GHUCCTS Programs & Resources

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Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies

Learn more about Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies.

  • What's It All About

    GHUCCTS is pleased to announce the availability of support for pilot and collaborative studies.

    Our Mission

    The mission of GHUCCTS and the national Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) programs includes promotion multidisplinary and inter-institutional teams and research that will translate basic findings into clinical applications and clinical research findings into community use in order to improve human health. Our Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies program (PTCS) has been a critical and effective stimulus for collaboration that has stimulated the development and implementation of new clinical and translational research (CTR) projects.

    The PTCS program is designed to bring about further advances that will contribute to improving the process of research throughout our CTSA hub and the national CTSA consortium. These contributions will draw upon a range of GHUCCTS capacities from community-based recruitment of underserved populations to the use of high performance computing in the development of therapeutic agents.

    Summary of PCTS's top accomplishments from the past 10 years

  • Who is Responsible

    Headshot of Dr. Thomas MellmanDirector of PTCS Programs : Thomas A. Mellman, MD

    Professor of Psychiatry
    Director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Stress/Sleep Studies Program at Howard University College of Medicine.

    Dr. Mellman is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Stress/Sleep Studies Program at Howard University College of Medicine. He is the principal investigator representing Howard for the Georgetown Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science supported by a Clinical Translational Science Award from NIH. 

    He received training at the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs and has previously held faculty appointments and achieved the rank of Professor at the University of Miami and Dartmouth. Dr. Mellman has had continuous funding as PI on federal research grants since 1991 including a VA Merit award, and R01, R21, R34 and K24 awards from NIMH, NHLBI, NIMHD, and the DOD. His primary research interests have been the role of sleep in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the role of sleep in the effects of stress on physical and emotional health. He has a consistent track record of mentoring junior investigators and interdisciplinary collaboration. He recently finished service as a member of the NIH study section for Mechanisms of Emotion Stress and Health, was previously a member of NIMH IRGs for Violence and Traumatic Stress and Interventions, and has served on several review committees for the NIH Roadmap and Department of Defense research programs. Dr. Mellman was a member of the original ISTSS committee for developing treatment guidelines for PTSD, APA committee for text revision of the DSM-IV, and the Institute of Medicine Committee for review of the evidence regarding the treatment of PTSD. He received the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies distinguished mentorship award for 2016.

    Edward Bauer, Program Coordinator, HU CTSA Navigator

    Howard University
    Clinical Research Unit 4-West
    Howard University Hospital
    2041 Georgia Ave., NWWashington, DC 20059

  • Pilot Awards

    The PTCS program has funded over 60 pilot projects since 2015. 

    2020 - 2021

    The impact of COVID-19 on Latina and African-American breast cancer survivors in the Washington DC area
    Investigator: Simina Boca, PhD
    Institution: GU

    Epigenetic Inheritance: The placenta as a mediator of paternal obesity effects on offspring’s health
    Investigator: Sonia de Assis, PhD
    Institution: GU

    Evaluating disparities in COVID-19 diagnoses using a wastewater-based epidemiology approach
    Investigator: Jeseth Delgado Vela, PhD
    Institution: HU

    The Role of Stress and Resilience in the Link Between Social Connectedness and Health-Related Quality of Life for Low-Income, Predominately Minority Men and Women with Chronic Health Conditions
    Investigator: Mary Ann Dutton, PhD
    Institution: GU

    Quality of life of endocrine surgery patients: a prospective study across time by ethnicity/race and social determinants of health
    Investigator: Victoria Lai, MD
    Institution: GU

    Comparative impacts of COVID-19 on urban and reservation-dwelling American Indian communities
    Investigator: Jason Umans, MD, PhD
    Institution: MHRI

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  • How To Apply

    The missions of the Georgetown-Howard University Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and the national Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) program highlight the promotion of interdisciplinary research that translates basic research findings into clinical applications and clinical research into community practice, and improves the process of research. It is also our goal to implement research that will benefit underserved populations, including disadvantaged minorities, people with disabilities, and older adults.

    Application Due Date: March 19, 2024
    Download RFA | Link to Online Application

    Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies (PTCS) Funding Priorities

    Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies (PTCS) Funding Priorities:
    The following topics reflect the priorities of the National CTSA program and of our hub (GHUCCTS):

    • Investigations of environmental determinants of health, particularly those involving clinical and/or public health databases and geospatial mapping, that have the potential to point toward solutions through surveillance or policy.
    • Research that expands a translational research focus across the lifespan, including to pediatric and/or geriatric populations;
    • Research to address health disparities and the significant burden of conditions that disproportionately affect rural, minority, and other understudied and/or underserved populations. This includes research to better understand and address:
      • the impact of structural racism and discrimination on minority health, e.g., the impact of policies and/or distribution of resources on health outcomes;
      • and/or the impact of discrimination on health and health-related biomarkers.
    • Research to provide generalizable clinical and translational science innovations or insights that can be applied to other translational research projects and thereby increase the overall efficiency or effectiveness of translation. Examples include: innovative clinical research designs, such as adaptive designs, serial “n of 1” design, or other approaches to small populations for evaluating interventions; Innovative methodologies that address translational research roadblocks specific to pediatric, geriatric, or other populations throughout the lifespan including new ways to engage under-represented populations; to measure outcomes or validate biomarkers; Innovative approaches to the implementation of precision medicine. 

    Pre-pilot award for team building – Up to $10,000 to support the development of new inter or trans-disciplinary research teams that will address problems using scientific approaches beyond the capacity of the individual investigators. Funds may be used for administrative support, communication technology, transportation, and initial data collection, and must be justified in the budget. While these applications will use the same general format as our established pilot award application, the content should emphasize the expertise and activities of the applicants and where these domains could integrate and synergize, proposed process for team building, and anticipated milestones. These awards, if productive, may lead to further pilot funding and/or submission of NIH or other grant applications.

      • Please note that this is considered a separate funding opportunity. One investigator may submit to both opportunities, but it is expected that there will be separate applications submitted for each. (One application for general pilot & one application for pre-award team building)

    Applicants must have a full-time faculty appointment at one of the GHUCCTS institutions (Howard, Georgetown, DCVA, Medstar, ORNL). Each application should identify a Contact PI who will be responsible for coordinating and submitting the application. Research teams can include collaborators who are not GHUCCTS affiliated.

    Funding Opportunity Description 

    • Award Amount: up to $40,000 and/or $10,000 for team building pilot (includes Institutional cost share 50/50).
    • Duration: Funds must be spent by March 31st, 2024, due to the restrictions on CTSA funding, no- cost extensions cannot be approved
    • 50% cost-share with the applicant institution is required. (For HU and GU this has already been negotiated with your institution, for MHRI, DCVA and ORNL please make sure to speak with your Scientific Center Administrator.)

    GHUCCTS Resources for Project/Proposal Development 

    The GHUCCTS is offering free consultation services, which may be helpful to you in your proposal development. Topic areas for advice include, but are not limited to: protocol development, regulatory support, study design, biostatistics, feasibility assessment, use of geospatial technology for the District of Columbia, recruitment plan, community engaged research best practices, integration of culturally and linguistically competent approaches, inclusion of diverse populations, etc. Utilization of GHUCCTS consultation services will be viewed favorably by the review committee. Please utilize the links below for more information: 

    Requirements for Applications: Applications that do not comply with these guidelines will not be considered for review.

    Abstract (250-word limit) To enable community representative review, we require that abstracts be written so as to be understood by a lay audience; do not include, or clearly define, technical terms; and to address relevance to public/community health.

    • A limit of four (4) pages, consecutively numbered at the bottom of each page
    • Contact PI’s name at the top of each page
    • Single spaced,
    • 11-point font, minimum
    • 0.5-inch margins

    Description of Aims, Background and Clinical and Translational Impact, Supporting Preliminary Studies, Design and Methods. If the study involves human subjects the description of human subject considerations is not subject to this page limit. References do not count towards 4-page limit.

    Biosketches Current NIH biographic sketch for each investigator and/or mentor.

    Budget Guidelines (Apply to both the General Pilot Award and the Pre-Pilot Award)

    Budget: Funding will be provided for items essential to the conduct of the project. The budget should identify budget details and total by using NIH budget page (PHS 398 FormPage 4). A separate budget and subcontract are needed for each participating institution.

    Budget Justification: Budget justifications should include the roles and responsibilities of all personnel (paid and unpaid) and details on the purpose of all requested non-personnel costs. Please utilize the template located in the application.

    • Allowable Costs: Laboratory supplies, participant costs, consultants, research support personnel (salary/wages & fringe benefits), use of institutional/core and GHUCCTS services, travel necessary to perform research.
    • Unallowable Costs: PI salary support or faculty collaborators, durable equipment >$5,000/unit, office supplies, meals or travel for conferences, publication or presentation costs, professional education or training, indirect costs.

    Budgets should not include indirect/F&A costs

    Departmental and GHUCCTS Executive Approval

    Before submitting a PTCS grant application, the PI and any Co-PI that will be requiring institutional cost share is required to obtain approval for submission from his/her departmental chair or division chief and the GHUCCTS executive at their institution, with assurance that appropriate time and resources will be made available to successful applicants. A form is provided in the application packet. GHUCCTS executive contacts are as follows: 

    Howard Executive: Dr. Thomas Mellman ( / Dr. Marjorie C. Gondre-Lewis (
    Georgetown Executive: Dr. Joseph Verbalis (
    DCVA Executive: Dr. Marc Blackman (
    MedStar Executive: Dr. Neil Weissman (
    ORNL: Dr. Anuj Kapadia (

    IRB/IACUC & Human Subject

    Consistent with NIH policies, IRB or IACUC approval or exemption, as well as conflict of interest review will be required prior to transmission of funds and project implementation.

    Although Institutional Review Board and or Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee approval are not required prior to application submission, we strongly encourage preparation of regulatory documents as soon as possible.  If human subjects are to be involved in the proposed project, provide a description of their involvement, specific risks to subjects who participate, and protection against those risks. Describe any sources of materials that will be obtained from human subjects as part of their participation. Provide assurance that the project will be reviewed and approved by the IRB.

    N.B. All pilot studies to be conducted at the DC VAMC also require approval by the DC VAMC's Research & Development (R&D) Committee.

    Applications will not be considered complete without all components.

    How to Apply:

    Applications Submission are online: Link to PTCS Application

    Online Application: 

    • The completed application and signed forms (institutional support forms) are due by MARCH 19 (11:59 PM ET), 2024

    Applications MUST be submitted using the templates provided in the application (i.e. NIH budget page (PHS 398 Form Page 4) and Budget Justification template). Copies of the application templates can be downloaded through the application portal.

    Review Criteria and Process

    Applications will be peer-reviewed and evaluated based on the following criteria:

    • Relevance to the priority themes/categories listed at the beginning of the application.
    • Use of an interdisciplinary approach. (Consider going outside of your institution if required expertise is more readily available at other GHUCCTS institutions (Georgetown University, Howard University, MedStar, DC Veterans Administration Medical Center, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory) or other CTSA hubs.
    • Promising direction for future extramural funding Clearly describes how proposed aims will provide opportunities for future externally funded applications, including but not limited to NCATS initiatives.
    • Collaborations between junior and senior investigators. For experienced investigators, participation of junior investigator/trainees; for junior investigators, adequate/appropriate mentoring and consultation.
    • Approach Will the proposed methods achieve the aims?
    • Significance If successful will the project move the field forward? Does the proposed project answer an important translational research question?
    • Innovation Could apply to the approach, technology or its application to a novel focus.

    New requirements for funded pilot grants:

    GHUCCTS is funded through a CTSA grant from NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). NCATS has instituted a new policy requiring the review and approval of all GHUCCTS pilot grants involving human subjects research prior to GHUCCTS funds being utilized. Therefore, if your proposal is funded and involves research with human subjects, GHUCCTS will require additional documentation to send to NCATS. NCATS expects to complete their review in less than 30 days. The NCATS review can occur concurrently with the IRB review; however, final NCATS approval is contingent upon IRB approval.

    Please be aware that there will be milestones for continuing funding beyond the startup phase of the study, contingent upon the submission of regulatory documents to the IRB/IBC, IACUC, and NCATS (as indicated). If these documents are not submitted to the relevant agencies in a timely fashion, funding may be withdrawn.


    Requests for information, including clarification about GHUCCTS resources available for pilot studies and questions about the preparation and submission of applications, can be obtained from the GHUCCTS PTCS administrator: Eddie Bauer (; 202-865-4272)