Pilot Projects

Funding the Future: Pilot Project Award Program

Program Description (Download PDF Version of Instructions)

The COBRE Center for Addiction and Disease Risk Exacerbation (CADRE) investigates biopsychosocial mechanisms by which substance use disorders (SUDs) increase the risk for or exacerbate chronic disease in vulnerable populations, especially underrepresented ethnic and racial minorities. CADRE’s long-term goals are to provide scientific, administrative, and financial support needed to conduct the best and highest-impact science on SUDs and their chronic disease manifestations and to launch the careers of early career faculty by helping them to attain independent funding.

The CADRE is offering, ‘Funding the Future: Pilot Award Program,’ which will support up to 4 pilot projects (PPs) each year, led by early career investigators from a number of disciplinary backgrounds (i.e. sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, medicine).   Through this effort, CADRE aims to increase the quantity and quality of research on mechanisms linking substance and chronic disease.

Resources the Future PIs will have access to:

  • Mentorship and collaboration with senior (Associate Professor or higher) investigators (identified at time of application)
  • Professional Development Workshops, an annual CADRE Symposium, and Professional Conferences.
  • Access to CADRE core resources, including:
    • State-of-the-art clinical labs and Clinical Laboratory Core faculty and staff with laboratory, medical, data management, and data analysis expertise.
    • Project management support and guidance from CADRE’s Administrative Core.
    • Funds to attend scientific conferences and present findings.

Program Requirements & Eligibility

  • PPs must undergo IRB review and approval.
  • Research must be related to SUDs and chronic disease in vulnerable populations, especially in underrepresented ethnic/racial minorities.
  • The proposed research project should be of one-year duration. Awardees who wish to extend their project to up to 2 years must receive formal permission at least 2 months before the end of Year 1 of their project period.
  • Awardee must hold the title of Assistant Professor at Brown University at the time the award is submitted to NIGMS for approval.
  • Awardee must be an early career investigator as defined by an individual who does not have and has not previously had an external peer reviewed research project grant (R01), R01 equivalent, or Program Project Grant (PPG) from either a Federal or non-Federal source that names the investigator as PD/PI.
  • Investigators holding K awards can serve as COBRE pilot investigators.
  • Interested post-doctoral applicants must contact the COBRE team (information below) to learn more about their potential eligibility, as they will need to hold a faculty appointment at the time of submission to NIGMS.
  • Under special circumstances an established investigator can apply, if they intend to make a significant change to their career.

Foreign components are not allowed. Please see more information on foreign components.

Special Considerations

Investigators who comply with program and eligibility requirements will be reviewed. Special considerations will be given to investigators who:

  1. Take a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing SUD research.
  2. Are from the following backgrounds (can include, but not limited to):
    1. Sociology
    2. Economics
    3. Anthropology
    4. Psychology
    5. Medicine
  3. Are from underrepresented or racial backgrounds.
  4. Conduct their work with participants from underrepresented minority groups

Award Budget

  • Support of up to $50,000 per project.  Funding cannot be used for PI or co-investigator salary support.

Use of Funds

The budget request may include federally allowable research expenses and supplies. (Click here for information on allowable costs and activities.) Equipment cannot be purchased with these funds.

Award Project Period

The project period is 12 months, but it may be extended to up to 24 months by obtaining formal permission at least 2 months before the end of year 1 of the project period.

Application materials are accepted on a rolling basis.  Applicants are highly encouraged to contact the CADRE team ([email protected]) to discuss their project before submitting a proposal. All materials should be uploaded into one PDF file for consideration and review. Application will be comprised of:

  1. Applicant CV
  2. Applicant NIH Biosketch  
  3. Application Content (Click here for PHS 398 forms and instructions):
    • NIH Face Page (PHS 398 Face Page)
    • Research Strategy (5 single-spaced page limit, no form). For more guidance on writing a strong Research Strategy click here. Strategy includes:
      • NIH Project Summary Page (PHS 398 Form Page 2)
      • Introduction and Specific Aims (up to 1 page)

These following three sections are up to a total of 3 pages

  1. Background and Significance: Rationale and significance of the project, including relevance to the goals of the COBRE and plans for use of the Cores in subsequent independently-funded projects
  2. Innovation & Approach: Include both conceptual and technical innovations. For approach, include preliminary data (if applicable) and research plan including expected results.
  3. Plans for future funding 
  • Citations (up to 2 pages, not included in page limit)
  • Project Timeline (not included in page limit):  Milestones and plans for publishing one peer-reviewed manuscript and submitting at least one grant application.
  • PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials information (Click here for form and here for instructions). Note: All NIH funded studies that meet the NIH definition for clinical research must address plans for the inclusion of women and minorities within the application or proposal.
  • Vertebrate Animals per PHS 398 Instructions (if applicable)
  • Other Support Documentation following NIH guidelines (Click here for format and instructions)
  • Detailed 1-year budget and budget justification using PHS 398 forms.
  • Checklist Format Page with F&A cost break down
  • Letters of Support from your primary and secondary mentors and department chair
  • Biosketches from primary and secondary mentors

Review Process and Selection Criteria

Funding is dependent upon the positive review of the CADRE External Advisory Committee, CADRE Executive Committee, and final approval from the National Institute of General Medicine Sciences.

The final selection will be made based on the following criteria:

  • Potential for the PP to lead the PI to be competitive for a K-award, an R21, an R01, or as a CADRE Project Leader.
  • Interdisciplinary approach.
  • Significance and impact of work in areas of SUDs and chronic disease
  • Scientific merit of the work
  • Preference will be given for a focus on underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities
  • Feasibility of proposed project:
    • Available funding
    • Timeline for PP


Upon acceptance into the program, Funding the Future PIs will be expected to:

  • Meet weekly with the mentor
  • Obtain IRB review and approval
  • Develop progress reports using federal policies for annual review.
  • Attend monthly All-CADRE meetings and the annual COBRE retreat.
  • Attend scientific conferences and organizations to present data and work.
  • Attend CADRE weekly seminars, a monthly journal club, grant writing seminars, and workshops.
  • Submit at least one peer-reviewed publication by the end of Year 1.
  • Submit at least one grant application by the end of Year 1.

Mentors are expected to:

  • Develop an IDP with their mentee upon acceptance into the program
  • Meet with their mentee on a weekly basis
  • Ensure the mentee is meeting their project milestones and assist with professional development
  • Review and comment on PP quarterly reports, updated IDPs and their annual progress reports.
  • Attend the COBRE annual retreat


Questions and concerns regarding the Center for Addiction and Disease Risk Exacerbation COBRE application may be directed to:  Donna Kaplan at [email protected]