Fall 2019 Program Description and Call for Applications

These awards are intended to support the development and testing of new approaches and/or tools that increase the speed, efficiency, safety and/or quality of clinical, community, health outcomes and/or implementation research. Successful applicants will define challenges or barriers in the conduct of research and propose the development of a solution or process that can be tested within the pilot project and/or with subsequent extramural funding. This mechanism is not intended to fund basic or preclinical research.

These awards are also intended to support:

1. Preliminary research that will lead to larger extramurally-funded human mechanistic studies, clinical trials, community trials, health outcomes research, or implementation research. 

2. Pre-existing research in the above-referenced areas by incorporating a different discipline and investigator who is new to collaboration with the current team.  The award may be used to leverage data and resources from a currently funded project to expand the research in a new direction, ultimately leading to the submission of an additional grant or expansion of the current effort to a larger-scale extramurally-funded project.

Up to $40,000 for one year composed of a 4:1 ratio of funds from SC CTSI to funds from the investigators’ home department(s), school(s) or Institute(s). For example, the maximum award would be $32,000 from SC CTSI and $8,000 from the home department(s), school(s) and/or institute(s) of the participating investigator(s). Applications must include a letter of commitment specifying the amount and source(s) of the cost share.  Applications from multiple departments can derive the cost share in any mix from the participating departments; it is up to the investigators to secure the matching funds to be made available in a USC account at the time of funding award.


Preference and highest priority will be given to projects that demonstrate a clear path to sustaining extramural funding or to direct implementation of improvements in clinical and translational research processes. Commitment of the PI to a career in research will be considered a plus. Proposals will be evaluated using an NIH-style peer review process.


Full-time faculty members at USC and CHLA as of the date of the award are eligible to apply as PI.   PIs should explain in their cover letter the extent of their commitment to a research career and provide any supplementary materials including confirming materials from a department chair.

  • Postdocs, residents, fellows, students, and community members can be included as co-Is.
  • International Faculty who are non-US citizens/permanent residents must have a USC appointment and currently hold a visa to allow them to remain in the US long enough to complete the proposed project.

Multiple Awards

Investigators may only submit one application in which they are listed as PI or Co-PI. However, a PI can be on more than one grant if he/she is listed as a co-investigator.


As of Spring 2018, the SC CTSI Pilot Funding Program will allow only 1 resubmission of the same proposal.  Applicants must indicate “Resubmission” on the electronic application form and uploaded proposal.   When resubmitting a proposal, include one additional page to address the issues raised in the review and emphasize any additional changes made in your proposal.

Cycle Break

Awarded PIs must take a Full Funding CYCLE BREAK before applying again. For example, if you were funded as a PI in Spring 2019, you cannot apply as PI again in Fall 2019 or Spring 2020 during your award period; you must wait for Spring 2021 to apply again. And if you were funded as PI in Spring 2019 and requested a no-cost extension so your 2019 funds will be extended to the 2020 funding period, you cannot apply as a PI in Spring 2021, but must wait a full year from the expiration date of the no-cost extension.

Letter of Support

Applications must include a letter or letters of commitment specifying the amount and source(s) of the cost share from the applicant's home department Chair or Institute Director.



  • Arial font, 11pt
  • Margins: minimum 0.5 inch
  • No appendices
  • Include page numbers and table of contents


Please create one PDF file including the following information:

  1. Cover Letter (see PI qualifications and commitment to a research career)
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Abstract  (max 300 words)
  4. Research Proposal (maximum 4 pages, including figures/tables, excluding literature cited)
  5. A timeline or project plan with defined milestones (max 1 page)
  6. Resources and Environment (limit ½ page) Document access to any resources and environment that will be required for successful completion of the project.
  7. Literature Cited (not included in page limit)
  8. Budget ($40,000 maximum) (PI, co-PI and co-investigator salary support is not allowed) Use the Required PHS 398 Budget Form, Page 4 or download the Budget Form HERE. Award expenditures must comply with the NIH Grants Policy Statement and the Uniform Guidance OMB A-81. Indirect costs are not allowed, including sub-contracts funded by SC CTSI pilot awards.  Sub-contracted institutions are required to waive indirect costs. 
  9. Budget Justification Justify all costs and provide detailed information for all requested items. 
  10. NIH Biosketches of Principal Investigators and/or Co-Investigator(s) (5-page max for each individual) The NIH biosketch is required for all investigators. Specific roles of each co-investigator must be defined. Download an example NIH Biosketch.
  11. Letter(s) of Support Applications must include a letter of commitment(s) specifying the amount and source(s) of the cost share from the applicant's home department Chair or Institute Director.  Cost share must be dedicated to allowable budget costs, and not PI, co-PI or co-investigator salaries.
  12. If resources (e.g., patient samples) from any other source are proposed, provide a letter from the source documenting that those resources will be available. Other letters confirming access to crucial resources including necessary space, release time and environment may be included here.


Timeline for Fall 2019 Cycle

  • RFA Released: July 1, 2019
  • Application Portal Opens September 3, 2019
  • Application Deadline: October 7, 11:59 PM (PST)
  • Review Period (October 21 - November 21, 2019)
  • Study Section Meeting (December)
  • Final Selection Made: January 2020
  • Submission of regulatory approvals to institution and NIH: February - June 2020
  • Funding Period: July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021

Regulatory Approvals

For projects selected for funding, awards are contingent upon documentation of submission of all applications for required regulatory approvals to Institutional IRB and to the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS). If the projects selected for funding do not have an Institutional IRB associated with the funded projects, request for IRB approval for these projects will be expected to be filed within two weeks of notification of SC CTSI’s intent to fund.  A special NIH requirement for SC CTSI pilot projects involving human subjects is to obtain prior approval of planned research involving human subjects by NCATS. Prior approval requests for those projects selected for funding will need to be submitted to NCATS after IRB approvals are obtained. Funding associated with human subject research cannot be released until the appropriate approvals have been obtained by both NCATS and USC and forwarded to SC CTSI. Human Subjects (IRB) and other regulatory approvals should indicate that your research is/will be supported by SC CTSI Grant UL1TR001855.

Timeline for Spring 2019 Cycle

Application Deadline

Final Selection Made

Submission of regulatory approvals to institution and NIH

Funding Period

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.