Quantitative Methodologies Pilot Program (QuMP)


The Quantitative Methodologies Pilot Program (QuMP) is a funding opportunity that supports interdisciplinary, translational research involving quantitative methodologies, such as mathematical modeling, statistics, biostatistics, and epidemiology. The QuMP Program specifically aims to encourage and support novel applications of quantitative methodologies, either through the novel use of existing methodologies or through the development of entirely new quantitative methodologies. Projects funded by the program are expected to involve trans-disciplinary collaborations between translational investigators and quantitative scientists.

Examples of projects that might fit this opportunity include:

  • Predicting the economic impact of disease epidemics through simulation
  • Developing a new statistic to account for healthcare disparities, and applying it to existing data
  • Using mathematical approaches to identify disease-specific pathway components
  • Computationally modeling the mechanics of blood flow or tissue damage
  • Identifying drug-target interactions through molecular simulation

Projects that are not suitable include analysis of experimental datasets using common techniques and development of tools or algorithms without direct clinical, health or biological application.

Key Dates

Round 1 Submission Deadline:
Friday, July 30, 2021 by 11:59:59 p.m. EDT

Round 2 Submission Deadline:
Friday, September 10, 2021 by 11:59:59 p.m. EDT

Anticipated Start Date:
December 1, 2021

Notification to Advancing Investigators:
Friday, August 13, 2021

Notification to Awardees:
Monday, October 11, 2021

Funding Information

Applicants can request up to $25,000 in direct costs, with a maximum funding period of one year. The funding cycle will run from December 1, 2021 through November 30, 2022; no extensions of this award period will be made. Funding cannot start until all necessary regulatory approvals have been received (IRB, hSCRO, IBC, CORID, IACUC).

Pilot funds are made possible through an institutional award made by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS); as a result, projects that are selected by CTSI must be submitted to NCATS for administrative approval. The review cannot be completed until all required regulatory approvals are submitted, and the review process itself lasts at least four weeks. To ensure a prompt start of funding, CTSI staff will work with accepted teams to prepare and submit the necessary materials.

Who Can Apply?

The 2021 funding cycle for QuMP is focused on supporting the work of graduate student researchers (master's or doctoral) at Pitt working with a formal mentor. As such, each project should have at least two investigators:

  • Principal Investigator (PI): the PI must be a faculty member at Pitt.
  • Co-Principal Investigator: the Co-PI must be a graduate student currently enrolled in either a master’s or doctoral degree program at Pitt.
  • Other Co-Investigators (Co-Is) may be included but are not required.

The PI should serve as a mentor to the Co-PI, as either the academic mentor or academic adviser to the Co-PI. Submissions should describe clearly the role of each investigator, with sufficient detail for reviewers to identify that all listed team members will have an active role in the research.

Submission Format and Requirements

Using the Powered by PInCh® Submission Platform
CTSI uses the Powered by PInCh® grant submission platform to collect and review all pilot project submissions. If applicants have not previously used this system, they should be aware that they will be required to create a new project before they are able to upload their PDF submission. Project creation should only take a few minutes and asks applicants to register their project in the system by providing the following information:

  • A title for their project (50-character limit)
  • A short description (200-character limit) of the project
  • A brief project summary (500-word limit) that should match the abstract and scope of work provided in the Letter of Intent

These fields are used primarily for internal reference and can be edited after the project has been registered. 

If you have any questions while using the system or encounter any errors while submitting, please contact Will Hierholzer, CTSI Pilot Funding Core Administrator, at wih22@pitt.edu or 412-282-3845.

Round 1: Letter of Intent (LOI)

Submit a letter of intent that summarizes the proposed research. Each submission must include the following sections:

  1. Study Title: Include the title of the proposal at the top of the page, along with the PI name and contact email.
  2. Abstract and Scope of Work (500 word limit): Provide a high-level overview of the study and the proposed work.
  3. Study Team: Provide the names and affiliations of all members of the study team and a brief description of their roles (25-50 words per person).
  4. Suggested Reviewers: To facilitate the final round of review, please suggest two to three Pitt/UPMC faculty members to potentially serve as non-conflicted scientific reviewers. For each suggested reviewer, list their name, title, department, and contact email.

Applications should be in the form of a single PDF document. The font should not be smaller than Arial 11; margins must be no smaller than 0.5 inches. All materials must be uploaded to the Powered by PInCh® web site by 11:59:59 PM on Friday, July 30, 2021. Additional or supplemental materials cannot be accepted after the deadline and will not be reviewed.




Round 1: Review Criteria

The review of letters of intent will be conducted by the leadership and faculty at CTSI. Proposals will primarily be evaluated based on the responsiveness to this RFA, as well as the overall scientific impact of the proposed work. The results of this evaluation will determine which investigators will be invited to submit a full proposal for the second round.

Round 2: Full Packet Submission

Applications should be in the form of a single PDF document. The font should not be smaller than Arial 11; margins must be no smaller than 0.5 inches. All materials must be uploaded to the Powered by PInCh® web site by 11:59:59 PM on Friday, September 10, 2021. Additional or supplemental materials cannot be accepted after the deadline and will not be reviewed.

Applications must include the following sections. Please start each new section on a new page.

  1. Cover Sheet (one page): Include the following details:
    • Project Title
    • Study Team: Please include the name and preferred contact email for the:
    • Principal Investigator (faculty member)
    • Co-Principal Investigator (mentored graduate student)
    • Scientific Abstract (maximum 250 words): Summarize your proposal

  2. Research Plan (maximum five pages including tables/figures): Please follow the traditional NIH proposal format to allow reviewers to address the following:
    1. Specific Aims
    2. Significance
    3. Innovation
    4. Approach
    5. Future Impact: A well-defined path from the pilot to future larger research efforts (maximum 250 words)

  3. References (no page limit): Literature cited does not count toward the five-page limit.

  4. Budget with Justification (no page limit): Use PHS 398 Forms Pages 4 and 5 (later revisions are also acceptable). The budget justification should include sufficient detail for reviewers to assess whether appropriate resources have been requested.

    An additional page should be included for the budget justification; all pieces of equipment, including any type of computer or related device, must be explicitly justified as critical to the performance of the proposed research. As indicated above, the intent of this program is to support the development of quantitative methods for biomedical research. Thus funds may not be used to support clinical work, including the recruitment of study subjects. Any salary requested should include federal fringe benefit rates.

    Grant funds may not be budgeted for:
    • Salary support for the PI or faculty collaborators*
    • Effort for the Co-PI (graduate student) is allowed
    • Routine office supplies or communication costs, including printing
    • Meals or travel, including to conferences, except as required to collect data
    • Professional education or training
    • Computers or audiovisual equipment (exceptions require clear justification)
    • Manuscript preparation and submission
    • Indirect costs

      *Effort is required of the Principal Investigator and must be reflected on the budget page. If salary support is not requested for the Principal Investigator and the Co-Investigator, effort must be cost-shared by the respective department. This effort should be cost shared by the department or other entity that will support such effort. Reviewers understand that this may be a very small proportion of effort given the size of this award, but will be cautious if investigators do not appear to have sufficient time to complete a project. Please note, an applicant who is currently the recipient of a mentored career development award (e.g., K12, K23, etc.) or a foundation-supported career development award may subsume the effort devoted to his or her QuMP project under the career development award as long as this project proposed is consistent with the career development award. Please contact Dr. Maria Brooks, Director, CTSI BERD Core, for verification of eligibility to subsume effort related to this announcement.

      Any salary support requested in a submitted budget should reflect federal fringe benefit rates. If an award is made, a budget meeting will be held between principal investigators, their respective research administrators, and financial administrators from the CTSI. If necessary, minor adjustments to the requested budget will be made at that meeting.

  5. Proposal Timeline (one page): Describe milestones and timeline for completion of the project. These milestones are critical for the pilot program, because all awards must be expended during the one-year award. The CTSI Pilot program does not have mechanisms to allow no-cost extensions. In the event an award is made, investigators should immediately confer with CTSI staff if any delay in initiation or completion of the project is anticipated.

  6. Human and/or Animal Subjects (no page limit): NIH supported pilot awards must address Protection of Human Subjects, Adequacy of Protection Against Risks, Data and Safety Monitoring Plans, Inclusion of Women and Minorities, and Inclusion of Children.

    Human Research Protection Office (HRPO) approval is not required prior to submission. However, HRPO approval is required for all projects involving human subjects before NCATS will approve project funding. Although animal research is expected to be rare in this program, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) must approve any projects involving animal subjects prior to final funding approval.

    In this section, applicants must describe any human and/or animal subject issues, as well as the sources of materials that will be obtained from human subjects. If human subjects are involved, provide a description of their involvement and characteristics, specific risks to subjects who participate, and protection against those risks. Reviewers may consider whether significant delays in approval are an anticipated barrier for project completion when selecting projects. Evidence of prior or ongoing HRPO / IACUC review is encouraged. Similarly, this section should discuss if other special regulatory approval is required prior to funding: Human Stem Cell Research Oversight (hSCRO), Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), Committee for Oversight of Research Involving the Dead (CORID), Radiation Safety Office (RSO), etc.

  7. NIH Biosketches (no page limit): Include biosketches for the Principal Investigator and for any other investigator whose expertise will be critical for successful completion of the project. The personal statement in any biographical sketch should be appropriate for the research proposed in the QuMP application. Use the new NIH Biosketch format as of March 2020.

Round 2 Review Criteria

It is a requirement that review of CTSI Pilot proposals should address the NIH review criteria. Reviewers will score final applications on an NIH scale (1-9) in the domains of Significance, Investigators, Innovation, Approach and Environment. Special emphasis will be given to a rating of the Overall Impact of the proposed project.

NIH Review Criteria:

  1. Overall Impact of the proposed project (The likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field).
  2. Significance (Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?)
  3. Investigators (Are the PD/PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited, sufficient, and able to conduct the project?)
  4. Innovation (Does the project shift current research or clinical practice paradigms use novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions?)
  5. Approach (Are the strategies, methods, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?)
  6. Environment (Are the personnel, equipment, and other physical resources available to the investigators to perform the proposed research within the time frame allotted?)