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Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program

The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) at the University of Iowa is pleased to announce another cycle of Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Grants for studies related to diabetes and obesity. Three different awards are available this year: Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grant, Catalyst Grants, and Seed Grants. Applicants are encouraged to identify the type of award most aligned with their research goals.

Background

In 2020, as part of a NIH P30 application to create a joint Minnesota-Iowa Diabetes Research Center (MIDRC), the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa launched a Pilot and Feasibility Grant program focused on new and established investigators pursuing diabetes projects individually or in collaboration with investigators at these partner institutions. In 2021, the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (IDOM) at the University of Minnesota and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) at the University of Iowa will award one Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grants to support a new project led by PIs at both institutions. In addition, the FOEDRC will award two Catalyst Grants and up to two Seed Grants to support new projects led by PIs at the University of Iowa.

Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grant

One Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grant will be awarded jointly to PIs at the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa. Funding for the Collaborative P&F Grant will be $200,000 over two years ($50,000 per year for each institution). The program will provide time limited collaborative seed funding to a team of investigators to generate or strengthen preliminary data that will increase their competitiveness for receiving substantial competitive extramural grant funding. These awards seek to support new and innovative research projects that will increase the understanding of fundamental mechanisms that inform the pathophysiology of diabetes and its complications or lead to translational approaches and clinical innovations. Funded Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grant investigators will be asked to prepare a yearly progress report and present it at the FOEDRC Frontiers in Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolism Seminar Series.

Catalyst Grants

Two Catalyst Grants will be awarded to PIs at the University of Iowa. Funding for Catalyst Grants will be up to $50,000 per year in direct costs, renewable for a second year pending satisfactory progress ($100,000 maximum award). Salary for the P.I. cannot be included in the budget of a Catalyst Grant. Catalyst Grants are intended to provide support for studies that allow University of Iowa investigators to develop data sufficient to prepare a competitive application for independent research support through external granting mechanisms. Funded Catalyst Grant investigators will be asked to prepare a yearly progress report and present at the FOEDRC Frontiers in Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolism Seminar Series. These progress reports will serve as one criteria in determining whether the grant will be renewed for a second year of funding. The funding mechanism ceases if the project is successfully converted into an externally funded program. Catalyst Grants cannot be used for bridge funding; they must represent a new initiative. Some examples of studies which are eligible for Catalyst Grant funding are:

  • A study proposed by an early-stage investigator with a research interest in diabetes or obesity prior to securing independent grant support.
  • A study proposed by an established investigator with expertise in other areas and who wants to apply this expertise to address a question that is related to diabetes or obesity.
  • A study by an established investigator in diabetes or obesity who wants to pursue a question in a totally different area from his/her current research field.
  • A study proposed between clinical and basic investigators (new or established) to test a question of translational relevance to diabetes or obesity.

Seed Grants

The FOEDRC wants to encourage testing of innovative, high reward, early-stage diabetes and obesity research at the University of Iowa. This year up to two Seed Grants of $5,000 or less will be available to University of Iowa PIs for discrete, specific, new objectives. Objectives should be completed within 6 months of funding. Seed grants are not renewable. Examples of work that might initiate a new project are:

  • Preliminary high throughput testing
  • Producing a genetically modified mouse
  • Sequencing required to initiate a project
  • Producing a gene transfer vector
  • Microscopic imaging to test feasibility of an approach
  • Collection of some clinical samples
  • Testing an idea with metabolomics

Application Process

Step 1 - for all applicants

  1. A letter of intent (LOI) of no more than two pages (not including references) should be submitted electronically as a single document or PDF to drcadmin@uiowa.edu by Tuesday, June 1, 2021. LOIs are used to plan the review process and prevent conflicts of interest.
  2. The letters of intent email to drcadmin@uiowa.edu should include: “Pilot and Feasibility Grant Letter of Intent” in the subject line.           
  3. The letter of intent should include, i.) the title of the application and contact information for the PI(s).  If the proposal is a collaborative application with Co-PI’s from Minnesota and Iowa, clearly indicate as such with contact information for both, ii.) a brief description of the hypothesis/specific aims and the experimental approach that will be deployed, iii.) the role of both co-PIs and their respective research teams and iv.) the total budget requested for the study. The budget for a University of Iowa-specific Catalyst Grant will be $100,000 for up to two years ($50,000/year) while that for a collaborative Minnesota-Iowa project will be $200,000 for two years ($50,000 per year for each institution). Budgets for FOEDRC Seed Grants are limited to a single, nonrenewable award of up to $5,000.
  4. Biosketch: Please include in the same document a current NIH biosketch for the PI(s).    
  5. Letters of intent will be screened for eligibility and overall competitiveness by a joint Iowa-Minnesota review panel. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be notified by Friday, June 4, 2021.

Step 2 - For those applicants invited to submit full proposals for Collaborative or Catalyst Grants:

Full proposals for Collaborative and Catalyst grants should include the following submitted electronically as a single document or PDF to drcadmin@uiowa.edu by Wednesday, June 30, 2021:

  1. One page Cover Page using the template provided to all invited to submit a full proposal.
  2. Abstract. This section should provide a summary of the project (not to exceed 1/2 page).
  3. Response to prior review, if applicable (one paragraph).
  4. Research Plan. This section should include a full description of the study, including: Background, Hypothesis/Specific Aims, Prior Work Summary (previous work on this project, both separately and as a team if applicable), Experimental Plan (including sex as a biological variable), and References. This section should also include a clearly-defined workplan if studies are carried out jointly at Iowa and Minnesota. This section should not exceed 6 pages
  5. Timeline. This section, included in the 6-page limit should describe the goals to be completed within 2 years.
  6. Current and Pending funding for the PI or PI team if a joint Iowa-MN proposal
  7. Budget.  Budgets should be framed within NIH guidelines and allowances.  Indirect costs will not be allowed.  Direct costs that are eligible include all allowable NIH costs. Faculty salary requests will not be supported.  All other calculations for equipment, patient care costs, supplies, animal costs etc., should be handled consistent with NIH policies.
  8. Letter of support (1 page maximum per letter) if needed to signify availability of core services or resources.

Step 2 - For those applicants invited to submit full proposals for Seed Grants

Full proposals for Seed Grants should include the following submitted electronically as a single document or PDF to drcadmin@uiowa.edu by Wednesday, June 30, 2021:

  1. Abstract. This section should provide a summary of the project (not to exceed 1/2 page).
  2. Proposal, Outcomes, and Importance: a description of the new objective proposed, the    expected outcomes, and overall importance (not to not exceed 1 page).
  3. Timeline and Budget (not to exceed half a page). This section should describe the goals to be completed within 6 months. Note that Seed Grants are not designed to support ongoing projects, therefore no salary support is allowed.

Review Criteria

P&F applications should present a testable hypothesis, clearly delineate the question being asked, detail the procedures to be followed, and discuss how the data will be analyzed and lead to future studies. Emphasis is placed on how the research might lead to new research ideas or research funding. For junior investigators, additional considerations include how this award will impact their career and the potential of the applicant to compete for independent research funding in the future. Research track faculty MUST include a letter from their laboratory director or departmental chair describing how this award will serve in developing an independent research program and external research funding.

General Considerations

  • Applications in all areas of diabetes and obesity research are eligible. Must advance the understanding or evaluate the natural history/mechanism, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of diabetes or obesity
  • A proposal may be resubmitted once. A description of the changes made from a prior application should be included as part of the application.
  • Collaborative Grants and Catalyst Grants are expected to result in a successful NIH application (e.g., R, P or U series) from each joint funded research project within two years of completion
  • Note that it is NOT necessary for the application to go through the Office of Sponsored Research prior to submission.
  • Principal investigator(s) of funded projects will be required to provide a final report and an accounting of all funds expended at the completion of the project. A progress report will be required at the end of the first fiscal year. Further information about how to submit this information will follow upon receipt of award.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • A faculty member may apply for only one grant per cycle on which they would be a PI. There is no limitation to the number of grants on which a faculty member can participate as a collaborator.
  • All applicants must be a member of the University of Iowa faculty (or the University of Minnesota faculty in the case of Collaborative Pilot and Feasibility Grants).
  • Past recipients are ineligible for five years from the completion of their P&F funding (7 years from start date of a two year P&F grant), and only applications in directions/areas distinct from their prior award will be considered. Seed grants, however, do not preclude subsequent Pilot and Feasibility awards in the same area in any time frame, provided strong progress has been made.
  • FOEDRC faculty recruits are not eligible during the period of their receipt of FOEDRC start-up support. 
  • P&F support is usually intended for early-stage faculty investigators, for investigators from other fields intending to bring their research expertise to a diabetes-relevant research area, for investigators currently working in the diabetes area whose proposed research would constitute a significantly new direction, and for clinical and basic researchers who propose a joint research project. 

Important Deadlines

  • The deadline for letters of intent (LOIs) is Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Applicants invited to submit a full proposal will be notified by Friday, June 4, 2021.
  • The deadline for full applications is Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Awards will be announced in late August, 2021. 
  • Questions should be addressed to: drcadmin@uiowa.edu or jonathan-t-thomas@uiowa.edu