Pilot Projects - Application

Application Description

The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC) announces the following funding opportunity through its Pilot Project Program funded by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The goal of the SWEHSC is to facilitate and implement innovative research aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying the modulation of human disease risks due to environmental exposures among populations living in arid environments. Pilot Project funds are awarded to provide short-term support for innovative projects aimed at exploring new areas of environmental health research and acquiring preliminary data necessary to pursue long-term extramural funding and to support the Career Development of new investigators and highly successful senior investigators who wish to redirect their research to include environmental health. 

Application Procedures

Faculty at all universities in the State of Arizona are eligible and encouraged to apply. Junior and clinical faculty who have not previously performed research in environmental health sciences but who are interested in broadening their research to include environmentally related research are especially invited to apply and to pursue membership in the Center. Translational projects, defined as research that advances a scientific finding toward practical application in the areas of public health, medical treatment/management, or public policy are encouraged to apply. Assistance in the design and conduct of translational studies, including studies involving human subjects, is available from the SWEHSC Translational Research Support Core (TRSC). 

​Completed applications should be sent to Dr. Xinxin Ding. Applicants are asked to present their Pilot Projects at a Research Focus Group (RFG) meeting to receive feedback and comments. Additional information, such as critiques from previous grant review, may be requested and appended for the review process. The review, approval, and distribution of funds is overseen by the SWEHSC Internal and External Advisory Boards (IAB and EAB). The applications are distributed for scientific review by at least two SWEHSC members with appropriate scientific expertise. The reviewers evaluate applications for scientific merit in accordance with the standard NIH review criteria and for their fit with the overall aims and needs of the SWEHSC, as well as their potential to garner NIEHS funding. Reviewers will meet in a SWEHSC “study section” to discuss the merits and weaknesses of each application and to score applications (best 1- worst 10) for prioritization. Reviewers are encouraged to suggest improvements to the research strategy for consideration by the PI and by Center leadership. The review results will be reported to the IAB, which votes on final funding decisions. In addition to scientific merit, the IAB considers additional criteria to ensure broad center priorities are met (e.g., supporting early-career investigators, topics of importance to the SWEHSC and NIEHS, environmental justice). Project PIs are notified of award or of declination and are provided a summary of comments and recommendations made by the reviewers. Applicants wishing to revise their applications based on reviewer comments are eligible to resubmit in the next funding round.

Budget and Project Duration

These awards are expressly for the intent of facilitating grant submissions that address the strategic goals and themes of NIEHS. Funding levels will vary depending on the scope of the Project up to a maximum of $40,000. A separate line item for SWEHSC facility core or Research Innovation, and Impact facility use should be included (the RII funding is separate from the $40,000 budget for the pilot project). 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)
  • Machine 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.

No indirect costs are included with pilot projects. 

Pilot Project funding rarely exceeds the one-year budget requested by investigators. However, there is the possibility of extending the funding to a second year for projects that involve recruitment for population studies or that demonstrate particular merit. 

Post Award

Pilot Project recipients are granted membership in the SWEHSC and are expected to be active members of an appropriate RFG and to present their data at regional/national scientific meetings. In addition, an expected outcome will be the use of the data generated by the Pilot Project in an extramural grant application. Progress reports are required from the Pilot Project PIs at least once a year to track accomplishments. Progress reports are also included in the SWEHSC Annual Progress Report to NIEHS.