Pilot Project Program (PPP)

The Pilot Project Program (PPP) was the first initiative launched through the UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UMCCTS).  PPP funding is changing the ways UMMS investigators conduct research. Specifically, the Pilot Project Program will:

  • Stimulate the development of new clinical and translational inter- and multidisciplinary teams.
  • Provide support for junior investigators.
  • Promote community-based research.
  • Develop new methodologies to leverage institutional strengths and new initiatives.
  • Pursue high-risk, high reward studies.
  • Support projects utilizing the unique core facilities at the Medical School and throughout the University.
  • Encourage collaboration across the five UMass campuses.

The PPP funds are intended to support operating expenses and salaries. Funds can be used to support salary for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, technicians, clinical coordinators, research nurses and investigator’s percent effort. No more than 50 percent of the award can be used for the purchase of equipment.

Tentative Timeline 2011-2012:

 Request for Letters of Intent

Monday, December 12, 2011
 Letter of Intent Due Friday, January 13, 2012 
 LOI Finalists Notified Friday, February 3, 2012 
 Full Proposals Due Friday, March 2, 2012 
 Full Proposal Finalists Notified Monday, March 26, 2012
 Projected Start Date Monday, April 2, 2012 

For a list of current and prior awards, click here.


The Pilot Project Program (PPP) is open to all UMMS faculty members who are members of the UMCCTS. 

Membership is easy and entails visiting the UMCCTS website and completing the on-line membership form.

Allowable Use of Funds

Individual project awards (up to $100,000 for 1 year; up to $150,000 for two years) will be made on a competitive basis to enable investigators to accelerate the translation of innovative, cutting edge research into:

  • New understanding and/or diagnosis of a disease process;
  • New devices, therapeutics, and vaccines for the treatment and/or prevention of disease;
  • Support for junior investigators;
  • New standards of care in the practice of community medicine;
  • New methodologies to leverage institutional strengths and new initiatives; and/or
  • The pursuit of high-risk, high reward studies

The intent of the funding is to speed up the rate of progress to move a research project, clinical finding or other discovery into a broader network of activities, while maximizing the breadth of interdisciplinary skills applied to the research question.

Criteria for Awards

The following criteria are used to review and evaluate proposals:

  • Intellectual Merit: Projects that include all efforts to enhance the impact of scholarly endeavors on benefiting the human condition, which for the purposes of this fund will include enabling technologies.
  • Inter-Campus Collaboration: Projects that are multi-campus in orientation and involve at least one collaborator from the medical school.
  • Growth Opportunity: Projects that demonstrate the opportunity to be leveraged to attract and secure outside funding from federal, state, industry, foundation and other sources.
  • Campus Commitment: Projects that have the support and explicit endorsement of the campus vice provost for research.
  • Project Leadership: Projects that have a strong presence of leadership by both faculty and administrative staff will be considered for funding.

Application and Review Process

Letters of Intent (LOI) will be solicited from faculty on all the campuses to filter for the extent to which the proposed projects are inter-campus in orientation and significantly linked to the criteria listed above. The UMass CCTS Scientific Review Committee will review the LOIs, and based on the review, select a subset of those for development into full proposals.

Full proposals will be subject to a standard NIH-type study section assessment. Each proposal will be given a primary and secondary reviewer.

LOI Submission Instructions

Describe in two (2) pages or less the work that has motivated you to apply for this particular fund; the collaborating PI(s) and the role of each in the project; and the importance of the collaboration. The LOI review process seeks to make two determinations:

1. That the project is clinical and/or translational in orientation and goals; and

2. That the availability of Pilot Program Project funding would accelerate the translation of innovative, cutting edge clinical research into practice and attract external funding.

3. Email LOI to: Wanda.Depasquale@umassmed.edu - DEADLINE DATE for LOI: Friday, January 13, 2012 by 5:00 PM (EST)

4. Instructions can be downloaded here.

Full Proposal

Research Plan Requirements:

Using an NIH-style proposal format, describe the research plan in ten (10) pages or less (including references).

1. Goals/deliverables

Include a one-paragraph abstract of the project and no more than 10 single-spaced pages outlining the research project background and rationale, specific aims, experimental design and bibliography.

2. Budget (NIH format)

Provide a detailed budget with a breakdown of funding to each campus participating in the research. The maximum funding level is $100,000 in direct costs for a one-year period or $150,000 in direct costs for a two-year period. Resources from this fund may support a variety of needs such as: faculty release time; sabbaticals; travel; hiring of project staff or consultants; salaries for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, technicians, clinical coordinators, research nurses; technology development; and other expenses related to developing such initiatives.

3. Ongoing Funding

Funded investigators are expected to produce a fundable research proposal (for ongoing external funding) as one of the project deliverables. Identify potential extramural funding sources relevant to the proposed work after this funding expires.

4. Collaborators

Include a biosketch for each Principal Investigator (4-page NIH format) and for each collaborator (up to 3 biosketches in addition to the PI). Biosketches are not included in the 10-page limit.

5. Facilities

Include a description of the facilities to be used in the conduct of the research plan.


Sign-up for UMCCTS Membership


  • Pilot grant programs eligibility
  • Research core services
    at competitive rates
  • Electronic resources access at Amherst libraries
  • Medical School Library access
  • Consultation services
  • Notification of special events and opportunities

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