The Pain Research Challenge

What is your solution to ease the burden of pain?

The application period for the 2020 Pain Research Challenge has ended.


The Pain Research Challenge is a funding opportunity for ideas and solutions associated with both physiological and psychological pain. Research solutions can address the dynamics of pain, causes and alleviation of pain, and treatment to prevent and/or mitigate pain. Solutions should address a specific problem in the area(s) of pain including mechanism, treatments, modalities, and impacts of acute and chronic pain.

To participate, teams are asked to complete the brief application template. Advancing teams are invited to submit a budget and seven-minute slideshow presentation.


Up to $150,000 in awards are funded by the Virginia Kaufman Endowment Fund and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Three projects will be selected to receive a $50,000 award. The award period will last 12 months. 


At least one member of the team must be a University of Pittsburgh faculty member. While individuals are welcome to apply, University partnerships or cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged. Teams with connections among other universities and community organizations are also encouraged.

Application Process:

The Round 1 application period opens on January 6, 2020. Applications must be submitted through Powered by PInCh®. Please note: Powered by PInCh requires teams to create a new project and add a brief description prior to submitting the Round 1 application.

Round 1:

Application Due Date: Monday, February 17, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Download and complete the one-page application template which requires a response to each of the following categories:  Problem, Solution, Novelty, Impact, Project Plan, and Team.  NOTE:  each response is limited to 350 characters (with spaces) or approximately 50 words, and therefore, needs to be concise.

Download the application template:

Round 2: Invited Applications

Application Due Date: Monday, April 20 at 5 p.m.

1. Seven-minute narrated slide presentation

  • A file of slides (i.e., PowerPoint) with a voice recording is required.  Presentations should not exceed 20 slides and should not be more than seven minutes in length.
  • The presentation must include and address the following
    • Project title
    • Problem statement
    • Solution description/aims
    • Approach
    • Impact
    • Innovation
    • Include the current stage of development of the solution (i.e., any preliminary data).
    • Role of the Pain Research Challenge award.
    • Team introduction (include name, affiliation, discipline/department for each team member).

How to make a narrated PowerPoint:

2. Budget and Budget Justification

  • Submit a budget on form PHS 398 and a corresponding single-page budget justification for a $50,000 award over a 12 month award period. 
  • The monies awarded will support direct costs only; no indirect support will be provided. The monies awarded may be used for salary support for the principal investigator or any co-investigator/collaborator. Salary support of students and staff can also be included. Any salary support requested in a submitted budget should reflect non-Federal fringe benefit rates. Justification must be provided for any equipment item costing more than $5,000. Personal computer purchase will be approved only when it can be demonstrated that the computer is essential for the proposed work.

Download PHS 398 Form:

Judging Criteria

Entries for the Pain Research Challenge will be primarily judged on the following criteria:
  • Significance and impact of the articulated problem and corresponding solution
    • Does the project address an important problem or critical barrier in the field?
    • How will the solution, if successful, change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  • Innovation of the proposed solution
    • Does the project propose novel concepts, methods, instrumentation, or interventions?
    • Does the project challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms?
  • Feasibility and approach of the proposed solution
    • Is the methodology well-reason and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
    • Are the personnel and other physical resources available to perform the proposed research within the time frame allotted?

Important Dates:

Round 1 Open Application Period:  Monday, January 6
Round 1 Application Due Date: Monday, February 17 at 5 p.m.
Announcement of Advancing Projects: Monday, March 16
Round 2 Application Due Date: Monday, April 20 at 5 p.m.
Announcement of Awards: Tuesday, May 19

Learn about previous 
Pain Research Challenge awardees.

For questions, please email