Pilot Feasibility Award Program

The Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center provides support to pilot/feasibility (P/F) projects in the area of GI-related research each year. These funds specifically support projects related to the theme for the DDC - GI infection and injury. GI is defined as the gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas. Injury is defined as drug, genetic, ischemic, inflammatory, surgical, nutritional, or stress-induced injury to the gastrointestinal tract. Injury also includes gastrointestinal adaptation and stem cells. Projects should relate to this theme. Awards range between $15,000 to $40,000 for a period of one year. A committee composed of the DDC Internal Advisory Board, plus ad hoc members, evaluates proposals. 


Trainees who are recipients of an NRSA individual award (F32) or are supported by an training grant (K08, K22, T32) are eligible for P/F funds, IF they are in their last year of training, have at least one year of research experience, and have suitable expertise and independence to design and carry out the planned experiments. Trainees also should have a commitment from a senior scientist to sponsor their projects and assurance of future faculty appointment from Section/Dept Head. U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status is not required.

Application Guidelines 

All persons interested in submitting an application should initially submit a Notice of Intent with a tentative application title, and the name of the PI, any co-PIs, and their affiliations via the online system. Questions can be directed to Sara Tristan at escamill@bcm.eduThe online system will be made available July 1, 2019 and Notice of Intent must be received by Aug. 16, 2019. This should include PI information, tentative project title, and a brief description of the study. A notice of intent is required for any interested applicant. 

Applicant must adhere to the application instructions and include the required cover sheet when submitting their application. The completed application (including the Summary Sheet) should be submitted as one PDF file via our online system 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. You will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted your application. If you do not receive a notification, email Sara Tristan at escamill@bcm.edu prior to the 5 p.m. CST deadline.

Proposals will be reviewed and rated by a Committee composed of the DDC Internal Advisory Committee (see above) plus ad hoc members selected from senior faculty at the Texas Medical Center or elsewhere. This committee is chaired by Douglas Burrin, Ph.D. He can be reached at (713) 798-7049 or Doug.Burrin@ARS.USDA.GOV.

For more information, please attend the Application Q&A Thursday, Aug. 1 at 2 p.m., in room 187A on the BCM main campus.

This Program Supports 

  • New investigators without current or past NIH research support who are seeking to obtain preliminary data to establish a research program in GI-research.
  • Established, funded investigators with no previous work in digestive-disease related areas but who wish to test the applicability of their expertise to a digestive disease-related problem.
  • Established investigators in digestive disease-related areas who wish to test the feasibility of a new or innovative idea, which constitutes a significant departure from their funded research and initiates a new collaboration with another researcher.

2019 Pilot Awardees

James Collins, Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine - “Adaptation and Spread of VRE”

Bo Hu, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center - "Structure of H. pylori Cag Type IV Secretion System"

Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center - “HIF2-Induced Wnt5a in Small Intestine Regeneration”

Mimi Tan, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine - “Predicting Risk of Gastric Intestinal Metaplasia”

Hongtao "Alex" Wang, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine - “Activating LRH-1 using oral lauric acid in treating IBD”

Rajesh Shah, M.D., Baylor College of Medicine - “Molecular Predictors of Response to anti-TNF Therapy”

Bhanu Priya Ganesh, Ph.D., University of Texas Heath Science Center - “Role of Gut Mast Cells in Post-Stroke Inflammation”