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D&I and DISC Pilot Project Grants

The funding announcement is available here.

The deadline for online applications is December 15, 2021 at 12pm PST.

Detailed video instructions are posted here.


The UC San Diego Dissemination and Implementation Science Center (DISC) now offers funding for pilot Dissemination and/or Implementation Research projects. The mission of the UC San Diego DISC is to establish UC San Diego as a nationally and internationally recognized flagship for dissemination and implementation (D&I) science through training, technical assistance, community engagement, and research advancement. The purpose of this pilot funding announcement is to support pilot projects to increase the dissemination, adoption, implementation, and sustainment of evidence‐based interventions by local health care organizations, providers, and systems in San Diego and Imperial County. Funded projects will advance implementation science and address barriers that inhibit rapid translation of evidence-based interventions to patients or community members served by UC San Diego and other local health agencies and community-based organizations. Projects that promote the collaboration and participation of service systems, community‐based organizations, and clinicians are encouraged.

Pilot funds are to be used for the development of new projects and to support those who are new to D&I research. It is expected that pilot studies will to serve as a basis for future federal funding (e.g., Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)). Awards are up to the amount of $20,000, which is to be spent within the designated 12-month award period. The funding period for the 2022 grants is May 1, 2022 - April 30, 2023. A total of five awards are available for this funding period and the number of awards will depend on the number of appropriately competitive applications. The deadline for 2022 applications is December 15, 2021 at 12pm PST.


Faculty, Project Scientists, Research Trainees, Postdoctoral Fellows and Scholar & Community Practitioners at UC San Diego and other UC San Diego DISC partner organizations (ACTRI, Rady Children's Hospital, Moores Cancer Center, SDSU, Salk Institute, County of San Diego, VA San Diego) are encouraged and eligible to apply as principal investigators (PI).

Although all eligible individuals  are encouraged to apply, in instances of evenly scored proposals, funding preference will be given to investigators from research teams that have not previously engaged in D&I research, or received UC San Diego DISC support.

To apply for this pilot award, you must first be a UC San Diego DISC Member or Investigator. To learn about the many benefits of the UC San Diego DISC membership and to fill out the membership application form, click here.


The UC San Diego DISC's aims for this funding opportunity are to:

  1. Support research that reflects priorities of local stakeholders and governmental agencies including COVID-19 related projects, and projects that address risk factors and/or resulting diseases or conditions identified as priority focus areas in the most recent County of San Diego Community Health Assessment (CHA). Across regions, current CHA priorities include social determinants of health, and the specific risk factors, diseases and health indicators;
  2. Stimulate D&I research focused on health disparities in San Diego and Imperial County;
  3. Encourage local clinicians, community practitioners, health administrators, and health science scholars to integrate D&I research as an important part of their careers;
  4. Generate new publications on D&I research in peer‐reviewed health journals;
  5. Generate data that will lead to research funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) or other agencies or foundations that fund research in this field;
  6. Advance the science of dissemination and implementation through the development, adaptation, refinement and/or application of novel D&I models, methods, measures.


For the purpose of this pilot funding announcement Dissemination Research and Implementation Research are defined as follows:

Dissemination Research is an active approach to the targeted distribution of information and intervention materials to an audience of clinicians and/or health plan or service system administrators through various means; the use of policies and procedures to encourage uptake; reimbursement strategies that encourage uptake, and many others. The scientific goal is consistent with the NIH goals of understanding the mechanisms that can successfully be used to increase the spread of knowledge, and greater adoption and use of the evidence‐based intervention. Outcomes for dissemination research are less well-defined and will differ depending on the target audience (i.e., academic, practice, policy). A few possible short-and medium-term measures have been suggested by Brownson and colleagues and include awareness, knowledge of and intention to use evidence-based practice. Further examples and guidance can be found in article by Brownson et al., Getting the Word Out: New Approaches for Disseminating Public Health Science Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Implementation Research is the systematic study of how a specific set of activities and designed strategies are used to successfully integrate and sustain an evidence‐based intervention within specific settings (e.g., primary care practices, Independent Practice Associations, medical groups, federally qualified health centers, schools, and faith-based organizations). Factors associated with implementation success might be individual (e.g., provider practice), organizational (e.g., characteristics of the organization seeking adoption), community (e.g., characteristics of the population intended to benefit from the intervention, i.e. age, SES, access to care, transportation etc.) or environmental or system factors (e.g., availability of funding, policies, etc.). This type of research will involve outcomes at multiple levels (i.e., patient/population, provider/implementer, and organizational/community) and will focus on process outcomes (i.e., reach, adoption, adaptation, fidelity, implementation, sustainment) in addition to more traditional effectiveness outcomes.

Note that the primary focus of this type of research is not to demonstrate that a specific intervention is efficacious or effective, but to develop, select, and study strategies that can facilitate and examine the factors that are associated with the successful spread, adoption, implementation, and sustainment of an evidence‐based intervention in a given setting.

Note: A list of important D&I terminology can be found at the end of this announcement.

Examples of Dissemination and Implementation Research Responsive to this Pilot Funding Announcement

Example 1 Different, but comparable, health plans, medical groups or independent practice associations in San Diego County have adopted various strategies in order to increase utilization of evidence‐based practices by clinicians. We encourage studies that compare different strategies implemented in terms of their ability to reach the target audience of providers and encourage adoption and sustained implementation. What are the factors associated with reach, implementation, and sustainability? Are there cost‐benefits of one strategy over another? How do the proposed strategies fit with or advance implementation science theories or frameworks?

Example 2 Evidence-based interventions for physical activity exist but are not routinely implemented, particularly in low resource communities. What are some strategies to adapt these interventions to the needs, resources, and contexts of specific community contexts such as faith-based organizations or community resource settings? What are strategies and processes we can use to work with community leadership and community members to make these adaptations culturally and contextually meaningful?

How do the proposed strategies fit with or advance implementation science theories or frameworks?

Example 3 - Within any one community based group, there have been significant differences in the extent to which an evidence‐based practice has been successfully applied to different patient populations (e.g., cultural groups, males vs. females, old vs. young, affluent vs. poor communities, etc.). Do strategies need to be adapted or tailored such that health care providers can reach specific types of patients? If so, what are the factors associated with successful reach, implementation, and sustainability for these patients?  How do the proposed strategies fit with or advance implementation science theories or frameworks?

Example 4 - What are some implementation strategies that can be used to increase the uptake of evidence-based screening recommendations in Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs)? How can we use meaningful stakeholder engagement to develop and refine these strategies so they can be feasible and acceptable across diverse FQHCs? How do the proposed strategies fit with or advance implementation science theories or frameworks?

Example 5 - Proposals that focus on the development of new measures, models, and methods for D&I research are encouraged. For example, a proposal could aim to develop a pragmatic (e.g., brief, relevant to stakeholders) fidelity measure of evidence-based clinical guidelines or apply a system science approach to aid stakeholders in decision making about implementing a new practice. How does the proposed work fit with or advance implementation science theories or frameworks? These types of proposals need to be clearly linked to the submission of a future grant.

Application Guidelines/Project Requirements

  • Applicants who are selected for funding will participate in a consultation session with a UC San Diego D&I expert during the first month of the award.
  • 6-Month Interim Presentation- The principal investigator(s) selected to receive funding will be required to present their project at an Implementation Science Seminar at the 6-month period of funding.
  • 1 Year Progress Report and Survey- The principal investigator(s) will be required to complete a one-year online progress report and evaluation survey. This survey will ask for a description of progress to date and a listing of all submitted publications and grant applications (pending or funded), meeting abstracts, and seminars relating to the pilot project and evaluation of the DISC pilot grant experience.
  • Awardees are expected to publish their findings in a scholarly peer‐reviewed journal and present this research at professional research, clinical, and/or community meetings.
  • Investigators are responsible for submitting any peer‐reviewed journal articles resulting from research funded by this award to PubMed Central, the NIH digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, and the UCSD online repository. The UC San Diego DISC will include these in our Google Scholar page.

Budget Guidelines

  • Funds must be spent within one year of being awarded. All funds not spent by the end date will be returned to the UC San Diego DISC. No carryover or carry forward is allowed. Investigators must have IRB approval in place before the beginning of the funding cycle.
  • No funding will be provided for travel, clerical help, office supplies, or books. Indirect costs will not be awarded to UC San Diego or other investigators. Awarded funds that transfer to subcontracted agencies outside of UC San Diego may be eligible for indirect or overhead costs. In those circumstances where indirect costs are required by subcontracting agencies or institutions, a maximum of 10% overhead will be provided. Requests for overhead must be included in the initial budget request.
  • If any funds in the budget are designated for an institution or agency outside of UC San Diego, provide a letter from that institution or agency, on their letterhead, that describes: (a) the agency's support for the proposed project, (b) agency's role in the project, (c) the name, address, and contact information (e‐mail and telephone) of the agency representative who has primary responsibility for that portion of the project.

How to Apply

Questions regarding the application will be addressed via email to provide equal feedback to all applicants. While we are not able to provide individual consultations to applicants prior to the submission of the pilot grants, applicants who are selected for funding will  participate in a consultation session with a UC San Diego D&I expert during the first month of the award.

All materials must be uploaded by 12pm PT on December 15, 2021. Late applications will not be considered without a formal written request.

1. Submit application via Qualtrics - The UC San Diego DISC uses the Qualtrics platform for submission of pilot grants. Questions about the application platform and/or technical difficulties may be directed to the DISC at

2. Provide a maximum 5‐page application describing the project - 1 page for Specific Aims; 4 pages for Research Strategy.

Applications must include the following sections (in a combined PDF):
a) Specific Aims (1 page)
b) Background and Significance, (~1 page)
c) Preliminary Studies or Data Collection / Analysis (if applicable), (~1 page)
d) Research Design and Methods, (~2 pages)
e) References (not be included in 5‐page limit)

3. All applications should include a D&I Theory, Framework or Model (TFM). It is expected that D&I TFMs are used throughout the project to guide the research questions, design, measure selection, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of the research findings.

a) If appropriate, we also encourage considering how the proposed project will advance D&I science and the application, adaptation and use of TFMs.

4. Prepare a one page (maximum) statement articulating the Community Relevance of your Proposal - Create a one-page statement on community relevance that includes the project title and is understandable at an eighth-grade reading level (non-scientist reviewer). Do not include your name, as this page will get a blinded review by an external community reviewer. Statement should answer the following questions:

a)  How are you engaging and/or partnering with the community to achieve the goals of the project? Will both partners benefit from the work, and from future research, treatments or interventions based on the work? Does the community partner represent, in a meaningful way, the population under study?         

b) Consider the potential immediate, short term and long term impact of the work. How does the research impact the individuals/participants in the community that is the focus of the proposed research?

c) How important is funding this research to improving human health overall, either in the near or distant future?

5. Prepare a one page (maximum) description that outlines your dissemination plan and next steps for this project including but not limited to plans/timeline for follow up funding proposals, products such as manuscripts, toolkits/playbooks, decision aids, patient/consumer facing products. Please specify the nature of each product and its target audience (other researchers, policymakers, clinicians, community leaders, patients, community members, etc.). Please also specify how you plan to use the services provided by the UC San Diego DISC to support you in the development of these products (see

6. Provide an NIH biosketch (Instructions here) for each of the following: the principal investigator(s), any co‐investigators, and any postdoctoral fellows, residents, graduate or medical students you know will be involved in the proposed project. Biosketches need to be compiled into a single combined PDF for upload.

7. Budget — Provide a detailed budget (using NIH Budget Form "page 4" only) along with a brief budget justification.

8. Submit an IRB application – We recommend that you submit an IRB application at the same time the pilot application is submitted to UC San Diego DISC. Final funding is contingent on successful IRB approval.

9. Proposed projects will be evaluated using the following three scoring systems:

1. NIH scoring guidelines (1 = high impact – 9 = low impact). 

2. Projects will also be scored with the ImplemeNtation and Improvement Science Proposal Evaluation CriTeria (INSPECT), a tool for evaluation of D&I specific research proposals adapted from Proctor et al. "Key ingredients" that constitute a well-crafted implementation science proposal. For explanation of the rating rubric for each of the 10 dimensions.

3. The community-based review includes three grading criteria centered on community engagement, strength of community partnership, and short and long term population outcomes.

Key Dates

  • Deadline for 2022 Applications: December 15, 2021 at 12:00pm PST
  • Preliminary Notice of Award & Scheduling of Consultation Meetings with DISC: Early February
  • Final funding contingent on successful completion of IRB.
  • Final Approval and Notice of Award:  Late February
  • 2021 Funding Period: May 1, 2022 to April 30, 2023