Call for Pilot Grants

Request for Pilot Proposals
Network on Life Course Health Dynamics and Disparities in 21st Century America
Due Date: Monday, October 12, 2020 @ 5:00pm


The Network on Life Course Health Dynamics and Disparities in 21st Century America (NLCHDD), funded by the National Institute on Aging, invites interested researchers to submit pilot proposals that have potential to better understand how US adult health and mortality outcomes are shaped by meso-level contexts. By meso-level, we mean the county, metro area, city, carceral apparatus, commuting zone, housing or labor market, hospital catchment area, and other contextual levels of influence that are not state-level but are also broader than local contexts such as neighborhoods.

The US has poorer population health relative to most other high-income countries in the world and wide socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and gender disparities across a range of outcomes. Poor health and very wide disparities have been magnified even further by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is also evidence that population health in some US contexts is improving while in other contexts key outcomes are stagnating or even getting worse. How and why do meso-level contexts matter for the poor overall health in the US and for disparities across subgroups? How and why do meso-level contexts matter for growing disparities in population health? Meso-level influences may vary from diverging laws and policies in particular places, to the level of available resources available in such contexts, to the unique built and social environments that vary across such contexts. The NLCHDD is looking for proposals that promise to advance science in this important area of study and to lead to fundable grant proposals.

Now in its seventh year of operation, the NLCHHD is a research network funded by the National Institute on Aging that promotes population research dedicated to understanding health dynamics and disparities in the United States. The network is led by Jennifer Ailshire (University of Southern California), Sarah Burgard (University of Michigan), Robert Hummer (University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill), and Jennifer Karas Montez (Syracuse University). It includes seasoned and emerging investigators from universities around the country. This coming year, our focus will be on how meso-level contexts influence disparities and trends in adult health and mortality. We are soliciting pilot projects in that area of focus.

Cover page with title and investigator’s name and an abstract that clarifies the value of the research; NIH Face-Page (Form Page 1); NIH biosketch for all key personnel; a PHS 398 budget page and budget justification; plus 3-page proposal covering specific aims, significance, innovation, and research design/methods. Proposals using human subjects will need institutional IRB approval before funding is awarded.  Note:  When calculating total requested budget, IDC amount is part of the total budget and should be included on the budget form on the line that says “Consortium/Contractual Costs – Facilities and Administrative Costs.”

Investigators may request total (direct + indirect) costs in the range of $10,000-$20,000, with a limit of 8% on indirect costs (IDC). Funds can be used for research assistance, salaries, travel, data acquisition, etc. Principal Investigators must hold a PhD. We expect to make 4-5 awards.

Additional Requirements:

  • Subcontracts are not allowed.
  • Proposals must be submitted to and approved by the Principal Investigator’s office of sponsored research and be signed by an institutional official to be considered for review.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: Please submit proposals as a single PDF file by Monday, October 12th to Kathy Forrest at


  • October 12, 2020: Proposals due to: Proposals due to Kathy Forrest at
  • Week of October 26, 2020: Notification of decisions and request for IRB approvals.
  • January 1, 2021: Estimated start date after receipt of NIA and IRB approvals.

Duration of Pilot Projects: Until June 30, 2021. See the FAQs page for information about timing:

Proposals will be evaluated for: (a) the quality of the proposed research; (b) contribution to the NLCHDD topic for the year; (c) likelihood that proposed work will result in K99/R00, K01, R03, or R01 funding within 2 years; (d) likelihood the research will result in important publications with insights into population health; (e) credentials of investigators. Early stage and under-represented minority investigators are especially encouraged to apply.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES: Awardees are required: 1) to give a brief overview of your project and fully participate in the NLCHDD annual meeting on the Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday (May 8-9, 2021) after the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in St. Louis, MO;  (2) to present the findings from your project at the NLCHDD annual meeting on April 9-10, 2022, the Saturday/Sunday directly following the annual meeting of the Population Association of America in Atlanta, GA; (3) to participate in future NLCHDD annual meetings and activities; (4) to produce a written report upon completion of the project. Subsequent outcomes—such as resulting proposals, research funding, and publications—must also be reported to the NLCHDD. All research resulting from the pilot grant must credit NIA grant 2R24 AG045061. All publications stemming from the work must be submitted to PubMed Central.

For more information about scientific issues, please contact:
Jennifer Ailshire, University of Southern California (
Sarah Burgard, University of Michigan (
Robert Hummer, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (
Jennifer Karas Montez, Syracuse University (

For more information about administrative and budget issues, please contact:
Kathy Forrest (