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UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)
Pilot & Feasibility Program

The primary objective of the Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program is to support the development of innovative research in nutrition and obesity. The program is specifically designed to help investigators collect preliminary data sufficient enough to support a grant application for independent research support and published work.

Call for 2020-2021
Pilot & Feasibility Pre-Proposals

Project Criteria

Pilot & Feasibility (P&F) projects may be biomedical, epidemiological, or clinical. They may include laboratory or non-laboratory research projects that focus either on human nutrition, animal work that could be translated to human nutrition, or basic research related to nutrition or obesity. Human nutrition projects may focus on inpatient or outpatient studies or on epidemiological or community-based research that is social or behavioral in nature.

Applicant Eligibility

Postdoctoral scholars and faculty members at UNC-CH are eligible to apply. In addition, investigators eligible for P&F funding must fall into one of the following three categories: (1) Applicants must be new investigators without current or past NIH research support (R01, P01 or R24) as a PD/PI. Current or past K01 awards are acceptable; or (2) Applicants must be established, funded investigators with no previous work in nutritional sciences and/or obesity and who wish to test the applicability of their expertise to a nutritional science and/or obesity-related problem; or (3) Applicants must be established investigators in nutrition/obesity research who propose testing innovative ideas that represent a clear departure from their ongoing research interests.

Funding

The NORC funds for 1-2 year grants of approximately $40,000 in total direct costs. The actual amount of the award and number of awards made will depend upon the quality of the proposals received and the availability of funding. Expenditures may begin at any time after the project’s start date (April 1st); however, the entire award should be expended within one year of receipt. Renewal for a second year of funding is possible for meritorious projects that have made appropriate progress during the first year. P&F funding is not intended for the extension of projects for which it would be appropriate to submit a research project grant application. Funds are also not intended to support or supplement ongoing research projects.

Application Process

Pre-Proposals. To apply for funding, please submit a pre-proposal application form and an NIH-style biosketch by the close of business on Monday, December 2, 2019. The pre-proposal should exactly follow the format of the application form. Pre-proposals are limited to one page in Arial 11 point font. Please send the requested documentation to Dr. John Easterbrook. The review committee will evaluate the pre-proposal applications and notify the selected investigators no later than Friday, December 20, 2019. Selected applicants will then be asked to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be due on Friday, February 14, 2020. Funding for successful applications will begin on April 1, 2020. For more information about the P&F program, please contact Dr. Steven H. Zeisel or Dr. S. Raza Shaikh.

Full Proposals. Full proposals are limited to five pages and must follow the general format of an NIH exploratory / developmental research grant (R21). Applicants are required to use PHS 398 grant forms where appropriate. Proposals must be single-spaced and use an approved NIH 11-point font type (Arial, Helvetica, Palatino or Georgia). A complete application package should include the following items:

  • Application Cover Sheet
  • Scientific and Lay Abstracts
  • Research Plan
  • Budget & Budget Justification
  • Biosketch & Other Support
  • Letter(s) of Support

P&F Awardees

Since the inception of the program in 1999, the NORC has awarded $2.3 million to 58 investigators in support of new and innovative research in nutrition and obesity. Based on their P&F pilot data, our awardees have received over $42.2 million in external research support. The majority of this external funding ($39 million) has been awarded from the National Institutes of Health.

Dollars Spent vs. Grant Support Received

Dollars Spent vs. Grant Support Received

2019 Awardees

Flavio Frohlich, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Cell Biology and Physiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurology
Project: Target Engagement of Brain Circuits with Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation as a Function of Blood Glucose Dynamics

Rachel W. Goode, PhD, MPH, MSW
Assistant Professor of Social Work
Project: Reducing Binge Eating to Prevent Weight Gain in Black Women: A Pilot Study

Zoé A. McElligott, PhD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Project: Investigating Adaptation in a Sweet Promoting Neural Pathway

2018 Awardees

Edward Moreira Bahnson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Project: Development of a New Animal Model of Dyslipidemia, Atherosclerosis and Diabetes in Obese Rats

Folami Y. Ideraabdullah, PhD
Assistant Professor of Genetics and Nutrition
Project: Establishing the Collaborative Cross mouse reference population as a model for studying genetic determination of vitamin D status

Rachel W. Goode, PhD, MPH, MSW
Assistant Professor of Social Work
Project: Reducing Binge Eating to Prevent Weight Gain in Black Women: A Pilot Study

Damaris Nadia Lorenzo, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Project: Regulation of Adipose Tissue Metabolism by ankyrin-B

2017 Awardees

Edward Moreira Bahnson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Project: Development of a New Animal Model of Dyslipidemia, Atherosclerosis, and Diabetes in Obese Rats

Jimena Giudice, PhD
Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Project: Alternate Splicing and Nutrient Uptake: Effects on Striated Muscle Homeostasis During Postnatal Development

Damaris Nadia Lorenzo, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology
Project: Regulation of Adipose Tissue Metabolism by ankyrin-B

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Professor of Genetics
Abbie Smith-Ryan, PhD, CSCS, CISSN
Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sports Science
Project: Genetic Detreminants on the Physiological Response to Exercise: A Sex Evaluation

2016 Awardees

Rosa Tamara Branca, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Project: Assessment of Beige Fat Thermogenic Activity and its Contribution to Whole Body Metabolism by Hyperpolarized 129Xe gas MRI and Metabolic Chamber Studies

Natalia Krupenko, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition
Project: Liver Metabolism in CerS6 KO Mice

Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, PhD
Professor, Department of Genetics
Project: Genetic Determinants on the Physiological Response to Exercise: A Sex Evaluation

Jason Kyle Whitmire, PhD
Assistant Professor, Departments of Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology
Project: Consequences of Adipose-T cell Interactions on Long-Term Immunity

Contact Us

Dr. Steven Zeisel

Dr. Steven Zeisel

Steven Zeisel, MD, PhD
Kenan Distinguished Professor,
Nutrition and Pediatrics
2115-A Michael Hooker Research Center
CB# 7461
(919) 843-4731
steven_zeisel@unc.edu

  • Co-Director, Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program
  • Responsible for arranging and coordinating the review process for grant submissions, monitoring project progress and serving as a mentor for awardees
  • Contact for specific questions regarding the P&F program

Dr. S. Raz Shaikh

Dr. S. Raza Shaikh

S. Raza Shaikh, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Nutrition
2203 McGavran-Greenberg Hall
CB# 7461
(919) 843-4348
shaikhsa@email.unc.edu

  • Co-Director, Pilot & Feasibility Grant Program
  • Responsible for arranging and coordinating the review process for grant submissions, monitoring project progress and serving as a mentor for awardees
  • Contact for specific questions regarding the P&F program

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