2022-2023 Pilot Project Request for Proposals (RFP)

The NIEHS-funded UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) invites applications for pilot projects to be conducted in 2022-2023

The EHSC Pilot Project Program supports 1- or 2-year projects to provide:

  • Preliminary data for extramural grant submissions of environmental health sciences (EHS) research and/or
  • New tools or resources that will either foster further grants or markedly advance the translation of research for improving community environmental health and environmental justice.

Successful applications will demonstrate a strong likelihood of leading to significant NIEHS funding in the short term or to direct development or implementation of resources or tools through community partnerships with well-defined plans for their utilization in activities relevant to the NIEHS mission.

Applications of interest to pilot funding partners (Institute for Transportation Studies, California National Primate Research Center, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging, SVM Clinician Scientists working on EHS, the MIND Institute, and the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety) and/or that address community partner research priorities are especially desirable, see also the Environmental Health Disparities and Environmental Justice goal in NIEHS’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan.


All UC Davis investigators eligible to apply as a Principal Investigator for NIH grants. Prior applicants are encouraged to submit revised applications.

Review Criteria

The review process emphasizes: relevance to the focus of the Center and NIEHS; responsiveness to priority areas identified in the request for proposals and by our community partners; community engagement; and standard NIH review criteria.

Application Procedure

  1. Concept Letters are required and due by 4 PM October 28. Applicants who obtain core assistance with their proposals increase their likelihood of success. You can request core assistance when you submit your Concept Letter via InfoReady
  2. Concept Letters are reviewed for relevance to EHSC mission, including alignment with community research priorities. Full applications from invited applicants should be submitted via InfoReady.
  3. The deadline for full proposals is 4 PM November 22. Each PI may submit only one proposal.
  4. Full Proposals undergo full scientific review and the most competitive proposals will be invited to give a brief oral presentation of their ideas Jan 27, 11:30-2:30 to the Center Leadership. Please save that date. 

Priority areas for this RFP

  • Intervention Research, Community Engagement and Public Policy: Research to inform policies and to benefit environmental justice communities and reduce their exposures; define/measure exposures in communities and relate this to health impacts [see community research priorities], especially through partnerships with vulnerable communities shouldering heavy economic and pollution burdens, such as those in the Central Valley; investigate effectiveness of interventions related to wildfire smoke; define how traffic and land use policies impact human health.
  • Wildfires and Health: Exploration of sentinel animal species exposed to wildfires to understand human exposures and outcomes; follow-up of wildfire survivor cohorts; investigations of how people obtain information and whether they modify their behaviors in response to public advisories; research on composition of wildfire smoke; investigation of health impacts of wildfire PM and ash.
  • Complex Exposures: studies of cumulative exposures from complex mixtures, which may include chemicals, other pollutants, repeated wildfire exposure episodes, or environmental factors such as heat, rainfall, vehicle exhaust, agricultural runoff, ash from burn sites; consider routes of exposure, susceptible time periods or life stages, nutrition as a modifier of the response to exposure, pollutant exposure impacts on COVID-19 and/or exposomic approaches

Types of Pilot Project awards for 2022-2023

Type 1 one-year project awards for $20,000 to $30,000 direct costs; requires some community outreach and engagement. Some budgeted support for community engagement is recommended.  

Type 2 two-year awards for up to $30,000/year direct ($60,000 total) with community outreach and engage-ment throughout the research process including project design, data collection, interpretation of results and dissemination. At least $5,000/year must be allocated to community partners. Requires significant community engagement.

Type 3 one year awards for up to $50,000 direct will compellingly lay the foundation for significantly expanding an established research program through major new extramural funding. These awards are targeted to mid-career or established investigators, either currently in or new to EHS, and must include community engagement, similar to Type 1 awards.

The EHSC funds research relevant to human health, translational science (basic or applied) and development of resources, methods, or technology that will benefit exposure assessment or disaster response as well as projects likely to inform science-based policy/ advocacy efforts. The EHSC focuses on California’s Central Valley and projects relevant to chemical exposures or climate change that impact human health. Research and policy priorities identified by community stakeholders (CSTAC) are available for review.  

How to prepare a competitive application

EHSC provides applicants the opportunity to consult with senior center investigators in the preparation of pilot project proposals. Consultation is provided through a Design Clinic and/or individual consultation with core directors or members. Many applicants find this service valuable.

To learn more about the Core expertise and services and how engaging with the cores might strengthen your proposal, you can indicate in the online Concept Letter which cores you may need. EHSC Cores are listed below. They will reach out to assist you after you submit your concept letter.

Resources & support

Career developmentEarly stage Investigators (ESI - within 10 yrs of terminal degree) or Investigators New to EHS can request assignment of an EHS faculty to assist in their proposal preparation.  The Center offers Aims review and training programs for associated ESI investigators.

Community Engagement Core (CEC)Community engagement plans are required and are scored for every application, regardless of application type. Review criteria differ by Type of application, and may include alignment with community research priorities, involvement of community stakeholders in the development and implementation of the proposal, the appropriateness of the community partner’s budget to their scope of work, and relevance to exposure and health disparities experienced by disadvantaged populations. The CEC maintains an updated list of community research priorities in collaboration with EHSC’s Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSTAC) and can help UCD scientists connect with community collaborators. Questions: contact Associate CEC Director Shosha Capps sacapps@ucdavis.edu.

Environmental Exposure CoreIf you are planning to measure any exposures in the environment, are planning on exposing any animals, or need more information regarding selection of chemicals or measurement of chemicals, the exposure core may be able to help you. 

Integrative Health Sciences and Facilities Core (IHSFC)If you need help with statistics or are new to animal or human subject research, or you want to access novel animal models or archived human biospecimens or study participants, our IHSFC core may be able to help you.

Additional expectations

If selected for funding, grantees are required to:

  • Acknowledge the Center grant, NIEHS P30 ES023513, in all work emanating from the Center-supported pilot.
  • Report on their progress, development and receipt of new grant awards, and submissions and publication of scientific papers using our online reporting system during and for five years after the award period
  • Present their research progress at an EHSC-sponsored seminar, conference, or annual retreat.

If human or animal subjects are included, no award will be issued until IRB or IACUC approval has been received and the NIEHS has authorized allocation of funds. Please review application instructions carefully to ensure your human or animal research is described according to NIH requirements and be prepared to submit paperwork for approval should you be selected for funding.

Awards are dependent on timely receipt of NIEHS EHSC funding. Concept letters will be evaluated for responsiveness to RFP. Final funding recommendations are made by the Center’s Funding Council.  The scientific review includes evaluation of overall promise, significance, innovation, community engagement, investigator qualifications, approach and likelihood to lead to a funded NIEHS grant application and/or a robust translation into policy, clinical practice, or community action advancing health, equity, and environmental justice. 


Contact Ruth Williams (ruwilliams@ucdavis.edu) for application upload questions or Laura Van Winkle (lsvanwinkle@ucdavis.edu or 530-754-7547) for scientific content questions.

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