Pilot Project Program Funding

WHRY’s Pilot Project Program funds studies that provide new approaches to understanding the health of women. We seek scientifically excellent, well written proposals that will result in clinical benefit and/or generate feasibility data for external grants. 

Based on our review, selection and support, 62% percent of our funded investigators have obtained external grants.

What we are looking for:

  • New approaches to understanding the health of women. Studies can focus on women’s health or sex/gender differences if these differences directly affect the health of women. 
  • Translational basic science, clinical, and community studies that describe a clear path toward clinical or public health benefit for women. 
  • Studies that are hypothesis-driven, have clear specific aims, and demonstrate methodological rigor showing a thoughtfully considered study design, which includes a power analysis if needed. This may require an independent statistical consultation. 
  • An informed perspective about the disorder or condition under study. 
  • Evidence that women’s health — or the influence of sex/gender — is the point of the investigation. In studies of conditions unique to (e.g., ovarian CA) or highly prevalent in women (e.g., breast CA), a study involving a technology or technique needs to be about the condition, not primarily about the development of a technology or technique.

Specifically, we seek projects that propose innovation by: 

  • Leading to actionable implications for clinical care or improvement in public health. Models for understanding mechanisms of disease are sought but must describe how the research will lead to clinical benefit. 
  • Specifically targeting diseases and conditions with a disproportionately high prevalence in women or those for which female mortality and morbidity are high.

We will give highest priority to those projects that: 

  • Bring together different research communities and/or interdisciplinary approaches in which investigators with complementary skill sets provide new perspectives on the problem. 
  • Provide a clear statement of how the proposed study will advance the field. 
  • Junior faculty may be initiating such programmatic research, and senior investigators may be seeking to expand their research to include women’s health. 
  • Explain how proposed approaches will be tested so that they have the highest likelihood of being relevant for implementation in the public health system.

Examples of what we are looking for: 

In translational basic research: Model system approaches that 
  • focus on uncovering the mechanism of action of a disorder or intervention,
  • can be transferred to the human condition, 
  • articulate a clear path toward clinical implementation
(For example, use of a humanized mouse model and female animals to test mechanism/treatment explorations that have application to human disease with high prevalence, morbidity and/or mortality among women.)  

In clinical and community research: Human studies that focus on 
  • uncovering etiology
  • clarifying presentation and diagnosis, and/or 
  • developing treatments or prevention strategies that improve women’s health
These studies are encouraged to consider examining sex/gender differences to develop gender-sensitive approaches to disorders and conditions experienced by women. 

We will NOT consider funding for:

  • Laboratory models with little evidence of connection to human disease and women’s health. For example: the study of an isolated protein without a clearly described path to how the model will improve women’s health. 
  • “One-off” studies that are not part of the investigator’s programmatic research and do not demonstrate a committed interest to women’s health. 
  • A study that focuses on some aspect of biology that affects women (e.g. gonadal hormones) but has little chance of improving women’s health.