The Accelerating Excellence In Translational Science (AXIS)Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

Thursday, September 15, 2016
Call for Proposals: Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science Pilot Grants

Call for Proposals


Accelerating Excellence in Translational Science Pilot Grants


Key Dates


RELEASE DATE:  9/15/2016



PEER REVIEW PERIOD:  10/17/2016-11/25/2016



Purpose of RFA


The Accelerating eXcellence In translational Science (AXIS) Center at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) is inviting research applications from Faculty Members and Postdoctoral Fellows at CDU that focus on health disparities and conduct translational research. The CDU AXIS Pilot Project Program is designed to facilitate innovative approaches in translational research in basic mechanisms, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that disproportionally affect minority and underserved communities.


Cross-disciplinary projects that address new approaches to health disparities will be given high priority.  Partnerships with CDU’s Community Faculty and local community groups and organizations of relevance to the research are encouraged.


There must be a clear plan to use the pilot project to secure subsequent independent funding from other non-institutional sources, e.g., NIH, DOD, CDC and others. Project support will be available for $40,000 and up to $70,000 that could be expended over one to two years. The second year continuation of funds will be subject to NIH approval. The full six-page pilot proposal will be due on 10/17/2016. The anticipated start date is 12/1/2016. An applicant may submit only one application as principal investigator but can be a co-investigator on another proposal.


If the principal applicant is a junior-level investigator at the Postdoctoral Fellow or Assistant Professor rank, s/he must designate a mid-level or senior-level mentor/collaborator, with a brief but clearly described mentoring plan.  Additionally, each application must show utilization of AXIS resources whenever applicable. The overall purpose of AXIS is to better position CDU investigators for conducting basic, clinical and translational research, especially research that is focused on health disparities.  Available resources include:

·         Professional Development/Pilot Project Core

·         Laboratory and Technology Core

·         Biomedical Informatics Core

·         Clinical and Translational Research Resource Core

·         Community Engagement Core

·         Epidemiology and Biostatistics Core


For detailed information and a description of the AXIS Cores and Resources please contact the

AXIS Administration (323-563-4853) or see the AXIS website at


Criteria for selection of the pilot project include:


1.    The project must be translational and/or cross-disciplinary in nature (including 2 of the 4 disciplines basic, clinical, community outreach, social/behavior).

2.    Viability of the pilot study and commitment of the team to develop an independent research proposal based upon the pilot project within one year after receiving the award.

3.    Research questions of relevance to the reduction of health disparities in basic mechanisms, clinical, health services, epidemiological, policy or behavioral topics.

4.    Feasibility of conducting the study in the time period proposed with funds allocated.

5.    The scientific strength of the design, methods and analytic plan.

6.    Successful research track record of the research team.

7.    Provide substantial evidence that this support may lead to a successful R21 and eventually ROI application.


Format Specifications


The full research proposal will take the form of an abbreviated NIH application, using PHS398 form pages. The Specific Aims are limited to one (1) page and the Research Strategy is limited to six (6) pages (typed, single-spaced, using 11-pt Arial on one side of the page). All tables, graphs, figures, diagrams, charts, and other displays must be included within the six-page limit. In addition, the six-page application must include a communication plan and a timeline for completing each aim and objectives. For all applications, an additional requirement will be the designation of a mentor and brief mentoring plan. Not counted in the six-page limit are NIH Bio- Sketches and other support information of the principal investigator(s) and all key personnel, an itemized budget with justification, and if applicable, full description of Protection of Human Subjects and Research Risk; Inclusion of Women, Minorities and Children in Research, Care and Use of Vertebrae Animals in Research; and Biohazards and Select Agents.  For applications involving the use of human subjects, a Targeted/Planned Enrollment Table Format Page must be included. Please note, that no applications will be recommended for funding without IRB and/or IACUC approvals both at CDU and at the NIH.


In addition, the application should include a cover page (one page maximum) describing: a) Collaborative and translational aspects of the project; b) How the project will lead to successful submission of R21/RO1 or similar application; c) a description of collaborations with other center grants at CDU: CDU-UCLA Cancer Center, Urban Health Institute, RTRN, CTSI, EXPORT, CRECD, and DIDARP; and d) how AXIS resources will be used. The cover page is not counted in the six page limit.


Review Process and Criteria


Pilot Project applications will be reviewed and prioritized by internal and external experts in the field. An NIH-Type review process with 9-point scoring system will be used.  Briefly, the initial merit review of applications for support through the AXIS will be based on the six following criteria: collaborations and partnerships, significance, approach, innovation, investigators, and environment.


Collaborations and Partnerships: Has the applicant included collaborations with additional investigators, other center grants at CDU, Community Faculty and local community groups and organizations. Is there a commitment and action plan that clearly demonstrates the development, adoption, and implementation of best practices through the collaborating centers and other national consortia and networks, where appropriate?


Significance: Does the study address an important health question? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of the study on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventive interventionist that drive the field? Will this study lead to new funding? An objective of the program is to stimulate new science. Hence, applications that are likely to lead to new R21/RO1 applications (or similar national grants funding sources) are of higher priority.

Approach: Are the conceptual or clinical framework, design, methods and analysis adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problems and consider alternative strategies?


Innovation: Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms or clinical practice or address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools or technologies? How will this application provide results that are novel and likely to open new avenues of investigation at CDU and beyond?


Investigators: Are the investigators appropriately trained and well suited to conduct the proposed study? Is the proposed research appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and other researchers? Does the investigative team bring complementary expertise to the project?


Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the study will be performed contribute to the probability of success? Does the proposed study benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?




Priority will be given to proposal submissions in translational research in basic mechanisms, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease that disproportionally affect minority and underserved communities.  As per program requirement, special emphasis will be given to proposals in the areas of Cancer, HIV/AIDS, and cardio-metabolic diseases.


Priority will also be given to new postdoctoral fellows and early stage investigators (ESI) who did not receive previous pilot funding.


Projects that utilize inter-institutional collaborations through the CDU-UCLA U54 Cancer Center; CTSI; and RTRN are also given priority.


Please email your proposal to Drs. Jay Vadgama and Amiya Sinha-Hikim at, and and copy to Ms. Sarah Cote at


We encourage inquiries concerning this RFA and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from prospective applicants.


Jay Vadgama, PhD Principal Investigator, AXIS

Vice President for Research and Health Affairs

Professor of Medicine Phone: 323-563-4853


Amiya Sinha-Hikim, PhD Professor

Core Director, AXIS – Professional Development and Pilot Core

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

1731 East 120th Street Los Angeles, CA 90059


Phone: 323-563-5974



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