RFP No.: CAIRHE-04-2019
Issue Date:
 October 17, 2018
Optional Letter of Intent Deadline: February 1, 2019. (You may submit an application without a letter.)
Application Deadline:April 1, 2019

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, 2019, through August 31, 2020). First-year pilot projects have the possibility of competitive renewal for a second and final year. The award of CAIRHE pilot projects for 2019-20 is contingent upon the Center's continuing NIH grant funding.

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.

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 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.

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 2019-20, CAIRHE will accept applications for Pilot Research Projects.

Pilot Research Projects

Typically funded at approximately $20,000 to $50,000 in direct costs per year, and no more than $99,999 per year, pilot research 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 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.

New pilot research 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 approval (required before you submit), 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):

  • 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).
  • 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.

An optional Letter of Intent is due by February 1, 2019.
Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2019.

Although a Letter of Intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows 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 1 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, 2019, to James Burroughs (994-4407, 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, as well as other members of the Administrative and Community Engagement Cores and select external reviewers. 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 review will be conducted by CAIRHE’s External Advisory Committee, who will prioritize proposals for NIH review.

CAIRHE will send the full application for each pilot project finalist to the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, for ultimate approval in the Summer of 2019. CAIRHE will then inform applicants of the funding decision, with funding to begin September 1, 2019, 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.

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