Pilot Award Program.

The idea hub at the Boston University School of Public Health is dedicated to creating an innovative space to meet our core purpose to Think. Teach. Do. for the health of all. This RFA includes multiple funding opportunities to support the varied needs of SPH faculty members and are available due to generous donations to the idea hub and Robert F. Meenan Faculty Support Fund.

Early Career Catalyst Award

The SPH Research Committee is seeking pilot project applications from junior faculty members with primary appointments at SPH (Assistant Professor ranks, modified or unmodified titles). These awards are intended to assist junior faculty as they launch their independent research careers. The awards may be used for the collection of preliminary data, equipment, or research assistance necessary to strengthen a grant application to be submitted within one year of the award. Applicants who have not previously received R-level funding should include a letter of support from a faculty mentor as an appendix to their pilot application.  This letter, not to exceed 1 page, should outline how the mentor will support the junior faculty member during the pilot project and subsequent preparation of an application for external funding.  Junior faculty who have previously received R-level funding are also welcome to include a mentor letter. To further advance the focus areas that emerged from our Strategic Thinking efforts, preference will be given to applications that address urban living, aging and wellbeing, health across the lifecourse, and/or health systems. The maximum award amount per recipient is $20,000.

Established Investigator Innovation Award

The SPH Research Committee selects innovative pilot project applications from established investigators with primary appointments at SPH (associate or full professor ranks, modified or unmodified titles). These awards may be used for the collection of preliminary data, equipment, or research assistance necessary to prepare competitive applications for larger extramural awards. Priority is given to pilot proposals that are interdisciplinary in nature and that cross departments within SPH. The application for extramural funding is to be submitted within one year of the award. To further advance the focus areas that emerged from our Strategic Thinking efforts, preference is given to applications that address urban living, aging and wellbeing, health across the lifecourse, and/or health systems. The maximum award amount per recipient is $20,000.

Educational Innovation Award

The SPH Education Committee funds promising pilot project applications from SPH faculty who teach or manage an educational program at SPH. These awards are intended to strengthen the School’s competency-based educational programs through innovation in teaching, assessment, or evaluation. Priority is given to pilot proposals that are interdisciplinary in nature, have the potential for impact, and have the capacity for implementation more broadly across SPH. Awardees are required to demonstrate scholarship generated by the pilot and are required to present at least one Boston University educational symposia (i.e. McCahan Medical Campus Education Day, the Center for Teaching and Learning Educational Innovation Conference, the Annual Assessment Symposium, or a workshop for SPH faculty and staff). The maximum award amount per recipient is $20,000.

Practice Innovation Award

The SPH Practice Advisory Board is seeking promising pilot project applications from faculty members engaged in advocacy around specific policy initiatives. This award furthers the School’s mission to think, teach, do for the health of all by translating faculty research and educational interests into action, and ideally, change. Projects should strengthen the School’s commitment to effecting change to improve the conditions that promote health in local, national, and global communities. The project can be related to faculty member’s current research, advocacy activities, and/or teaching interests. Pilot awards will be considered for projects that foster engagement of faculty in any or all aspects of advocating for policy or programmatic change at the local, state, national, or global level.  Such activities may include but are not limited to writing a policy paper; developing and implementing a strategic advocacy or communication plan; and building a sustainable collaborative of advocacy partners.  Priority will be given to projects that demonstrate timely impact and encourage school-wide involvement.  The awardee is expected to present their work during a School Assembly.  The maximum award per recipient is $20,000.

CFAR Developmental Grants Award

The SPH Research Committee is seeking pilot projects focused on HIV/AIDS as part of a collaboration with the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). The goal of the CFAR Developmental Grants Award program is to enable the awardee the opportunity to obtain sufficient original data to achieve NIH research funding. The program provides support for three types of AIDS biomedical and behavioral research projects: (1) Initial AIDS Research Projects for applicants who have not yet received R01-type funding from NIH in the HIV/AIDS field; (2) Pilot Projects testing new or innovative ideas for applicants who have received R01-type funding from NIH, but not in the HIV/AIDS field; and (3) Collaborative Projects where at least one applicant is an HIV investigator and collaborators must not have previous NIH R01-type funding together. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their application with the CFAR Developmental Core Directors (Benjamin.linas@bmc.org; rgummuluru@bu.edu; Ira_Wilson@brown.edu) before submission. Applicants must hold a full-time primary faculty appointment at SPH. The maximum award amount is $40,000, including up to $25,000 from SPH and up to $15,000 from the CFAR Program. Consistent with the policies of the CFAR program, faculty salary coverage is allowed on the $15,000 portion of the budget. Only one award will be given.

Awards to Develop Center or Program Project Grant Applications

SPH welcomes the submission of innovative and promising pilot proposals to support activities necessary to prepare competitive center or program project grant applications. Applicants must be established investigators with primary appointments at SPH (associate or full professor ranks, modified or unmodified titles).

Instructions for Submission

All pilot award applications should be submitted to the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Advancement. Applications must include:

  • a cover sheet that includes the project title, investigators (with their affiliations), and a brief abstract that can be shared with donors (maximum 250 words)
  • a description of the background, specific aims, approach, and timeline (maximum three pages). As part of the timeline, applications for Early Career Catalyst and Established Investigator Innovation awards must include details about the funder, funding mechanism, due date, and an explanation of why the pilot project is necessary to submit a competitive application.
  • a budget and budget justification that includes an explanation of why the proposed pilot project cannot be conducted without the requested funds;
  • references (i.e. citations. Not counted toward page limit); and
  • letter from faculty mentor (for Early Career Catalyst Award, if applicable). Not counted toward page limit.

Pilot funds may not be used for publication fees, travel to conferences, faculty salaries, or indirect costs at other institutions. The expectation is that these pilot awards will be for one year. Applications will be reviewed by the Research Committee or Education Committee, as appropriate. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their application with their departmental representative to the relevant committee prior to submission.

Fast-Track Funding Mechanism. Funds are sometimes needed to pursue time-sensitive opportunities, such that waiting for the normal submission deadlines is not possible. Accordingly, SPH offers a fast-track funding mechanism when modest resources are required to pursue (a) an opportunity to resubmit a proposal that received a competitive score (i.e. <=30th percentile), or (b) a ‘quick turnaround’ funding opportunity. In such cases, in addition to following the submission instructions above, the application must justify the need for fast-track funding and include the summary statement and/or RFA as an attachment to their application.

Pilot Account Administration

Faculty must obtain all necessary approvals (e.g. IACUC, IRB) prior to receiving access to pilot funds, as appropriate. All pilot project accounts are located in a central SPH Pilot Accounts Fund Center, and expenses can be charged to the pilot account via the department administrator at the request of the faculty member and in accordance with the approved pilot budget. Faculty members are expected to complete pilot award progress reports as requested.