Pilot Projects

The Pilot Projects Program provides seed funding for cutting-edge clinical and translational research projects.

About the Pilot Projects

The deadline to submit an application for the 2021 Pilot Projects Program was September 14, 2021. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal, to be due Monday, November 8, 2021. 

The Pilot Projects Program brings investigators together from institutions across the state to develop interdisciplinary collaborations that span the translational research spectrum. The program funds research that addresses Rhode Island's health challenges and community health priorities.

Funding Categories

The 2021 Pilot Projects Program will fund five to eight pilot projects for one-year research grants:

Category 1

Proposals with a single PI may apply for up to $37,500 in direct costs

Category 2

Proposals involving at least two PIs (multi-PIs) from different disciplines may apply for up to $75,000 in direct costs. A Contact PI who is a junior investigator or a senior faculty member transitioning to a new area of clinical or translational research must be designated.

Indirect costs associated with the direct costs will be provided to the applicants’ home institutions. The anticipated performance period is February 1, 2022 to January 30, 2023.

See the 2021 RFA

“ I gained grants management skills, and a deeper understanding of my own institution in terms of budgets and contracts, and how to manage a larger clinical project going forward. ”


Investigators with faculty appointments at Brown, URI, Care New England, Lifespan, the VA Providence Healthcare System, and other degree-granting institutions in Rhode Island are eligible to apply for the Pilot awards. 

Postdoctoral graduates, medical residents, and fellows are also eligible to apply for the awards contingent upon a letter from their department chair stating that they will have a faculty appointment upon receipt of the award. 

Please refer to the RFA for complete eligibility criteria. 

Special Considerations

Community Engagement

While the best science will be prioritized, special consideration will be given to fund two projects that incorporate community engagement into the proposed research. For the purpose of the Pilot Projects Program, Advance-CTR utilizes the CDC-supported definition of community engagement:

Community engagement is the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people.

Coaching for such applicants will be available from Advance-CTR’s Community Engagement and Outreach Core.

Additional Considerations

In addition, special consideration, in no particular order, will be given to investigators who:

Pursue research that addresses the health goals and priorities set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Health’s Strategic Framework

Priority areas (in no particular order) include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to healthcare services especially among underserved populations including Latinx
  • Mental health in adults and youth - including prevention, services, programs, community resources and related stigma
  • Food access and nutrition
  • General community well-being, health awareness and improvement of community health resources
  • COVID-19
  • Chronic illnesses (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Obesity
  • Health of mothers and their children
Work on clinical or translational research involving big data:

For this RFA, big data are defined as: Big data are data that meet at least two of the four V’s: (1) high volume, (2) high velocity, (3) high variety, and (4) face veracity issues.

Employ robust use of Advance-CTR Service Cores:

See below.


Physician scientists are defined as scientists with professional degrees who have training in clinical care and who are engaged in independent biomedical research

Are from historically underrepresented groups:

Includes those who self-identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, African American or Black, Hispanic or Latinx, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. These groups as well as women in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics have been identified by the U.S. Department of Education as groups that continue to have limited participation at the faculty levels in higher education.

Service Core Support

In addition to research funding, Pilot Project Awardees have the opportunity to leverage Advance-CTR’s Service Cores in both the pre-submission and post-award stage of the application process. 

Applicants who are selected to submit a full application are prioritized by the Service Cores and may consult with faculty experts on their research design, methodology, and overall application. 

Awardees are always able and encouraged to consult with the Service Cores throughout the life cycle of their project. 

Advance-CTR offers services in biostatistics, research design, and epidemiology; qualitative and mixed methods research; survey design, development and analysis; and biomedical informatics.

Meet the Awardees

Take a look at the investigators and research projects we have awarded since 2016.