Pilot Project Funding Opportunities

Updated: March 2023


The Pilot Project program is supported through philanthropic committed funding and is designed to provide seed funds for investigator-initiated research. The intent of these pilot grants is to encourage translational research by funding well-designed projects that could be competitive for future larger grants from a federal or private agency.

Archived pilot project RFPs from the past year can be found here.


Funding Source Grant Name Description Deadline
Rush University Medical Center Research Catalyst Award

Applications for bridge funding will be accepted from researchers who have recently received strong, competitive scores on R- or P-type grants from federal granting agencies (e.g. NIH, DOD, NSF, NAS), yet just missed the pay lines. Innovative translational, basic science, clinical, population-based or health services research will be supported. The intent of this program is to support talented investigators who are likely to develop sustainable and impactful research programs by providing resources to bridge intervals in which the investigator does not have federal funding. This program will be periodically evaluated to determine its effectiveness. More information

Rolling basis
Rush Imaging Research Core Pilot Project: MRI-based research projects
The recently established Rush Imaging Research Core (RIRC) offers competitive funding for pilot MRI-based research projects that will utilize RIRC’s state-of-the-art 3 Tesla Siemens Prisma scanner. RIRC’s new MRI scanner is located in the Rubschlager building and is equipped with hardware and software providing advanced, whole-body imaging capabilities.
The proposed principal investigator must hold a faculty appointment at Rush University Medical Center and the award must be administered through Rush. Preference will be given to new and young investigators, and to established investigators entering a new field of research. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) must be an integral component of the research, i.e. the research question cannot be answered without MRI. In general, investigators are only eligible to be funded by this mechanism once. However, investigators may apply for a second pilot project in future years providing the second project represents a new area of research. Clinical trials are not allowable. Awards are not intended to serve as a source of additional funding for existing, externally-funded research programs. More information
Before 5 p.m. CST
Embassy of France in the United States and the FACE Foundation Transatlantic Research Partnership The Transatlantic Research Partnership aims to encourage innovative research and new collaborations, with a view to supporting projects involving researchers at the beginning of their career. Created by the Embassy of France in the United States and the FACE Foundation, the Transatlantic Research Partnership fosters forward-looking collaborative research that addresses pressing global challenges. To this end, the program will support projects related to one or more United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Responsible research and development, socially aware projects aimed at producing meaningful transformations while advancing peer-reviewed foundations for subsequent generations of scholars are all encouraged to apply. The SDG framework offers a broad set of priorities and applicants are expected to clearly demonstrate how their scientific efforts fall into this theme. More information
Application due
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
RUSH Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Request for Developmental Project Applications
The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (Rush ADRC; P30AG072975) is funded by the National Institute on Aging, and, as part of its program, invites applications for developmental projects in Aging, Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (AD/ADRD) research. More information
Application deadline
Orbit Institute
Developing Behavioral Treatments to Improve Heath Course
This course is open to scientists with an interest in behavioral treatment development to improve health behaviors. While applied behavioral and social scientists are the focus, basic scientists and methods experts are encouraged to apply as well.  Any post-graduate investigator (doctoral or terminal degree received) in the medical, behavioral, social, and statistical/methodology sciences who has a demonstrated, pre-existing interest in contributing to investigator teams in developing and testing behavioral treatments is eligible to apply to this course. More information
Application deadline
Swim Across America & Bears Care (Breast Cancer) Cancer Research 

In the interest of providing seed funds to support cancer research at Rush University Medical Center, Swim Across America (SAA) and Bears Care have committed philanthropic funds to support investigator-initiated research. The intent of these grants is to encourage translational research by funding well-designed projects that could be competitive for future larger grants from a federal or private agency. Early-stage investigators, defined as individuals who do not have or have not previously received NIH R01 or equivalent funding, are encouraged to apply.

  • For Swim Across America, applications are being solicited to conduct innovative translational, basic science, or population-based research relevant to the cause, prevention, diagnosis, cure or improved treatment of cancer.
  • For Bears Care, only breast cancer research projects that are new to Bears Care will be considered.
More information
Registration deadline
The Searle Foundation John G. Searle Innovator Awards
The John G. Searle Innovator Awards provide pilot funding for innovative, investigator-initiated research. These awards, generously funded by the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, are designed to encourage translational research by funding well-designed projects that could be competitive for future larger grants from a federal or private agency.  LOIs are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 28. Read more
LOI deadline
Full application by inviation only.
Part of the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program, the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Award (Winn CDA) Career Development Award (Winn CDA) is a 2-year program designed to support the career development of early-stage investigator physicians (as defined by NIH) who are underrepresented in medicine (URM) or who have a demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity in clinical research. The program prepares participants to become independent clinical trial investigators engaged in advancing health equity through their research and mentoring. More information
Application deadline
Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
Rush Faculty Scholars Program
Center (RADC) is pleased to announce the Rush Faculty Scholars Program.  The RADC has generated numerous resources that support dozens of grants at Rush, across the country and around the world. The Rush Faculty Scholars Program will provide two Rush faculty, in partnership with one or more RADC faculty members, funding to leverage RADC resources to support an application for external funding. More information
Application Due