The goal of the Pilot Project Program is to provide funding, access to Core facilities and intellectual support to research proposals primarily of junior faculty within and outside the Center that are devoted to the study of environmental components of three human disease categories: Neurotoxicology/Neurodegenerative Diseases, Respiratory Disorders, and Cancer. The broad objective of research in these areas is to improve the health of communities in northern Manhattan and provide educational and outreach services that allow effective prevention strategies to be implemented. This Center Pilot Project Program also addresses issues of concern to the communities of West Harlem, Central Harlem and Washington Heights/Inwood.
Senior Center investigators and members of the Internal Advisory Committee stimulate an interest in and aid in the development of pilot project applications among appropriate colleagues, collaborators, and departments. The Pilot Project Program continues to be advertised by other "democratic" means, e.g., through the Office of Grants and Contracts Monthly Bulletin. In addition, the program is advertised by e-mail and posted throughout Columbia University and LDEO two months in advance of receipt dates.
We have recently streamlined the scientific review process for pilot applications in order to expedite funding. The revised process includes a shorter application (3-5 pages) that undergoes a single review by both internal and external reviewers, who evaluate and score the proposal using NIH criteria. The projects are reviewed according to scientific merit and originality, use of core facilities, relevance to the Center's mission and themes, qualifications of the applicant and probability of generating future R01 funding. Based on reviewers’ scores and CEHNM priorities, final funding decisions are made by the Executive Committee within six weeks of investigator submission.
We have also recently announced a call for mini-pilot projects that requires only a one-page description of the project, for funding requests of less than $10K. Unlike the review process for pilot applications described above, these mini-pilots are reviewed on a rolling basis by the Executive Committee, which will make a funding decision in one week. This mini-pilot mechanism was developed to address time-sensitive research questions, like those raised in R01 critiques for a resubmission. We expect this new funding mechanism to further increase the effectiveness of our program and its impact.
Descriptions of recently awarded pilot projects follow: