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 2020. 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@health.ucsd.edu 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

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). Please see the MARC website for further details:


Funds must be spent between August 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. 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 21, 2020 @ 5:00 p.m. PT
Application, by invitation only
: March 13, 2020
Application deadline
: May 8, 2020 @ 5:00 p.m. PT
Notice of awards/Request for JIT information
: June 10, 2020
JIT deadline
: June 25, 2020
Funding cycle
: August 1, 2020 – July 31, 2021 for year 1
                        August 1, 2021 – July 31, 2022 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 publication 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%)
2- Use of MARC Cores (30%)
3- Feasibility for one year (20%)
4- Investigative team (10%)
5- Innovation (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 http://publicaccess.nih.gov/

How to apply

Please email applications to the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@health.ucsd.edu.

Further information and contact

Details for each stage of the application process can be found at: https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/medicine/divisions/rai/research/marc/pilot-project-grants-and-vouchers/Pages/default.aspx

Details for MARC membership can be found at: https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/medicine/divisions/rai/research/marc/members/Pages/default.aspx

Details for MARC Core Facilities can be found at: https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/medicine/divisions/rai/research/marc/cores/Pages/default.aspx

For questions, please contact the MARC Coordinator at marcadmin@health.ucsd.edu.