Pilot Awards

Third Coast CFAR Pilot Awards are intended for key preliminary studies in HIV-related basic, clinical, or behavioral research that will enable new NIH grant submissions and to stimulate cross-institutional and/or cross-disciplinary collaborations. A proposal must be for a new project or idea that is distinct from any currently funded project. Teams that include faculty from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, and across disciplines, are encouraged. The Developmental Core funded more than 30 high-impact pilot projects between 2015 and 2019.

Planning for Pilot Awards

The Third Coast CFAR (an NIH P30) is now under review for a renewal for 5 more years starting April 2020. Planning is starting now in anticipation of renewal funds being available for new Pilot Awards in spring 2020. This request is for potential Pilot Award applicants who are either early stage investigators in HIV or experienced investigators in other fields who are new to HIV research. Your responses now will help us optimize the upcoming request for applications (RFA). Comments are also appreciated from established HIV researchers. Please email Fern Murdoch, the Developmental Core Administrator, with the information below, as well as other suggestions you would like to make.

Request for information from potential applicants

  • CFAR core services, including mentoring, that you would like to know more about as you consider a potential proposal
  • Request for services, including consultation on human subjects’ research, to develop your project proposal
  • Topics in HIV research that warrant emphasis based on significance and/or Third Coast CFAR capacities, in addition to those below

Anticipated elements of the next RFA for Pilot Awards (if NIH proceeds on expected timeline)

High priority topics for funding

  • Proposals must be related to HIV and preference will be given to projects that align with high priority topics as defined by the NIH Office of AIDS Research and outlined in NOT-OD-20-018.
  • The Third Coast CFAR is particularly interested in supporting more new research focused on non-AIDS comorbidities that may occur with higher incidence in people living with HIV, particularly if proposed by cross-disciplinary research teams.


  • RFA release: late December 2019
  • Letter of Intent due: January 21, 2020
  • Applications due: February 17, 2020

Funding & Duration of Support

The project period is one year with expected dates starting 4/1/20 and ending 3/31/21. Maximum direct costs are $50,000.


The Principal Investigator (PI) (or co-PIs) on the application must be a new investigator (never PI on an R01-equivalent NIH grant) or new to HIV (never PI on R01-equivalent NIH grant for HIV). The corresponding PI must also be a Third Coast CFAR faculty member. Full Third Coast CFAR faculty membership is available to any faculty or staff person at Northwestern University (NU), University of Chicago (UC), and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (LCH), who is allowed to apply for NIH grants as a principal investigator at their institution.

All investigators must be a member of the Third Coast CFAR, either as a full faculty member (if at NU, UC, or LCH) or an affiliate member (if at another institution). You may register for membership on the Third Coast CFAR website. New investigators are required, and new to HIV investigators are strongly encouraged, to include an established HIV researcher as a mentor on the application.

Investigators previously funded in this program may apply for a pilot award to continue with a second year of funding for an existing pilot. Permission from one of the Third Coast CFAR Developmental Core directors is required for extension into a second year. Contact John Schneider at University of Chicago or Richard D’Aquila at Northwestern University to discuss your ideas and need for pilot funding and request written permission to apply (email is sufficient).