RFP No.: CAIRHE-04-2024
Issue Date:
October 13, 2023
Required Letter of Intent Deadline: February 1, 2024
Application Deadline:April 1, 2024

CAIRHE requests proposals for Pilot Projects that address the Center's mission of reducing health disparities in Indigenous 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, among others.

For pilot projects, CAIRHE will award funding for one grant year (September 1, 2024, through August 31, 2025). 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. Please note that CAIRHE is currently awaiting renewal of its primary NIH COBRE grant, and the Center's ability to fund pilot projects in 2024-25 is contingent upon receiving that grant renewal. The Center has every confidence that its grant will be renewed.

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 ([email protected]; 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. 

We also encourage one-on-one meetings with James to answer all of your questions about the application itself, which understandably can seem daunting at first (see "Application Assistance" on the Instructions page at the link given below). Please remember that CAIRHE wants you to succeed, so let us help you!

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 early-career investigator is paired with a senior faculty mentor with major 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 faculty appointment at Montana State University, Bozeman. (This includes any campus statewide in the Mark and Robyn Jones College of Nursing.) 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. If you have any questions about how your appointment may affect eligibility, please email James Burroughs at [email protected]

One of the main objectives of the COBRE grant program is to enhance the ability of early-career 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 "new" 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

Again, all applications should have a strong potential to lead to external (non-MSU) funding.

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. Please contact CAIRHE if you have questions about this rule.

For 2024-25, 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 $40,000 to $50,000 in direct costs per year, first-year Pilot Projects are designed for faculty who do not currently have a CAIRHE grant and do not currently have significant preliminary data or fully established community partnerships.

We require that applicants proposing community-based research consult with the Montana IDeA Community Engagement Core before submitting an application. This rule is designed to ensure your success and safeguard preexisting MSU relationships in those communities. CAIRHE staff will facilitate this meeting following the submission of a lLetter of intent to apply, if not before.

Existing first-year 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 preapproval, 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 as early as you request them, or at the latest when you submit your letter of intent to apply):

  • Face Page.
  • Project Summary (2-page form).
  • Specific Aims (1 page).
  • Research Strategy (Significance, Innovation, Approach—6 pages maximum) plus Bibliography.
  • Biographical Sketch ("Biosketch")
  • 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.
  • Letters of Support, particularly from any community partners.

Again, we also require that applicants consult with the Montana IDeA Community Engagement Core 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 1, 2024.
Applications are due no later than 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2024.

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 ([email protected]) 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, 2024, to James Burroughs, [email protected]). 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 an internal review committee. Proposals will be evaluated based on scientific merit using the NIH scale (1-9) for Significance, Innovation, Approach, Investigator, and research Environment; relevance to CAIRHE's public health and health equity mission; and the impact of the proposed project on the potential for future independent funding, particularly that from the National Institutes of Health. 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 2024. CAIRHE will then inform applicants of the funding decision, with funding to begin September 1, 2024, 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 of funds from one budget year to the next is allowed due to NIH regulations. Successful first-year Pilot Project leaders must apply for second-year funding to continue their projects. These continuation project grants will be awarded through the competitive process described above.

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