Bonus Funding for CTSI Pilot Awards

CTSI offers Bonus funding for some Pilot Awards. Specific Bonuses may not be available for every funding opportunity. Each funding opportunity announcement will indicate whether or not Bonus Awards are available. Applicants should inquire with CTSI staff if they are not sure.

Proposals for Pilot Awards should apply for only one Bonus Award. In special circumstances, based on the program and the availability of funds, applicants may be permitted to apply for a second Bonus Award, but the team must receive permission from CTSI staff in advance.

The purpose of bonus awards is to encourage and to support particular activities and initiatives within the research community. At this time, Bonus Awards support Community Engagement Activities and Training for Individuals Underrepresented in the Biomedical Research Workforce.

Bonus Awards must be requested in the original proposal budget and cannot be requested after the grant review is complete. Applying for a Bonus Award does not impact the review of the Pilot Award proposal and is not required for any Pilot Award.


  • When applying for bonus funding, follow all instructions for the parent Pilot Award.
  • In the initial Round 1 application, indicate in the letter of intent which bonus award the application will seek (limit 1 sentence).
  • In the complete Round 2 application, include the extra bonus amount in the proposed budget. In the event that an application is selected for funding, but not selected for the bonus award, the final budget can be adjusted in consultation with the CTSI staff.
  • In the complete Round 2 application, include in the application proposal a description as a separate section of how the project meets the criteria for the bonus award (limit 1 page in addition to the regular application), and any supporting letters or materials (no limit).


The review and selection of grants for bonus awards is independent of the parent Pilot Award. In general, CTSI faculty and staff will review whether an award meets the criteria for a bonus award only after the Pilot Award is selected for funding based on peer review of its scientific merit. Specialized reviewers or external reviewers may help CTSI faculty determine suitability for Bonus Awards. Proposals will be judged to be “eligible” or “not eligible.”

Current Bonus Programs

Community Engagement Bonus Award
Conducting research with community members and increasing participation of communities outside of the University in the research enterprise is a priority for CTSI ( In particular, the University seeks engage and learn more from individuals and organizations who are underrepresented in biomedical research (UBR) ( and ).

Applications that demonstrate a meaningful partnership or collaboration with a community organizations and community members that addresses participation of UBR may be eligible for an additional $5,000 of funding. A meaningful partnership or collaboration would include demonstration of a UBR partner’s contribution to the development of the research project or commitment to participate in the proposed project. Levels of stakeholder engagement have been described in many ways, including descriptions derived from Arnstein’s ladder (Arnstein SR. A ladder of citizen participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners 1969; 35: 216–224). We will consider applications in terms of the Community Engagement Continuum in the CTSA report: Outreach – Consult – Involve – Collaborate – Shared Leadership ( In general, applications that only propose Outreach or Consult activities will not be considered responsive for this Bonus Award.

There are many examples of how community groups might engage. See for example: Callard F, Rose D, Wykes T. Close to the bench as well as at the bedside: involving service users in all phases of translational research. Health Expect. 2012; 15(4):389-400. PMID: 21615638; PMCID: PMC5060629.

Examples include:

  • Community council that will participate in the development of the research question, analysis or dissemination to ensure that the proposed research is relevant to an UBR community.
  • Participation by an UBR community group to improve recruitment or other methodology to remove barriers to participation by UBR persons.

Bonuses must provide a Letter of Support (does not count toward page limits) from any community group describing active participation in the proposed research study. It is expected and encouraged to compensate community partners for their participation, and these bonus funds may also do this indirectly by supporting other project activities.

Training for Individuals Underrepresented in the Biomedical Research Workforce (“Training”) Bonus Award
In many studies, diverse teams benefit from innovative ideas and multiple perspectives, allowing them to outperform homogenous teams. Increasing the diversity of the research workforce is a priority for CTSI. Some groups are underrepresented among investigators, reducing the breadth of viewpoints, ideas and creativity for the entire investigative community. This award will create positive early career experiences and opportunities in order to encourage more individuals from more backgrounds to choose, continue, or overcome barriers to an investigative career.

Applications that deliver a meaningful research experience to an early career investigator from a group underrepresented in the biomedical workforce may be eligible for an additional $5,000 of funding. For this bonus, we will consider “underrepresented group” to includes individuals with backgrounds described in the Notice of NIH’s Interest in Diversity ( These include racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders; individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Gender is an important dimension within which there are disparities in the workforce and may be cited in combination with another dimension, but gender alone will not be a qualifying criterion for this Bonus Award.

“Early career” may include any investigator on a team who does not have a regular faculty appointment. Secondary school students, undergraduates, predoctoral students, health professional students, residents, fellows, and postdoctoral scholars are included. Persons who are University staff (e.g. research coordinators) might also be eligible if the proposal explains how the experience may lead them towards more independent or sustained research careers. Faculty members are not eligible for these bonuses, because they are already eligible to apply as the Principal Investigator. Contact CTSI staff if you are not sure about eligibility.

Bonus funds should specifically benefit the individual, though we expect this investment and engagement will also benefit the project. Successful applications will identify the early career investigator on the team and propose didactic or experiential training specifically for the early career investigator. Applications that merely employ a trainee from an underrepresented group without providing independent experiences would not be responsive.

Funds from the bonus, as well as funds within the core Pilot Award, may be used for:

  • Salary support for the trainee
  • Workshops, classes or training materials for the trainee
  • Travel to and preparation for a meeting for the trainee
  • Project costs or supplies that enhance the trainee’s experience
  • Subprojects that foster trainee independence

Note that NIH restricts purchase of certain infrastructure items with grant funds. These items include computers, telephones, office equipment, and others. Salary for graduate medical trainees and professional school tuition are not eligible for funding. Consult with CTSI staff about any items that might be restricted.