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The goal of the Research Enhancement Pilot Grant Program is to increase the number of externally-funded research grants held by faculty/research staff members of the CBBRe. External funding provides an infrastructure of research and training excellence that serves the mission of the CBBRe. In order to reach this goal, the Research Enhancement Pilot Grant Program will fund pilot projects to generate data, publications and/or research collaborations that will be used to support external grant applications by CBBRe faculty/research staff members. The ultimate effectiveness of this program will be measured by how successfully these pilot grants are translated into external funding.

Types of Awards

Applicants can apply for one of three types of awards:

  • Collaborative Grant: This application requires at least two principal investigators (PIs) to bring different expertise in addressing an important research problem that has a high success of external funding. At least one of the PIs must be a CBBRe faculty member. Already existing collaborative projects that are externally funded are not eligible for funding under this mechanism.
  • Collaborative Mentoring Grant: This application requires at least two PIs bringing expertise to addressing an important research problem that has high success of external funding, with one of the PIs being a junior/less research experienced investigator and the other being an experienced, externally funded investigator that not only serves as a research collaborator but will mentor the junior investigator in grant writing for external applications. The mentee PI must be a CBBRe faculty/research staff member, while the mentor PI may be CBBRe or non-CBBRe faculty.
  • New Directions Grant: This application requires only one PI, who must be a CBBRe faculty member. The purpose of this award is to support the collection of pilot data for a project that represents a significant change of research direction for an investigator that would greatly increase the ability of the investigator to obtain external funding. How this project represents a new direction for the PI and why this new direction will enhance opportunities to gain external funding must be explicitly stated in the 'statement of relevance' section of the application. Examples include the use of new experimental techniques and/or a project in a field that the PI has not previously published in.

Applicant Eligibility

Any CBBRe faculty/research staff member is eligible to apply to the CBBRe Research Enhancement Pilot Program, but at least one of the PIs on a proposal must be a CBBRe faculty member. View a list of CBBRe faculty members. An individual may submit only one proposal as a PI.

Budget Considerations

The total budget may not exceed $20,000. The budget period may run up to 18 months from the beginning of the project, with June 1, 2021 as the earliest start date. Typical project costs can be budgeted, with the exception of faculty salary and meeting/conference/training travel. Travel directly associated with conducting the project is allowable (e.g. conducting assessment or experiments at another facility or field work). Student, postdoctoral and research associate/staff salaries are also allowable. However, it is expected that faculty be allowed release time to conduct the research.

Application Process

Proposals should be sent as one complete PDF file to on or by March 15.

Review results will be available by mid-April. Start of award date is June 1.

Proposals should consist of the following (in order):

  • Cover page
  • Biographical sketch for all PIs and co-investigators (five pages maximum for each biosketch)
  • List of all grants applied for in the last three years by each PI and status of each grant
  • Budget page
  • Budget justification
  • Introduction to revisions (one page maximum) if a revised proposal
  • Specific aims (one page maximum)
  • Research plan (six pages maximum)
  • References cited
  • Project milestones and future funding plans (one page maximum)
  • Statement of relevance (one page maximum)
  • Progress report if a PI has previously received a CBBRe pilot award (one page maximum)
  • Mentoring plan for Collaborative Mentoring Grants (one page maximum)
  • Letter/s from each PIs departmental chair, confirming time for the PI to conduct the research project

Biographical Sketches (five page limit each): Follow the NIH format for all biosketches.

Introduction to Revisions (one page limit): Investigators resubmitting a proposal already reviewed by this CBBRe program should include a response to the previous reviews, a list of revisions made in response to the previous reviews, and detail where in the proposal these changes can be found.

Specific aims (one page limit): Applicants should briefly describe the aims they will use to test their hypothesis. Aims should be related but not dependent upon each other (i.e. a failure or unexpected results of one aim will not prevent the completion of another).

Research plan (six page limit): This section should conform to the standard NIH style, including significance, innovation and research approach sections. Research goals/hypotheses/specific aims should be clearly stated in the significance section. The research plan should be written at a general neuroscientist or behavioral science level. View instructions for NIH-style biographical sketches and research plans (Application Guide SF424 (R&R) - Adobe Forms Version B Series). Use one-inch margins and no less than 11-point font.

Project milestones and future funding plans (1 page limit): A timeline for completion of project milestones should be provided. Plans and a timeline for obtaining external funding are required.

Statement of relevance (one page limit): Applicants should explicitly state how the proposed research aligns with the goals of the CBBRe. This section should also be used to explain how the proposal fits the criteria for one of the three award types described above. For New Directions Grants, applicants should explain how this project represents a represents a substantially new direction for the PI and why this new direction will enhance opportunities to gain external funding.

Progress report (one page limit for each pilot grant report): PIs who have been awarded CBBRe pilot grant funding in the past should provide a brief progress report for each grant. Details should include the date of award, the budget period, the project milestones/future funding plans as stated in the funded grant, and progress made to date toward these milestones.

Mentoring plan (one page): This section is only required for Collaborative Mentoring Grants. The applicants should provide a brief mentoring plan for the junior/less research-experienced PI that includes a strategy for moving the mentee toward external funding.

Review of Applications

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of neuroscientist and behavioral scientists from the different departments represented within the CBBRe. Therefore, grants should be written for a general scientific audience. Review criteria will include:

  • Quality and feasibility of the research
  • Research expertise or potential of the applicant(s)
  • Potential for external funding
  • Relevance of the project to the CBBRe
  • Relevance of the project to one of the three award types
  • Mentoring plan (if applicable)

Applicants will be notified of review outcomes by mid-April.

Conditions of Award

Funds will not be released until documentation regarding IACUC or IRB approval has been provided, if applicable.

Funds are to be expended during the approved budget period. Requests for a budget extension are to be made to the CBBRe directors 30 days prior to the end budget period. A final progress report is required within 30 days of the end of the budget period.

All resultant publications and presentations should acknowledge funding from the CBBRe.

All resultant applications to external funding agencies must be routed through the University of South Dakota. This is necessary to ensure that indirect costs are directed back to the CBBRe to support the center's activities, including this pilot grant program.

Contact Details

Questions regarding this program can be directed to