Pilot Grant Program

Please see the announcement for the 2021 Pilot Grant Program at the bottom 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 biological gerontology 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 program is essentially the same as we implemented in 2020. The Research Development Core Mentoring Program is also described at the end of this Notice.

We expect to again fund up to four $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, the Glen Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases, the School of Medicine Dean’s Office, and the Office of the Vice-President for Research).

Two Pilot Grant Programs:

  • Basic Aging Pilot Grants.
    • Junior faculty beginning their research careers (tenure track faculty within four years of appointment at the level of Assistant Professor) are eligible to apply for these pilot grants if their research program aligns with the aims of the Nathan Shock Center.
  • Transformative Award in Basic Aging Pilot Grants.
    • 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.

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.

For both pilot grant programs, 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 applicants are encouraged. However, special consideration will be given to proposals that fall under one or both of the following categories:

  • Research with a specific translational impact: Applications under this area are eligible for co- funding by the School of Medicine. While all applications must address some aspect of the basic biology of aging, this funding is for applications that have specific identifiable translational aspects that indicate a clear path by which the research can be brought into use in human medicine.
  • Research at the aging/cancer interface: Applications under this area are eligible for co-funding 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 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.
  • Research at the aging/neuroscience interface: Applications under this area are eligible for co-funding by the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s & Neurodegenerative Diseases. In addition to addressing an aspect of the basic biology of aging, proposals must address some fundamental aspect of the interaction of aging and neurodegenerative diseases. We are looking for applications the emphasize research in geroscience that impacts neurodegenerative diseases.

The Transformative Award in Basic Aging Research is a program that will fund investigators with conceptual ideas in basic aging research that could transform the field. In many cases, the need is to test ideas in aging research that are truly innovative and transformative, but preliminary data must be obtained in order for the researcher to be able to submit a credible grant application. We will also fund projects that aim to critically test the usefulness of novel emerging technologies in basic aging research.

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, March 15th, 2021.