Frequently Asked Questions


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

The purpose of the NC TraCS Institute $5-50K 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.

All PIs and Co-Investigators must be members of the NC TraCS Institute – there is no fee to join.


What funding opportunities make up the Pilot Program?

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

The monthly $2k grants provides 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 or will be considered.

In 2014, TraCS introduced 3 Strategic Initiatives aimed at harnessing the existing strengths, energy and expertise of UNC and RTI. Together, we offer investigators a no-cost, personalized mentoring program with highly specialized expertise in 3 specific areas of translational research. We are especially interested in proposals with a focus on one of these areas: 1) Transformative Technologies 2) Comparative Effectiveness Research 3) Drugs, Devices & Diagnostics Development (4D). For 1 and 2, apply through the TraCS $5K-50K Program. For 3, TraCS is accepting proposals to progress innovations through the development process toward an eventual commercial endpoint — being either the launching of a company or licensing to an established company — for investigators that have identified novel and promising drugs, devices or diagnostics. Learn more about the Drugs, Devices & Diagnostics Development (4D) grant.

Planning Grants aim to stimulate UNC-CH investigators to serve as Principal Investigators for new centers, Roadmap initiatives or multicenter clinical trials. 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 of these 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 62 CTSA Institutions (see www.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 can be submitted at any time.

CDTR grants are available from the UNC Center for Diabetes Translation Research to Reduce Health Disparities. Each year the CDTR will fund up to 3 awards for $20-40K for a period of one year. The goal of the program is to facilitate the success of Early Stage Investigators as they enter the field of diabetes translational research, with a focus on becoming independently funded diabetes researchers. The pilot and feasibility program also seeks to facilitate the success of more senior investigators as they change fields and enter the field of diabetes translational research.


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-CH 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). Non-faculty awardees are required to include a faculty mentor.

$5k-$50k Translational Research Matched Pilot Grants (3 times per year)
UNC-CH researchers should hold a faculty appointment. UNC-CH faculty researchers who only hold an Adjunct appointment are not eligible to apply. Also eligible are UNC-CH researchers whose appointment allows them to serve as PI on externally sponsored research projects, for instance researchers holding EPA non-faculty “research scientist” appointments at UNC’s research institutes and centers. Members of NC TraCS-affiliated academic partner institutions and community organizations are eligible if they include a UNC-CH 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.

CHER Pilot Awards
Principal investigator (PI) must have a primary faculty appointment at UNC-Chapel Hill. Priority will be given to junior investigators (defined as tenure track and fixed term assistant professors) who have not yet been the lead investigator on a federally funded independent (R01 level) research project. Senior investigators who are changing their research focus to address racial/ethnic health disparities are also eligible to apply.

CDTR Grants
Principal investigators may have their primary appointments from UNC-Chapel Hill or from our partnering institutions (examples include UNC-Pembroke, East Carolina University, Wake Forest University, and Robeson County Health Department). When the PI is from a partnering institution, a co-investigator from UNC-Chapel Hill must be included in the proposal.


Is a match required?

No match is required for the $2K grants, CTSA Multi-Institutional grants, or CHER awards. CDTR Grants don’t require a match although it is desirable. The $5-50K Grants and Planning Grants require a match from the home department, center or school of the involved faculty. 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-CH campus and the state. 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-CH PI or UNC-CH 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.

$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 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 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.

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) computers or audiovisual equipment, or (4) 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.

Funds may not be used for faculty salary support.

CHER Pilot Awards
Award funds may be used for (1) data collection, (2) research staff (e.g., GRA, RA, and existing staff), (3) mailing of surveys, (4) analyses of any type, (5) interventions, or (6) for other resources necessary to complete the project.

Award funds cannot be used to pay for (1) UNC faculty salary, (2) university overhead, (3) clinical patient care, (4) purchase of computer hardware, or (5) investigator travel to conferences or meetings (project implementation travel is permitted).

CDTR Grants
PI's may include up to $8000 for salary and fringe benefits. Student time (i.e., stipend) is allowed, and travel is allowed for conduct of the research or for travel to scientific meetings.

Funds may not be used for student tuition.


What is the proposal review process?

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


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.


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 anticipated major delays in a funded project should be communicated to TraCS. Extensions are not available for NC TraCS Institute Pilot Grants.


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 all of 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.