Pilot Project Program
The Harvard NIEHS Center for Environmental Health Pilot Project Program aims to encourage innovation and creativity in environmental health science research, to develop new collaborations across disciplines and institutions, and to attract new investigators to environmental health science research. Awards are typically used for feasibility studies and to produce preliminary data to compete for independent funding.
The Pilot Project Program is based on the following principles: First, pilot project applications must propose excellent science. Second, pilot projects should support new investigators, allow established investigators to explore new directions, and/or stimulate investigators from other fields to apply their expertise to questions in environmental health science. Third, pilot projects should support innovative new approaches – high-risk high-payback projects are encouraged.
Who can apply for Pilot Project funding?
All Harvard NIEHS Center members are eligible to apply for pilot project funds. Other faculty or research scientist level researchers may apply in collaboration with a Center member as co-investigator. Applications are accepted from Harvard Research Associates or Fellows working under the supervision of Center faculty, but the role of the sponsoring faculty member must be specified. Doctoral students are not eligible for pilot project support.
How are Pilot Project funding opportunities announced?
Requests for Pilot Project applications are announced semi-annually, in January and August via postings at the Harvard School of Public Health and on our website. Email announcements are sent directly to all Center investigators, past pilot project recipients, each HSPH Department Chair, Harvard Medical School and Channing Laboratory investigators, and leadership of the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment.
When are proposals due and when are awards announced?
Pilot Project applications are due mid February and mid September each year. Funding decisions are usually announced within 4-6 weeks from the application deadline.
Applications follow an abbreviated NIH structure, including a narrative section (2-3 single-spaced pages) with background, specific aims, experimental protocols; a brief budget and justification; and a two–page biosketch (NIH format) for the principal investigator and co-investigators. Applications are to be submitted electronically to the Center Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a copy to the Center Director (email@example.com). Download the Pilot Project Application form here.
What is the maximum budget and what expenses are allowed?
The budget may include funds for supplies and other appropriate costs directly related to the project. In some cases, a fraction of faculty or technical support salary may be appropriate (e.g., biostatistical support). Graduate student stipends are not allowed. Travel costs are not supported except those essential to carry out the project. Total requested costs for a one-year project period may not exceed $25,000 direct costs. Indirect costs will not be awarded. Recipients should plan to spend their award within a one year period. A one-year extension may be requested but carryover is not assured.
How are Pilot Project proposals evaluated?
Each application is reviewed by three or more reviewers, at least one of whom is not a Harvard-NIEHS Center member. Evaluation criteria include:
- Study Design
- Project team
- Potential for future funding
- Relevance to the Harvard NIEHS Center mission
- Potential for stimulating collaborative research
The Pilot Project Review Committee meets to consider the reviews, rank the proposals and make funding decisions.
Funding is determined by the Review Committee ratings, and the availability of funds in a particular cycle. Funding decisions are provided to the applicants along with a summary of comments from the internal and external reviewers. Applicants may be asked to address critical issues before final approval. Unfunded applicants may be encouraged to consider reviewer feedback and re-apply during the following funding cycle.
Funds are awarded for a period of one year. Spending accounts will be set-up by the Financial Administrator, Christopher Kelly. Recipients are expected to spend awards within a one year period. Requests for a one year extension will be considered, but carryover cannot be guaranteed.
Please note that indirect costs will not be awarded to pilot recipients
Funding success rate can vary with the quality of the proposals and the availability of funds. Over the past several years, the funding rate has been approximately 30% with the average award around $20,000. Click here to see a list of previously funded Pilot Projects.
Monitoring and Reporting
Funding recipients will be contacted periodically throughout the year by the Center Administrator to monitor progress. At the completion of the project, the investigator will submit to the Center Director a short summary of the project and its findings, publications, and applications for independent funding that have resulted from the pilot project. Investigators may be asked to present their work at a Center-sponsored event, e.g. the External Advisory Committee Meeting or the annual Retreat. Recipients will be expected to notify the Center Coordinator of any publications, press, grant applications or other outcomes related to the pilot funding, and to be responsive to requests for such information annually for Center progress reports.
Investigators should acknowledge support Center support with a statement that the study “was supported in part by a Pilot Project grant from the Harvard-NIEHS Center for Environmental Health (P30ES000002).”
For more information, contact Julie Goodman, Center Coordinator.