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Pilot Project Grants

Project types

Applications should address basic or translational questions relevant to joint biology and/or mechanisms or treatment of rheumatic/joint diseases. Applications for clinical trials will not be accepted.


All MARC members are eligible to apply for MARC Pilot Project Grants. MARC members must have the equivalent of a faculty or instructor appointment at one of the MARC-participating institutions (UCSD, SBPMDI, LJI, or TSRI) and have at least one proposed or active project focused on joint biology or pathology. Those grant applicants who are not MARC members but are eligible for membership must have applied for membership prior to the pre-application deadline.

Non-faculty members of MARC-participating institutions who are eligible to apply for NIH grants (e.g. Project Scientists), by the policy of their home institution, will be allowed to apply for MARC Pilot Project Grants, provided they include letters of support from both their institution and from an established MARC member with their application. New investigators (as defined by the NIH) are strongly encouraged to apply. Previous awardees are not eligible to reapply. Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible. Medical fellows should send an inquiry to to discuss eligibility. Only one pilot proposal may be submitted by a Principal Investigator per cycle.

Funding levels and matching funds

New investigators: $25,000-$50,000 for 1 year, depending on the application's score

                    *Please note, the amount budgeted for in the application is the maximum amount that can be given.

Established investigators: up to $25,000 for 1 year

Matching funds: In some cases, applicants may be eligible for a second year of matched funding from their home department or institution if sufficient progress is achieved in the first year and the home institution/department is willing to participate in matching the funds. Availability of matching funds varies between departments and institutions. Please e-mail the MARC coordinator to inquire about the availability of and eligibility for second year matching funds.

Vouchers: Projects may additionally request MARC vouchers to pay for MARC Core services (ranging from $1,000-$5,000). Please see the MARC website for further details.

Investigators have one full year to spend the funds. All funds not spent by the end date of the Pilot Project award will be returned to the MARC. No extensions can be granted.


How to apply: Please email applications to the MARC Coordinator at

Application deadlines, notice of award, and funding cycle

Pre-application deadline: February 8th, 2021 at 5 pm PST
Notice of Application Approval given: February 16, 2021
Application deadline
: March 15, 2021 at 5 pm PST
Notice of awards/Request for JIT information
: April 5, 2021
JIT deadline
: April 16, 2021 at 5 pm PST
Funding cycle
: May 17, 2021-May 16, 2022 for pilot grants                                                                                                                     May 17, 2022-May 16, 2023 for grants qualifying for matching funds

IRB and IACUC approvals must be obtained prior to start of funding period. No funds can be awarded until IRB and IACUC approvals are in-place.

Application requirements

Applications will be submitted in two stages, the pre-application and invited application.

Applications should adhere to the following formatting specifications:

  • 11‐point Arial font
  • Single‐spaced
  • 0.5 inch margins on all sides
  • 8 ½" x 11" (i.e. standard size) page
  • Number all pages
  • No appendices are allowed 


  • Max one-page abstract, including figures
  • NIH-style biographical sketches, including other support with yearly direct costs, for all significant contributors
  • Non-faculty applicants: Letter of support from MARC sponsor and home institution

Invited Application
  • Proposal (items 1-4 are limited to four pages)
  1. Specific Aims (1 page)
  2. Background and significance
  3. Preliminary studies (if applicable)
  4. Research design and methods
  5. Literature cited (not included in the four-page limit)
  • Budget justification (1 page max). All guidelines pertaining to allowable expenses on federal grants will be applicable for these awards. In addition, no funding will be provided for travel, clerical help, office supplies, books and subscriptions, graduate student support and tuition remission, or public expenses.
  • IRB and/or IACUC applications must be submitted prior to deadline for invited application submission.

Evaluation Criteria

The NIH scoring scale will be used to evaluate the proposals based on the following criteria:

1- Scientific merit (30%)                                  4- Innovation (15%)
2- Use of MARC Cores (20%)                         5- Investigative team (10%)
3- Feasibility for one year (15%)                     6- Predicted Accomplishments/Potential (10%)

Presentations and Publications

Awardees are expected to publish their findings in scholarly peer-reviewed journals and present their research at the MARC La Jolla Arthritis Conference (LJAC) and other professional meetings.

All publications, grants, and presentations resulting from research funded by the MARC or using MARC resources must cite the P30 grant as a contributing source of support and indicate the NIH grant title and number: Resource-based Center for the study of the joint microenvironment in rheumatology; University of California San Diego, NIH Grant P30AR073761.

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. See