component ofthe COBRE III Center by expanding the scope and impact of our research. Through the use of an RFA and panel review mechanism, excellent projects focused on important questions in zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases and with high potential for future funding will be identified and supported.
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