UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)

Pilot & Feasibility Program

The UNC NORC Pilot & Feasibility Program supports 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.

2020-2021 Application Process

NCCU – UNC PARTNERSHIP
SPECIAL CALL FOR PILOT & FEASIBILITY PROGRAM APPLICATIONS
FOR APPLICANTS FROM UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITY BACKGROUNDS

Read the 2020-2021 Call for Proposals

The UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center is collaborating with North Carolina Central University (NCCU) for this special call for P&F Program applications. The primary objective of this call for proposals is to support the development of innovative research in nutrition and obesity at NCCU. This award cycle is specifically designed for researchers from underrepresented minority backgrounds at NCCU to collect preliminary data that supports a grant application for independent research support and published work.

Pre-Proposal. Interested applicants at NCCU must first submit a pre-proposal application and an NIH biosketch by 5:00 PM on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Submit your biosketch as a PDF and complete the online pre-proposal application here. Applicants are encouraged to identify a mentor at UNC in advance of preparing the pre-proposal application. The UNC NORC Internal Advisory Committee will evaluate the pre-proposal applications and notify applicants no later than Wednesday, December 16. Selected investigators will be invited to submit a full proposal for final consideration by 5:00 PM on Monday, February 15, 2021. Funding for successful applications will begin as early as late March 2021. For more information about the application process, please contact Dr. John Easterbrook.

Full Proposal. Detailed instructions will be provided to selected investigators invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are limited to five pages and must follow the general format of an NIH exploratory / developmental research grant (R21). 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

Project Criteria

P&F Program pilot 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 or human obesity projects may focus on inpatient or outpatient studies or on epidemiological or community-based research that is social or behavioral in nature. To support their P&F projects, investigators are strongly encouraged to use one or more of the services offered by the four UNC NORC cores. Applications will be considered for all areas of nutrition and/or obesity research with an emphasis on the following interdisciplinary approaches to solving problems in nutrition/obesity research:

  • Basic Science and Fundamentals of Nutrition and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Chronic Diseases in Populations
  • Precision Nutrition: Metabolic Responses, Metabolic Variation, and Requirements for Nutrients
  • Understanding and Changing Diet- and Obesity-Related Behavior

Symposium

The UNC NORC Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Program presents a virtual symposium, “From Pilot Data to Federal Funding: Lessons from Pilot and Feasibility Program Award Winners,” on Thursday, March 11, 2021 from 2:00 – 4:00 PM ET. Registration is required for Zoom details.

The symposium will feature keynote speaker and P&F awardee Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen and presentations from P&F award winners Dr. Kyle S. Burger, Dr. Rachel W. Goode, Dr. Abbie Smith-Ryan, and Dr. Maya Styner. Speakers will discuss their current research, their experiences as a P&F awardee, and their transition from gathering pilot data to securing federal funding. Click here for the symposium program.


P&F Awardees

Since the inception of the program in 1999, the UNC NORC P&F Program has awarded $2.7 million to 68 unique investigators in 29 departments to support new and innovative research in nutrition and obesity. Based on their P&F pilot data, our awardees have received over $51 million in external research support. The majority of this external funding ($47.2 million) has been awarded from the National Institutes of Health. Awardees have published more than 290 articles and 230 abstracts based on pilot data generated as part of their P&F projects.

 

2020-21 Awardees

Xue Bai, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Project: GRAF1 Regulates Brown and Beige Fat Formation and Function

Grace Shearrer, PhD
Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Project: The Impact of Attentional Bias and Network Brain Connectivity during Food Advertisements Exposure on Eating in the Absence of Hunger

2019-20 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

2018-19 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

2017-18 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 Determinants on the Physiological Response to Exercise: A Sex Evaluation

2016-17 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 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. Raz Shaikh

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

  • Co-Director, Pilot & Feasibility 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