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2021-2022 Pilot/Feasibility Grants

The pilot/feasibility grants of the San Diego Digestive Diseases Research Center (SDDRC) for the 2021-22 academic year are now available to foster innovative research in the field of digestive diseases. We anticipate that five total awards of $40,000 each will be made in one of two categories: 

Innovative Research Award (4 x $40,000)

These awards will focus on highly innovative research in the broad field of digestive diseases. Particular emphasis will be placed on promising projects from early-career investigators (Assistant Professor Level) that address an important challenge in the field and have a high chance for 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. Studies can be in basic science, translational research, or clinical studies, but in all cases, the applications need to make clear how the available funds and time frame are generally adequate to achieve the goals of the projects. 

Jon I. Isenberg Endowed Award (1 x $40,000) 

With the generosity of the Hellman Family Foundation, as well as friends and colleagues of former Division Chief of Gastroenterology, the late Jon I. Isenberg, M.D., this endowed award is intended to assist in the research of a scientist (M.D. and/or Ph.D.) in the early stages of their career (at the rank of Assistant Professor). The area of research should be broadly related to Dr. Isenberg's lifelong research interests including 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 four academic institutions that participate in the SDDRC (UC San Diego, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, and The Salk Institute for Biological Studies). The application can be submitted before the 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)
  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 progress during the annual SDDRC symposium, which will be held on February 11, 2022.  

Application and relevant dates

Use the following form to apply:

Send completed application as a single pdf file to:

The submission deadline is Monday, November 15, 2021, at 11:59 pm.  

The expected start date for the awards is January 2022.