Frequently Asked Questions

Currently, we are not accepted applications. 

When are awards announced?

Funding decisions are usually announced within 6-8 weeks of the application deadline.

Who is eligible to apply?

All faculty and research scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health are eligible to apply for Hoffman Pilot Grant funds. Applications are also accepted from Harvard Research Associates or Fellows working under the supervision of Harvard Chan School faculty and research scientists. The role of the sponsoring faculty member must be specified. Doctoral students are usually not eligible for Pilot Grant support.

How do I apply?

Applications include a narrative section (2-3 single-spaced pages) with background; specific aims; experimental protocols; a brief budget and justification; and a two-page biosketch for the principal investigator and co-investigator(s). Applications are submitted electronically to the Pilot Grant Manager, Nancy Long Sieber (, and to the Program Director, Joseph Brain (

What is the maximum award amount and what expenses are allowed?

The budget may include funds for supplies and other appropriate costs directly related to the project. Salary may be included for technical support, e.g. graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and research assistants. Travel costs are not supported except those essential to carry out the project. Total requested direct costs for a one-year project period may not exceed $25,000. Indirect costs will not be awarded. Spending accounts will be set up by Senior Grants Manager, Juliana Rosario (, and will be placed in the unit of the principal investigator. The unit will approve and monitor expenses and make regular reports to the Pilot Program office, Nancy Long Sieber (

What is the typical project duration?

Funds are awarded for a period of one year. A one-year extension may be requested but Carry Forward is not assured. To request Carry Forward please contactNancy Long Sieber (

How are Pilot Project proposals evaluated?

Fitting the purview of the Hoffman Program’s mission is paramount. The Hoffman mission is more specific than the broad topic of environmental health.  Within the focus of chemicals and health, the emphasis is on how responses to chemicals and particles change with repeated exposures. To what extent are subsequent responses modified by previous exposures? When is there adaptation? When is there sensitization? Priority is given to investigators who explore questions such as these in their research.

What is the Pilot Project review process?

Each application is reviewed by two or three reviewers. Evaluation criteria include:

  1. Relevance to the Hoffman Program Mission
  2. Innovation
  3. Study Design
  4. Project Team
  5. Potential for Future Funding
  6. Potential for Stimulating Collaborative Research

The Co-Directors of the Hoffman Program, Professors Spengler and Brain, meet to consider the reviews, rank the proposals, and make funding decisions.

The Review Committee ratings and the availability of funds in a particular cycle determine funding. Applicants will receive a letter from the Pilot Program Director with the funding decision and a summary of comments. 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. Unfunded projects are allowed one re-submission.

What are appropriate topics for Hoffman Program research?

Here are examples of topics that would be supported by the Hoffman Program:

  1. Exposure assessment in buildings and other confined spaces (e.g. mass transit).
  2. Identifying constituents of air that initiate or aggravate MCS/TILT/DELTA sufferers.
  3. Altered sensitivity associated with chemical and toxin exposure in animal models.
  4. Nose-brain pathways for toxins in MCS/TILT/DELTA illnesses in humans and animals.
  5. Physiologic and cognitive impairment of chemically intolerant people

What is the funding rate?

Funding success rate will vary with the quantity and quality of the proposals submitted in each cycle and availability of funds. In the past, about 30% of the submitted proposals have been successful.

What are recipients’ reporting responsibilities?

Funding recipients will be contacted every six months to monitor progress. For at least two years, the investigator will submit a short summary of the project and its findings, publications, and applications for independent funding that have resulted from the Pilot Grant to the Program Director, copying the Program Coordinator. Investigators may be asked to present their work at a Program-sponsored event. Recipients will be expected to notify the Hoffman Program Coordinator ( and the Pilot Grant Manager ( of any publications, press, grant applications, or other outcomes related to the Pilot Grant funding, and to be responsive to requests for such information for Program progress reports.

How do I acknowledge Program support?

Investigators should include “This work was supported by funds and by ideas contributed by Ms. Marilyn B. Hoffman” to acknowledge the Hoffman Program support.

Other questions?

For more information, contact Nancy Long Sieber (, Pilot Grant Manager, or Joe Brain (, Program Director.