Pilot Project Proposals and Guidelines

Call for Pilot Projects  

We invite applications from scientists at Dartmouth and in IDeA institutions to conduct a pilot research study in molecular epidemiology in collaboration with faculty in our Center for Molecular Epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.  

Three types of awards for a one-year project are available, as shown in the table below. A fast-track option is available for qualifying projects, with more information below.

Type of Award Goal Max Funds
1 Early Career/New Investigator Award mentored by one or more experienced Center investigators To expedite progress of new recruits and new or early-career investigators at Dartmouth to extramural grant support & independence $50K
2 Multi-PI Award led by two or more faculty members To facilitate novel collaborations among mid or senior-career stage investigators leading to mult-PI interdisciplinary program or center grants $65K
3 Multi-Institution Collaboration Award led by two or more faculty at Dartmouth & another IDeA state institution To catalyze the establishment of innovative multi-institution research programs $85K

Note: total costs for the entire project must not exceed the max funds for each award. This includes both direct costs and institutional indirect costs (F&A) if applicable. 


  • Letters of Intent due: June 14, 2024 
  • Notification of outcome and invitations for full proposals will be sent by: June 21, 2024 
  • Full proposals will be due by: July 31, 2024 
  • Anticipated start date of project will be October 1, 2024

General areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Discovery of biomarkers of disease susceptibility, severity and/or progression
  • Identification of molecular markers that inform the prevention, management, or treatment of disease
  • Identification of environmental, genetic, or epigenetic risk factors of disease
  • Studies of associations between the human microbiome and exposures and/or health outcomes
  • Molecular typing for tracking pathogens in populations
  • Biostatistical methods for addressing complex (e.g., high-dimensional, multi-comic) data types
  • Biostatistical approaches to reducing biases in observational molecular epidemiological studies
  • Identification of markers of heterogeneous cell subsets
  • Studies that advance precision health

Project Eligibility Criteria 

  1. Research projects will address one or more themes in our Center:
    * Applying state-of-the-art scientific discoveries and technologies to address major health concerns
    * Identifying early indicators of disease pathogenesis
    * Exploring common pathways of disease etiology and progression 
  1. Human Subjects approval will be in progress or in place 
  1. The proposed project will lead to an external grant submission 
  1. The project uses the Biorepository Core, if appropriate 
  1. The project includes a plan for stakeholder engagement. 

Projects that address health disparities within these themes will be welcomed.  

Pilot project funds are intended for supporting research projects only. Projects focused on infrastructure are not eligible.  

Projects are generally for one-year but a further year may be funded upon successful application with the expectation that year one milestones have been met.  

Investigator Eligibility Criteria 

  1. At the time that NIH approval of the pilot project is sought, the principal investigator (PI) or at least one PI for multiple-PI projects should be a faculty member at Dartmouth College or Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. For collaborations with external institutions, all PIs should hold faculty appointments in their home institution. 
  1. Research scientists, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and proposals to fund a PhD are not eligible. 
  1. Individuals who currently hold pilot or project funds from a Dartmouth or other institution’s COBRE are not eligible. 
  1. Investigators may only make one application as PI in any one cycle.  

Fast Track applications 

Calls for applications will generally fall within designated pilot project cycles but the Center has an open call for high-risk, high-reward project applications that are time-critical and so require a fast-track. These applications may be in any of the award types described above and applicants will make a clear case for why their project requires rapid funding. Eligible projects will have expedited review (within 4 weeks).   

Letter of Intent (LOI) 

The LOI should include: 

  • Full name, affiliation, and email address of the project lead 
  • Names and affiliations of co-investigators if applicable 
  • Names and affiliations of mentor(s) (Early Career/New Investigator Award only) 
  • Type of award 
  • Project title 
  • A statement of alignment with Center themes 
  • Specific aims (1-page maximum) 
  • IRB approval place/date if approved; submission place/date if pending; if not approved or pending, IRB submission timeline 
  • Plan for the use of Biorepository and/or other Cores 
  • Brief plan for stakeholder engagement (optional for LOI) 
  • Project lead’s biosketch (Early Career/New Investigator Award only) 

Full Application Submission 

Applicants will submit the required NIH form pages (found here):  

  • Face page (signed by institutional official once approved by the Center) 
  • Specific aims (1-page maximum) 
  • Project summary 
  • Project narrative 
  • Research strategy (5 pages maximum) 
  • Budget and justification (for internal use only) 
  • Biosketch of all investigators 
  • Human subjects protection section 
  • IRB approval 
  • Human subjects education certification (unless the project is human subjects exempt) 
  • Targeted/planned enrollment table (unless the project is human subjects exempt) 
  • GCP training certification (if the project is a clinical trial) 

Submitting LOIs and Full Proposals
These should be emailed to: epi.pilots@dartmouth.edu 

Questions and inquiries
These can be emailed to: epi.pilots@dartmouth.edu 

Post-award matters
Pilot project leaders are members of the Center of Molecular Epidemiology and will be supported scientifically and administratively. Pilot project leaders will identify two or more mentors who will support their career development. Pilot leaders will be informed about Center seminars and events and invited to present their research at Research in Progress seminars during the period of their award. It is expected that pilot projects will lead to the submission of an R01 (or equivalent) proposal, and grant-writing support will be provided.  Any changes in funding are to be approved by the Center Director (Dr. Margaret Karagas) in writing. Unused funds will be transferred back to the COBRE.    

Full details of support available and expectations will be provided and discussed when the award begins.  

Center Leadership and Contact Information
Director and Principal Investigator: Dr. Margaret Karagas
Directors of Pilot Projects Program: Dr. Annie Hoen and Dr. Janet Peacock
Director of Biorepository: Dr. Brock Christensen
Administrator: Alexa Garcia
Contact: epi.pilots@dartmouth.edu