Pediatric Research Alliance Pilots

Children's and Emory are pleased to announce the availability of pilot grants for several 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. Applications are due July 1, 2020 by 6:00 PM.

Note: The special CCIV Request for Applications Related to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 ONLY is closed, but interested applicants may still submit SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 projects to CCIV under this RFA. Click here to view the companion RFA for the Global Health Office of Pediatrics (GHOPE), which has different goals and requirements.

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: Three types of awards are available:

  • Type 1: General Center Award - up to $50,000 per award
    • ​Center for Childhood Infections and Vaccines (CCIV)
    • Clinical Outcomes Research and Public Health (CORPH)
    • Center for Transplantation and Immune-mediated Disorders (CTID)
    • Marcus Autism Center
  • Type 2: Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) Collaborative Drug Screening - up to $28,000 per award
  • Type 3: Junior Faculty Focused (JFF) - up to $50,000 per award

PROJECT PERIOD: October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2021

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

Type 1 (CCIV, CORPH, CTID, and Marcus) 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 (CDD) 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.
  • Applications may involve only one investigator; however, either the principal investigator or another investigator on the application must: 
    • Have a primary faculty appointment in the Emory DOP OR
    • Be on the professional staff at 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 3 (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 CHOA. 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 must be listed as a co-investigator to fulfill 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.

The primary component of all 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. 

Research Plans for Type 1 (CCIV, CORPH, CTID, and Marcus) and Type 3 (JFF) applications must include:

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

IMPORTANT: Type 3 (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) - Describing 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.

 Research Plans for Type 2 (CDD) applications must include:

  • Title
  • Specific Aims
  • Background and Significance to Child Health
  • Screening Phenotypes
  • Screening and Validation Plans
  • Expected Outcomes

Additional documents required for all applications include:

  • NIH-format Biosketches for all key personnel
  • NIH-format Other Support pages for principal investigators and mentors
  • Budget, budget narrative and statements of work for consortium institutions
  • (As Applicable/Available) IRB and IACUC approval/determination letters
  • (Optional) Letters of Support from collaborators whose involvement is critical to the proposed project

Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Letter of Agreement

Protections for Human Subjects 


  • Budget for Emory Prime
  • Budget for Georgia Tech Prime
  • Budget for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Prime
  • IMPORTANT BUDGET INSTRUCTIONS FOR TYPE 2 (CDD) BUDGETS: Type 2 (CDD) applicants must use the provided budget templates but may request a maximum of $28,000 and must include:
    • Salary – For the assay and screening within the investigator’s lab plus screening and analysis on the Cytation 3
    • Supplies – Consumables required for the screening process within the investigator’s lab
    • Cytation 3 analysis fee ($1,600)
    • Personnel support for library handle and Cytation 3 analysis and data collection assistance ($4,900)

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 application of any type, or view a submitted application 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 2018 should have concluded by 6/30/2019 and should lead to submission of an extramural research proposal by 6/30/2020. 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

Director: Ann Chahroudi, MD, PhD
Coordinator: Karol Flowers

CCIV is accepting applications on any topic related to the center, including but not limited to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. 

The special request for applications related to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 ONLY is closed. Award announcements will be made by late April 2020. Projects submitted under the special RFA but not selected for funding may be re-submitted under the primary RFA as long as the applicant includes a statement about how reviewer criticisms were addressed. Please note:

  • Projects selected for award under the special RFA will have a project period of May 1, 2020 - April 30, 2021.
  • All terms and conditions for center-based awards as stated in this RFA apply to projects awarded through the special CCIV RFA.

Most Recent Success Rate (2018): 22% (9 applications received/2 funded)

Model CCIV Pilot Grant Application
Autophagy Mechanisms in Human Bone Marrow Long-lived Plasma Cell Generation and Maintenance (2014)
Frances Eun-Hyung Lee, MD

This application is a model of excellent grantsmanship. It exhibits a clearly defined hypothesis, aims that test this hypothesis, expected results and alternatives for each aim. Figures are easy to read and legends describing the figures are easy to understand. She also provides good use (but not overuse) of bold text to highlight important points. This project led directly to an R01 (4 year total: $2,102,432) and a project on a P01 (5 year total: est. $1,923,447). Click here to view the research plan. 

Acting Director: Ann Mertens, PhD, MS
Coordinator: Tracy Willoughby

CORPH is accepting applications on any topic related to the center.

Please also see the inaugural RFA for the Global Health Office of Pediatrics (GHOPE), which supports trainee-engaged pilot research, quality improvement initiatives, or programmatic work in global child health.

Most Recent Success Rate (2018): 22% (9 applications received/2 funded)

Model CORPH Pilot Grant Application
Childhood Asthma Phenotypes: Identification and Utility in Outcome Prediction (2018)
Anne Fitzpatrick, PhD, RN, CPNP, MSCR & Claudia Morris, MD, FAAP

This project was selected from a competitive pool of 9 applications based on the strong interdisciplinary team with a documented track record of collaboration including prior publications; the potential of this project to develop precision-driven medicine in a pediatric population; and the likelihood of obtaining extramural funding. This project is on-going. Click here to view the research plan.

Co-Directors: Subra Kugathasan, MD and Greg Gibson, PhD
Coordinator: Tracy Willoughby

CTID is seeking applications related to the implementation of personalized genomics. Preference will be given to proposals taking a personalized genomic approach to immune-mediated disease, but applications from members of other centers with a precision genomics focus will also be considered.

Most Recent Success Rate (2018): 40% (5 applications received/2 funded)

Model CTID Pilot Grant Application
Differential Roles for Human Fetal B Lymphocytes in Childhood and Adult Immunopathologies (2018)
Eliver Ghosn, PhD

This pilot project was selected from a competitive pool of five (5) applications largely for the novelty of the hypothesis, the potential to grow genomic studies of immunology in pediatrics, and likelihood of obtaining extramural funding. Dr. Ghosn has been able to use the support to obtain further evidence that fetal B cells take up permanent residence in adult tissues where they may well be contributing to the etiology of immune disorders. He was preparing to apply for NIH funding when the new policy essentially prohibiting research using human fetal tissue came into effect; nevertheless, the research was able to support his component of a very large DARPA award that has been funded and will be a major component of his research for the next five years. As envisaged, Dr Ghosn has established himself as a leader of single cell genomic analysis in the domain of pediatric immunology at Emory and Children's. This project led to the aforementioned DARPA grant (4 year total: $734,911), 2 publications, and 1 poster presentation. Click here to view the research plan.

Research Directors: Gordon Ramsay, PhD and Larry Scahill, MSN, PhD
Coordinator: Jennifer Shipp

Marcus Autism Center will accept any proposal related to pediatric brain health and social development.

Most Recent Success Rate (2018): 50% (4 applications received/2 funded)

Model Marcus Autism Center Pilot Grant Application
Neural Correlates of Perceived Salience in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (2016)
Sarah Shultz, PhD

This application is a model for all of our pilot grants. The structure clearly demonstrates that the investigator understands how to write a successful NIH proposal. The specific aims are clearly stated and explicitly linked to testable hypotheses. The significance of each aim, and the innovation of the proposal, are soundly anchored in the literature and in pilot data from the author's own studies, increasing confidence in feasibility. The experimental design is explicitly described and meticulously detailed. The statistical analysis states exactly how the final results will be used to test the initial hypotheses. Finally, the document is a pleasure to read, and the text and figures are beautifully formatted with no errors, reducing the burden on the reviewer. Click here to view the research plan.

Director: Baek Kim, PhD
Coordinator: Tracy Willoughby

CDD encourages basic and clinical researchers to submit applications that aim for chemical library screening and drug discovery using cell culture disease models. CDD will provide $28,000 to selected applications proposing cellular phenotypic assays that are proper for the medium-throughput screening of chemical libraries provided by CDD. Fluorescence-based cell imaging (i.e. GFP), enzyme-based assays (i.e. luciferase), and cell counts (i.e. live and dead cells) are recommended as phenotypic readouts for the robotized 96-well format instrument (BioTek Cytation 3). Applicants should demonstrate the reliability, simplicity and reproducibility of the phenotypic readouts as well as disease relevance and significance. The long-term goal of this RFA is to enable the researchers to explore the drug discovery pathways for future translational and clinical applications.

CDD offers extensive collaborative drug screening operations for targeting human diseases that child health researchers are currently investigating. CDD houses the BioTek Cytation 3, a robotized award-winning instrument with capability for high - and medium – throughput drug screening. The capabilities of this instrument include automated imaging (3 color plus bright field for cell counting), fluorescence, absorbance, and luminescence. In addition, CDD maintains several chemical libraries for supporting the pilot awards, including US FDA approved compounds and other biological active chemicals with minimal toxicity (~2,500 compounds). Discussions for further research plans beyond the initial screening will be arranged upon the completion of the screening. While it is preferred that the entire process should be covered by the awarded support, any additional costs beyond the awarded budget will be the responsibility of the individual investigator. It is also possible to propose to use a portion of the awarded budget to cover the screening cost from other Emory screening locations such as Emory Chemical Biology Discovery Center if the awarded investigators plan to use these Emory facilities.

Selection criteria:

  1. Disease relevance and significance,
  2. Cell culture based phenotypes that can be read by Cytation 3, and
  3. Feasibility, reproducibility and simplicity of the phenotypic readouts/systems.

Selected applicants will each be awarded up to $28,000 to be used for conducting a proposed drug screening project with one medium-throughput chemical library (FDA approved drug library, ~2,500 compounds). The compounds will be provided to the laboratories of the awarded investigators, and the laboratories will perform the exposure of the biological screening systems to the compounds and complete the assay. Then, the compound-treated assay systems can be analyzed by the awarded laboratories or delivered to CDD where the investigator’s laboratory personnel will analyze the delivered systems with the Cytation 3 instrument (CDD personnel will assist with the screening). The CDD personnel will collect the screening results for the awarded investigators.

Please click here to view a PDF of all CDD requirements.

Most Recent Success Rate (2018): 33% (6 applications received/2 funded)

Model CDD Pilot Grant Application
Cell-Based Screen for Enhancers of Bacterial Killing by CF Airway Neutrophils (2018)
Rabin Tirouvanziam, PhD

This pilot application was selected for funding because this application harbors an innovative drug screening concept as well as its strong relevance to pediatric health. This application searches for novel disease related screening platforms that can be used for compounds enhancing bacteria killing by neutrophils in CF patients. Indeed, based on the outcome of this pilot support, Dr. Tirouvanziam was able to develop a screening system proper for both medium and high throughput compound screenings. Importantly, this outcome enabled Dr. Tirouvanziam's team to acquire new two-year funding from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which will further encourage this team to pursue their search for exciting novel compounds for the treatment of CF patients. This project led to the aforementioned CFF grant (2 year total: $269,495). Click here to view the research plan.

Program Officer: Stacy Heilman, PhD
Coordinators: Jennifer Villaseñor and Karol Flowers

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)

Most Recent Success Rate (2019): 33% (6 applications received/2 funded)

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.