Pilot Grant Program

Please see the announcement for the 2024 Pilot Grant Program on the right side of the page.

The San Antonio Nathan Shock Center and the Barshop Institute are seeking small grant proposals in aging research from UT Health SA, UTSA, and Texas Biomedical Research Institute faculty. Funds are available for research on basic geroscience through the Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging, a component of the Barshop Institute. This announcement describes the Pilot Grant Program. The Research Development Core Mentoring Program is also described at the end of this Notice.

We expect to again fund up to three $25,000 Pilot awards. This is due to the generous co-funding by our partner entities at UT Health SA (including the Mays Cancer Center and the Office of the Vice-President for Research). Proposals focused on the basic biology of aging, but we also encourage proposals at the interface of aging with other biomedical disciplines for example cancer, diabetes or neuroscience.

Pilot Grant Program:

  • All faculty (tenure track or non-tenure track) are eligible to apply for these grants.
  • There is no requirement that applicants for this award have any prior experience in aging research, and prior experience in aging research will not disqualify applicants. Junior faculty are especially encouraged to apply and may be given preference for funding.

Budgets must be fully justified. Normally, only a single year of funding will be provided, but occasionally a second year of funding may be awarded for junior faculty. If a second year of funding is requested, the applicant will be required to submit a progress report (maximum of 2 pages) as part of the process for 2nd year funding.

It is very important to include a discussion of how the pilot grant will enhance future success in obtaining extramural funding.

If your project proposes the use of one of the Nathan Shock Aging Center Cores, please consult with the relevant core leader, and obtain a letter of support to be included with your application (does not count toward the page limit). See http://nathanshock.barshop.uthscsa.edu.

Specific Areas of Interest:

All Basic Aging Pilot Grant applications are encouraged. However, special consideration will be given to proposals at the aging/cancer interface:

  • Research at the aging/cancer interface:  Applications under this area are eligible for cofunding by the Mays Cancer Center. Again, all applications must address some aspect of the basic biology of aging. However, this funding category is for applications that use our 2 understanding of basic aging biology to address fundamental issues of why cancer is much more frequent in older individuals, or how your proposal could have implications for cancer therapy and research. Note: It is not sufficient to simply state that cancer occurs more frequently as a function of age.

Proposal format and guidelines for all grant applications:

  • Face page – you can find the form to use at http://nathanshock.barshop.uthscsa.edu/pilot-grant-program/
  • Use NIH formatting throughout. 1 page for Specific Aims and up to 4 pages for Research Strategy. This may include Significance, Innovation, Preliminary Studies and Approach, including statistical analyses to be used. Please indicated how the pilot grant will enhance future success in obtaining extramural funding.
  • References (with complete authorship and titles). No page limit.
  • NIH-formatted 1st Year Budget and budget justification (RESTRICTIONS on BUDGET: No funds for PI’s salary or travel; no major items of equipment).
  • NIH-formatted biosketch – current NIH format. Include for all faculty involved in the grant application.
  • Letters of support as needed.
  • Please provide the names and contact information for at least 3 External Reviewers.
  • Assemble the grant application into a single PDF and email it to Dr. James Lechleiter, Co-Leader of the Research Development Core (lechleiter@uthscsa.edu).


Evaluation of the proposals is a two-stage process. At stage one, two experts on the subject of the proposal from outside the Health Science Center prepare written evaluations. At stage two, a panel of Shock Center Core Leaders uses these written reports to judge the merit of the proposal and evaluate the relevance of the research to gerontology and to the goals of the Barshop Institute and the Nathan Shock Aging Center. We hope to be able to notify awardees no later than May 1st.

Award Recipient Follow-up:

Successful applicants will be required to provide the Barshop Institute with the following:

  • A seminar on the pilot study research
  • Notification of abstracts or papers published to which the pilot study contributed
  • Notification of extramural grants sought and awards received that relate to the pilot study

Proposals must be received no later than 5:00 PM, February 15, 2024.


Several mentoring activities are organized under the Research Development Core of the Nathan Shock Center for Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging. Senior faculty associated with Shock Center and the Barshop Institute are available to assist with the following mentoring activities:

  • Assisting successful applicants of the Pilot Project Program to use findings resulting from their award to obtain major extramural awards;
  • Assisting unsuccessful applicants to the Pilot Project Program to improve their grant applications;
  • Assisting any faculty interested in aging with grant applications that focus on the Basic Biology of Aging;
  • Facilitating cooperation between basic science faculty whose research has translational aspects in biomedical gerontology with clinicians whose expertise is relevant to the topic of translational research.

Any faculty member wishing to know more about these activities is encouraged to contact the Research Development Core Leader, Dr. Peter Hornsby (hornsby@uthscsa.edu).