About SWEHSC Pilot Projects

 

The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center (SWEHSC), an NIEHS funded Center at the University of Arizona, announces the availability of funds for pilot projects.  To assist center members as they prepare to submit grant applications specifically to NIEHS, we are moving to a more flexible and targeted approach to using the funds that are budgeted for pilot projects.  Rather than complete projects from start to end with full budgets, a set submission date, and open competition for a limited number of grants, the center will now be evaluation requests for specific assistance on a rolling basis.  There are no limits to the assistance that can be requested, either in terms of the type of assistance, time-frame for the assistance, or the dollar value.  It is anticipated that awards as little as $500 will be given regularly throughout the year.

 

Outcomes to date:
 

The Pilot Projects program announcements have resulted in applications from across the state.  Since the funding increase in 2007, 68 applications have been received from 19 different University Departments or Centers at the Univeristy of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and Arizona State Univeristy.

The Program is meeting the primary objective of increasing extramural funding.  Over the past competitive renewal cycle (since 2007), the Center has allocated $666,206 to 16 projects.  Preliminary data from these Pilot Projects has resulted in new extramural funding of $6,853,119 (total direct costs), which represents a 10:1 return on the dollar. Sources of this funding were; NIH - $6,053,120 ($1,294,445 of which is from NIEHS), Other Federal Funds - $499,999 and Other Peer Reviewed Sources - $300,000.  An additional $2,018,319 in total direct costs is currently under review for pilot projects since 2007. (20:1).

In past years, funding priority has been given to different areas we would like to highlight within the Center.  For instance, in 2012, the emphasis for SWEHSC pilot projects was updated with the intention to foster the interactions of multiple investigators around a common theme that can be used to develop applications for larger program projects or multi-investigator grants.  Successful applications invloved collaborating investigators and identified potential shared goals of the group (grant applicaiton mechanisms etc.).  Projects that 1) promote the integration of basic science with public health research or patient oriented clinical research, 2) enhance the career development of junior faculty members involved in health science research, and 3) make use of technologies available in the SWEHSC Facility Cores were viewd favorably.  TO facilitate the new scope of this important new emphasis, projects in 2012-13 were funded up to a maximum of $80,000.
 

Pilot Project Future Plans

 

The current emphasis for the SWEHSC pilot projects appears to be having the desired effect. Our desire to foster the interactions of multiple investigators around a common theme that can be used to develop mature themes has resulted in an increased number of applications to NIEHS. Applications were encouraged to involve collaborating investigators and identify potential shared goals of the group (grant application mechanisms etc.). Projects that 1) promote the integration of basic science with public health research or patient oriented clinical research, 2) enhance the career development of junior faculty members involved in health science research, and 3) make use of technologies available in the SWEHSC Facility Cores were specifically encouraged and viewed favorably.

 

In selecting which applications to fund, our philosophy will remain flexible, balancing scientific merit and programmatic needs of the SWEHSC. A high priority will continue to be supporting the emergence and growth of the research focus groups through individual and collaborative pilot projects. One of the goals of the Pilot Project Program during the next funding period will be to target translational pilot project proposals that will add to our research focus in the Integrative Health Sciences. These areas represent a major thrust for research in the SWEHSC in the next funding period. The Program will continue to be administered by Dr. Cherrington with assistance from the IAB and EAB.