Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program

Overview and Purpose

The Pilot and Feasibility Grants are a component of the NIH Common Fund Metabolomics Program. Their purpose is to promote the use of metabolomics in the broader research community via collaboration with Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Resource Centers (RCMRCs) across the nation, including ours, RC-SIRM at the University of Kentucky. They are specifically designed to support projects that will provide preliminary data for new extramural grant applications that incorporate metabolomics into new areas of biomedical research. The expected outcome is to enhance the use of metabolomics in the broader research community and to foster collaborations and partnerships with the Center.


The RC-SIRM at University of Kentucky provides extensive collaborative services and unique capabilities for metabolomics, with a strong emphasis on stable isotope resolved metabolomics (SIRM). The goal of the Pilot and Feasibility Program is to promote the use of metabolomics in translational research projects by providing analytical support for investigators – both new to and experienced in the metabolomics field – in the area of SIRM studies. SIRM requires experimental design, sample preparation, analyses, data processing, and biochemical interpretation that have unique challenges. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss potential projects with the RC-SIRM staff, in order to generate an appropriate study design that uses SIRM to address metabolic questions of pathways, networks, flux, apportionment of specific carbon, nitrogen, and other atoms (such as one-carbon metabolism, source of hydride in NADPH, etc.), and other areas that require SIRM technologies. Matching funds from other sources are encouraged. Data reduction and interpretation is usually extensive, and requires specialized knowledge and software tools. Various levels of assistance can be provided as appropriate.

Eligibility and Criteria

  • Any researcher who is eligible to apply as a Principal Investigator (PI) for NIH funding may apply.
    • In rare cases, a statement of such eligibility from the institution may be requested.
    • Early career investigators who are new to the field of metabolomics are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • The same project or a similar project with the same scope may not be submitted to multiple RCMRCs.
  • NIH application guidelines and review guidelines will be followed.
  • Applications with the following emphases are encouraged:
    • Development of collaboration and/or scientific partnership with the Center.
    • Demonstration of benefits to investigators; plans for future NIH grant applications are required.
    • Inclusion of metabolomics training, especially in experimental design and sample collection.
    • Demonstrated experimental need for metabolomics especially with tracer methodology.
  • "Feasibility" and "Pilot" applications are both encouraged.
    • Applications should clearly state which type, in order to provide the proper context for review:
      • A "feasibility" application proposes a metabolomic analytical survey to assess detection limits, tracer uptake or incorporation, biological specimen size, and/or other factors, which are required in order to design robust studies.
      • A "pilot" application presumes adequate feasibility determined via discussion with RC-SIRM staff, and seeks to utilize the expertise and capabilities of RC-SIRM to conduct preliminary studies with a clear experimental design; these will have larger budget request than feasibility applications.
  • Since the duration of the award is one year, it is critical that samples be submitted within the first 6 months of the award.
    • A September award means samples must be submitted by the following February due to the lengthy data processing steps for SIRM work, and also typically extremely full analytical schedule of the RC-SIRM.
  • Participation in certain RC-SIRM events, such as the "gloves-on, gloves-off" Workshop, is required, and registration and accommodation costs must be included in the budget (see below).
    • The Workshop duration is one week of gloves-on laboratory followed by one week of gloves-off (data processing), and is scheduled to start the final week of July (exact date TBA).
  • Applications that seek to complete ongoing studies or obtain bridge funds will be considered non-responsive.

Public Deposition Requirement

A Data Sharing Plan is mandatory.

Funding Level and Period

  • Up to $50,000 in metabolomics services only, provided by the RC-SIRM.
  • The funding period is 12-months.
  • No funds of any type will be transferred to the applicant institution.

Projected Start Date

The earliest projected start date is September 1, 2018, approximately four weeks following conclusion of the mandatory Workshop attendance.

Contact Information

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact us for application development.


Application format and budgetary issues concerns are stated below. We strongly urge PIs to contact the RC-SIRM to discuss specific aims and budgetary specifics early in the process to avoid being triaged for non-compliance.


The next application deadline is March 16, 2018.


  • Applications must be prepared using standard NIH PHS398 forms (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html).
    • Face pages, Budget and Budget Justification must be on PHS398 forms. Budgets must be carefully developed in consultation with RC-SIRM.
  • The 5-page format should include (with suggested lengths):
    • Specific Aims with Hypothesis (1 page or less)
    • Background and Significance (1 page or less)
    • Research Plan (2 pages with timeline/milestones)
      • Both Feasibility and Pilot applications must include a Future Funding section on using results to develop future applications; this will be scored in the review, and lack of such discussion will be considered non-responsive.
    • Budget and Budget Justification (1 page or less).
      • This must be carefully developed in consultation with RC-SIRM
  • The following is not part of the 5-page limit:
    • Bibliography.
    • NIH Biosketches, in the latest format, of all Key Personnel.
  • A mandatory Data Sharing Plan.
  • Use standard NIH font and margin requirements:
    • Use an 11pt Arial font in black.
      • A Symbol font may be used to insert Greek letters or special characters; the font size and color requirement still applies.
    • Type density, including characters and spaces, must be no more than 15 characters per inch. Line spacing may be no more than six lines per inch. Use standard paper size (8 ½" x 11).
    • Use at least one-half inch for all margins for all pages. No information should appear in the margins.
    • Rules at the link above for NIH PHS398 forms supersede any statements here on guidelines.

Budget Guidelines

The funding works similar to a voucher system, only for services provided by the RC-SIRM and cannot be used for anything else.
  • Services can include sample processing, data acquisition, and data processing.
  • No funds are processed through the applicant's institution.
    • Therefore, no support salary for personnel or supplies will be provided.
    • Because no funds will be transferred, no F&A will be permitted.
  • Budgets must take the number of samples, the types of samples, and the types of service required into consideration.
    • Budget justifications must indicate the number of samples, the types of samples, and the types of services required.
  • Registration and accommodation costs for the Workshop must be included in the budget.
    • However, travel is not covered, except to certain RC-SIRM and NIH-approved events.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact us and consult on your budget formulation and its justification.

Delivery Method

Each application must be sent as a single PDF file to rick.higashi@uky.edu.
  • If you do not receive an email confirmation of receipt, please follow up with another email.

Review Process

All applications will go through a three-tiered review and decision process:
  1. Applications will first be reviewed internally by the Center's P&F Review Panel for technical feasibility and compliance to application requirements, PI eligibility, and other specified criteria.
  2. Applicants will then be sent for external review using NIH guidelines and NIH-type review forms & scoring.
  3. Final award decisions will be made by the NIH Metabolomics Program Executive Committee in consultation with NIH staff.

Additional P&F Funding Opportunities

Topic revision: r25 - 17 Jan 2018, HunterMoseley
This site is powered by FoswikiCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding Moseley Bioinformatics Lab? Send feedback