Pilot Awards

The CTSI provides pilot funding for innovative translational research and the development of innovative translational research methods at BU. This encompasses the continuum from the development of new therapies and diagnostic tests to studies of the population health impact of health interventions.

As all Pilot Translational and Clinical (PTC) pilot projects must have clear paths to translation and commercialization, the program includes entrepreneurs and business executives from relevant industries as reviewers and project advisers. For example, the Coulter Translational Partnership, the Ignition Award, and NIH NIBIB Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care programs include on their grant review panels individuals with extensive industry and entrepreneurial leadership experience in pharmaceutical development, biotechnology, or biomedical engineering. One of the CTSI’s advisory committees that offer stakeholder perspective and advice, the Biotechnology Advisory Committee, generally focuses on risk–benefit analyses for pilot award funding for applications with a technology base.

Available Resources for Pilot Grantees
Current list of opportunities
FAQ’s for CTSI Integrated Pilot Program Pre Application Process
List of past pilot grant recipients
Pilots Flyer
Review Panel Members

2018 – 2019 CYCLE

The CTSI will only release one RFA per year starting with this cycle. Funding mechanisms & opportunities remain the same.

Release Date: August 2018
Information Session: September 2018
Application Due Date: October 2018

To stimulate individual and team science in all areas of translational research related to the prevention, diagnosis, and management of human disease. Researchers engaged in basic research, patient-oriented research, implementation science research, and population-based research are encouraged to apply. The CTSI welcomes applications that are at all levels of development including:

T1 research that develops novel treatments and interventions by expediting the movement between basic research and patient-oriented research leading to new or improved scientific understanding or standards of care.

T2 research that tests the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions through patient-oriented research and population-based research leading to better patient outcomes, the implementation of best practices, and improved health status in communities.

T3 research that promotes dissemination and implementation of research for system-wide change through movement of evidence based-guidelines into clinical practice.

T4 research that promotes discoveries in population science.

This Request for Applications will be issued on an annual basis in the Summer of each calendar year.

This Annual RFA is open to ALL members of the BMC/BU community. In, specific, this RFA also represents a collaborative effort between CTSI and partner organizations to fund meritorious research applicable to the components noted below. Applications must be responsive to one (or more) of the following:

  1. CTSI General Funds
    1. Any CRC or BUMC faculty member may apply to this funding element. All areas of investigation are eligible.
  2. Community-Engaged Research
    1. These projects must be designed to stimulate community-academic partnerships with the goals of catalyzing innovative translational research that is responsive to community health needs. We define our community as the diverse, vulnerable populations served by Boston Medical Center and our affiliated community health centers.
  3. BU School of Medicine (BUSM)
    BU School of Medicine (BUSM) funds the following opportunities for BUSM faculty working in BUSM space to leverage grant submissions through the BU Office of Sponsored Programs with a preference for coordinated applications from multiple investigators (program projects) for research or infrastructure (lecture series, cell lines, core equipment):

    1. BUSM General Funds
    2. Shipley Prostate Cancer Research Center
      Supports proposals with a preference for projects leading to more accurate diagnostics and precision medicine.
    3. Dahod Breast Cancer Center
    4. Wing Tat Lee Endowment
      Supports collaborations between BUSM faculty and faculty at a mainland Chinese university (with preference for Hong Kong). The cooperative programs may include training faculty from either institution; holding seminars, workshops and symposia; and carrying out research projects of common interest.
  4. BU/BMC Cancer Center
    The BU-BMC Cancer Center is looking to fund innovative and translational pilot projects focused in the following programmatic areas:

    1. Cancer Biology
      Understanding the cellular and molecular underpinnings of carcinogenesis to develop more effective treatment and prevention strategies.
    2. Cancer Interception
      Identification of the cellular and molecular events (induced by environmental exposures) associated with cancer initiation and progression that can be translated into novel tools for early detection and prevention of cancers.
    3. Population Sciences
      Decrease cancer incidence and mortality through the identification of exposures and genetic factors that affect cancer risk and prognosis, as well as understanding the healthcare disparities that affect the patients seen at BMC.
    4. Cancer Bioengineering
      Identifying and developing formulations for small molecules, technological platforms for diagnostics and therapeutic delivery systems for cancer.
  5. BU Henry M Goldman School of Dental Medicine (BUSDM)
    This component specifically funds meritorious applications from BUSDM faculty.
  6. Boston Medical Center (BMC)
    This component funds applications with research objectives consistent with the mission of Boston Medical Center (https://www.bmc.org/about-us/mission-vision-values). In specific, applications must be responsive to the following subject areas: (1) to define or innovate novel models of care, or (2) to discover effective ways to disseminate or implement existing evidence-based care models. Proposed projects should be relevant to the care of BMC’s patient population, and might include (but are not limited to) addiction services, prevention, chronic illness management, social determinants of health, diseases that affect patients throughout their lifespan, or integrated behavioral health. Investigators should explain how their pilot proposals fit into the translational spectrum of research.
  7. Evans Center for Biomedical Research
    This component represents a collaboration between the CTSI, the BU Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Office (http://www.bu.edu/research/ibro), and the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research (http://www.bumc.bu.edu/evanscenteribr). The objective is to (1) fund projects from non-ARC affiliated investigators that facilitate entry into an established Evans Center ARC, (2) fund projects from current ARC investigators that expand a current ARC with new an innovative direction, or (3) fund projects from any investigator that contribute to the development of a new ARC in the following year. Dual investigator applications are welcome, yet all application categories will be judged and selected for funding based on scientific merit.
  8. Department of Medicine (DOM)
    The CTSI and DOM will co-fund meritorious applications from faculty with primary appointments in the Department of Medicine.
  9. BU School of Public Health (BUSPH)
  10. Grayken Center for Addiction, Boston Medical Center
    The BMC Grayken Center and CTSI are pleased to co-sponsor award(s) in the field of addiction science, open to any faculty member at BUMC or BU-CRC.
  11. Pathways to Research Independence and Mentoring Excellence (PRIME) program participants are invited to apply for limited completion award(s).
  12. Team Collaborations
    Faculty members of the University of Vermont (UVM), and teams of UVM and BU/BMC investigators are invited to apply for a limited competition award. We intend to fund at least 1 meritorious application from a UVM faculty member or UVM-BU/BMC investigative team.

  • Applicants must have a primary, full-time faculty appointment at Boston University, and the research to be conducted must be based at Boston University, Boston Medical Center or any of their affiliated hospitals and health centers. Faculty with co-appointments at BU and affiliated institutions are also encouraged to apply.
  • Recipients of previous CTSI awards are eligible to apply for awards to support new research projects, providing awards are at least two years apart.
  • Applications from individuals of under-represented minorities are highly encouraged to apply.
  • Applications from teams of investigators, particularly that cross disciplines, Departments, Schools, or Institutions are encouraged to apply.

Direct costs up to $20,000 may be requested. The level of funding awarded to successful applicants will be determined after review of the budget request and budget justification. Funds may be used for any purpose to support the proposed research. Typical expenses include:

  • Laboratory supplies
  • Animal costs
  • Small equipment
  • Patient recruitment costs
  • Consultants
  • Support for pre/postdoctoral students, technicians, or research assistants.

Funds may not be allocated to PI or Co-I salary. Awards are not transferable to any other institution (sub-awards are not allowed). Department of Medicine awards must be spent by the end of the fiscal year in which they are awarded. Pilot grants are not intended to supplement existing funded awards. Significant overlap in Pilot grant Aims with Aims from a funded grant must be disclosed and justified at the time of submission.

Pilot grantees will be eligible to compete for follow-on funding of an additional $20,000 after completion of the initial award. In the Fall of 2019, Pilot grantees from 2018 will be invited to apply for a competitive renewal. Successful completion of the prior application Aims, timeliness of regulatory and reporting milestone completion, budgetary utilization and likelihood that 2nd stage funding will result in an extramural grant award will be some of the criteria by which the renewal will be judged. We anticipate allocating funds to support two competitive renewals in the Fall of 2019. A Pilot grant may only be renewed once.

The BU CTSI is funded through a CTSA grant available from the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Prior to the release of Pilot Grants funded directly with CTSI funds, NCATS requires the review and approval of all BU CTSI pilot grants involving research participants. If your proposal is funded and involves research participants, the CTSI will require additional documentation for NCATS. NCATS reviews take approximately 30 days.

Human Subject approval is not required at the time of submission; However, IRB approval is required for all projects involving human subject research before NCATS will approve project funding.

If your project involves animal research, IACUC and Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) must approve any projects involving animal subjects prior to final funding approval (for pilots that are funded directly with CTSI funds).

We strongly advise all Pilot grantees to begin the IRB/IACUC approval process at the time of final grant submission. If you are selected for funding, you will be required to provide your IRB/IACUC approval before funds are released to you.

If, at the time of notice of award, you have not submitted your IRB/IACUC application, you will be required to meet with a CTSI IRB/IACUC consultant within 2 weeks and expected to follow a strict timeline for regulatory submission. An award may be rescinded for failure to secure IRB/IACUC approval 3 months after notice of award.

  1. All applications must include:
    1. A maximum of three pages describing the background, specific aims, preliminary studies (if applicable), research methods (including timeline), commercial potential and future grant submissions or commercial development
    2. A budget & budget justification
    3. Other relevant supporting documentation (optional) may also be included if it’s relevant to the application
  2. Applications will be meritoriously reviewed by BU CTSI Scientific Review Committees (SRC) comprised of faculty with relevant expertise analogous to the NIH review process (with focus on Significance, Innovation, Approach, and Investigators). All applications will be reviewed and ranked for funding priority. Specific review criteria include, but are not limited to:
    1. Significance of the work in terms of potential health impact
    2. Scientific rigor and novelty of the proposed approach
    3. Likelihood that the project will lead to subsequent external funding and/or commercial development
    4. Multidisciplinary collaboration
    5. High potential for impact in the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of human health conditions in broad terms. Projects closer to translation will be prioritized over more preliminary projects that are further from translation.
    6. Qualification of the research team
    7. Need for the funding
    8. Likelihood that the project can be completed within the awarded project
    9. Although not required that applicants be junior investigators, the review process will consider career development.
    10. Although not required, other features that may increase a project’s priority include:
      1. A clear translational focus, including a collaboration with a patient oriented science research team
      2. Focus on diseases disproportionately affecting the BU/BMC patient population
      3. Approved IRB or IACUC protocols that would permit initiation of research activities as soon as possible

The CTSI offers an array of research resources in support of research at BU and we strongly encourage CTSI Pilot Grant applications to use these valuable resources. Some examples include the following:

  1. Regulatory Support
  2. Grant Writing & Editing, Formatting and Editing Services
  3. Biostatistics, Data Management & Analysis
  4. Research Tools
  5. Study Implementation
  6. Research Networking

View a complete list of available resources here.

  1. If funded, the awardee agrees to submit an online report after the end of the award term indicating key results and any publications, grant applications and funded awards that resulted from the project, new collaborations, and other outcomes. This report must be completed on time if a 2nd stage renewal application is being pursued. Additional abbreviated reports will be requested on an annual basis for 2 years following completion of funding. Any follow-on funding depends on prompt and accurate progress reports. Awardees will be contacted regarding the report, once needed.
  2. Awardees must acknowledge the CTSI grant, the language provided below is recommended:
    1. “This publication [or project] was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Boston University Clinical & Translational Science Institute Grant Number 1UL1TR001430. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”
  3. Awardees are expected to serve on future CTSI Pilot Grant Application Review panels and to provide feedback on the CTSI pilot program
  4. Awardees may be asked to participate in CTSI related symposia or other functions
  5. Awardees may be matched with relevant CTSI functions to support regulatory requirements or completion of proposed Aims. Awardees are expected to follow through on suggested timeliness and meetings with CTSI staff.

We encourage inquiries concerning this RFA and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Direct your questions to:

Frederick L. Ruberg, MD
Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Medicine
Director, Pilot Grant Programs,
Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Boston University School of Medicine
Administrative Contact:
Deb Rebelo
Program Coordinator,
Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute

In January, the CTSI announced the Fall 2016 pilot awards. The CTSI received 80 proposals from investigators across BU. A total of 39 investigators were awarded $360,000 in pilot awards funded by the BU-CTSI, Boston Medical Center; The BU School of Dental Medicine; The BU School of Medicine and the BU-BMC Cancer Center. Congratulations to all recipients!



Devyani Misra BUSM Medicine
Deepak Kumar SAR Physical Therapy & Athletic Training
Sarah Valentine BUSM Psychiatry
Julia Xu BUSM Medicine
Robert Helm BUSM Medicine
Barbara Nikolajczyk BUSM Microbiology
Deborah Stearns-Kurosawa BUSM Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Elise Morgan ENG Mechanical Engineering
Louis Awad Sargent College
Irving Bigio ENG Biomedical Engineering
Casey Taft Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Francesca Seta BUSM Medicine
Ann Egloff GSDM Molecular & Cell Biology
Stefano Monti BUSM Medicine
Gerald Denis BUSM Medicine
Philip Trackman GSDM Molecular & Cell Biology
Rachel Flynn BUSM Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics
John Porco  CAS Chemistry

Coming Soon:

Award information for the CTSI-Integrated Pilot Program, Spring 2018.