ICTR Pilot Awards Support Community-Engaged Research, Collaboration

UW ICTR has announced the 2021 Pilot Awards; 14 projects were funded totaling $1.02 million that encompass community engaged and health services research, novel methods, and collaborations with our partners at Marshfield Clinic. Christine Sorkness, ICTR Senior Associate Executive Director, comments,

As always, the ICTR pilot awards team is indebted to the scientific and community reviewers of these applications, especially during these challenging times. We are grateful for the expertise and commitment. Thank you!

RFAs covered in this announcement include those for Clinical & Community Outcomes Research (CCOR, five awards), Novel Methods (four awards), Stakeholder & Patient Engaged Research (SPER, three awards), and Marshfield Clinic/Marshfield Clinic Research Institute-UW Madison Collaborative Research (two awards). The Translational Basic & Clinical Research Awards will be announced separately in June.

List of 2021 Pilot Awards

ICTR is funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), through a Clinical and Translational Science Award most recently renewed in 2017. Pilot awards supporting community-engaged research are also supported via a strategic grant to ICTR from the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP). Maureen Smith, ICTR Director for Community Academic Partnerships and Director of the Health Innovation Program, notes,

Maureen Smith, MD, PhD, MPHThe community-partnered pilot projects included in the 2021 awards reflect the shared mission of ICTR and WPP to improve health and advance health equity in Wisconsin and are especially strong in addressing health disparities and contemporary health issues, developing new interdisciplinary teams, and supporting early career investigators.

Our partnership with WPP is a key component of the ICTR Strategic Vision to Improve the Health of All in Wisconsin.

Kate Judge, Program Manager for ICTR Community Academic Partnerships and part of the Pilot Awards program, elaborates,

The outstanding community-partnered research teams selected are responding to Wisconsin’s current health challenges including Black infant mortality; mental health of school-aged children; young adults with cancer; incarcerated adults; rural telehealth for seniors; opioid addiction; and consequences of the COVID epidemic in Wisconsin. It’s a privilege to support a new generation of dedicated researchers; all are first-time pilot awardees and most are junior investigators.

The 2021 awards also continue the ICTR record of playing a key role in accelerating basic discovery research, developing novel methods, and promoting partnerships with our partner institution, Marshfield Clinic. Peggy Hatfield, Co-Manager of the Pilot Awards Program and Administrative Director for Workforce Development, adds,

We are excited to co-fund two pilot projects this year led by UW-Madison & Marshfield Co-PIs. These projects echo values important to both ICTR partners, namely fostering research careers of junior investigators and facilitating collaborative translational teams. We look forward to celebrating the innovative project outcomes from these and all our 2021 awardees.


Launchpad Program Offers Evidence to Implementation Awards for 2021

The 2020 Evidence to Implementation (E2I) RFA has been released for a third round of applications. New in 2018, the purpose of the E2I award is to expedite dissemination of evidence based practices, interventions, and innovations to appropriate end-users using the D&I Launchpad Program. These include self-management or other health promotion workshops and interventions, and health services innovations that improve delivery of care in the health care or community setting. Previous awards are described here.  Jane Mahoney, Director of the ICTR D&I Launchpad program, notes,

The Launchpad team’s expertise will help with the future growth and sustainability of these healthcare innovations. These programs have incredible potential to make a significant impact on the health of Wisconsin and beyond.

Preproposals are due November 30, 2020

These awards will support creation of a Launchpad Package to support the dissemination and implementation of the evidence-based intervention or innovation. The elements of the Launchpad Package will be unique to each project, but may include a business plan – value proposition, marketing, sales, financials, intellectual property review, and any necessary tools and supporting materials.

More information, all deadlines, and application materials are available on the funding opportunities page.

Corrections: Preproposal deadline extended.

2020 Pilot Awards Total $1.5 million, 24 projects

ICTR is pleased to announce 24 new Pilot Grant Awards for 2020 totaling $1.5 million. This outstanding group was selected in response to RFAs released in Dec 2019 including those for Clinical & Community Outcomes Research (CCOR), Dissemination & Implementation Research (D&I), Novel Methods, Stakeholder & Patient Engaged Research (SPER), Translational Basic & Clinical Research, and Marshfield Clinic/Marshfield Clinic Research Institute-UW Madison Collaborative Research.

These awards reflect ICTR’s support of interdisciplinary research teams, junior-senior investigator collaborations, research across the lifespan, and health equity research.  ICTR is funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), through a Clinical and Translational Science Award most recently renewed in 2017.

Complete roster of the 2020 awards.

The pilot awards supporting community-engaged research are funded through a strategic grant to UW ICTR from the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP).

All awards are subject to a rigorous scientific review process, but post-review, institutional partners may select projects for co-funding that strategically align with their individual research priorities. We are grateful for this year’s co-funding partnerships with the UW Stem Cell Regenerative Medicine Center (two awards, $50K total) and the UW Skin Disease Research Center  (two awards, $50K total), which allowed us to extend CTSA funds to support additional deserving research.

Scientific reviewers for the Pilot Awards Program represent interdisciplinary expertise from across campus and the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. Christine Sorkness, Senior Associate Executive Director and Director of the Pilot Awards Program, comments,

Our Pilot Awards Program would not be possible without the generosity of campus experts and community partners who provide thoughtful critiques and feedback for the applications they review. While this spring has been a particularly challenging time for all those engaged in translational research, our reviewers and scientific review panels allowed us to move forward virtually, but effectively! Thank you for your outstanding work!

Other ICTR awards announced this spring include:

Sorkness continues,

ICTR Pilot Grant Awards are particularly valuable and timely during this COVID19 pandemic, which has impacted the entire translational research spectrum. We hope that these pilot funds and the associated ICTR research resources provided, complement campus and community research recovery efforts essential for these investigative teams.


ICTR Funds COVID-19 Response Awards

This post was updated Sept 29 to reflect an additional award.

UW ICTR has joined with the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP) to fund four 2020 COVID-19 Response Grant Awards. These four new awards extend the 22 awards previously announced by WPP to address urgent health needs imposed by the COVID pandemic. ICTR will support these projects through seed funding and in-kind support. Allan Brasier, Executive Director for ICTR, notes,

We selected four additional rapid response projects from this spring’s WPP Faculty-Led COVID-19 Response Grant applications. Starting from our ICTR Strategic Vision to Improve the Health of All in Wisconsin, our criteria included clinical and translational research with the potential to rapidly advance our response to this ongoing public health crisis. Importantly, these projects address health inequities in highly vulnerable populations that this pandemic has exacerbated.

By working with the WPP, we were able to select four highly innovative public health and healthcare projects. An exciting aspect of these projects is that they seek to increase the capacity to deliver health interventions in Wisconsin to lessen the impact of the coronavirus infection.

Christine Sorkness, PharmD, Senior Associate Executive Director of ICTR, adds,

Christine Sorkness

The Pilot Awards Team will connect these PIs with ICTR research resources, e.g., biostatistics services, the Dissemination and Implementation Launchpad, the Collaborative Center for Health Equity, and the Clinical & Health Informatics Institute, to advance these projects’ goals.


Clinical/Public Health Research
Project Title: UW-Health COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program
(As part of the National CCPP-19 Program)($50,000)
PI: William Hartman, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesiology, SMPH
Co-PI: Betsy Nugent, Director of Clinical Trials Development and Accreditation/Chief Clinical Research Officer, UW/UW Health

In coordination with Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and other institutions, the University of Wisconsin-Madison joined the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Program with the goal of developing a timely, coordinated, UW-centered convalescent plasma collection process, and delivering COVID-19 convalescent plasma to patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID-19 infections.

Healthcare Delivery
Improving and Evaluating Virtual Health to Enhance Physical Distancing Measures in Wisconsin Nursing Homes ($75,000)
PI: Christopher Crnich, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine, SMPH
Collaborators: Elizabeth Chapman, MD and Ann Braus, MD, SMPH and James H. Ford II, PhD, School of Pharmacy

This project seeks to immediately reduce COVID-19 spread in Wisconsin nursing homes by collaborating with academic and community partners to generate knowledge on how to expand telehealth infrastructure to promote quality of care and safety. This work will directly impact resource-poor nursing homes, nursing home residents who are at higher risk for infection, and the providers and staff who take care of them.

Applied Public Health Research
Building a Public Health Reserve with Community Health Workers ($75,000)
PI: Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, MPH, Department of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics & Gynecology, SMPH
Collaborators: Kate Gillespie, DNP, UW-Prevention Research Center; Jane Mahoney, MD & Kate Williams, SMPH; Mei Baker, MD, SMPH and Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene; Al Bateman, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene; Paul Moberg, PhD, Population Health Institute

This study will design and pilot test a sophisticated, culturally appropriate strategy to support the rapid scale-up of strategies to accomplish population-level COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and ultimately vaccination. The project will focus on young and extended families who face higher rates of poverty and/or live complex lives, and will take advantage of the existing infrastructure of community-based programs and community health workers (CHWs) including home visitors, promotoras, and doulas. These CHWs are already working effectively with communities and with focused training could be rapidly engaged to address the needs of a second phase pandemic response.

Research Resources
Creating Infrastructure to Study the Immune Response to SARS-CoV-2 in Wisconsin ($20,000)
PI: Miriam Shelef, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine (Rheumatology), SMPH

This project will establish a biorepository of longitudinally collected clinical data and blood products from people who recovered from COVID-19. The goal is to establish the infrastructure to evaluate the immediate and long-term immune response to SARS-CoV-2 to address this fundamental problem in COVID-19 preparedness to reduce morbidity and mortality and to achieve the highest level of health for all people of Wisconsin.

E2I Awards Support Moving Research Findings Into Practice

Three evidence-based interventions have been selected to receive the 2020 UW Evidence to Implementation (E2I) Awards. The E2I Award Program was launched in 2018 with two awardees, and expanded this spring to three awards. The E2I application process is unique in that finalists work closely with the D&I Launchpad to co-create a robust final application, which is then subject to a competitive outside review.

These awards help investigators who have developed high impact, evidence-based interventions in health care take the next step to implement their research findings in clinical and community health settings. In addition to direct financial support, E2I awardees receive comprehensive resources from the ICTR-CAP D&I Launchpad program. Such resources include help with development of toolkits, marketing materials, and comprehensive business plans.

The 2019 E2I awardees are:

  • I-SITE: Implementation for Sustained Impact in Teleophthalmology
    Yao Liu, MD, UW Department of Ophthalmology
    Previous ICTR Support: Translational Basic and Clinical Research Pilot Award (2016)
  •  Staying Healthy After Childbirth: A Program for Moms with High Blood Pressure After Childbirth
    Kara Hoppe, DO, UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    Previous ICTR Support: CCHE Health Equity Research Fellow (2018)
  • MOVIN: Mobilizing Older Adults Via Systems-Based Interventions
    Barb King, PhD & Linsey Steege, PhD, UW School of Nursing
    Previous ICTR-CAP Support: Clinical & Community Outcomes Research Award (2013), Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Award (now known as SPER) (2017), Dissemination &Implementation Research Award (2018)

Complete list of awardees (2018-2020)

Jane Mahoney, Director of the Dissemination & Implementation Launchpad, comments,

Our D&I Launchpad team is very excited to work with this years awardees representing three innovative programs. These programs have incredible potential to make a significant impact on the health of Wisconsin and beyond. The Launchpad team’s expertise will help with the future growth and sustainability of these programs.

Growth in the E2I awards program reflects the underlying expansion in the D&I Launchpad program and the importance of translational research to the ICTR mission. As noted above, the award is only the first step in the ongoing commitment of the launchpad team to supporting the implementation plans of awardees.

For more information about the E2I Award program or other services, visit the D&I Launchpad page.

Read more about the E2I RFA

26 Pilot Awards Totaling $1.3 million Made in 2019

The 2019 ICTR Pilot Awards program continues the tradition of encouraging early stage investigators in pursuit of preliminary data for larger studies, supporting innovative directions in clinical and translational research, and promoting research that addresses health disparities and advances health equity.

This year, the program distributed $1.3 dollars for 11 Translational Basic & Clinical Pilot Awards, six Novel Methods Pilot Grant Awards, four Clinical & Community Outcomes Research (CCOR) Pilot Grant Awards, a Collaborative Health Equity Research (CHER) Pilot Grant Award, two Dissemination & Implementation (D&I) Research Pilot Grant Awards, and a Stakeholder & Patient Engaged Research (SPER) Pilot Grant Award. Also included in this announcement is a UW-Marshfield Pilot Grant Award made earlier in April 2019.

Complete list of the 2019 ICTR Pilot Awards.

Supported studies cover a wide gamut of topics in clinical and translational research, ranging from preclinical studies and computational analysis, to health systems research and health disparities. Christine Sorkness, ICTR Senior Associate Executive Director for the Pilot Awards Program notes,

Our ICTR Pilot Awards Program is really a labor of love! We are proud of our continuous record of making awards. This success is in large part due to our ongoing NIH award from NCATS, funding from the Wisconsin Partnership Program, and our co-funding partners for specific awards.

Many thanks to Peggy Hatfield and Kate Judge for their energy and expertise in managing the annual application process and to the group of cross-campus scientific reviewers and external community advisors who provide each applicant with a critical appraisal.

The Wisconsin Partnership Program provides generous support to fund the CCOR, CHER, D&I, and SPER pilot awards. Other partnering institutes and centers who provided co-funding for select awards include the UW Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center (2), the UW Carbone Cancer Center (2), the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (2), and the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (1). All funded awards meet rigorous peer review standards and only after approval do co-funding centers step in to collaboratively promote research in their target areas of interest. This approach allows ICTR and its partners to support more meritorious research than would be possible acting alone.