Types of Pilot Awards

The Pilot Project Program awards funds for pilot projects with the objective of fostering novel research forming the basis for new extramural grant applications and addressing community environmental health needs. Through availability of pilot project funds, the CIEHS will build research capacity in current areas of emphasis at UofL as well as expanding into new areas complementary to existing strengths. Pilot project funds will be awarded annually through four different types of awards described below.


Interdisciplinary Award. A goal of the CIEHS is to foster interdisciplinary collaborative research in environmental health science. One way this will be accomplished is by funding projects on which investigators new to the field of environmental health collaborate with established investigators in this field. Interdisciplinary awards will be led by a PI who is not a CIEHS member, but will be required to collaborate on the project with a CIEHS member to be eligible for the award. Examples of the types of researchers who could be targeted by these awards are: 1) Investigators from other fields such as biology or chemistry with environmental science background who have not previously applied their expertise to human health; 2) Researchers with novel techniques related to exposure analysis, assessment of health outcomes, data analysis techniques, etc. that could be applied toward environmental health issues; 3) Clinical researchers or epidemiologists who could apply their expertise or access to unique study populations or specimens for translational studies assessing health outcomes resulting from environmental exposures and interactions with lifestyle factors; 4) Investigators with expertise in community-engaged research who would collaborate with a CIEHS member to address impacts of pollutant exposure/lifestyle factors in the local or regional community. The Interdisciplinary Award mechanism is intended to bring talented investigators from other fields into environmental health and has the potential to produce synergistic effects on research productivity by bringing together new combinations of investigators.


New Direction Award. A strategy for promoting novel science related to environmental health at UofL will be to support investigators with exciting new ideas representing a departure from their current research program. Current CIEHS membership will be a requirement for applying for this category, but the proposed project must be highly innovative and distinct from the applicant's currently funded research. Examples of the types of projects funded by this mechanism include: 1) Projects in which a basic researcher moves toward translating findings using human samples or subjects. The CIEHS Integrated Health Science Facility Core (IHSFC) will assist with study design and identifying available resources for the translational component of this type of project. 2) Studies in which a researcher with a background in toxicant exposures adds a dimension of lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, drugs of abuse, etc. Projects of this type may involve animal models or may comprise clinical or population-based research facilitated by the IHSFC. 3) Projects that involve community-engaged research. Basic or clinical researchers desiring to apply concepts or knowledge from their research programs for local or regional community impact could be funded by this type of award. These researchers would work closely with the CIEHS Community Engagement Core to facilitate community engagement.


Community-Engaged Award. An overall goal of the CIEHS is to promote community engagement and community-led citizen-science research. To foster activity toward this goal, the Pilot Project Program will commit to funding projects with community-focused objectives. The research for this type of award must involve interaction with community members within the geographic focus area of P30 Center ("Louisville Regional Community," encompassing Kentuckiana and western Kentucky) and must impact an environmental problem of local or regional significance. Eligible applicants are UofL faculty members, faculty of other universities within the geographic focus area, public health professionals, and community members. Applicants from outside UofL are expected to designate a CIEHS member as collaborator. All applicants are encouraged to utilize Facility Cores. Projects related to the overall CIEHS theme investigating interactions between pollutant exposures and lifestyle factors are encouraged. Community-engaged research fits within many of the goals articulated in the NIEHS strategic plan (https://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/strategicplan/index.cfm), including understanding in community populations environmental exposures, gene-environment interactions, environmental co-exposures, and connection of exposures with health outcomes; outreach, communication, and engagement, including multidirectional communication between researchers and community stakeholders; environmental health disparities and environmental justice; evidence-based prevention and intervention; and integrating data from research findings to inform/impact public health.


Career Development Award. The Career Development Award will be used to support a project for an individual with outstanding potential for developing into an independent investigator focusing on environmental health research. Individuals receiving this type of award will be identified by the CIEHS Executive Committee and will be supported and mentored concurrently through the Career Development Component of the Administrative Core. Career Development awardees will prepare a pilot project application that will be reviewed to provide feedback to the investigator regarding the merits of the project and the potential for external funding, and, as such, it will be part of the mentoring process for this individual.