Pilot Project and Mentoring Program

The SDSU HealthLINK Center is proud to offer a Pilot Project and Mentoring Program that connects junior and senior researchers at SDSU, and provides training, support, and networking opportunities in basic biomedical, behavioral, clinical and population-focused minority health and health disparities research. Up to 16 junior investigators in the first five years of the SDSU HealthLINK Center’s funding will each receive up to $50,000 of funding to carry out a two-year pilot project. Awardees will also participate in a 12-month mentoring program led by the Investigator Development Team with sessions focused on topics including research project management, grant proposal development, and scientific writing. Each pilot project awardee will also work with a senior SDSU faculty mentor who will guide them as they undertake their pilot project and work to achieve relevant career development goals. Ultimately, the goals of the program are to support junior investigators at SDSU to establish a fundable program of research at SDSU, including obtaining independent extramural funding for a larger research project based on pilot project findings.

The Pilot Project and Mentoring Program is led by Investigator Development Team Co-Leaders, Dr. Heather Corliss, Professor of Public Health, and Dr. Scott Kelley, Professor of Biology.

General Questions about the Pilot Project and Mentoring Program

  1. How does the program work?
    The awarding of pilot project funding is a three-step process. First, the SDSU HealthLINK Center solicits pilot project ideas. Pilot project ideas should be clearly aimed at studying minority health and/or reducing health disparities. Pilot project ideas that involve new technologies or the use of big data (e.g., electronic health records, social media, geospatial), or work with the Center’s partners, will be given the highest priority. Second, pilot project ideas approved by the SDSU HealthLINK Center’s review committee are invited to submit a full application. At this stage, applicants are guided through information sessions on how to prepare their full applications. Third, full applications are reviewed by the SDSU HealthLINK Center’s review committee and recommended for funding or not. Applications recommended for funding are prepared for submission (e.g., obtain IRB approval) to the SDSU HealthLINK Center’s funder, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), for final awarding. Junior investigators will also participate in monthly mentoring sessions with the Investigator Development Team and other experts at SDSU over a 12-month period, to gain the skills needed to become independently funded researchers.
  2. What are the goals of this program?
    Our primary goal is to support the career enhancement of junior investigators at SDSU who are conducting minority health and health disparities research, and to increase their potential to independently secure extramural funding. We anticipate that this will foster the development of a diverse community of basic biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and population health researchers working toward understanding the conditions that affect minority health and reducing health disparities among all people and communities.
  3. Why is this program important?
    There is a limited amount of funding for junior investigators at SDSU. SDSU’s University Grants Program, for example, supports scholarly research but awards are limited to $10,000. In addition, there is a limited support for developing a program of research at SDSU. This program will help fill these critical gaps.
  4. How is the program being funded?
    The SDSU HealthLINK Center received funding from NIMHD to support the awarding of up to 16 pilot projects in the first five years of the Center’s funding.