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Center for Modeling Complex Interactions Call for Pilot Grant Proposals

September 19, 2016

UI's Center for Modeling Complex Interactions (CMCI) is now accepting pilot grant proposals. Letters of intent are due Oct. 10; full proposals are due Nov. 15.

CMCI is a NIH-funded COBRE (Center of Biomedical Research Excellence). Its goal is to bring together modelers and empirical scientists to address biomedical problems across all levels of biological organization, from biophysical to ecological.

CMCI will fund one or two pilot grants to begin in 2017. The CMCI Pilot Grant Program fosters research at the University of Idaho in areas that combine modeling with empirical data to address complex problems relevant to human health. The objective of the Pilot Grants Program is to provide faculty with personnel and financial resources to initiate modeling efforts for new research proposals to NIH or other agencies. The maximum allowable request is $80,000 direct costs (plus indirect costs 45.3 percent). Allowable costs are detailed below. Funding is for one year beginning no earlier than Feb. 1 and no later than May 15, 2017. Previously funded CMCI Pilot grants may apply for a second period of funding for the same project on a competitive basis.

Eligibility Criteria
  1. Tenure track and non-tenure track faculty of any rank at UI are eligible to apply for a pilot grant. Collaborative projects are encouraged and co-PIs are allowed. The proposal may be collaborative with individuals at UI or at other institutions. Although non-UI collaborators cannot receive COBRE funds, funds can be used to bring the collaborator to UI.  
  2. Individuals who have served as a project director or had pilot grant funding from any IDeA-related grant in the past three years are not eligible to serve as PIs or co-PIs on CMCI Pilot Grants this year (with the exception noted above for CMCI Pilot Grants). This does not include Technology Access Grants or Modeling Access Grants. Idaho IDeA-related grants include P20RR016448, P20GM103397, P30GM103324, P20RR016454, P20GM103408, P20GM104420 and U54GM104944. Research support must have ended by Jan. 31, 2014 in order to be eligible for CMCI Pilot Grant support.
  3. The research proposed must be consistent with the scientific theme of the Center – modeling complex interactions – and have clear relevance to human health. Proposals outside this field will be deemed unacceptable and will not be sent out for review. To better determine if your project might be NIH-fundable and to place it in the context of other funded NIH grants, search for abstracts of funded grants.
  4. These pilot grants are seed grants for new modeling projects. Work that has been previously funded or constitutes bridge funding for ongoing grants is not eligible. Collaborative projects are preferred.
  5. Proposals are expected to combine modeling with empirical data. The empirical data may be experimental or observational, including clinical data, and may be generated as part of the proposed research or taken from existing sources. The proposal should convincingly demonstrate that modeling is a central component of the project. Preferences will be given to PIs who are modelers and who have established interdisciplinary collaborations for the project.


  1. An email 'letter of intent' is required and should be sent to by Oct. 10, 2016. The purpose of the letter of intent is to help us to determine the appropriateness and eligibility of the proposal, as well as to identify external reviewers in advance of receiving the proposals. Eligible PIs will be invited to submit a full proposal. The email should be brief but should include:
    • Names, ranks and departmental affiliations of the PI and any co-PIs; and
    • A description of the proposed research indicating the problem to be addressed, the empirical data to be used or generated, and the type of modeling proposed.  This description should be no more than 50 words
2. All applications should be accompanied by a cover letter of not more than 1.5 pages in length that will be included with the proposal for external review. The letter should contain:
  • A brief statement of how the research is relevant to the thematic focus of the COBRE – modeling complex interactions – and how it relates to human health;
  • A statement of the plan for developing and submitting a proposal for external funding; and
  • A statement that explains compliance with the necessary university and NIH regulations concerning research on Human Subjects, Animal Care and Use and Biohazard and Select Agents, if these are relevant.  For details on how to comply at the University of Idaho, see the Office of Research Assurances website. Investigators must comply with all assurances and certifications listed in the PHS Supplemental Grant Application Instructions to be found on line at
  • In addition, if any participants (PI, co-PI or Collaborator) have been a PI or PD on IDeA-related Project Grants or Pilot Grants in the past 6 years (funding since February 1st, 2011; see Eligibility Criteria #2 for relevant grant numbers), this should be indicated in the letter and an appendix of grants submitted/funded based on previous IDeA-related funding should be provided as an appendix to the letter. Such funding does not disqualify individuals from submitting a CMCI Pilot Grant proposal except as indicated in Eligibility Criteria (above), but follow-through with previous IDeA-related funding will be considered as part of the funding decision.  
3. Grant proposals submitted to the CMCI Pilot Grant Program must be prepared using the following forms from PHS 398 (Revised 3/2016).  Forms and instructions are available online at; Biographical Sketches must follow the new format as indicated below. Page limits for the project description are indicated below in (4).
  • Form Page 1:  Face Page
  • Form Page 2:  Summary, Relevance, Project/Performance Sites, Senior/Key Personnel, Other Significant Contributors
  • Form Page 3:  Research Grant Table of Contents
  • Form Page 4:  Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period
  • Form Page 5:  Budget for Entire Proposed Project Period (and budget justification)
  • Biographical Sketch: See
  • Resources Format Page
  • Continuation Format Page (for Specific Aims and Research Strategy)
4. The project description should include the following elements within the indicated page limits:
  • Results of previous CMCI Pilot Grant support, if applicable (1 page)
  • Specific Aims (1 page; see section 5.5.2 in PHS 398)
  • Research Strategy (3 pages; see section 5.5.3 in PHS 398)
    • This should include the following three sections: Significance, Innovation, Approach
5. Budgets should be prepared and justified following PHS 398 guidelines.
  • Allowable costs include personnel (PI, postdoctoral fellow, technician or graduate student); supplies; core facility costs; equipment less than $5000; publication costs; and research-related travel (e.g., field work, collaborative travel, but not conferences).
  • Special guidelines for the project budget:

The person(s) who will do the research must be UI employees by the time funds are awarded; this should be addressed in the budget justification. If necessary the start date will be delayed until hiring is complete.

NOTE: In accordance with university guidelines, the lead PI is no longer required to cover 2 percent of their academic year salary for the period of the grant.

6. Resources (no page limit) should include the description of the university, CMCI and any relevant core facilities. This section should contain as much information as needed to convince reviewers that the resources and infrastructure needed to complete the proposed work are available to you and that you have thoughtfully considered this issue.

7. Proposals should be submitted via email as a single PDF file which includes the cover letter and all forms in the appropriate order.  Send proposal to CMCI via email by November 15, 2016.  The subject line should be 'CMCI Pilot Grant Proposal.'  

8. Pilot grant recipients are obligated to acknowledge this support (P20GM104420) in presentations and publications that emanate from this funding. Information about the proper citation information will be provided in the letter of award. They must agree to provide CMCI with information about their publications, presentations and grant submissions during and after the funding period.  Recipients are welcome to participate in CMCI-sponsored events and will be asked to present their research findings and their plans for submission of a grant proposal in an oral presentation at the CMCI Brown Bag Lunch about 9 months after the date of funding.

9. A final report that describes research findings (2 pgs) and a list of publications, manuscripts submitted, presentations, proposals submitted and grants funded is due within one month after funding concludes.

Evaluation Procedure

The CMCI Director, Internal Advisory Committee, and Collaboratorium Administrative Team will identify potential reviewers for the applications based on the subject matter of the proposals. If any members are participants on a Pilot Grant application, they will be considered in conflict with all proposals.

Two referees from outside the University of Idaho will review each application and each reviewer will generally be asked to evaluate multiple proposals. The reviewers will be asked to prepare an anonymous written review that will subsequently be provided to the applicant. The proposals will be scored based on NIH guidelines (see section 6 in PHS 398):

Overall impact based on:

  • Significance
  • Investigator(s)
  • Innovation
  • Approach
  • Environment

Reviews will also be asked to comment on:

  • Consistency with the scientific theme of the COBRE – modeling complex interactions – and clear relevance to human health
  • Appropriateness of the budget
  • Plans to comply with policies for research on Human Subjects, Animal Care and Use, and Biohazard and Select Agent policies and procedures, if applicable
  • Potential to lead to extramural funding from NIH or other agencies or foundations

After receipt of the written reviews, the CMCI Director, Internal Advisory Committee and Collaboratorium Administrative Team will discuss the reviews and choose the most meritorious proposal(s), which must be approved by the External Advisory Committee and the NIGMS Grants Management Specialist prior to funding.

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