Pilot Project Grants and Vouchers


Pilot Project Grants

The UC San Diego Microenvironment in Arthritis Resource Center (MARC) is pleased to announce the availability of Pilot Project Grants for 2019. These grants are 1-year competitive awards ($25,000-$50,000).
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 marcadmin@ucsd.edu to discuss eligibility. Only one pilot proposal may be submitted by a Principal Investigator per cycle. 
Funding levels and matching funds
Funding levels will vary depending on the status of the investigator and the score given to the final application.
New investigators: $25,000-$50,000 for 1 year, depending on the application’s score
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. 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). See below for details.
Funds must be spent between August 1, 2019 and July 31, 2020. All funds not spent by the end date of the Pilot Project award will be returned to the MARC. No extensions can be granted.
Application deadlines, notice of award, and funding cycle
Pre-application deadline: February 22, 2019 @ 5:00 p.m. PT
Application, by invitation only: April 1, 2019
Application deadline: May 17, 2019 @ 5:00 p.m. PT
Notice of awards: July 1, 2019
Funding cycle: August 1, 2019 – July 31, 2020 for year 1
                        August 1, 2020 – July 31, 2021 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
Invited application
Please include the following items in the full application, abiding by the page limits specified below:
  • Research Proposal (items 2-4 should not exceed a total of four pages including figures)
  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. However, no funding will be provided for travel, clerical help, office supplies, books and subscriptions, graduate student support and tuition remission, or publication expenses.
  • Biosketches for Key Personnel (5 pages/person max; NIH-style)
  • Non-faculty members should include letters of support from both their institution and their MARC sponsor.
  • In the Research Proposal, include a statement indicating that you have applied for IRB and IACUC approval and include the date of submission or approval.
  • Appendices are not allowed.
Evaluation Criteria
The applications will be scored three times on a scale from 1-9 based on the following criteria.
  1. Scientific merit of the proposal and likelihood of high impact (30% total score)
  2. Innovation (15% total score)
  3. Predicted potential or accomplishments of the investigator (10% total score)
  4. New Investigator and/or interdisciplinary project (10% total score)
  5. Relevance to the mission of NIAMS and use of MARC Cores (20% total score)
  6. Feasibility for one year (15% total score)
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: 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 http://publicaccess.nih.gov/. 
How to apply
Pre-applications will be due by 5PM PDT on February 22nd, 2019. E-mail complete pre-applications to the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@ucsd.edu with the subject line "MARC Pilot - Pre-Appliction." Please compile all the pre-application documents into a single PDF file for sumbission in the order listed above.

Full applications will be due by 5PM PDT on May 17th, 2019. E-mail complete proposals to the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@ucsd.edu with the subject line "MARC Pilot - Full Application." Please compile all the application documents into a single PDF file for submission in the order listed above.

Notices of Award will be sent out, along with scores and brief comments, on July 1, 2019, and the funding period for successful applications will begin on August 1, 2019.

Further information and contact
For questions, please contact the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@ucsd.edu.


Vouchers for the MARC Resource Cores will be available to MARC members who need funding for experiments critical to gathering preliminary data for grant proposals. These vouchers will be awarded on an ongoing basis by the MARC Administrative Core, and will be offered in increments of $1,000, $2,500, and $5,000. Members may apply for these vouchers by sending a paragraph describing the services needed to the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@ucsd.edu. The application will be reviewed by both the MARC Associate Director and the leadership of the Core whose service is covered by the voucher, and the decision will be passed back on to the applicant by the MARC Coordinator. Special priority will be given by the reviewers to new NIH investigators (as defined by the NIH) and to those investigators who are applying for support as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration.
Applicants who are awarded vouchers will be asked for a brief progress report on the outcome of their voucher usage.

If you have any questions regarding vouchers or the application process, please e-mail the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@ucsd.edu.