ICTS Pilot Award Funding

Section 1

Purpose: To encourage early exploration of high-risk translational research ideas focused on emerging areas of basic and applied science with clear relevance to clinical application.

Rationale: The ICTS Translational Science Pilot Grant Program is inspired by the Common Fund's NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award initiative (formerly known as the Transformative Research Project (TR01]). The ICTS Translational Science Pilot Grants are designed specifically to support exceptionally innovative and/or unconventional research projects that have the potential to create or overturn fundamental paradigms.


Principal Investigators (PIs) must be full time UCI faculty from any school or discipline; junior faculty are especially encouraged to apply, but established investigators pursuing novel research lines are also welcome. Faculty from the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and the Long Beach VA* are also encouraged to apply. If CHOC and VA applicants do not have a joint UCI faculty appointment, their proposals must have a UCI CO-PI.

The applicant or a representative MUST attend a workshop on optimal application preparation.

*All awards to CHOC and VA will occur via a subcontract; no overhead costs will be provided.

**Investigators may only submit one application in which they are listed as PI or Co-PI. However, a PI can be on more than one grant if he/she is listed as a co-investigator.

***Awarded PIs must take a full funding cycle break before applying again. For example, if you were funded as a PI for 2018, you cannot apply as a PI again for the 2019 pilot cycle; you must wait for the following 2020 pilot cycle to apply again.

Eligible Projects

Clinical Translational Science Projects, currently not funded and aimed at obtaining preliminary results for a full application for extramural funds, are considered eligible. Emphasis will be placed on innovation and transformative potential of submitted proposals. The content of proposals, while obviously linked to applicants’ current research, should demonstrate a clear evolution towards novel, relevant, and untested research areas.

A clinical translational science project is defined as any project aimed at accelerating the transition from discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into clinical applications. Note that in addition to traditional research studies, these awards are also open to proposals to pilot innovations in translational workforce development and training, new strategies for accelerating the research process, or new approaches to recruiting participants into clinical trials from challenging populations (e.g., patients in a NICU or underrepresented populations).


All material must include the investigator’s name at the top right corner, and use a font no smaller than 11 pts, with margins no narrower than 0.5 inches.

  • The application must include:
  • Abstract (1page)
  • Project Plan (click link to download form)
  • Keywords and Reviewers (click on link to download form)
  • Research Plan (5 pages max, plus references) must include:
    • Specific Aims
    • Significance (be sure to address the translational potential of the project)
    • Innovation
    • Approach
    • Plans for applying for extramural funding
  • Home department letter of support
  • Budget (itemized, 1 page maximum) 
  • Budget Justification
    • Funds cannot be used to support the PI’s salary, computer purchases, or travel. Other personnel salaries are allowable.
    • No overhead will be provided for outside institutions
  • Pilot Project Financial Disclosure Form - (click link to download form)
  • For junior faculty only (assistant professor or lower): Please name senior faculty sponsor 

For junior faculty (assistant professor or equivalent and lower): before funds are released, a senior faculty mentor from the awardee's home department must agree to act as a mentor (including general project supervision, participation in an initial milestone-setting meeting, and periodic progress report meetings).

Regulatory Approval: Please note that while having regulatory approval (IRB, IACUC) is not necessary at the time of submission, awarded funds will not be released, by NIH mandate, until such approval has been received. Projects requiring IND or IDE regulatory approvals, approval must have been received at the time of submission. Because NIH does not allow carry-forward on these one-year awards, if all regulatory approvals have not been received 6 months after award date, the ICTS may withdraw the award.

Resubmissions: Applications that were not funded during a prior call for ICTS pilot awards may be resubmitted a second time by checking the appropriate box during the application process. Resubmissions will have the opportunity to address the criticisms raised during the review process; however, no additional space will be allowed for the rebuttal, which will have to be included in the 5-page limit of the research plan. A maximum on ONE resubmission will be allowed for each previously unfunded project.

Milestones and Monitoring: Before funds are released, a meeting will be held with the awardee, a department financial analyst, and ICTS staff at which the team will review specific milestones to gauge project progression. Continuation of support throughout the entire award period will be contingent upon sufficient progress.

Review Process: Review criteria will include:

  • Significance and impact of the proposed research
  • Qualifications of the PI and research team
  • Innovation
  • Approach; Scientific strength of the research design
  • Scientific environment
  • Translational nature of the project
  • Project feasibility within the proposed time frame
  • Likelihood of generating extramural funding

Scoring Guideline (click link to download criteria)

The UCI ICTS participates in a national CTSA External Reviewer Exchange Consortium (CEREC) to improve fairness in the scientific review process and better match applicants with feedback from experts in their respective fields.

For more information, please contact Dr. Margaret Schneider at margaret.schneider@uci.edu or April Bagaporo at abagapor@uci.edu


*Opportunity not currently available*