Pilot Projects

Environmental Health Science Pilot Grants Program

The Mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), an NIH Institute, is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. To fulfill this mission the NIEHS wants to recruit the best and brightest investigators to perform environmental health science research. The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC), an NIEHS funded Center at the University of Arizona, is promoting the mission of NIEHS through the availability of Pilot Project awards up to $40,000.

Have you ever considered research in environmental health sciences? The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) "strives to conduct and support the very best environmental health sciences in alignment with real-world public health needs, and to translate science findings into knowledge that can inform real-life individual and public health outcomes" (https://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/strategicplan). Pilot projects are designed to provide support for obtaining preliminary data that can be used in developing major proposals for submission to extramural funding agencies. We, the investigators and administration of the SWEHSC, want you to be successful and are here to help you in the development of your Pilot Project applications.

At least one pilot grant is designated per year to support proposals related to unique populations, including rural communities and Native American and Latinx peoples residing in arid lands. You can download this announcement here.


Step 1 - Communicate informally with the Administrator

First, you should touch base with Dr. Xinxin Ding (xding@arizona.edu), who is administering the Pilot Projects Program. He can assure that your research is related to the goals of the Center and NIEHS, make some preliminary suggestions on potential collaborators within the SWEHSC, and suggest potential facility cores that might be useful in your proposed research.

Step 2 - Letter of Intent

Next, you should submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Susanna Herndon (sbrodie@arizona.edu). This will include your project title, potential collaborators, potential facility core usage and preliminary draft of your Specific Aims. While the LOI is not required in order to apply for Pilot Project funds, it will allow us to match you with other researchers in the Center who can assist you in preparing your application.

If you are in the College of Science, you should contact Kelly Grimm (grimmk@arizona.edu) prior to

Step 3 - Coaching and assistance

Meet with a Research Focus Group. The LOI will also allow us to schedule you to meet with an appropriate Research Focus Group. The SWEHSC has three Research Focus Groups that are designed to promote collaborations. These include:

You can prepare a brief (no more than 5 minute) overview presentation for the appropriate RFG. The reason for meeting with the RFG is two-fold. It will provide you with an opportunity to meet, interact with and get an overview of the research interests of investigators in the RFG. In addition, it will give the RFG members an opportunity to provide you with suggestions and comments that will strengthen your Pilot application. After meeting with the RFG, you will have an opportunity to incorporate their comments and suggestions prior to final submission of your Pilot Application.

Step 4 - Submit your application

  • All State of Arizona faculty are eligible and encouraged to apply.
  • Junior and clinical faculty, who have not previously performed research in environmental health science but who would be interested in broadening their research to include environmentally related research, are especially invited by the Center to apply.
  • Since a goal of the Pilot Projects is to promote collaborations, projects that provide for interaction with existing SWEHSC investigators are encouraged.
  • Please see the application for budgetary information.
  • Use of Research, Innovation and Impact Facility Cores (https://research.arizona.edu/facilities/search) is encouraged, since fees associated with use of these facilities can be requested in addition to the $40,000 maximum budget.  RII funding can be utilized in the following cores:
    •     Analytical and Biological Mass Spectrometry
    •     Cryogenics & Compressed Gas Facility
    •     Flow Cytometry (LCC Room 0935 & MRB Room 240K2)*
    •     Functional Genomics Core
    •     Imaging Core - Electron
    •     Imaging Core - Optical (Marley & LSN)
    •     Machining And Welding Center 
    •     Micro/Nano Fabrication Center
    •     Translational Bioimaging Resource 
    •     Arizona Genetics Core (formerly University of Arizona Genetics Core)
    •     University Animal Care (Before using funds at this core, customer must email corebusiness@email.arizona.edu and uac-billing@email.arizona.edu )

      *Flow Cytometry only (not the Human Immune Monitoring side of the shared resource). Allowable charges include charges relating to the following instruments: Fortessa, Aria, Canto, Imagestream, and Attune. Flow staff members are Mark Curry and John Fitch. Unallowable charges include: any charges from Immune Monitoring Shared Resource (IMSR in LCC Room 0911& 0913) by Pat Gundy and her staff who operates the Cytek Aurora, Agilent Seahorse, and Nanostring GeoMx services.

  • Information about the SWEHSC and its resources can be found at http://swehsc.pharmacy.arizona.edu/.
  • Application materials and information concerning budgetary issues can be obtained from Susanna Herndon (sbrodie@arizona.edu, 626-5594) or from the SWEHSC website. Research related questions should be addressed to Dr. Xinxin Ding (xding@arizona.edu, 626-9906).
  • Funding decisions will be made about a month after the applications are received.