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CTSI and UCLA Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) Rapid Pilot Grants Program

This application is currently closed.

The UCLA OAIC and the UCLA CTSI are soliciting applications for the Rapid Pilot Grants Program for aging-related basic, clinical and health services research. Award size will range from $1,000 to $10,000, dependent on scope of work.

A "rolling applications process" will be used. Applications will be accepted until the allocated funds for this program have been spent.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Junior Investigators: The PI must be a UCLA junior faculty member or advanced trainee at the post-doctoral level (pre-doctoral students are not eligible) with an identified and committed UCLA faculty mentor (the mentor will be the PI of record and responsible for the project).
  • Senior Investigators: The PI must be a UCLA senior faculty member who wishes to use this pilot funding to create a new area of emphasis in her/his work that is aging-related.
  • Because this award will provide limited, targeted support for a discrete need, applicants must provide tangible evidence that the infrastructural environment to conduct the research is adequate.

Award criteria:

  • Proposed work must be responsive to the UCLA OAIC research theme (see below). Applications that are not directly responsive to the mission will not be reviewed.
  • If the investigator is junior, the work must advance their independent research goals.
  • Results must have high likelihood of resulting in preliminary data for a larger research grant application and/or first-authored publication by the junior investigator.
  • Applications that are aimed at collecting additional preliminary data in response to a recent, favorably scored, but not funded grant application are of particular interest.
  • Also of interest are proposals that will used data from existing cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of aging and age-related disorders, to understand factors that exacerbate and mitigate inflammation in aging.
  • If the rapid pilot entails the study of human or animal subjects, an active IRB or IACUC approval must be in place at the time of the submission of the pilot application.
  • Requested funding amount must be appropriate for the proposed work.
  • Funds must be expended by June 30, 2016.

UCLA Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Theme: The theme of the UCLA OAIC is “Inflammation, Aging, and Independence.”

The UCLA OAIC will support both observational and interventional research on factors that contribute to increased inflammation in aging and its consequences to:
  1. Determine how inflammatory markers change with normal aging and with specific diseases and how these changes in inflammation affect diseases and outcomes related to independence;
  2. Link inflammatory markers to genetic and epigenetic profiles; and
  3. Develop and test interventions to reduce inflammatory burden and determine the effects of these interventions on health and functional outcomes.
The relation between inflammation and aging is complex. “Usual” aging is associated with rising markers of inflammation. Indeed, the term “inflammaging” has been coined to describe the low-grade, chronic, systemic inflammation in aging, in the absence of overt infection (“sterile” inflammation). Many other contributing factors affect inflammation including specific diseases as well as social and lifestyle factors. Some (e.g., sedentary lifestyle, poor sleep) exacerbate inflammation whereas others (e.g., participation in social and physical activities) mitigate inflammation. Conversely, exposure to higher levels of inflammation may contribute to accelerated aging and the development or progression of common diseases of aging (e.g., coronary artery disease, diabetes) and adverse outcomes (e.g., disability, loss of independence, and premature mortality).

The pathways that control age-related inflammation across multiple systems, the interactions of risk factors, and how these increase adverse outcomes are poorly understood. Even less is known about the pathways by which these factors alter the signaling and transcriptional pathways that drive chronic inflammation, which is critical for the development of precision-medicine interventions that selectively target risk factors based on individuals’ distinct profiles.

The Center stimulates scientific discovery through 4 Resource Cores (Recruitment and Retention, Research Operations, Analysis and Cost-effectiveness, and Inflammatory Biology), a Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core, a Research Career Development Core, and a Leadership/Administrative Core.

For investigators interested in doing secondary data analysis, we suggest you visit http://geronet.ucla.edu/research/dap to learn about available data sets that contain inflammatory biomarkers.


Submit an application packet via e-mail to Lucio Arruda. Note that awards will be made on an ongoing basis until program funds are exhausted. Interested applicants should contact Lucio Arruda before submitting to ensure that funds are still available and to obtain information about rolling submission due dates. (Please see contact information below).

The application packet must include the following:

A 3-page application, single spaced using Arial font 11-point typeface, with one-inch margins, which includes the following:

  1. Relevance: explicit statement about responsiveness of the research to OAIC theme
  2. Primary research questions and hypotheses
  3. Brief background and significance
  4. Brief methods including discussion of sample size (applications without a justification of sample size will not be reviewed)
  5. Timeline (note expenditure deadline)
  6. Specific statement about how data will result in one or more of the following: a revised grant application; a new grant application; a manuscript
  7. Proposed use of pilot funding (~5 sentences describing the amount of funding requested, the exact intended use of the funds, and why this funding is instrumental to the success of the project)

Also include:

  1. Biosketches and the NIH Commons username of all investigators and junior faculty mentor(s)
  2. IRB or Animal Use approval numbers as appropriate (because of the rapid turnaround time, proposals that require IRB or Animal Use approval must have this approval at the time of application).
  3. For Junior Faculty Applicants: A mentor’s letter that includes explicit description of the infrastructural support that will be available to the pilot project and the nature and amount of mentorship that will be provided.
  4. For Senior Faculty Applicants: A cover letter that describes how the pilot funding will be used to newly bring an aging focus to your area of research.
  5. For applications that are attempting to collect additional preliminary data in response to recent grant application reviews: include a complete copy of the grant application review and specifically identify the critique that will be addressed by the proposed work.

Funding decisions will be make within 8 weeks of receipt. Successful applicants may be asked to attend a team science training and must agree to submit progress reports, present their findings at local Pepper Center meetings, and cite the UCLA Pepper Center and the UCLA CTSI on all publications related to the support.

The application packet should be e-mailed to the attention of:
Lucio Arruda
UCLA Division of Geriatrics

Co-Sponsorship: UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)
The UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UCLA CTSI) is co-sponsoring the UCLA-OAIC rapid pilot program.  A brief description of the UCLA-CTSI follows.  Please note that the successful UCLA OAIC-CTSI rapid pilot applicant must be responsive to the UCLA OAIC research mission, described above. 

The UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UCLA CTSI) provides the infrastructure to bring UCLA innovations and resources to bear on the greatest health needs of Los Angeles and the nation. It is a dynamic partnership among UCLA Westwood, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the Burns and Allen Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and our Los Angeles community. It is one of more than 60 NIH-funded CTSIs nationwide.