Pilot Awards

Funding Opportunity Description

Third Coast CFAR pilot awards are intended for preliminary studies in HIV-related basic, clinical, social or behavioral research that will lead to new NIH grant submissions. The Developmental Core has funded 47 high-impact pilot projects between 2015 and 2023.

The Developmental Core will likely issue a new RFA for pilot awards in late 2023. The RFA from the most recent competition is provided below for reference.

Pilot projects must align with NIH priorities for HIV research (NOT-OD-20-018). In the fall 2020 award cycle, the Third Coast CFAR gave special, but not exclusive, priority to research focused on non-AIDS comorbidities that occur with higher incidence in people living with HIV, including but not limited to: COVID-19, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disorders, non-AIDS defining cancer, TB, HCV, diabetes, and depression. An emphasis on HIV-related comorbidities remains a priority for the upcoming competition.

Review criteria value projects that are trans-disciplinary and that will be competitive for NIH funding using pilot results. Proposals must outline a new project that is distinct from any currently funded research. Collaborations on non-AIDS comorbidities between HIV researchers and researchers in other (non-HIV) fields are encouraged.  Please contact the developmental core leadership if there is need for identifying potential collaborators.

Funds Available

  • Up to $50,000 in direct costs are allowed and smaller budgets may be awarded. Indirect costs will be determined at the time of award.
  • Funding is contingent upon NIH support for the Third Coast CFAR P30 grant, which is expected to continue until 2025.

Duration of Support

The project period is one year starting as early as July 1, 2022. Investigators may be required to have all regulatory approvals (IRB, IACUC, etc) in place for the project start date.


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

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 project with written permission from the Developmental Core.


  • Required letter of intent survey due: April 4, 2022
  • Mandatory pre-submission review meeting: April 11, 2022
  • Applications due: May 10, 2022 by 11:59 p.m.
  • Earliest project start date: July, 1 2022 (varies depending on regulatory and administrative components required)

View the Pilot Award RFA.

Additional Information and Questions

Awards in the current competition may begin as late as early 2023.

It is the mission of the Developmental Core to provide strong support for new investigators and established investigators new to HIV research. Please contact us with questions or requests for assistance at any point in the application process.

Developmental Core

Jenny Trinitapoli, PhD, The University of Chicago
Developmental Core Director

Richard D’Aquila, MD, Northwestern University
Developmental Core

Justin Schmandt, MPH, Northwestern University
CFAR Associate Director

To request information about Developmental Core awards and services, contact Justin Schmandt.