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Pilot Projects

NIA Biomarker Network Annual Pilot Project Competition

Call for Proposals
Release Date: April 26, 2024
Pre-proposals Due: May 15, 2024
Invitations to Submit Full Proposal Sent: by May 31, 2024
If Invited: Full Proposals Due: June 30, 2024
Notices of Award Distributed: by August 1, 2024

The Biomarker Network is a National Institute on Aging sponsored project to develop an interdisciplinary group of scientists dedicated to improved measurement of biological risk for late life health outcomes in large representative samples of populations. Activities of the network include designing and carrying out a series of focused meetings, interactive activities, workshops, and pilot projects to harmonize and develop measurement of biological risk in populations.

With 2024-2025 funding, the Biomarker Network plans to fund at least 3–4 pilot projects. We are looking to fund methodological projects that focus on collection (e.g., comparison or assessment of collection methods), assay development, or analytic work (e.g., novel statistical methods, algorithms) related to biomarkers of aging. Pilots are not intended to focus on substantive work.


The competition is open to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and all faculty with appointments in the research professor, professor, scientist, or clinical tracks. Individuals from underrepresented communities are highly encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to early stage investigators.


Pilot project recipients are expected to present results at the annual Biomarker Network meeting, held directly before the Population Association of America annual meeting each year. Recipients are required to cite the Biomarker Network as a source of funding support for any publications or presentations that emerge from funding (R24 AG037898). Recipients are also required to submit annual reports of pilot outcomes, including publications, presentations, or proposals emanating from the pilot award. Recipients will provide information (e.g., human subjects information, papers) to Network staff for annual progress reports.

Expected Outcomes

Pilot projects typically result in multiple presentations and at least one published paper. Often pilot recipients go on to submit successful grant applications to NIA related to their pilot work. Pilots also may lead to new data resources, study cohorts, or protocols.

Priority/Review Criteria
1. Priority will be given to early stage investigators.
2. Priority will also be given to projects that seed innovative research, have the potential to produce publications that advance the Network’s research themes, are likely to serve as a foundation for external funding (e.g., NIH R03, R21, R01), and can be completed over a 12-month period.

Pre-proposal Instructions

To be considered for a full proposal, please submit a pre-proposal by May 31, 2024 to [email protected]. The pre-proposal should include 1) a description of the research activity (1 page limit, excluding references); 2) a preliminary budget and justification in any format, and 3) NIH biosketch. The description should cover the following topics: the significance of your research question, how your research is novel, a brief overview of the approach you plan to use, and expected outcomes. Include a brief statement as to how your pilot relates to the overall themes of the network. Please remember – pilots are not intended to focus on substantive work.

If Invited, Full Application Instructions
A full proposal must include the following:

1) cover letter or PHS398 face page, whatever is preferred by your institution;

2) abstract;

3) specific aims (1 page limit);

4) research strategy (2 page limit, excluding references) that covers significance, innovation, approach, and outcomes and includes a brief statement as to how your pilot relates to overall themes of the Network;

5) budget and justification (note – any budget format is acceptable as long as all costs are detailed and the direct/indirect/total cost breakdown is included)

6) an NIH biosketch; and

7) for projects with human subjects research, complete applicable sections of the PHS human subjects and clinical trials information form. We will send you a file for completion for ease of use.

Budget Details

Projects should be able to be completed within one year. Applicants may request up to $20,000 direct costs with an 8% additional allowance of indirects for institutions. Expenses can include salary and associated fringe costs, research staff (e.g., data analyst, research assistant), data collection or assay costs, travel costs, and materials and supplies necessary for the proposed research. The anticipated start date of the award is 8/1/2024 – 3/31/2025, but a no cost extension is permissible to allow for a full year’s worth of funding, if needed.

Note: Per the Requirements section above, you are expected to attend and present results at an annual Biomarker Network meeting. Please include travel to PAA (2024 meeting is in Columbus; 2025 meeting is in Washington DC; 2026 meeting is in St. Louis, MO) and hotel for two nights in your budget depending on the outcomes of your research (can it be completed/presented by April 2025 or 2026.) This expense can be above/beyond the $20,000 threshold and can be included in your indirect cost calculation. If you need additional hotel nights or travel costs (if you’re not planning to attend PAA) please include those costs.

Your invited full application is due no later than 5pm EST on June 30, 2024 by emailing the full proposal to [email protected]

Additional Requirements

Please note that funding is contingent upon IRB approval and, for projects with a foreign component, foreign clearance by the US State Department.

Questions may be directed to Nicholas Prieur at [email protected]

Previous Pilot Awardees

2022-2023 Pilot Awards

Dr. Jennifer Ailshire
Unviersity of Southern California
Colombian Survey of Aging (COSA) Biomarker Pilot


Drs. Kate Duchowny & Grace Noppert (MPI’s)
University of Michigan
Cellular and Subcellular Biomarkers of Aging as Mechanisms to Understand Biological Expressions of the Social Environment: The Relation Between Viral Burden, T cell immunosenescence, and Mitochondrial Bioenergetics


Yaroslav Markov
Yale University
Capturing Patterns in Noise: Deconvolving Stochastic Epigenetic Mutations to Capture Aging Heterogeneity


Sithara Vivek
University of Minnesota
Neuronal-derived plasma Extracellular vesicles (EVs) for measurement of dementia biomarkers