The center's Pilot Project Program represents the most critical mechanism to promote new and innovative investigational endeavors by young center scientists and established scientists from other fields. It fosters a transition of senior postdocs and early-stage investigators to the pathway to independence in their chosen research topics related to the center's theme. It facilitates generation of new leading-edge studies by established investigators from other fields on research subjects of our emphasis via collaboration with the center members and support from the center's cores. During the past 5 years, the Program has supported 12 investigators. Of these, 8 received the support for 2 or 3 years on the same projects. Ten funded investigators published or submitted total 21 manuscripts;6 senior postdocs/junior scientists were promoted to faculty positions;7 acquired NIH grants (4 R01, 1 K01, 1 R21, 1 R03 awards) and 4 foundation grants with 4 additional pending grants. We attribute this successful outcome to the program's interactive support via the cores, progress report meeting and annual symposium, single-topic workshops, educational programs and cross-utilization of complementary expertise. In the next funding cycle, the Program will continue to promote generation of new cutting-edge science in the field of ALPD and cirrhosis by pursuing the following five specific aims: 1) to explore and identify new and innovative research in pursuit of the center's research theme;2) to identify and recruit new and qualified senior postdocs and young scientists into our field of interest and support their transition to academic independence;3) to identify and recruit established investigators with expertise in other fields into research relevant to the center's theme;4) support the growth of meritorious but unfunded studies into competitive projects that attract NIH support through R01 and other mechanisms;and 5) to integrate the center's other supportive mechanisms such as cores, educational and training programs, and training programs, and collaborative opportunities to maximize the potential of pilot projects for maturing to competitive studies.
The Pilot Project Program fosters a next generation of scientists who will carry on our mission of improving the understanding of alcoholic liver and pancreatic diseases and cirrhosis via their research. This will promote development of new preventive and therapeutic strategies for the diseases.
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