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Trainee Pilot Award

These awards provide up to $25,000 over one year to support research trainees as they build a solid research foundation that will help them obtain the most prestigious fellowship or grant possible following the project. The pilot project should be part of a long-term plan to become an independent investigator and should focus on translational science, which aims to understand a scientific or operational principle underlying a step of the translational process with the goal of developing generalizable principles to accelerate translational research. 


 All University of Rochester predoctoral students, fellows, postdocs, and residents are eligible to apply. Faculty members are not eligible to serve as principal investigators for Trainee Pilot awards.

Funding Amount

These awards provide up to $25,000 over one year.

Important Dates

The following dates apply to the most recent solicitation:

  • Release date – July 24, 2023
  • Abstracts due – September 11, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Notification of full proposal invitations – November 6, 2023
  • Full proposals​ due – January 8, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.
  • Notifications of award​ – March 1, 2024
  • Anticipated start date – July 1, 2024

The Pilot Studies Funding Attestation must be submitted with the initial abstract and full proposal.

Note: All animal and human subject protocols must be approved by NCATS, the NIH institute funding the UR CTSI, prior to the start date. No funds for research project costs may be released until all required human subjects and animal welfare approvals have been received.


If you have questions regarding this RFA, please contact one of the following.

General inquiries 

Mary Little,, (585) 275-0653

Scientific and Peer Review 

OJ Sahler, MD, 

Edward Schwarz, PhD,

Financial inquiries 

Mary Lyons,


Solicitation and Review Process

Phase 1: Applicants submit one-page abstracts summarizing their proposals. A UR CTSI Review Committee composed of selected experts will evaluate, score and discuss the abstracts.

Phase 2: A subset of applicants will be invited to submit full proposals. The UR CTSI Review Committee will engage in a formal study section-style discussion and scoring meeting for trainee proposals. Funding recommendations go to the UR CTSI Executive Team for final approval.

View the 2023-2024 RFA for the Trainee Pilot Award
CTSI Cost Sharing Information
CTSI Signoff Form 11/202

Awardees and Projects

Current Projects

Positive deviance and health literacy: Underexplored constructs for successful translational science
Lindsay Batek, N.D., B.S.N., R.N.

Mentor: James McMahon, Ph.D.

Remote assessments in pediatric patients with congenital and childhood onset myotonic dystrophy type 1
Stella Deng, M.D.

Mentor: Johanna Hamel, M.D.

Past Projects

Tendon-targeted delivery of peptide-functionalized nanoparticles to improve healing
Emmanuela Adjei-Sowah, M.S.

Mentor: Danielle Benoit, Ph.D., and Alayna Loiselle, Ph.D.

Investigating white matter fiber pathways supporting motor function before and after neurosurgery
Frank E. Garcea, Ph.D.
Mentor: Webster Pilcher, M.D., Ph.D.

Controlled Delivery of Periodontal Ligament Cells for in Vivo Tissue Regeneration
David Fraser, D.D.S.

Mentor: Danielle Benoit, Ph.D.

Identifying Novel Biomarkers To Optimize Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy for Dystonia Patients
Angela Hewitt, M.D., Ph.D.
Mentor: Jonathan Mink, M.D., Ph.D.

Identifying Biomarkers Predictive of Right Heart Failure in Left Ventricular Assist Device Patients​
Alan Brooks, M.D., Ph.D.

Mentors: Eric Small, Ph.D., Jeffrey Alexis, M.D., and Ilan Goldenberg, M.D.

Transcriptional regulation of neural circuit formation in Intellectual Disabilities​
Carlos Diaz-Balzac, M.D., Ph.D.

Mentor: Douglas Portman, Ph.D.

MRI and Cognitive Changes with Radiation Exposure of the Limbic System
Sara Hardy, M.D.

Mentor: Michelle Janelsins-Benton, Ph.D.

Regulation of human erythroid self-renewal and differentiation by PRC1
Jayme Olsen

Mentor: James Palis, M.D.

Fingerprinting the most curable leukemia: a step toward de-escalation of therapy
Carol Fries Simpson, M.D.

Hematology/Oncology Fellow

Platelet dysregulation by antiretroviral drugs and HIV-comorbid disease
Shannon Loelius
Graduate student in the Department of Immunology, Microbiology and Virology

The influence of brain food reward system on the development of obesity
Ying Meng, Ph.D., R.N., A.C.N.P.
Assistant Professor of Nursing

Visual cortex plasticity and white matter changes associated with GH and IGFI
David Paul, M.D.
Neurology Resident

Using Gene Networks to Translate Bone Quality into Novel Osteoporosis Therapies

Michael-John Beltejar
Graduate student in the Department of Genetics, Development and Stem Cells

Patient-reported Outcomes for Patients Undergoing Aortic Valve Replacement
Jeffrey Bruckel, M.D., M.P.H.

Cardiovascular Disease Fellow

Cigarette Smoke Impairs the Anti-Viral Response to Influenza A Virus
Parker Duffney, Ph.D.

Graduate student in the Department of Toxicology

Importance of Axonal Injury and Inflammation in the Acute Phase of Mild TBI
Adnan Hirad

MD-PhD candidate in Medicine and Translational Biomedical Science

Neutrophils as a driver of inflammation in lupus bone marrow

Anna Bird
Graduate Student in the Department of Medicine (Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology)
Mentors: Jennifer Anolik, Minsoo Kim, and Jane Liesveld

Specialized proresolving mediators act as novel therapeutics against infection

Amanda Croasdell
Medical Student

Comparative effectiveness of screening methods for type 2 diabetes: a pilot study
Daniela Geba

PhD Candidate

Novel pro-resolving lipid mediators reduce cigarette smoke-induced emphysema
Hsi-min (Jim) Hsiao, B.S., M.S.

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Intraparenchymal Stent for Obstructive Hydrocephalus (IPSOH): A Novel Technology
Jonathan Stone, B.A., M.D.


Developing an age-specific decision scheme for prehospital triage of injured older adult
Courtney Jones

PhD Candidate (Epidemiology), Public Health Sciences

Examining the link between allostatic load and depressive symptoms among the elderly
Roni Kobrosly, M.P.H.

PhD Candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences (Epidemiology)