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2021 Pilot and Feasibility Projects – Request for Applications

The application cycle for 2021 Pilot and Feasibility Projects has ended


Award Eligibility, Scope and Requirements

Timeline: Deadline, 11/5/2021; Notification of award, November 2021; Proposed start date, no later than 02/01/2022.

The NIA supported Research Network on Animal Models to Understand Social Dimensions of Aging will support 2-3 pilot and feasibility (P&F) projects in 2022 – 2023. The goal of the Pilot project program is to support the generation of key preliminary data for K- or R-type NIH grant applications, publications, and other scientific products. Proposed projects should be focused on animal models or comparative studies relevant for understanding the social determinants of health and aging (see scope of the research network here and examples of previously funded projects here). Awardees will be also invited to participate in other Research Network meetings and activities.

Two type of P&F projects will be awarded: Type 1 Mentored Projects; Type 2 Independent Projects. Applicants from United States-based institutions are eligible; there are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements.


Type 1 Mentored Projects integrate research at the applicant’s home institution with training and mentorship from the Research Network leadership, linked to any of the three host institutions (Duke, UMN, UNC). Type 1 P&F projects allow researchers to receive training and support to implement specific aspects of their project. Importantly, the PI retains leadership of all aspects of the research project itself. In addition to technical support and mentorship, Type 1 projects benefit from access to the host institution’s core facilities. Examples of expertise and cores/data available for Type I awards include: expertise in rodent social behavior/stress models and aging biomarkers (UMN), expertise in nonhuman primate behavior and genomic analysis (Duke), and expertise in comparative population studies including humans (UNC). Host institutions also offer fee-for-service high-throughput sequencing facilities (Duke, UMN, UNC) and metabolism and cardiovascular phenotyping core facilities (UMN). Contact prospective hosts to discuss details.

Type 1 P&F awardees will also be able to compete for larger Stage 2 P&F awards to establish a fully independent project at the applicant’s institution. Stage 2 projects will be solicited from Type 1 awardees only and are designed to facilitate transitions to a fully independent research program that uses animal models to study the social dimensions of aging. The Stage 2 call for applications will be released in 2022-2023.

Post-docs, pre-tenure faculty, and early career research faculty are eligible for Type 1 awards. Applications from underrepresented minorities in biomedical, behavioral and social sciences research are strongly encouraged.

We strongly encourage Type I Project applicants to discuss mentorship and budget plans with a member of the Network leadership team ( prior to submitting a full application.


Type 2 Independent Projects are conventional non-mentored pilot projects that are entirely executed by the PI’s lab. Type 2 projects follow the same general guidelines as Type 1 but do not require new training or mentorship to complete and will be fully subcontracted to the PI’s institution following standard NIH guidelines.

All pre-tenure faculty or early career research faculty are eligible for Type 2 awards. Additionally, we will consider highly meritorious applications from established investigators with no prior record of funding in animal model work on the social dimensions of health/aging. Applications from underrepresented minorities in biomedical, behavioral and social sciences research are strongly encouraged.


Type 1 and Type 2 Applications consist of:

  1. Cover page: PI name and title, institutional affiliation and address, title of the proposal, application type (Type 1 or Type 2), start and end date, and total budget requested (direct+indirect);
  2. An NIH-format Biosketch for the PI;
  3. Research project description (4 page maximum, including figures). References may be included in additional page(s). Project descriptions should include the project aims; background and significance to understanding the social determinants of health and aging; proposed data collection and analysis plan; timeline; and a statement of potential paths to independent funding. Preliminary data are allowed, but not required. Descriptions should address standard NIH criteria regarding power, rigor, reproducibility, and consideration of sex as a biological variable. A letter of support should be included if collaboration with, or facilities and data belonging to, other researchers are essential to the project’s success;
  4. Budget and budget justification (1 page);
  5. Additional documents, where applicable: If the applicant is a post-doc, a letter of support from the post-doctoral mentor is required. If the applicant is an established investigator (i.e., not an early stage or new investigator, per NIH’s definition:, a short (<1 page) justification of how the pilot would support a new, previously unfunded area of research in animal models and the social dimensions of aging is required.

The full application packet, saved in a single pdf file named “Lastname.Firstname.Type[1 or 2].2021” should be submitted electronically no later than November 5, 2021.


Budget and additional requirements:  The budget for all applications is limited to a maximum of $20,000 in total costs. The maximum administrative duration of the award will be 12 months, with a start date on or before February 1st 2022 conditional on any necessary IACUC/IRB approvals. Sub-awards to other institutions are not allowed.

Applications will be accompanied by a 1-page budget and budget justification. At the application stage, the budget does not need to be institutionally approved by your research support/grants and contracts office; this will occur if the pilot is awarded. General NIH guidelines for allowable expenses should be followed. Eligible costs include travel and accommodation, consumables, animals and per diem, other direct costs for data generation and data analysis, and use of core facilities, and salary support.

For Type 1 Mentored Projects, the awards will be issued as a subaward to the selected training site (Duke, UNC or UMN) or to the PI’s institution based on individual project structure. The budget justification should also include a description of the target host institution and any core facilities/services/data access requirements that will be incorporated into the pilot project. For Type 2 independent Projects, the award will be issued as a subaward to the PI institution and the PI will be fully responsible for the administration of the award, the execution of the project, securing IACUC/IRB approval, etc.

Review of applications and funding priorities: Applications will be reviewed by the Research Network PIs, members of the Advisory Board, and ad hoc reviewers with appropriate expertise. The highest priority applications will i) describe a highly novel and impactful project that would be feasible within the proposed funding timeline and benefit from early-stage pilot funding and ii) will clearly articulate the value of the proposed research for research on the social determinants of health and aging.

Report of activity and Acknowledgements: The PI must provide a final report of activities pursued under the award to the Research Network leadership, no later than two months after the award end date. Publications, presentations, or material disclosed to the public domain should be reported to the Network PIs for dissemination and reporting purposes, and should acknowledge support from NIH/NIA R24 AG065172.