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Pilot Project Funding Opportunities

Updated: October 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 Institute for Healthy Aging
Martha Clare Morris Emerging Investigator Award
The Martha Clare Morris Emerging Investigator Award aims to fund early-career investigators focusing on dietary research and cognitive aging. This program aims to provide newly independent investigators with funding that will allow them to develop preliminary or pilot data, test procedures, and develop hypotheses. The intent is to support early-career development that will lay the groundwork for future research grant applications to federal or other funding entities. More information 
Application Due
Chicago Chronic Condition Equity Network (C3EN)
Research Project Pilot Grant Program
The Chicago Chronic Condition Equity Network (C3EN) coordinates a Research Project Pilot Grant Program that aims to expand and cultivate the network of health disparities researchers throughout the Chicago region. Its goal is to provide early stage investigators with funding to obtain compelling pilot data that they can leverage to establish and sustain an NIH-funded program of health disparities research. The C3EN Investigator Development Core will also provide grantees with mentorship from experienced investigators, access to the research infrastructure at both University of Chicago and Rush University Medical Center, and ongoing methodological and biostatistical consultation. More information 
Application Due
Chicago Chronic Condition Equity Network (C3EN)
Small Grant Program
The Chicago Chronic Condition Equity Network (C3EN) aims to expand and cultivate the network of health disparities researchers throughout the Chicago region. In addition to funding Research Project Pilot Studies (see companion funding announcement), C3EN awards small grants of up to $3,000 to support well-defined formative and summative research activities that strengthen community partnerships around health disparities research. Formative research activities such as community needs assessments, key informant interviews, and analyses of existing data can help an investigator identify the most appropriate targets and strategies for intervention, and refine aspects of a study protocol that bear on feasibility (e.g., recruitment approaches). Similarly, summative research activities ultimately enhance the impact of a completed research project by examining its implications for the community in which it was conducted. Summative research activities such as producing infographics or summaries of study findings, giving community presentations, or holding roundtable discussions serve to bring the research process back to the community “full circle”. Formative and summative research activities are generally narrow in scope, but can significantly enhance the rigor and relevance of community-engaged research programs. More information
Rolling basis


Daiichi Sankyo Daiichi Sankyo Sponsored Research Researchers affiliated with universities and research institutions, who have ideas which may lead to drug discovery. The program is not open to undergraduate or graduate students. Research Budget: up to $230,000 for one year including overhead/indirect costs Term: 1-3 years. Successful program(s) will be considered for staging into collaborative research. More information Rolling application (until March 2024)
Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM)
National COVID Cohort Collaborative N3C
The Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM) listened to its researchers’ needs for resources to access a National Institutes of Health (NIH) big data platform with nearly 8 million COVID-19 case studies, and teams can now apply for up to 250 hours of data analyst services that the ITM will pay for in full.
Teams that otherwise wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the NIH’s National COVID Cohort Collaborative N3C tool will be able to do so without needing someone with data analysis experience on their immediate team.
The funding opportunity is open to all ITM institutions: UChicago, RUSH, Loyola University Chicago, Advocate Aurora Health, NorthShore University HealthSystem, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. More information
Applications Due
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