The 2017 Rutgers BHI, RU-Newark, NJIT Pilot Grant Program in Neuroscience

We are pleased to announce the 2017 pilot grants program in neuroscience at Rutgers University. There are two main objectives of these pilot awards program: (i) to foster new collaborative, interdisciplinary research in the neurosciences not only across Rutgers but also NJIT, Kessler Foundation Research Center, East Orange VA Medical Center, and (ii) support pilot experiments that will lead to sustained funding from an external agency (e.g., NIH). There are two categories of pilot grants available; each award is limited to $40,000 direct costs and no indirect costs or overhead are allowed. For both type of pilots, collaborative multidisciplinary efforts are encouraged. The deadline for these applications is 5 PM, Friday, October 6th, 2017. Submit a SINGLE PDF file to The two categories of awards are:

  • Translational neuroscience awards – these must address disease mechanisms, focusing on diagnosis, tools or treatments that involve animal models, clinical studies, or basic neuroscience relevant to a future clinical application. The clinical relevance must be clearly described in the Research Plan. These pilots require at least 2 full-time faculty Co-PIs with appointments from different Schools across Rutgers. Formation of teams that integrate basic and clinical themes with a vision of a future translational impact will have preference. Six translational pilots are available and are funded by the BHI. Four out of the six BHI-funded pilot awards will only be for applications submitted by faculty co-PIs from RU-New Brunswick and RBHS (note that PIs have to be from different Schools). The other two pilot awards may include co-PIs from RU-Newark and NJIT.
  • Basic neuroscience awards – These can include a focus on more basic neural mechanisms, or focus on translational neuroscience experiments involving an animal model or clinical studies. These Basic awards must include at least 2 full-time faculty Co-PIs, no more than one of whom can be a faculty member at RU-Newark (Four awards funded by the RU-Newark Chancellor’s Research Office), or at NJIT (One award funded by NJIT).

Format:  All applications should be formatted as an R21 NIH style application (1 page Specific Aims and 6 pages for the Research Plan). Also include Literature Cited, Budget, Budget Justification, NIH Biosketches for all Co-PIs, Facilities and Resources and Equipment). Within the Research Plan under the Innovation section please describe explicitly how the pilot funding will promote new collaborations and/or new projects. The application should be single-spaced, use font/size Arial 11 with 0.5 inch page margins. Funded applicants from last year seeking a second year of funding must include in addition a 1 page Introduction that gives a report of progress made in Year 1, grants and papers submitted as well as a clear justification for the need of second year of funding.  All applications must include the Cover page (Title, co-PI’s, institutions, etc.) and the Submission Check List accompanying this announcement (Available Here). The application should be combined into one PDF document with the Cover page in the front. Only grant award recipients will need to submit the RAPSS Endorsement form and proof of University’s FCOI compliance. IRB and IACUC approvals will also need to be submitted post-award using the Just-In-Time (JIT) approach. These forms and approvals are not required at the time of initial grant application submission on October 6th; however, awardees will have to submit these items before the funds from the grant award are disbursed.  We anticipate that the award announcement will be made in January 2018. It is recommended that the applicants prepare and submit the IACUC/IRB applications associated with the pilot grant project well in advance, to the appropriate institutional committees, in order to get these approvals in a timely-fashion.

Please note-the pilot award funds cannot be used for PI and co-PI salaries.  Pilot funds can be budgeted for post-doc, student and research technician stipends and salaries. Purchase of equipment costing more than $5000 needs to be well-justified in the budget.  The entire application, including the Cover page & Check List, should be combined into one PDF document with the Cover page in the front. Submit the SINGLE PDF file to by 5 PM, Friday, October 6th, 2017.

All grants will undergo a dual stage review process, organized by the Brain Health Institute in collaboration with RU-Newark and NJIT. They will have an initial external review to judge scientific quality and assigned a priority score by external reviewers (similar to NIH study section review). They then will be reviewed by an internal committee (similar to an NIH Council Review) to allocate funds consistent with the long-term strategies for developing neuroscience research at Rutgers and NJIT and the source of pilot funds. One main factor in determining funding will be perceived likelihood that the pilot data generated will lead to external funding.

All pilot awardees will be required to submit a final progress report within 2 months of the end of the award. This report will include publications and grant applications submitted, as well as results obtained and significance of those results. One PI also will be required to orally present results of the studies at the Annual BHI symposium.

Awards will be announced by January 2018. Additional pilot funding may be available next year; successful applicants from this round can apply for a second year of funding at that point but will compete with new applications as well.

Please contact Gary Aston-Jones or Eldo Kuzhikandathil (, Nabil Adam ( or Atam P Dhawan ( with questions.

Gary Aston-Jones, Ph.D., Director, Brain Health Institute, Rutgers University/Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Nabil Adam, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Research & Collaborations and Founding Director for Rutgers Institute for Data Science, Learning, and Applications, RU-Newark

Atam P Dhawan, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Research and Development, New Jersey Institute of Technology