Call for Pilot Project Proposals, 2022-23

Request for Proposals: Deadline March 4, 2022

The Center for Demography of Health and Aging invites interested investigators to submit proposals for pilot funding for 2022-23.

Research Focus

Pilot proposals may be submitted on a variety of research topics. Although we welcome proposals in all areas of aging, CDHA seeks to prioritize pilots that fit or expand its thematic areas. In addition, pilot applications with the greatest chances of success are those with a high likelihood of future external funding and those that support junior faculty and faculty from historically under-represented groups. This year, we are also interested in funding research that proposes the use of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and/or includes team members who work in institutions without an NIH population center.

We welcome proposals that focus on:

  1. Aging and the life course: Attention to linkages between late life health, social, and economic outcomes and events in utero, early and middle age.
  2. Biodemography: Health status, mortality, cognitive deterioration, senescence and the role played by gene-environment interactions, epigenetic processes, hormonal dysregulation, and microbiotic changes.
  3. Determinants of disparities (racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic) of aging trajectories: including health and mortality, family organization and support.
  4. Health economics/policy approaches to aging questions: Retirement, health care, etc.
  5. Impacts of place on aging processes.

Pilot research projects are expected to lead to the formulation of a larger research proposal to be submitted for funding as an R03, R01, or other NIA funding mechanism. Pilots are not designed to support work that is close to completion or to continue research on already funded projects (unless these, themselves, can lead to additional funding). NIA considers the ‘return’ rates per pilot awarded when making future Center funding decisions, so we must focus on funding pilots that have a high likelihood of resulting in future proposals to NIH.


One year budgets are nearly always below $50,000. A typical project funds a 50% time, 12 month Research Assistant or provides limited summer support for faculty. Multi-year projects are possible if properly justified. Smaller projects, including producing datasets for wider use or other activities, are also eligible. Please indicate your budgetary needs as part of the initial pilot proposal.

Number of Awards

The number of awards we are able to make varies from year to year depending on allocations to CDHA provided by NIA, but we typically fund 3-4 projects.

Application Process

Prepare a 1-2 page proposal with a description of your research idea and your budgetary needs. Submit proposals to Janet Clear, by March 4, 2022. CDHA Steering Committee members will evaluate and rank the proposals and a final decision will be made by the CDHA Director in consultation with this committee. In cases of ties or when a pilot proposal is outside the field of expertise of Steering Committee members, we will seek one or two outside evaluators in consultation with the primary investigator(s). External reviewers will be chosen from among researchers at the UW–Madison or those at other universities.

Pilots approved by the committee are then forwarded to NIA program staff for final approval.  Approved pilot projects must provide IRB approval for the project, a budget and justification, and a biographical sketch for the PI before funding will be released.

Expected Outcomes

Funded pilot projects will be expected to provide (1) a mid-period award progress report, due the last week of February, and (2) a final report, due the first week of October in the year after the pilot is awarded. We also expect PIs to let us know when an NIH application based on the pilot work is submitted, regardless of whether it is during the year of funding or in the future. All publications resulting from pilot-funded research must be submitted to PubMed Central and associated with the Center for Demography of Health and Aging, P30AG017266.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated for (a) connection to a research focus identified above; (b) likelihood that proposed work will result in NIH or other funding within 2-3 years; (c) likelihood the research will result in important publications with insights into the demography of health and aging; and (d) credentials of investigators–young investigators are encouraged to apply.

For More Information, Contact:

Eric Grodsky, grodsky@ (acting director, spring 2022)
Jason Fletcher, (director)
Janet Clear,