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High Impact Pilot Research Award

Gather preliminary data or demonstrate proof-of-principle to support the feasibility of a new paradigm or research hypothesis. High quality of innovation and clear potential impact are two key components of this award, with the ultimate goal of providing initial support for research with a strong rationale, resulting in the leverage of funding from other funding agencies.

All applications must address one or more of our eight research priorities and must be tobacco-related.

Maximum award amount per year: $200,000 (direct costs)

Maximum duration: 2 years

Allowable direct costs: Salaries, fringe benefits, supplies, sub-contracts*, equipment**, travel


  • Project-related travel: As needed (must be fully justified)
  • Travel to TRDRP conference: $750 (mandatory)
  • Scientific conference travel: $2,000 per year (excluding a mandatory allocation of $750 in one year of the project for travel to the TRDRP Conference)

Indirect costs: Full indirect costs are allowed to non-UC institutions. Indirect costs to UC campuses are capped at 25 percent.

*All out-of-state sub-contracts and collaborations must be well-justified; please note that funding for out-of-state expenses are extremely limited and TRDRP does not encourage such expenses.

**Any item costing $5,000 or more

Award requirements:

  • Applicants must have a PI-status at the sponsoring institution.

  • Awardees are required to commit at least 10 percent of their effort each year to activities supported by this award.

  • U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.

Review criteria:

Criteria-1 (30 percent scoring weight)

  • Responsiveness to intent of the award type: Is the study pilot or exploratory in nature? Does the study represent a new research trajectory that is not currently funded from other sources? Does the applicant describe how the pilot study will lead to an expanded research effort in the future, including specific funding sources and award types?
  • Tobacco-relatedness: To what extent does the application focus on tobacco prevention, treatment, regulation, or tobacco-related disease?
  • Innovation: Does the research propose new paradigms, challenge existing paradigms or is it otherwise highly creative in one or more of the following ways: the concept or question, research methods or technologies, adaptations of existing methods or technologies to new uses or with understudied populations? Does the proposed research represent more than an incremental advance? For example, does the project challenge existing interventions, clinical practice or policy; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field?

Criteria-2 (50 percent scoring weight)

  • Significance: Does this study address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will they advance scientific knowledge or clinical practice? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services or preventative interventions that drive the field of tobacco-related research or any of the stated research priorities?
  • Research plan: Are the conceptual framework, design (including composition of study population and strength of recruitment plan), methods and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated and appropriate to the aims of the project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies?
  • Near-term leveraging potential: When the TRDRP-funded studies under a High Impact Pilot Research Award are completed, is there compelling promise and high likelihood that their results will constitute a larger R01-level or P01-level study with high probability of funding from another agency such as the NIH? With TRDRP funding of the proposal, can the applicant leverage funding from other sources to further develop this area of research within two to three years after initial funding?

Criteria-3 (20 percent scoring weight)

  • Investigators: Are the investigators appropriately trained and well-suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the PD/PI and other researchers? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?
  • Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?
  • Community engagement and communication plan: Does the applicant propose a sound approach to engaging communities affected by tobacco use in either a collaborative partnership or by proactively informing about the nature and significance of the research and research outcomes? To what extent does the dissemination of findings include channels and tools targeting clinicians, public health practitioners, advocates, policymakers and the general public?

Other considerations:

  • Budget: Appropriateness of the budget request for the project, scientific or budgetary overlap and degree to which out-of-state contracts or collaborations are essential for the project
  • Protection of human subjects from research risk: If human subjects are involved, protections from research risk relating to their participation in the proposed research will be assessed.
  • Inclusion of women, minorities and children in research: If human subjects are involved, the adequacy of plans to include subjects of both genders, all racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups) and children as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research will be assessed. Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects also will be evaluated.
  • Care and use of vertebrate animals in research: If vertebrate animals are involved in the project, plans for their care and use will be assessed.