Funding Frequently Asked Questions


What is the purpose of the NC TraCS Pilot Grant Program?

The purpose of the NC TraCS Institute Pilot Grant Program is to facilitate the transfer of research findings to clinical practice in order to improve the health of the people of North Carolina. To this end, preference will be given to proposals from junior faculty or from faculty embarking in a new research direction and/or forming a new multidisciplinary team of researchers.

The program is designed to encourage and facilitate novel clinical and translational research in its many forms. Research that directly involves human subjects, including cross-disciplinary basic science research addressing the development of therapies and diagnostics applicable to human disease, clinical research/trials, epidemiological studies, and community-based research or will be considered for the purpose of these awards.


What funding opportunities make up the Pilot Program?

The NC TraCS Institute Pilot Grant Program comprises several funding opportunities:

The monthly $2k Pilot Grants provide small grants of up to $2,000 to assist researchers with implementing a proposed study or moving a research project forward by providing rapid access to funds that will support almost any aspect of promising and innovative research.

The $5k-$50k Translational Research Matched Pilot Grants are offered 3 times per year. These awards may be for amounts between $5,000 and $25,000 from TraCS but require matching funds for a total possible award of $50,000. The grants are aimed at encouraging and facilitating novel clinical and translational research in its many forms. Research that directly involves human subjects, including cross-disciplinary basic science research addressing the development of therapies and diagnostics applicable to human disease, clinical research/trials, epidemiological studies, and community-based research will be considered.

The FastTraCS Pilot Grants are offered 3 times per year. These awards are up to $25,000 which must be matched for total awards of up to $50,000. The program seeks to accelerate existing and novel healthcare technology towards the marketplace, to ultimately benefit patients in North Carolina and beyond. The program seeks to move drug, diagnostic, or medical device-related innovations toward an eventual commercial endpoint, such as the launching of a company or licensing to an established company.

The monthly $2K Stakeholder Engagement Vouchers support the engagement of stakeholders in translational research projects. Translational researchers who seek to employ community engagement strategies in their research may use these funds to compensate health research stakeholders for their time in collaborating on translational research studies as well as to cover the costs associated with stakeholder engagement.

The Translational Science Methods & Process Awards are offered 3 times per year. These awards support research that will advance translational science — the discipline focused on understanding and addressing the scientific and organizational challenges underlying each stage of the translational process. These awards may be up to $50,000 from TraCS and do not require matching funds.

Planning Grants aim to encourage UNC-Chapel Hill investigators to serve as Principal Investigators for awards such as Center grants or P series program project grants. These awards may be up to $50,000 from TraCS but require matching funds, for a total possible award of $100,000. This grant mechanism intends to reduce the barrier for faculty who may conceive large-scale proposals, but never move forward because of the daunting process of applying for and carrying out these complex studies. In addition to having scientific merit, these grants must demonstrate interdisciplinary involvement among investigators. Applications may be submitted at any time.

CTSA Multi-Institutional Grants fund innovative translational research projects that involve at least 2 or more of the ~60 CTSA Institutions (see ctsaweb.org for a full list). Funding is provided by the CTSAs of the investigators on the team; and it is expected funds will be spent at the CTSA that contributes (funds will not be transferred between institutions). It is anticipated that budget requests will reach up to $25K direct cost, per CTSA. Proposals may be submitted at any time.


Who is eligible to apply for the funding?

$2k Pilot Grants (monthly)
UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral trainees including clinical fellows; faculty members of external NC TraCS Institute-affiliated institutions collaborating with UNC-Chapel Hill faculty; and members of community organizations and practice-based research networks who are NC TraCS research collaborators are eligible to apply as principal investigators (PIs).

$5k-$50k Translational Research Matched Pilot Grants (3 times per year)
UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. A&T, RTI, and NC State researchers whose appointments allow them to serve as PI on externally sponsored research projects are eligible to apply as PI. This generally means permanent faculty (not adjunct appointments) and includes those with non-faculty appointments like "research scientist" and investigators from research institutes and centers who are eligible to apply for investigator-initiated awards and R01-level funding. Applicants from N.C. A&T, RTI, or NC State must include an eligible co-PI from at least one other NC TraCS partner institution. Teams of multiple PIs are encouraged.

FastTraCS Matched Pilot Grants (3 times per year)
UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. A&T, RTI, and NC State researchers whose appointments allow them to serve as PI on externally sponsored research projects are eligible to apply as PI. This generally means permanent faculty (not adjunct appointments) and includes those with non-faculty appointments like "research scientist" and investigators from research institutes and centers who are eligible to apply for investigator-initiated awards and R01-level funding. Applicants from N.C. A&T, RTI, or NC State must include an eligible co-PI from at least one other NC TraCS partner institution.

$2K Stakeholder Engagement Vouchers
UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and doctoral students are eligible to apply as principal investigators (PIs). Also eligible are faculty members of NC TraCS Institute-affiliated institutions.

Translational Science Methods & Process Awards
UNC-Chapel Hill applicants should hold a faculty appointment. Also eligible are UNC-Chapel Hill researchers with non-faculty appointments like "research scientist" and investigators from research institutes and centers who are eligible to apply for investigator-initiated awards and R01-level funding. Members of NC TraCS-affiliated academic partner institutions and community organizations are eligible if they include a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member as a collaborator or co-investigator. Teams of multiple PIs are encouraged.

Planning Grants (applications accepted at any time)
Faculty members with a primary appointment at UNC-Chapel Hill are eligible to apply as principal investigators (PIs).

CTSA Multi-Institutional Grants (applications accepted at any time)
Proposed projects must involve investigators at two or more institutions with an active CTSA. Applicants at each collaborating institution must have a full-time faculty appointment at their CTSA institution.


Is a match required?

Matching funds are not required for the $2K Grants, $2k Stakeholder Engagement Awards, and Translational Science Methods & Process Awards. However, the $5-50K Grants, FastTraCS Grants, and Planning Grants require a match from the home department, center or school of the involved faculty. CTSA Multi-Institutional applications require a match from another CTSA. Co-PIs' departments may share the match. The match must be real dollars and not in "in kind" contributions. Entities with their own pilot programs may use those funds as a source of matching funds.

The NC TraCS Pilot Project Fund received commitments from diverse constituencies across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and the state who are willing to entertain requests from PIs for matching funds. Please note that this list only includes entities that made commitments at the time the CTSA grant was submitted, although any school/department/center or combination thereof may participate in providing matching funds.


What restrictions apply to the use of the TraCS pilot funds?

$2k Pilot Grants (monthly)
Pilot grant funds may be budgeted for (1) research support personnel, (2) use of NC TraCS services, including salary support for NC TraCS core faculty such as biostatistics and biomedical informatics faculty, (3) travel necessary to perform the research, (4) equipment, research supplies, and core lab costs, or (5) other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Pilot grant funds may not be budgeted for (1) salary support for the UNC-Chapel Hill PI or UNC-Chapel Hill faculty collaborators, (2) office supplies or communication costs, including printing, (3) meals or travel, including to conferences, except as required to collect data, (4) professional education or training, (5) computers or audiovisual equipment, (6) manuscript preparation and submission, or (7) indirect costs.

$5k-$50k Translational Research Matched Pilot Grants (3 times per year)
Pilot grant funds may be budgeted for (1) research support personnel, (2) use of NC TraCS services, including, where applicable, salary support for NC TraCS biostatisticians, biomedical informaticians, or other experts, (3) travel necessary to perform the research, (4) equipment, research supplies, and core lab costs, or (5) other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Pilot grant funds may not be budgeted for (1) salary support for the PI or faculty collaborators (however, requests for salary support from TraCS' academic partners will be considered), (2) office supplies or communication costs, (3) meals or travel, including to conferences, except as required to collect data, (4) UNC-CH IRB fees, (5) professional education or training, (6) manuscript preparation and submission, or (7) indirect costs.

FastTraCS Matched Pilot Grants (3 times per year)
Pilot grant funds may be budgeted for: (1) research support personnel, (2) use of NC TraCS services, including salary support for NC TraCS core faculty, for example biostatistics and biomedical informatics faculty, (3) travel necessary to perform the research, (4) equipment, research supplies and core lab costs, or (5) other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Pilot grant funds may not be budgeted for (1) salary support for the UNC PI or faculty collaborators, (2) office supplies or communication costs, (3) travel or meals except as required to collect data, (4) professional education or training, (5) computers or audiovisual equipment, (6) manuscript preparation and submission, or (7) indirect costs.

$2K Stakeholder Engagement Vouchers
Investigators may utilize the funds to compensate health research stakeholders or to cover costs associated with the stakeholder engagement project, such as meeting space, travel, food, and childcare. Research stakeholders may be compensated for a variety of activities, including the development, review, and dissemination of research materials, organizing community outreach activities, developing community liaisons to support research activities, and the design of recruitment and retention strategies for populations underrepresented in health research.

Translational Science Methods & Process Awards
Pilot grant funds may be budgeted for (1) research support personnel, (2) use of NC TraCS services, including salary support for NC TraCS staff or faculty, for example biostatistics and biomedical informatics faculty, (3) travel necessary to perform the research, (4) equipment, research supplies, and core lab costs, or (5) other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Pilot grant funds may not be budgeted for (1) salary support for the PI or faculty collaborators, (2) office supplies or communication costs, (3) meals or travel, including to conferences, except as required to collect data, (4) professional education or training, (5) manuscript preparation and submission, or (6) indirect costs.

Planning Grants (applications accepted at any time)
Grant funds may be budgeted for (1) personnel (administrative or research personnel including biostatisticians), (2) use of TraCS services, (3) travel necessary to the performance of the research), (4) equipment, research supplies, or core lab costs, and (5) other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project.

Grant funds are not available for (1) PI or Co-Investigator salary, (2) professional education or training, (3) or indirect costs.

CTSA Multi-Institutional Grants (applications accepted at any time)
Funds may be used for any research purpose except faculty salary support. Typical expenses include laboratory supplies, small equipment, patient costs, consultants, or support for pre/postdoctoral students, technicians, or research assistants.


What is the proposal review process?

The proposal review process varies by award level. Additional details are available in the individual funding announcements.

For the $2K Pilot Grants and $2K Stakeholder Engagement Vouchers, funding decisions are usually made within 5 weeks. For the $5-50K Pilot Grants, FastTraCS Pilot Grants, and Translational Science Methods & Process Awards, funding decisions are usually made within 10 weeks. For the Planning Grants, funding decisions are usually made within 3 weeks. For the CTSA Multi-Institutional Grants, the length of review varies depending on the institutions involved.


How do I submit an application?

Each award level has its own unique set of instructions and application form. Additional details are available in the individual funding announcements. Applications must be submitted using the NC TraCS online pilot submission system. Most proposal sections (except for the $2K Pilot Grants and $2K Stakeholder Engagement Vouchers) will be uploaded as individual PDF files.


How soon will projects start after receiving an award notice?

PIs will have an opportunity to assemble their research team and acquire any required approval documentation before the grant period begins. Any needed IRB or IACUC approvals must be acquired before funds are released. Grants involving human subjects research or live vertebrate animals research will also need to submit additional documents for NIH approval which can take up to 30 days.


How many pilot grants will be awarded?

The number of awards will depend on the number of submissions received and how those submissions are scored by the TraCS Study Section. There is no predetermined number of how many will be funded for each RFA.


Who should I contact if I have questions?

TraCS Central is the first point of contact for questions about the TraCS pilot programs. Call 919.966.6022 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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