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Pilot Award

The prospective Yale University and University of Puerto Rico Integrated HIV Basic and Clinical Science Initiative is proud to announce a request for applications for 2019 Pilot Project Grants. Junior faculty, and senior investigators who are new to HIV research and are interested in developing an investigative program in HIV, are eligible and strongly encouraged to apply. The main aim of the pilot project grants is to support the generation of preliminary data for extramural grants, including NIH R- and K-series awards.


Projects may be in epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment, co-infections, genomics, social and behavioral science, outcomes and implementation science, virology, immunology, or other relevant disciplines, with a particular focus on NIH priority areas for HIV research. These grants will support innovative basic, clinical, preventive, behavioral, or translational research in HIV/AIDS.

Areas of Special Emphasis

Applications should be fully responsive to the high priority AIDS funding areas outlined in NOT-OD-15-137 which also includes other hyperlinks. Specifically, these priorities are to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS, develop next generation therapies, support research towards a cure, HIV- associated comorbidities including malignancies, cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic complications, basic science to increase our understanding of HIV pathogenesis, immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, and to reduce health disparities by improving treatment outcomes for people living with AIDS. The primary review criteria will be scientific innovation, alignment with priority areas as identified by the NIH for HIV/AIDS, likelihood of the project evolving into federally-funded HIV/AIDS research, and the capability of fostering scientific and productive collaborations between Yale and UPR.

Funding available and years of support:

  1. Initial HIV/AIDS Research Pilot grants: Awards are targeted to individual investigators who are junior and have not previously held HIV-related NIH research support. Up to $25,000 over one year (direct costs) will be awarded to enable investigators to perform key preliminary studies prior to submitting new grant applications. The goal is to prepare junior faculty (or senior faculty new to HIV research) to compete successfully for NIH or other awards. Proposals from junior faculty must address how the Yale-UPR pilot award fits into their career plans, including next steps for external funding. This requirement is designed to ensure that junior investigators funded through the Yale-UPR have a focused and clear path forward towards funding independence with regards to HIV research. There will be up to two awards in this grant category.
  2. Collaborative Project grants: Awards up to $50,000 over 12 months are targeted to interdisciplinary projects with co-PIs who have complementary experience and expertise, with priority given to applications in which there is a PI from each institution. It is anticipated that these projects will involve two or more investigators from different disciplines, departments, or schools/universities. There will be 1- 2 awards in this category, depending on the number and merit of these applications.

Key Dates

  • Due date for letters of intent: May 28, 2019 (Optional) Due date for full applications: June 28, 2019
  • Scientific review: late July 2019
  • Earliest anticipated start date: mid-August 2019

Types of expenditures allowed

  • Salary support: PIs who are Associate Research Scientists, Research Scientists, or Senior Research Scientists may budget up to 10% of salary support to this grant.
  • Laboratory supplies, reagents, equipment, and expenses, including animal costs
  • Salary/stipend support for trainees and other, non-faculty laboratory personnel

Types of expenditures *not* allowed:

  • Salary support for the PI and any faculty co-investigators, with the exceptions as noted above
  • Secretarial/administrative personnel
  • Office equipment and supplies; office and laboratory furniture
  • Tuition or student registration fees Publication costs, including reprints
  • Registration fees for scientific meetings
  • Purchasing and binding of periodicals and books
  • Dues and membership fees in scientific societies
  • Travel expenses
  • Indirect costs (F&A) are not assessed/allowed on these grants

The application should include:

  1. Face page (application page 1). This should include a descriptive title of no more than 120 characters and a list of key personnel and their roles.
  2. Abstract (250 words maximum; application page 2). Figures should not be included.
  3. Budget page (application page 3), signed by department Business Manager of the P.I. Expense category breakdown to include personnel, supplies/reagents, travel, equipment, animals, other services, and patient-related costs. Tuition is not allowed. Actual awards may be less than the requested amount. A brief, separate Budget Justification should also be included (application page 4).
  4. Other Support page of PI, co-PI, any other co-investigators, and scientific staff listed as personnel on this grant, including all active and pending support, and calendar month effort (application page 5).
  5. NIH-style (five-page max.) biosketch of PI, co-PI, and any co-investigators (PHS Rev. 08/12)
  6. Resources and Environment pages, modeled after that of the NIH, which includes descriptions of laboratory, large equipment, computer, office, animal, clinical, and any other relevant resources available for the project (no more than 3 pages).
  7. A four-page limit proposal description of Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Preliminary Data, and Experimental Design and Methods of the project. References are not included in this page limit.
  8. The status of appropriate Human Subject and/or Vertebrate Animal protocols. Protocols need not be approved prior to submission, but funding may not be made available until they are. Provide protocol number, approval date, approval period, and title.
  9. Optional: However, any essential collaborations or availability of essential reagents must also be documented by letters of support and included in the application.
  10. Submit a PDF of the complete application (items 1-9) by email to by 5:00 pm, June 28, 2019. With the exception of the biosketch, there are no specific form pages for this application. To receive full consideration all applications must be complete and submitted by the deadline, with no exceptions.

Review Process:

Important elements in the review process include (not an exhaustive list):

  • SignificanceDoes this study address an important problem in clinical, basic science, behavioral, and/or translational HIV research? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services or preventive interventions that drive the HIV field?
  • Scientific merit/innovation: Does the proposed research explore creative, original and potentially transformative concepts? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches or methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?
  • Investigator(s): Is the investigator junior or new to the HIV field? Does the project involve a collaboration between investigators at both institutions? Does s/he have the necessary expertise and experience to carry out the proposed studies? Has s/he established essential collaborations to ensure success of the project?
  • Approach: Are study design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential pitfalls and consider alternative strategies? Does the applicant identify the next steps in research or clinical endeavor to move the concept forward?
  • Outcomes/Funding: Has the applicant provided a plan or set of criteria by which to judge whether the proposal has been successful? If this project is successful, would it likely lead to external peer reviewed funding? Could the research be accomplished without funds from this RFA?
  • Budget: Can this project be completed with the funds requested? Is it overly or under ambitious? Does this project provide cost sharing approaches?

Selection criteria and process:

Applications will be initially reviewed internally by a Scientific Review Panel drawn from Yale-UPR senior/mid-level membership to determine suitability for peer review. Each application will then be reviewed by at least three reviewers who have content area expertise; reviewers will use the “1 to 9” NIH scoring system. Applications will then undergo a rigorous review by an in-person/telephonic meeting of a multi-disciplinary committee patterned after an NIH study section peer review process to ensure that all pilot projects are of high methodological quality. The major criteria to be used in the review process include significance (impact), innovation (originality and novelty), environment (considering availability of specific resources and equipment), experience and ability of the investigator(s), and scientific merit of research design, approach, and methodology. An additional criterion will be likelihood or probability of success for future funding. Reviewers will also be asked to comment on scientific premise and rigor (scoreable) and appropriateness of the budget (non- scoreable). Other criteria include protection of human and animal subjects and biocontainment plans. Applicants will receive electronic versions of the reviews and will be provided additional feedback, if requested.

Additional Requirements:

  • Awards are not renewable or transferable. No cost extensions will be permitted
  • The abstracts and the names of all investigators funded through the Pilot and Collaborative Studies Program will be posted on the Yale Univ-UPR website (in development) and may be posted or submitted to the national website. Thus, proprietary or confidential information should not be included in the abstract. In addition, a full progress report will be required at the end of the funding period.
  • Relevant reporting will be required for the subsequent five years, including publications, grants (applications or awards), and inventions/other intellectual property that resulted from this award.
  • Grantees are required to acknowledge support of Yale Univ-UPR when findings are reported, published, or become part of the public domain
  • Awardees must obtain all regulatory approvals (e.g. IRB, IACUC, or Radiation Safety) and meet all compliance requirements prior to receiving funds and maintain approvals during the entire length of the award. Projects that involve human subjects research or live vertebrate animals will also need appropriate institutional approval(s) before funds are released for the research component of the proposal.
  • Awards do not include indirect costs.
  • Applicants may submit applications for multiple projects for either mechanism, provided that each project is scientifically distinct.
  • Cost sharing is allowed.
  • Grantees will be required to provide written notification to the Yale-UPR of the filing of any intellectual property application/invention disclosure based on research supported by the developmental award
  • Change of Institution/Transfers: Grantees are not allowed to transfer these awards to another institution or to another individual, except within Yale Univ and UPR. Grantees are required to give 90 days notice of any change in institution. Unused funds will be returned to Yale-UPR.
  • Any grantee who does not comply with the terms and conditions of an award will result in termination of the award. Unused funds will be retrieved and returned to the.