RFP No.: CAIRHE-04-2020
Issue Date:
 October 24, 2019
Required Letter of Intent Deadline: February 3, 2020
Application Deadline:April 1, 2020

CAIRHE requests proposals for Pilot Projects that address the Center's mission of reducing health disparities in Native and rural communities in Montana. Use of a community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework is highly encouraged but not required, though all projects must have a health equity focus consistent with the Center's mission. Faculty applicants may develop projects within a single discipline (e.g., social sciences), but CAIRHE also encourages collaborative projects between biomedical and social and behavioral health investigators. As in all CAIRHE-funded research, projects should have a high likelihood of leading to independent funding from external (non-MSU) sponsors, such as the National Institutes of Health, the Patient-Centered OutcomesResearch Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Science Foundation.

For pilot projects, CAIRHE will award funding for one grant year (September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021). First-year pilot projects have the possibility of competitive renewal for a second and final year. Pilot project leaders may also have the opportunity for larger CAIRHE research funding in future years.

After reading the full RFP, if you still have questions about CAIRHE or whether this opportunity is the right fit for you, please contact James Burroughs, CAIRHE program coordinator (; 994-4407), to arrange a meeting. We are happy to come to you and answer all of your questions. In fact, we strongly recommend meeting with us before you consider applying.


NEW! Applicants may apply separately for a Project Development Mini-Grant (see bottom of page) to help the faculty member develop community partnerships prior to the Pilot Project application deadline and beyond. Mini-Grant funding, if awarded, must be used between January 1 and June 30, 2020.

Based at Montana State University, CAIRHE is an official State of Montana research center designated by the Montana University System Board of Regents. CAIRHE is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA)—specifically, a Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant—from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (grant number P20GM104417). For more information, see

Funded CAIRHE investigators receive significant administrative and fiscal support services to assist them with their research, and each junior investigator is paired with a senior faculty mentor with NIH funding experience. The CAIRHE mentoring program requires regular meetings between investigators and mentors, with the ultimate goal being independent funding status through major external grant support. Funded CAIRHE investigators are an integral part of the Center and its mission, and participation in Center meetings and events is another expectation for our faculty. In addition to the many ways in which CAIRHE supports its faculty, investigators also become part of a vibrant community of scholars who support one another and share research interests. This rich community continues long after Center project funding ends.

Principal investigator applicants must hold a full-time faculty appointment at Montana State University. Individuals holding postdoctoral fellowships or other positions that lack independent faculty status are not eligible to lead COBRE-funded projects. Other restrictions imposed by MSU may affect an applicant's ability to serve as PI, based on the type of faculty appointment.

One of the main objectives of the COBRE grant program is to enhance the ability of junior investigators to compete independently for an NIH individual research grant or other major external peer-reviewed support. For this reason, most projects funded by CAIRHE’s NIH grant must involve junior investigators, defined as either (1) an individual who does not have and has not previously had an external, peer-reviewed research project grant or program project grant (R01-level) from either a federal or non-federal source that names that investigator as the PI; or (2) an established investigator who is making a significant change to her/his research career. Most faculty in category 1 are new and early stage investigators. For NIH definitions, see

All applications should have a strong potential to lead to external (non-MSU) funding. Pilot Project leaders also may have opportunities for larger CAIRHE Research Project funding in future years, should funding vacancies become available.

CAIRHE is a multidisciplinary research center. Faculty in the biomedical and social/behavioral sciences are encouraged to apply. (Please note that salary support for collaborative projects may be limited by overall budget limits.) Due to restrictions imposed by the NIH, faculty who are funded as an investigator by another IDeA program are not eligible for simultaneous CAIRHE funding. This includes project leaders for Montana INBRE and the American Indian/Alaska Native Clinical and Translational Research Program. Please contact CAIRHE if you have questions about this rule.

For 2020-21, CAIRHE will accept applications for Pilot Projects. These include currently funded first-year Pilot Projects seeking a second and final year of funding.

Pilot Projects

Typically funded at approximately $20,000 to $50,000 in direct costs per year, and no more than $99,999 per year, first-year Pilot Projects are designed for project leaders who do not currently have a CAIRHE grant and do not currently have significant preliminary data or fully established community partnerships. (However, having preliminary data and/or community partnerships in place at the time of the application would be considered an advantage.)

We require that applicants consult with CAIRHE Director Alex Adams or Program Coordinator James Burroughs about community engagement plans before making new contacts. This rule is designed to ensure your success and safeguard preexisting MSU relationships in those communities. CAIRHE's Community Engagement Core will be able to assist you.

New Pilot Projects may be competitively renewed for a second and final year.

Complete instructions for proposal applications can be found on the CAIRHE website at The NIH application requirements are extensive, particularly if your project will involve human subjects research and IRB pre-approval, so please allow yourself plenty of time to assemble a strong application. You must adhere to NIH-imposed page limits and other guidelines given in the instructions.

Applications for Pilot Project proposals should include the following using PHS 398 forms (a federal forms package provided to you in template-form by CAIRHE):

  • Face Page.
  • Project Summary (2-page form).
  • Specific Aims (1 page).
  • Research Strategy (Significance, Innovation, Approach—6 pages maximum) plus Bibliography.
  • Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information Form.
  • IRB approval and CITI human subjects education certification for PI and key personnel (if applicable). These may be submitted at the time of the application, but we recommend waiting until later in the approval process. See Instructions (#6) for details.
  • One-year budget and budget justification.
  • Other Support form.

In addition, the application may include:

  • Letters of Support (optional).

Again, we also require that applicants consult with CAIRHE Director Alex Adams or Program Coordinator James Burroughs about community engagement plans before making new contacts. This rule is designed to ensure your success and safeguard preexisting MSU relationships in those communities.

A required Letter of Intent is due by February 3, 2020.
Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2020.

The Letter of Intent is not reviewed with the subsequent application, but the information it contains will allow CAIRHE staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review. It can also help CAIRHE staff alert you to any potential problems that may need to be addressed prior to submission, thereby saving you time and inconvenience. Please email a PDF copy of your letter to James Burroughs ( by February 3 and be sure to include:

  • A descriptive title and 200-word-or-less synopsis of the proposed research;
  • Name, e-mail, and telephone number of the Project Leader;
  • Name(s) of any other key personnel;
  • Name(s) of any non-MSU institutions and community partners participating in the research, if applicable.

An electronic version of the complete proposal in Microsoft Word format (with the exception of the PDF Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information Form and any letters of support), with each section as a separate file, should be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2020, to James Burroughs, Submit all files at one time. Please contact James if you have any questions about the proposal format or instructions.

Proposals will be reviewed by CAIRHE’s director and principal investigator and an internal review committee. Proposals will be evaluated based on scientific merit using the NIH 1-9 scale for Significance, Innovation, Approach, and Investigator; relevance to CAIRHE's health equity mission; and the impact of the proposed project on the potential for future independent funding. Final CAIRHE review will be conducted by CAIRHE’s External Advisory Committee, who will prioritize proposals for NIH review and ultimate approval.

CAIRHE will send the full application for each Pilot Project finalist to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, for review in the Summer of 2020. CAIRHE will then inform applicants of the funding decision, with funding to begin September 1, 2020, for those projects selected.

All CAIRHE awards are contingent upon the availability of NIH funding. Research funding must be expended by the end of each budget year (September 1 through August 31). No carryover is allowed from one budget year to the next due to NIH regulations. Successful first-year Pilot Project leaders must apply for second-year funding to continue their projects. CAIRHE will solicit continuation Pilot Project proposals from project leaders during the first grant year using an RFP similar to this one. These continuation project grants will be awarded through the competitive process described above.


NEW! Project Development Mini-Grants. Deadline December 2, 2019

To help MSU junior investigators establish partnerships with a community, public health agencies, and/or clinical organizations, or to help a community find a faculty investigator partner, CAIRHE will offer a limited number of Project Development Mini-Grants in the first half of 2020. A one-page application (described below) is due December 2, 2019.

NOTE: These Project Development Mini-Grants are completely separate from the Pilot Project grant program described above, though they are designed to facilitate the development of a community-based Pilot Project application.

ELIGIBILITY: Applicant must be an MSU junior faculty member who is eligible for a CAIRHE Pilot Project (see above), or a local government or nonprofit community organization. CAIRHE encourages the involvement of one or more graduate or undergraduate students.

PURPOSE: Project Development Mini-Grants are intended primarily to support travel around the state to establish community connections and also the early formation of a Community Advisory Board (CAB). Funds may be used toward participation incentives for CAB members. Mini-Grants also are intended to help the junior faculty member submit a competitive Pilot Project application to CAIRHE's 2020 Request for Proposals (above). Mini-Grant applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for Pilot Project funding in April 2020. Applicants who are awarded Mini-Grants will receive support from CAIRHE's Community Engagement Core at no cost.

AMOUNT: Most Project Development Mini-Grants will total between $5,000 and $10,000 (maximum). 

TIMELINE: Funding will begin January 1, 2020, and spending must be concluded by the end of MSU's fiscal year on June 30, 2020. There can be no carryover of funds past June 30.


APPLICATION CONTENTS: In one page (using Arial 11 pt. font, single-spaced), please provide the following:

  • Your full contact information, including departmental or community affiliation, and the identity of any other known participants in the Mini-Grant.
  • 200-word-or-less synopsis of the proposed research that identifies community/stakeholder partnerships that would be part of the research project. Include plans for applying to CAIRHE's RFP (in 2020 or later) or an external grant-funding agency.
  • A description of how the Mini-Grant would be used to develop partnerships.
  • A budget for how the funds would be used.

WHERE TO SUBMIT: E-mail your one-page application as a PDF by end-of-day on December 2 to James Burroughs,

REVIEW AND NOTIFICATION: Applications will be reviewed by the Center Director/PI and an internal review committee. Applicants selected for funding will be notified well before the funding start date of January 1, 2020.

QUESTIONS: Please direct any questions about the Mini-Grants to James Burroughs, 406-994-4407,, or Sue Higgins of the Community Engagement Core, 406-994-3329,


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