Pilot and Feasibility Program

General Overview

The Yale Rheumatic Diseases Research Core Center Pilot and Feasibility Program (P/F) provides support for innovative and early research in rheumatic disease and related disorders, and seeks to promote interdisciplinary studies. The program provides research support (up to $50,000 maximum) to enable investigators to explore new and exciting ideas and to develop and obtain sufficient data to allow continuation of such studies by other funding mechanisms. The overall scientific merit and likelihood of development into future funded projects are the major criteria for proposal evaluation.

Since the program began in 2007, the YRDRCC has supported 17 investigators with primary appointments in seven different sections within the Department of Medicine, ranging from Immunobiology to Pulmonary Medicine to Pediatrics and Genetics. The common goal of this group of investigators is in understanding both basic and applied mechanisms of autoimmunity. As noted below, these investigators have recently published 11 manuscripts (including Nature, PNAS, The Journal of Experimental Medicine, The Journal of Immunology, and The Journal of Biological Chemistry). Moreover, support from the YRDRCC for novel pilot studies in the rheumatic diseases has led to additional significant funding support, including 13 additional grants, amounting to more than $10 million in total direct costs. Overall, these accomplishments underscore the importance of seed funding of high impact and novel pilot studies in the rheumatic diseases and reflect the success of the P/F program in general.

Investigator Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants include new investigators without current or past NIH research project support (RO1, PO1) as a principal investigator; established investigators with no prior experience in rheumatic diseases, autoimmunity or related areas who seek to apply their expertise to a rheumatic disease-related problem; and established investigators in rheumatic diseases who wish to test particularly innovative ideas. For established investigators, the proposed work cannot be an extension of current or previously funded research, but must represent a distinct departure from current work. All applicants must have faculty appointments. NIH guidelines stipulate that an individual is eligible to be the principal investigator on a P/F project no more than once every 5 years. It is anticipated that investigators with currently funded P/F projects may submit a proposal requesting a second year of support. However, such proposals will be considered as competitive renewals and will receive no special consideration.

Management of Funded P/F Projects

  • The grants will be funded to a maximum of $50,000 per year. Support for technical assistance may be requested, but requests for equipment and travel support are strongly discouraged unless convincingly justified.
  • Approval will ordinarily be made for a 12 month period. However, funding for short-term projects of less than one year will also be considered.
  • Recommendations may be made to the P/F Management Committee to prematurely terminate funding of a funded project for the following reasons:
    • completion of the project and/or receipt of outside funding for similar work
    • the project is found not to be feasible
    • the investigator leaves the YSDRCC
    • evidence of inappropriate use of allocated funds

Application Process

  • The application forms used are the current standard NIH grant forms, including face/cover page, project description/ key personnel, budget, budget justification, and resources pages. The face page must include relevant HIC and IACUC information, and the signature of your department business manager.
  • The narrative description of the proposal (including Specific Aims, Background, Preliminary Data, and Experimental Design) is limited to a maximum of 4 (four) pages, excluding references, animal use and/or human subjects, if applicable. No Appendices are allowed.
  • A cover letter should state clearly for which category of eligibility the applicants qualify (Section B). Applicants also are requested to identify up to four potential reviewers (together with contact information), two at Yale and two outside, from whom the management committee will typically pick two; these reviewers should be recognized experts in related research and should have no conflict of interest with the applicant or the proposed research.
  • Submit one electronic (PDF) copy of your application to: Patricia Melillo.
  • P/F project applicants are encouraged to utilize Yale Rheumatic Diseases Research Core facilities/services in their proposals. Reasonable costs of such Core utilization are subsidized by the Yale Rheumatic Diseases Core Research Center. Questions about reasonable costs for Core utilization should be addressed to the Yale Rheumatic Diseases Research Core P/F Director, Mark Mamula.
  • Publications resulting from research funded by the Yale Rheumatic Diseases Research Core Center should be acknowledged in the following manner: Supported in part by a grant from the Yale Rheumatic Diseases Research Core AR053495-01A1.

Publications Arising from the YRDRCC Pilot and Feasibility Program

  • Harman, M.W., S.M. Dunham-Ems, M.J. Caimano, A.A. Belperron, L.K. Bockenstedt, H.C. Fu, J.D. Radolf, and C.W. Wolgemuth. 2012. The heterogeneous motility of the Lyme disease spirochete in gelatin mimics dissemination through tissue. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 2012 Reb 6 [Epub ahead of print].
  • M.T. Raycroft, B.P. Harvey, M.J. Bruck, and M.J. Mamula. 2012. Inhibition of Antigen Trafficking through Scavenger Receptor A. J. Biol. Chem. 287:5310-6.
  • Harvey, B.P., T.E. Quan, B.J. Rudenga, R.M Roman, J. Craft J, and M.J. Mamula. 2008. Editing antigen presentation: antigen transfer between human B lymphocytes and macrophages mediated by class A scavenger receptors. J. Immunol. 181:4043-51.
  • Macica, C.M., G. Liang, A. Nasiri and A.E. Broadus. 2011. Genetic Evidence that Parathyroid Hormone-related Protein Regulates Articular Cartilage Maintenance. Arthritis and Rheumatism 63:3333-43.
  • Mitchell, C., K. Provost, N. Niu, R. Homer, and L. Cohn. 2011. IFN-γ acts on the airway epithelium to inhibit local and systemic pathology in allergic airway disease. J. Immunol. 187:3815-20.
  • Lee, H.K., M. Zamora, M.M. Linehan, N. Iijim, D. Gonzalez, A. Haberman, and A. Iwasaki. 2009. Differential roles of migratory and resident DCs in T cell priming after mucosal or skin HSV-1 infection. J. Exp. Med. 206:359-70.
  • Mathai, S.K., M. Gulati, X.Y. Peng, Y. Gan, J.M. Siner, D.E. Antin-Ozerkis, R.J. Bucala, and Herzog EL. 2010. Circulating monocytes from systemic sclerosis patients with interstitial lung disease show an enhanced profibrotic phenotype. Lab. Invest. 90:812-23.
  • Murray, L.A., Q. Chen, M.S. Kramer, D.P. Hesson, R.L. Argentieri, X. Peng, M. Gulati, R.J. Homer, T. Russell, N. van Rooijen, J.A. Elias, C.M. Hogaboam, and E.L. Herzog. 2011. TGF-beta driven lung fibrosis is macrophage dependent and blocked by Serum amyloid P. Int. J. Biochem. Cell. Biol. 43:154-62.
  • Gan, Y., R.A. Reilkoff, X.Y. Peng, T.R. Russell, Q.C. Chen, S.K. Mathai, M. Gulati, R.J. Homer, J.A. Elias, R.J. Bucala, and E.L. Herzog. 2011. Role of Semaphorin 7a in TGF1-induced lung fibrosis, fibrocyte differentiation, and scleroderma-related interstitial lung disease. Arth. Rheum. 63:2484-94.
  • Peng, X., S. Mathai, L.M. Murray, T.R. Russell, R.A. Reilkoff, Q. Chen, J.A. Elias, R.J. Bucala, R.J. Homer, and E.L. Herzog. 2011. Local apoptosis promotes collagen production in monocyte derived cells. Fibrogenesis and Tissue Repair 4:12.
  • Esplugues, E., S. Huber, N. Gagliani, A.E. Hauser, T. Town, Y.Y. Wan, W. O'Connor Jr, A. Rongvaux, N. Van Rooijen, A.M. Haberman, Y. Iwakura, V.J. Kuchroo, J.K. Kolls, J.A. Bluestone, K.C. Herold, and R.A. Flavell. 2011. Control of Th17 cells occurs in the small intestine. Nature. 475:514-8.