PILOT PROJECT CORE ABSTRACT The goal of the Native Center for Alcohol Research and Education (NCARE) is to nurture innovative research on health inequities among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) due to alcohol use disorders (AUDs), including their prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and consequences across the lifespan. One critical strategy for achieving this goal is to fund pilot projects that will develop novel approaches to improving AI/AN population health. Pilot projects provide a way to seed emerging research areas, explore new methodologies, and pursue new regional and national collaborations that could evolve into independently funded research or demonstration projects. Existing university-based options for pilot funding provide limited sums (e.g., $5,000-$10,000) that are often inadequate to conduct community-based research and are typically restricted to investigators at the home institution. The Pilot Project Core of NCARE is designed to identify and allocate substantial funding to support pilot projects that rigorously test practices, treatments, educational efforts, and policies that can effect sustained, widespread reductions in AI/AN health disparities due to AUDs. We will recruit a broad range of investigators from NCARE and outside institutions who can begin or augment their research with support from the Pilot Project Core. Given serious concerns about the aging of the scientific workforce funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the equally worrisome dearth of minority Principal Investigators, we will encourage applications from junior faculty and AI/AN investigators. The Pilot Project Core will offer myriad possibilities for research, including but not limited to studies of the etiology, biology, genetics, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of AUDs and their biomedical, psychosocial, and economic consequences.
Our Specific Aims are to: 1) Create a Pilot Project Core to fund innovative Pilot Projects with meaningful implications for AUDs and related health inequities in AI/AN communities; 2) Use the scientific review process as a learning opportunity for junior investigators and NCARE members who desire reviewing experience; and 3) Develop centralized research services that support the investigators who lead NCARE Pilot Projects, including junior investigators with a strong interest in alcohol research. We will also leverage our successful experience with other small grant programs to offer financial, logistical, and scientific resources to researchers whose proposals meet our rigorous criteria. By creating a centralized research support service and allocating substantial financial resources for NCARE Pilot Projects, this approach will foster an ecosystem of innovative and rigorous research. The activities of the Pilot Project Core will support investigators nationwide, thereby contributing to the development of new scientific methods, technologies, and approaches pertinent to innovative, goal-directed AUD research on a national scale.