Small grants to conduct pilot projects are a well-proven and pivotal mechanism for the establishment and capacity building of a successful, sustainable research program. They allow investigators to establish and test new collaborations and ideas, collecting preliminary data to demonstrate the feasibility of important clinical and translational research projects. Without a mechanism to evaluate the soundness of new ideas, it will be impossible to develop a high-quality research program and to successfully secure future NIH research grants. This opportunity to test new ideas and collaborations is critical because the DE-CTR depends on the establishment of cross-institutional partnerships. To be funded, pilot projects will be required to involve a partnership of faculty from at least two institutions. These partnerships will include not just local Delaware institutions (the University of Delaware, Nemours, Christiana Care, etc.), but also institutions in other IDeA states, specifically, our partners at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Projects funded under the Clinical and Translational Pilot Grants Program will have to be translational in nature. Collaborative research between basic, clinical, and translational researchers from different disciplines, departments, and/or programs within or across institutions will be encouraged, and at least one ofthe Pilot Projects funded at any time will have to be fundamentally clinical in nature. The pilot project grants will provide an opportunity to create a community of medical research that has a strong mentorship component. To grow the base of NIH-funded investigators, PIs of pilot projects will generally be junior faculty without prior NIH funding. Each junior faculty member will be required to have a mentor who has undergone mentorship training through an established faculty mentorship program. Both junior faculty and mentors are expected to participate in DE-CTR events, retreats and planning meetings so they become a part of the DE-CTR community. We intend to fund seven pilot projects at any given time after the initial year (Year 1 will only have four pilot projects, allowing us time to establish the program). Each pilot grant proposal may request up to $88,500 in direct costs per year. Funding will be provided for a single year with an option for a second year based on meritorious review. Most ofthe funding awarded is expected to be used for research assistant stipends and laboratory equipment and supplies. PI salary will be discouraged, as institutions are required to provide faculty release time. All pilot project PIs that are junior faculty (the majority) will be required to have a scientific mentor. Projects will be selected based on a two-stage review process. Priority scores will be given by members ofthe DE-CTR Research Committee, and funding decisions will be made by the DE-CTR External Advisory Committee.
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