Pilot Study Funding


The SNPRC Pilot Research program provides opportunities and support for investigators to use SNPRC nonhuman primate resources in highly focused, short-term studies with a high likelihood of enhancing the value, utility, feasibility, and attractiveness of nonhuman primates for biomedical research. High priority will be given to studies that propose to generate preliminary data for applications to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for support of future research projects. Those proposing to develop new nonhuman primate models of disease, or develop and/or test new research methods, instrumentation, or approaches for biomedical research using nonhuman primates, also will be considered responsive to the goals of the program.

Program Guidelines


Investigators at the Staff Scientist (Research Assistant Professor) through full Scientist (full Professor) or equivalent positions at institutions meeting the requirements to receive research support from the NIH are eligible to apply.

  • Any applicant who is not an SNPRC Core Scientist must be sponsored by a Core Scientist who will ensure that the research can be done at the SNPRC, assist the investigator with the IACUC application, and other administrative and logistical details.

Supported Activities/Use of Pilot Research Program Funds

  • All research activities related to the use of nonhuman primates must be conducted at the SNPRC.
  • Pilot research funds may not be used to provide interim or extended support for extant projects funded by other sources.
  • Total direct costs of a pilot research project may not exceed $100,000 over two (2) years.
  • The maximum duration of a pilot research project is two (2) years.
    • NIH does not allow Primate Research Center base grant funds to be carried forward to the subsequent year for the base grant (unlike with other NIH awards, e.g., R01s). One-year pilot studies must be completed within the year of funding, and 2-year pilot studies must be completed within 2 years of funding.
  • Funds awarded in support of pilot research may be used for SNPRC goods and services.
    • Animals and animal care costs (including per diem)
    • Animal research procedures conducted by SNPRC personnel
    • SNPRC-provided laboratory services
  • Funds awarded in support of pilot research may not be used to cover costs of supporting laboratory personnel, supplies, or work carried out at off-site locations.

Application Format

Applications must adhere to the PHS 398 format, with the following exceptions: (under "exceptions to the PHS 398 Instructions").

  • Instructions for completing PHS 398 can be found in the PDF file at this link: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.pdf
    • The organization of content in the Research Plan is explained in detail in section 5.5.
      • Sections that are not applicable to the proposed pilot study (e.g., Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report, Protection of Human Subjects, Inclusion of Women and Minorities, Planned Enrollment Report, Inclusion of Children, Select Agent Research, Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan, Consortium/Contractual Arrangements, Letters of Support (e.g., Consultants), Resource Sharing Plan(s)) must be identified as such. That is: the section header should be included and followed by the text string “Not applicable.”

Exceptions to the PHS 398 Instructions

  • The Other Support sub-section of the Biographical Sketch must also include a list of all previous pilot study awards received by the applicant from any source.
  • A copy of the budget developed by SNPRC Veterinary Resources staff must be attached to (immediately after) the PHS 398 Budget for the Entire Proposed Period.
  • The text of the Research Plan is limited to a maximum of eight (8) pages.
  • At the end of the Research Plan (and within the 8 page limit) the applicant must include at least one (1) paragraph detailing a) the applicant’s plan for using the results of the proposed pilot study in a future application for funding (NIH preferred) in support of research using nonhuman primates, or b) how the results of the pilot study (data, models, technologies, etc.) will enhance the value of nonhuman primates for future research by others.
    • This information is factored into the assessment of the likelihood that the present application, if funded, will lead to successful leveraging.

Resubmissions: Notes and Additional Requirements

  • A previously reviewed, but unfunded, pilot research application may be resubmitted only once.
  • An Introduction to the Application, not to exceed 1 page in length, must precede the Specific Aims in the Research Plan.
    • In the Introduction, the applicant should outline weaknesses identified in the earlier review and indicate if and how the applicant has revised her/his proposal to address them. The applicant also should identify and succinctly justify any other substantive changes to the earlier research plan.
  • Revised/New text in a resubmitted application must be distinguished by using a different font (we recommend Palatino 11-pt or Palatino Linotype 11-pt to set off revised/new text from the Arial or Helvetica 11-pt base font).

Submitting an Application to the Pilot Research Program

Several forms must be submitted prior to submitting the pilot study grant application.

Letter of Intent

Prior to submitting an application to the Pilot Research Program, the applicant must submit a letter of intent (due date provided in calls-for-applications). The Program Coordinator and members of the SNPRC’s Research Advisory Committee use the information provided in the letter of intent to a) ascertain whether the SNPRC could support such a study if funded (based on, e.g., available species, facilities, expertise, etc.) and b) estimate the number and kinds (research expertise) of reviewers that will be required for an effective, efficient, rigorous, and fair review of all proposals.

  • Format: 1 page maximum, Arial or Helvetica 11-pt font, single-spaced.
  • Required information:
    • A brief statement of the objective and significance of the intended pilot research
    • A brief synopsis of the intended research plan (including expected duration)
    • A brief statement regarding the role that results from the intended pilot research will play in the support of future applications for research funding
    • A brief explanation regarding how the intended study does not overlap the applicant’s currently funded research
    • Statement/Evidence that the applicant has submitted a Veterinary Resources Request form (see immediately below)

Veterinary Resources Request Form This form informs the SNPRC Research Resources staff of the investigator’s plans and needs so that they can develop work with the investigator to develop the budget for the pilot study.

  • The applicant is reminded that the forms with the budget prepared by the SNPRC staff must be submitted with the application.
  • To ensure that this estimate can be made in time for it to be included in the application, the applicant must submit the Research Resources Request Form at the same time as the Letter of Intent.
  • The form can be found at http://www.txbiomed.org/primate-research-center/contact/snprc-resources-request.

Submission Instructions (Letters of Intent and Completed Applications)

  • Letters of Intent and Completed applications should be sent as PDF files attached to an e-mail addressed to Dr. Michael C. Mahaney, the current Leader of the SNRPC Pilot Research Program at mmahaney@txbiomedgenetics.org. Investigators are requested to please cc these documents and all other correspondence related to the Pilot Study Funding Program to Ms. Deborah E. Newman as well at dnewman@txbiomedgenetics.org.

Evaluation of Proposals


Each proposal is critiqued and scored by at least three (3) reviewers. Two (2) of the three are members of the SNPRC Research Advisory Committee (RAC), selected by the Program Leader based on correspondence between their research expertise, experience, and/or interests and aims and/or research design components of the proposal. Additional reviewers are external to and not affiliated with the SNPRC. They are subject matter experts with a record of successful research, including NIH funding and publications, directly relevant to (but not in competition with) the proposed study.


Pilot study proposals are evaluated according to guidelines and nine-point scoring rubric used in reviews of research proposals submitted to the NIH (where 1 is the “best” score and 9 is the “worst”). Each reviewer’s critique includes evaluations of a proposal’s 1) Significance, 2) Innovation, 3) Approach, 4) Investigator(s), and 5) Environment. An added, 6th component of the critique is the reviewer’s opinion of the proposal’s potential for facilitating future research. Based on her/his assessments of these six (6) factors, the review provides an assessment of the proposed study’s Overall Impact, also assigning it a score between 1 and 9. Each reviewer completes written critiques of the assigned proposals and presents these critiques during a meeting attended by all the RAC reviewers where all proposals are discussed. Following the discussion of a proposal, each committee member assigns an Overall Impact score proposal is scored (secretly) assigned by each committee member. After the meeting, the Program Leader ranks the proposals based on their mean Overall Impact scores and submits the results of the process to the SNPRC Director.

Funding Decision

The review committee is advisory to the SNPRC Director, who makes the final determination for funding.

Information for Funded Pilot Research Projects

Funding Level

As indicated in the Program Guidelines section above, the funding level is capped at $100,000 for two (2) years ($50 per year). All funds must be expended for Primate Research Center goods and services. Funds provided and budgeted by the Pilot Study Program will not support lab personnel, supplies, or any work carried out at off-site locations. Funds awarded to a pilot study can be used to cover only costs associated with animals (including per diems), procedures, and lab services provided by core SNPRC personnel.

Duration of Funding

Also, as indicated above, NIH does not allow Primate Research Center base grant funds to be carried forward to the subsequent year for the base grant (unlike with other NIH awards, e.g., R01s). One-year pilot studies must be completed within the year of funding, and 2-year pilot studies must be completed within 2 years of funding. Please plan your protocol accordingly. We suggest that you plan to initiate animal work on the date that funding will be made available and to complete all work with animals at least 3 months before the end of the grant to allow for unanticipated interruptions or delays.

Progress Reports

Pilot studies with 2-year durations are informally assessed at the end of the first year to ensure that adequate progress is being made. Following a discussion with the award recipient, the assessment will be made by the Pilot Study Program Leader. The Program Leader will communicate this assessment to the SNPRC Director with a recommendation regarding the continuation of the study into the second year. The SNPRC Director makes the final decision regarding continuation or discontinuation of funding.

Within 1 year after the completion of a pilot study, the investigator is required to provide the following information to the Program Leader:

  • A brief abstract of accomplishments
  • Copies of any publications that arose from the pilot research
  • Details of any grant applications that arose from the pilot research
  • Details of any ongoing research projects that were enhanced by the pilot research

The Program Leader will request updated information from each investigator annually, until such time as the investigator reports that no additional publications or grant applications are expected as a consequence of the pilot study.
Timelines, Deadlines, and Funding Dates

Depending on available funding, the SNPRC calls for pilot study proposals one (1) or two (2) times per year. When there are 2 funding cycles, the submission deadlines typically are in late June and/or late December. Reviews are usually conducted within 6-8 weeks after a cycle’s submission deadline. This timing allows the SNPRC to notify a successful applicant in time to begin the pilot study on or before May 1 or November 1 for funding cycles 1 and 2, respectively.

Calls for Applications

Announcements regarding the dates for the future submission/review cycles will be published at this website and in the SNPRC's newsletter, The Roundup. Additionally, calls for applications will be send by e-mail to the other NIH-funded Primate Research Centers, institutions belonging to the Association of Independent Research Institutes (AIRI), US medical and dental schools with NIH-supported investigators, and university departments at which previous award recipients were based.  If you would like to be placed on an e-mail list to receive future Pilot Research Program announcements form the SNPRC, please contact the Pilot Research Program Coordinator, Dr. Michael C. Mahaney (mmahaney@txbiomedgenetics.org) by e-mail (please cc all requests to Ms. Deborah E. Newman at dnewman@txbiomedgenetics.org

The next competitive submission will be for the Winter 2014/2015 review cycle (2015, Cycle 1).  The planned due date for submissions will be in mid-December 2014.  Specific dates and timelines, plus guidelines, for that competition will be published here at least three months before the submission deadline.