Pilot Grant Award Program supports early-stage clinical, translational research

By Amanda Siegfried

A Pilot Grant Award Program offered through UT Southwestern’s Department of Clinical Sciences has facilitated more than 100 early-stage clinical and translational research projects that could lead to further funding for faculty members from outside sources.

In 2007 the National Institutes of Health awarded UT Southwestern a five-year, $34 million grant to establish the North and Central Texas Clinical and Translational Science Initiative (NCTCTSI), a wide-ranging collaborative venture aimed at speeding the transfer of laboratory discoveries to new therapies that improve human health.

Investigators from UT Southwestern and seven other institutions affiliated with the NCTCTSI can apply for the grants, which range from about $10,000 to $125,000. The pilot awards support primarily early-career investigators, such as graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members, but all faculty meeting the criteria are welcome to apply.

To date, more than $3.8 million has been awarded, funding 106 projects. Of those, 87 grants were awarded to 
UT Southwestern and 19 were awarded to other NCTCTSI consortium members.

Funded studies include clinical trials, novel therapeutics, epidemiological studies, outcomes and health-services research, and population science, said Dr. Milton Packer, chairman of clinical sciences.

“The whole idea of the Pilot Grant Award Program is to nurture novel ideas in need of preliminary data. In the absence of this just-in-time support, many great ideas would simply die,” said Dr. Packer, who directs the NCTCTSI. Grant applications for the fall 2009 grant cycle are due by Oct. 15. More information, including forms, procedures and criteria, is available on the clinical sciences department Web site at www.utsouthwestern.edu/ clinicalsciences. Questions can be directed to Kelly Peck in the Department of Clinical Sciences, kelly.peck@ utsouthwestern.edu.

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Dr. Packer holds the Gayle and Paul Stoffel Distinguished Chair in Cardiology.

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