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Department of Environmental Health

Center for Environmental Genetics

Pilot Projects Program

Each year the CEG provides seed money for pilot projects focused on the study of gene-environment interactions (GxE). Made possible by NIEHS center award P30 ES006096, CEG pilot funding supports new initiatives in basic and population research, attracts investigators to research in environmental health sciences, and enables recipients to use CEG core facilities (e.g., genomics, epigenomics, proteomics, etc.) with a matching subsidy that would otherwise be unavailable to them. The program has seen an average 12 to 1 return on investment as recipients parlay their preliminary findings into larger externally funded studies.

The deadline for applications is typically late January of any give year and will be posted publicly, including on these pages.  The most recent RFA is available for download here (PDF). Word version, click here.

Awards are offered in 6 categories:

  1. Innovator Awards: For existing EHS scientists who wish to develop research in a new direction, using a new technology/concept, or establishing new collaborations
  2. New-to-EHS Awards:  For investigators at any level who are venturing into EHS research but have no prior experience in this field. Applicants must identify at least one established EHS researcher as a co-investigator.
  3. Affinity Group Awards for multiple investigators from different disciplines submitting a highly integrated and novel transdisciplinary application.
  4. Translation and Community Engagement Awards for EHS researchers to pursue new directions in research translation and community engagement.
  5. Time-Sensitive Response (TSR) Awards for CEG members with urgent but unexpected research needs: e.g., addressing a rapidly emerging environmental exposure concern. Such awards will be made on an ad hoc basis; applications in categories 1 through 5 will be solicited once a year.
  6. New Investigator Awards for junior faculty investigators (ONLY those who have already been selected for initial salary support under the CEG Administrative Core).

Award categories 1 through 4 and 6 are awarded once a year; the TSR category awards will be made on a rolling basis.

Applicants may request funds up to $30,000 except for the Affinity Group awards category which may request up to $50,000 and the Time-sensitive Response Award category which may request up to $5,000. Actual award amounts, however, may vary depending on funds available. Indirect or F&A costs are not allowed.

Eligibility: Principal investigators (PIs) must have a faculty appointment or be a senior research staff member with doctoral-level training. Postdoctoral Fellows and Graduate Assistants are not allowed to be PIs on these awards.

Proposals that do not address gene x environment interaction(s) will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed. Exceptions may apply to the Translation and Community Engagement Award category.

Gene in this context means individual genes/gene products, genomics, functional genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, epigenomics.

Environment in this context is defined based on the language used by the NIEHS for environmentally relevant toxicants in its RFAs, as described below.

Examples of environmentally relevant toxicants include industrial chemicals or manufacturing byproducts, metals, pesticides, herbicides, air pollutants and other inhaled toxicants, particulates or fibers, and fungal/bacterial or biologically derived toxins. Agents considered non-responsive include, but are not limited to: alcohol, drugs of abuse, pharmaceuticals, chemotherapeutic agents, radiation which is not a result of an ambient environmental exposure, and infectious or parasitic agents, except when agents are disease co-factors to an environmental toxicant exposure to produce the biological effect.

Authors of proposals that include use of human subjects or human specimens are advised to seek an advance consultation with the Integrative Health Sciences Facilities (IHSF) Core, directed by Susan Pinney, PhD. Phone: 513-558-0684.

For more information on the Pilot Project Program, including scientific or technical questions, please contact its directors Dr. Jagjit Yadav ( or Dr. Aimin Chen ( All other inquiries: Please contact Teresa Donovan 133A Kettering Laboratory, 513-558-3625.

Research supported by the Center for Environmental Genetics should cite NIEHS P30ES006096.