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Pilot Funds

2022-2023 Pilot/Feasibility Grants

The SDDRC is pleased to announce a new round of pilot/feasibility grants for the 2022-23 academic year.  We anticipate that 4-5 awards of $40,000 each will be made in the following categories: 

Digestive Diseases Research Awards

These awards focus on innovative research in the field of digestive diseases. Particular emphasis is placed on promising projects from early-career investigators (Assistant Professor level) that address an important challenge in the field and have a high chance of generating novel hypotheses and feasibility data in support of new external funding. In addition, proposals by established investigators that tackle new topics and directions will be entertained, although it is expected that the applicant will make a strong case for the novelty of the proposed work relative to past studies. Projects can be in basic science, translational research, or clinical studies. In all cases, the applications need to justify how the available funds and time frame are generally adequate to achieve the goals of the project.

GI Oncology Research Awards (in partnership with the Moores Cancer Center)

To stimulate scientific collaboration in the fight against cancer, the SDDRC is partnering with the Moores Cancer Center (MCC) to jointly support pilot/feasibility projects related to the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of precancers and cancers of the digestive organs.

Jon I. Isenberg Endowed Award 

With the generosity of the Hellman Family Foundation, as well as friends and colleagues of the former Division Chief of Gastroenterology, the late Jon I. Isenberg, M.D., this endowed award is intended to support the research of a scientist (M.D. and/or Ph.D.) in the early stages of their career (typically at the rank of Assistant Professor). The area of research should be broadly related to Dr. Isenberg's lifelong research interests in intestinal epithelial ion transport mechanisms, mucosal defense, peptic ulcer disease, and cystic fibrosis, as applied to the intestine, liver, or biliary system. This award stresses the application of basic science to develop new insights into the mechanisms of human gastrointestinal disease.

All applications will be considered for the eligible awards. Applicants do not need to decide which particular award is most suitable for their project and application.


Investigators must have a faculty position (including Adjunct, Project, and Research Scientist positions), at the time the award is made, at one of the academic institutions that participate in the SDDRC (UC San Diego, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies). The application can be submitted before a faculty appointment, but the award will only be made after the appointment. Current membership in the SDDRC is not a requirement. Investigators that are not affiliated with SDDRC will be named associate members upon receipt of an award.

Guidelines for Proposal

The following information must be submitted:
  1. Completed application form
  2. Abstract (30 lines maximum), a brief description of the project; including hypothesis, one sentence description of each Aim, one to three sentences identifying the conceptual and/or technical innovation, relationship to the overall SDDRC theme of inflammation in the digestive tract, how the project will benefit from collaborations with SDDRC members, and plans for follow-up upon the successful completion of the project.
  3. Research Plan (NIH format following the current NIH instructions with sections on Significance, Innovation, Research Strategy; 4 pages maximum including any preliminary studies, but excluding references)
  4. Plans for Future Funding (1-page maximum; explain plans for future extramural funding, including agencies and mechanisms, and discuss in detail why and how the studies supported by the current award will be critical for facilitating such funding)
  5. References (no page limit)
  6. Biographical sketches of key personnel (NIH format; 5 pages maximum)
Formatting of the application materials should follow standard NIH requirements (Arial, 11 pt minimum, single-spaced, 0.5-inch page margins). 

Post-award selection requirements

Upon selection of a project, additional requirements must be met before final awards can be made:
  • Budget and budget justification (NIH format, 1 page). Funds up to $40,000 can be requested for any legitimate expense of the project proposed, including salary support for the PI and/or laboratory personnel, supplies, equipment, and travel to professional meetings relevant to the proposal. Indirect costs are not payable on the awards.
  • Evidence of institutional approval for any animal and/or human studies if those are proposed.
  • For the Jon I. Isenberg Endowed Award, a brief (1/2 page) description of the investigator's research career to date and future career goals, and an explanation of how the project relates to the goals of the endowed award.
  • Awardees are required to orally present their proposal and initial progress during the annual SDDRC symposium, which will be held on February 10, 2023.  

Application and relevant dates

Use the following form to apply:

Send the completed application as a single pdf file to:
The submission deadline is Monday, October 03, 2022, at 11:59 pm.  

The anticipated start date for the awards is January 2023.