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Five Tips to Securing a CCTSI Pilot Grant

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Written by Debra Szuster, MS on December 14, 2021

The CCTSI Pilot Grant Program is probably the best-known of our CCTSI offerings. Yet, word on the street is that securing a pilot grant can be challenging. These one-year awards are certainly competitive—and we believe they are essential to catalyzing and accelerating translational research in Colorado. Our goal is to enable junior investigators, technology-experienced scientists and community-collaborative researchers to jumpstart their ideas, generate data, develop technologies for larger grants, clinical trials and ultimately improve patient care and public health.

Debra Szuster, MS

The application, review and award processes are designed to be transparent. We aim to help our researchers refine their skills in grantsmanship and build new collaborations. So, what does it take to prepare a successful CCTSI pilot grant application? We hope these five tips will increase your odds of success.

1.     Read the entire RFA and attend informational calls. The RFA is a comprehensive document that contains all the information you need to create a complete application. If you have questions, attend the pre-submission informational calls and contact the CCTSI Pilot Grant team for help well in advance.  We want to fund great science, and we don’t want to triage a great project just because the applicant did not follow directions in the RFA.

2.     Apply early! Waiting until the last minute to apply can lead to unnecessary complications and frustration. With enough advance notice, our administrative team can often catch ambiguities or errors and have enough time to help you make corrections. If you are unfamiliar with finding or navigating the online application system, ask for help well in advance of the deadline. Give yourself the gift of time!

3.     Benefit from existing research infrastructure. No one can have all the scientific, technological and administrative expertise. Build your collaborative team of experts with complementary expertise. Explore Colorado PROFILES. Also, the CCTSI and Affiliated Institutions offer unprecedented research infrastructure in the form of Clinical Translational Research Centers, biostatistical expertise, State-of-the-Art Technology Cores and Protocol Submission/ Regulatory Compliance Support. Let’s build great Team Science!

Natalie Serkova, PhD

4.     Think like a reviewer. Read the reviewer's scoring criteria in the RFA so you know what the reviewers will be looking for in your application: innovation, great science and translational significance are the key. Follow the formatting instructions, especially about including your project’s title and names and affiliations of investigators on the very first page. This helps set the context for the environment and expertise supporting your proposal. Use language that can be understood by expert reviewers as well as reviewers who may not have an exactly similar background as you but could be scoring your application.

5.     Give us feedback and share your success stories! We would like to continue to improve our Pilot Grant Program application process, review panel, award management, tools and communications. Most importantly, we want to know how our Pilot Grant Awards helped further your research endeavors! Always remember to Cite the CCTSI Grant on all of your publications.

Topics: Funding, Pilot Award