About iRISE Studies and Pilot Funding

The iRISE Program provides funding to facilitate innovative translational research projects driven by community health priorities that are aligned with the strengths of our clinical and academic partners. We aim to provide funding to develop innovative multidisciplinary clinical and translational research projects, especially those that utilize and/or develop innovative technologies and methodologies.

Recent Awardees

Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive MedicineUse of an Innovative Mobile Health Application to Improve Outcomes in Breast Cancer Patients Dr. Graetz received a grant of $75,000 for her project using a mobile application to track adverse effects of endocrine therapy breast cancer treatment. Adverse effects associated with adjuvant endocrine therapy are an important reason for low adherence, and patients experience most toxicity effects early in their treatment. The early monitoring of these effects is projected to improve adherence and thus health outcomes. The widespread availability of smartphones across socioeconomic levels will also further iRISE’s goal of reducing health inequity.
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics Phylogenetic Complexity of Gut Microbiota Predicts RSV Disease Severity in Infants Dr. You received a grant of $75,000 for her project exploring the pathogenesis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). RSV is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infants. Infants who suffer from severe RSV disease are more likely to develop subsequent asthma in later life. The pathogenesis of severe RSV infection in infants remains elusive. Dr. You's team has developed a neonatal mouse model to study the interaction of the diversity of gut microbiota and disease severity of RSV infection in infants. She aims to establish that less complex gut microbiota in neonatal mice fail to mature the immune system, resulting in severe RSV disease. She is also studying the microbiota from inhants with and without RSV infection to determine if these finding extend to human infants.

To see all 2015 awardees: Recent Awards

Information and Resources

Follow the links below for more information and to download application materials

About the PSF

The iRISE Program is supervised of Dr. Dennis Black, the iRISE Operations Manager. The program includes a Scientific Review Board (SRB). The SRB is comprised of the iRISE Director (Dr. McCullers), Operations Manager (Dr. Black) and all iRISE Module Leaders, as well as a rotating slate of basic and clinical researchers as dictated by the scope and number of applications for review. All SRB members are experienced investigators with a broad history of grant and scientific peer review.

Grant reviews focus on scientific merit, translational potential, statistical design, feasibility, compliance with human and animal research policies and FDA, NIH, GCP, and HIPPA guidelines. Additional consideration is given to applications from junior investigators, proposals that include interdisciplinary team building, and those that address health equity issues.

For the second round of grants in 2015, with a starting date of July 1, 2015, 28 applications from across the UTHSC campus covering T1 to T3 research were received, and 6 were funded with awards totaling $350,000. For those not funded, summary statements are provided, as well as offers for assistance in preparing a revised application for the next round.

Eligibility and Who Can Apply

All faculty at UTHSC and its affiliated institutions and partners are eligible to apply for pilot funding.

Eligible applicants include MDs, PhDs, PharmDs, nurses, and other faculty members with an interest in translational research. (Non-clinician applicants are expected to assemble a multidisciplinary team that includes clinicians.)

Investigators are expected to identify the iRISE PSF as a source of funding for published manuscripts and in presentations.

Proposal Submission

Note – submission portal, documents for download and detailed submission instructions are made available prior to submission deadlines. for more information

Grant proposals are solicited biannually with deadlines on May 15 (July 1 start date) and November 15 (January 1 start date). For 2015, the November grant cycle will be omitted. A letter of intent is required 6 weeks prior to the application deadline to enable determination of project appropriateness for funding before a full application is prepared. These Letters allow us to help tailor strong applications, especially those related to team building and iRISE unit/module utilization.

The LOI’s are reviewed by a subcommittee of the SRB as they are received and full applications for projects deemed appropriate are accepted.

Applications are submitted via the iRISE website and reviewed by the SRB within a one-month time frame. The submission portal opens prior to submission deadlines. Applications follow an abbreviated PHS 398 format and must contain:

  1. A well-defined hypothesis that can be tested or goals that can be reached in the amount of time projected by the investigators (usually approximately one to two years)
  2. Experimental plan specifically addressing the clinical and translational impact of the study and how the research may lead to federal, private or industry extramural funding (preliminary data can be included but are not required)
  3. Biosketches of the applicant and all key personnel (new NIH format)
  4. A summary of other support, including all current and pending sources of funds with amounts and dates for each for all sources (external and internal, including any start-up funds)
  5. Resources and environment including iRISE services and resources that will be utilized;
  6. Budget and justification;
  7. Mentoring plan for junior investigators, including list of members of mentoring team members and a description of how the PTCS Program funding will advance the applicant’s career plans as a clinical/translational investigator.

Before funding is awarded, all projects must have IRB, IACUC, or IBC (if applicable) approvals, and appropriate data and safety monitoring plans/boards must be in place when applicable.

Projects must comply with all federal regulations and NIH policies, including those related to human subjects, genetic material, stem cells, and model organisms.

Proposal Review Process

A subcommittee consisting of SRB members and staff members initially reviews the applications for eligibility and completeness. Grant applications have at least two reviewers to evaluate each application. Outside content experts are recruited if necessary. In addition a biostatistician from the BERD Module and a research subject advocate from the Regulatory Knowledge and Support Module will participate in the review process.

All reviewers are given detailed instructions on the review criteria and scoring system and must prepare and submit written reviews prior to the review meeting. The meeting is conducted with the same format and scoring system used by NIH review panels and is chaired by the SRB Chair. No applications are triaged. Scores from all participating SRB members are averaged and ranked, and are then provided to the iRISE Management Board to make final funding decisions.

Funding Priorities

Additional merit is assigned to proposals that are aligned with the Mission of iRISE.The highest priority is given to innovative proposals from young investigators at the Instructor or Assistant Professor level who are establishing research programs relevant to translational research and who have not received any independent NIH support.

The next level of enthusiasm is for proposals from active and productive established scientists whose work is not currently focused on translational research, but who have unique resources, expertise, models and/or novel technologies or methodologies that can be applied to innovative research.

Priority is given to those with documented multidisciplinary collaborative experience.

Developing Alternative Funding Mechanisms

Funding is allocated for a one-year period from the award date. The progress of the funded studies is closely monitored on a quarterly basis to ensure that proper regulations are being met and the study makes sufficient progress. Should studies lag or miss milestones a member of the Scientific Review Board will meet with the investigator and his/her mentor (if appropriate) to determine the best strategy for completing the study in a timely manner, according to the original timeline.

Strict metrics and milestones will be set at this time to stop the study if sufficient progress is not made. To extend funding or to receive an additional year of funding, all applicants must apply for an extension in the form of a new award. A detailed justification must be provided.

Post-award Tracking and Evaluation Processes (Metrics).

All projects are tracked for productivity via study milestones and enrollment goals; peer-reviewed publications; abstracts and presentations at national and international meetings’ extramural funding’ patents and successful commercialization (if appropriate).

All new novel research technology/methodology that would be useful for other projects will be catalogued and available for other investigators.

All recipients of pilot funding are required to file a final report, as well as updates regarding subsequent publications and grant funding that may result from the pilot study. The investigator must acknowledge the UT iRISE program and grant support in any publications that result from the pilot study.

The iRISE Management Board reviews the PSF Program on an ongoing basis to determine where improvements or changes need to be made.

Director, Children's Foundation Research Institute Dr. Black is J. D. Buckman Professor of Pediatrics and Professor of Physiology UTHSC. He also serves as Director of the Children's Foundation Research Institute and Vice President for Research at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.
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