Pediatric Research Alliance Pilots

Children's and Emory offer pilot grants for pediatric research centers and junior faculty. These pilots are designed to stimulate new research projects, build new collaborations, and increase extramural funding for pediatric research.

The full application deadline for investigators with approved Letters of Intent is July 1, 2021 at 6:00 PM. No additional Letters of Intent will be accepted during this award cycle.

PURPOSE: To stimulate new research projects, build new collaborations, and increase extramural funding for pediatric research. Proposals should be aimed towards generating preliminary data for subsequent extramural grant applications. 

TYPES & AMOUNTS: Two types of awards are available:

  • Type 1: Center Award - up to $50,000 per award
  • Type 2: Junior Faculty Focused (JFF) Award - up to $50,000 per award

PROJECT PERIOD: October 1 - September 30

THEMES: Please see below for center-specific eligibility requirements and themes. All proposals must relate to child health.

Type 1: Center Award Eligibility Requirements

  • The principal investigator(s) must hold an appointment at their institution(s) which allows them to serve as principal investigator on extramural grant applications.
  • All applications must involve two or more investigators, at least one of whom:
    • Has a primary faculty appointment in the Emory Department of Pediatrics (DOP) OR
    • Is on the professional staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (Children's). This includes those Emory faculty who are outside of the Emory DOP or employed by the Pediatric Institute and who are on Children's professional staff as well as all non-faculty clinicians on Children's professional staff.
  • Faculty from GRA-affiliated institutions are encouraged to apply; however, a faculty appointment at a GRA-affiliated institution is not required.

Type 2: Junior Faculty Focused (JFF) Eligibility Requirements 

  • The principal investigator (PI) must have a current rank of Instructor or Assistant Professor at Emory and be no more than 7 years into their faculty appointment. The PI’s primary faculty appointment must be in the Emory Department of Pediatrics or, if the primary appointment is in another Emory department, the PI must have professional staff privileges at Children's. Please note that adjunct faculty appointments do not meet this requirement.
  • The PI must have NIH New Investigator status, meaning she/he has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award such as an R01. Click here for a detailed definition and exclusions.
  • The PI cannot be PI on any grant with more than $200,000 of direct costs per year.
  • The PI must be on a trajectory to become independently funded, meaning they expect to apply as PI for K or R level funding within the next three years. Submitting an extramural grant proposal (of any level) as PI within 1 year of the end date of a funded pilot is a firm requirement.
  • The application must include a mentor and a mentee, similar to an NIH K career development award.
    • The mentee serves as PI of the application.
    • The mentor fulfills the requirement for a second researcher.
    • The mentor must include a statement in the application on the applicant’s likelihood of being successful as an independent researcher. 
  • Both the scientific plan and the candidate’s past and future productivity will be factored into the funding decision.
  • The applicant’s career objectives must be clearly stated on her/his biosketch.

Letters of Intent (LOIs) are REQUIRED. The deadline was extended from April 30, 2021 to May 7, 2021 by 6:00 PM. LOIs must be submitted in the online portal.

LOIs may be a maximum of 2 pages in PDF format, should be addressed to the director(s) of the center to which you are applying, and must include:

  • Project title
  • PI and key personnel
  • Summary of project and methods (including hypotheses)
  • For JFF applicants, a brief explanation of how the project will contribute to your research career development.

See the How to Apply tab of this RFA for links to the LOI submission portals.

If your Letter of Intent is selected, you will receive a link to submit a full application by July 1, 2021 at 6:00 PM. The primary component of all full applications is the research plan: a 5-page, single-spaced, Arial 11 font, 1" margin scientific plan document. References should be listed but are not included in the page limit. The research plan must include:

  • Title
  • Background and Significance to Child Health
  • Specific Aims
  • Experimental Design and Methods

IMPORTANT: JFF applicants also must include:

  • Career Development Plan (max. 2 pages) - Please use this Career Development Plan template.
  • Letter(s) of Support from Mentor(s) (max. 2 pages each) - Describe the plan for your training and research career development. The letter(s) should specifically cover:
    • Nature and extent of supervision and mentoring, including the specific resources the mentor will provide to enable you to complete the project
    • Commitment to your development during the award period
    • The portion of time you have available for research
    • How this project will facilitate your transition from a mentored to an independent researcher
    • All mentor letters must also include the following statements - please copy and paste these three bullets into your letter(s):
      • I have read and approved your complete research plan, career development plan and biosketch.
      • The project is feasible.
      • The project does not overlap with my own funded research.

Additional documents required for all applications include:

  • NIH-format Biosketches for all key personnel. You may use either the format required immediately before or after January 25, 2022; instructions are available here.
  • NIH-format Other Support pages for principal investigators and mentors
  • Budget, budget narrative and statements of work for consortium institutions
  • Signed Financial Letters of Agreement from the department head of every department included in the pilot budget except the Emory Department of Pediatrics - see template provided in the templates tab of this RFA.
  • (As Applicable/Available) IRB and IACUC approval/determination letters
  • (Optional) Letters of Support from collaborators whose involvement is critical to the proposed project

All applications must be submitted electronically through the online application portals.

Please make sure you select the correct link; projects cannot be transferred between application portals.

To resume a saved LOI of any type, or view a submitted LOI of any type, please click here.

The principal investigator(s) must:

  • Submit a progress report within one month of the end date of the pilot project in the format specified in the Notice of Award.
  • Submit a related application for extramural funding within one year of the end date of the pilot project.
  • Present the progress and results of your project as requested by the center director.
  • Submit an abstract and provide an oral or poster presentation at the annual Southeastern Pediatric Research Conference.
  • Submit an annual update report in an online grants management system in response to requests/prompts from staff for up to six years after the end date of the pilot project. This report must include publications, extramural grant applications and awards, press releases, conference presentations, invention disclosures, patents (pending and approved), and devices or technology that resulted from the pilot.
  • Funds may not be used to build databases or other infrastructure.
  • Investigators may not receive funding from a Pediatric Research Center or the Pediatric Research Alliance for multiple projects if the projects have the same or overlapping aims.
  • If you received a Pediatric Research Center pilot grant in the past and are not in compliance with the requirements of your previous award, you are not eligible to apply for another pilot grant from the Pediatric Research Alliance.  All pilots awarded in 2011 or later required the PI to submit a proposal for extramural funding within one year of the end date of the pilot project. Unless no cost extensions were granted, pilots awarded between 2011 and 2019 should have concluded by 6/30/2020 and should lead to submission of an extramural research proposal by 6/30/2021. If you are not sure if you are in compliance, please contact Jennifer Villaseñor to confirm your eligibility. To request a waiver of the extramural funding application requirement, please click here.

Awardees by Year:












Center- and Program-Specific Themes

Directors: Claudia Morris, MD, FAAP & Miriam Vos, MD, MSPH

CCTR's theme for 2021 is patient-oriented clinical research. Priority will be given to small clinical trial pilots and studies that have the potential to lead to larger clinical trials.

The overall funding success rate for CCTR applications is 27%.

Model CCTR Pilot Grant Application
Blood and Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in the Correlations of Clinical Outcomes in Pediatric NMDARE
PI: Grace Gombolay, MD
This CCTR pilot application submitted by Dr. Grace Gombolay is a model of patient-oriented research that promises to provided preliminary data to foster a future multi-site study. The application includes a clear hypothesis, aims that test the hypothesis, and expected results and alternatives for each aim, with a feasible study design within the grant timeline. This study has a high probability of extramural funding. Click here to view the research plan.

Director: Michael E. Davis, PhD

Priority will be given to applications that address:

  • Transplant rejection/longevity
  • Cardiooncology in the young
  • Mechanisms of pediatric heart failure
  • Genetics of cardiomyopathy
  • Heart-on-a-chip and other in vitro models

The overall funding success rate for HeRO applications is 40%.

If you are applying for a HeRO pilot and would like to see a successful pilot from prior years, please contact Jennifer Villaseñor.

Director: Stacy Heilman, PhD

The 2021 CCNR pilot call prioritizes clinical or translational research projects related to pediatric brain health. Applications must include a pediatric neurologist, neuropsychologist, and/or neurosurgeon and must involve patients or patient data from Children's. 

The overall funding success rate for CCNR applications is 36%.

Model CCNR Pilot Grant Application
Targeting the PI3K Signaling Cascade: A Therapeutic Approach to Fragile X Syndrome
MPIs: Gary Bassell, PhD, Christina Gourley, PhD, and Shannon Gourley, PhD
This well-written application is a great example of a project that allowed collection of preliminary data that resulted in a successfully funded R21, U54 subcontract, five publications and one press release. Click here to view the research plan.

Director: Nael A. McCarty, PhD
Coordinator: Lilly Meier, MA

CF-AIR wishes to support young investigators who are working to develop a new project with a CF focus, either pulmonary or non-pulmonary. Budgets should be for $25,000 or $50,000, and the research plan must make use of at least one of the CF@LANTA P30 research cores:

  • Diabetes, GI, and Nutrition Core
    Core Directors: Tom Ziegler, Vin Tangpricha
    Glucose tolerance and hormonal testing, intestinal and liver function, and body composition and nutritional/metabolic status assessment
  • Lifestyle and Behavior Core 
    Core Directors: Ryan Harris, Jessica Alvarez
    Support for sleep, exercise, and diet research
  • Clinical Research and Informatics Core
    Core Directors: Arlene Stecenko, Sam Brown
    Access to CF biospecimen repository, biologic data management, biostatistical support, study design, database services

REDCap form to request core services:

The overall funding success rate for CF-AIR applications is 38%.

If you are applying for a CF-AIR pilot and would like to see a successful pilot from prior years, please contact Nael McCarty.

Program Officer: Stacy Heilman, PhD

All child health focused clinical, translational or basic science projects will be considered.

Eligibility requirements for JFF awards are different than those for center-based awards. Please read the above eligibility section carefully. In addition, JFF applications must include the following two items as described in the above Application Components tab:

  • Career Development Plan (max. 2 pages)
  • Mentor Letter(s) of Support (max. 2 pages)

The overall funding success rate for JFF applications is 31%.

Model JFF Pilot Grant Applications
Contribution of Alternative Complement Pathway to Acute Lung Injury in Sickle Mice (2018)
Satheesh Chonat, MD
Mentors: Sean Stowell, MD, PhD & Clint Joiner, MD, PhD
Research and Career Development Plans

Towards Translation of Platelet Contraction Cytometry as a Biophysical Biomarker of Bleeding in Immune Thrombocytopenia (2018)
David Myers, PhD
Mentors: Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD & Carolyn Bennett, MD, MS
Research and Career Development Plans

The example applications were chosen because of the balanced emphasis on both the research and career development plans. Competitive applications will specify what extramural funding opportunity will be pursued, in what timeframe, and how the JFF award will provide them with the time, resources, and preliminary results needed to position them for successful extramural funding. Both projects are on-going.