Pilot Studies Award Program

Purpose: To encourage early exploration of research ideas that address growing health challenges and add to the evidence base of integrative health practices.

Rationale: The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute (SSIHI) Pilot Studies Program is funded by the UCI Susan and Henry Samueli Endowment. The SSIHI Pilot Awards are designed specifically to support exceptionally innovative research projects that provide an understanding of the mechanistic basis or clinical outcomes related to the use of integrative therapies.

The UCI SSIHI is pleased to announce a new call for the Pilot Studies Program. A minimum of two one-year awards in the amount of $25,000 will be conferred in this round. The estimated funding period is May 1, 2022 – April 30, 2023.


Principal Investigators (PIs) must be full-time UCI faculty from any school or discipline. Junior and mid-career faculty, as well as established investigators, pursuing novel research lines are encouraged to apply.

Investigators must be eligible to be a Principal Investigator (PI) on a UCI IRB-approved protocol, as defined by the UCI Office of Research (Lead researchers with sponsor PIs will not be accepted). For more information on eligibility, please refer to this site.

Eligible Projects

Integrative health research projects currently not funded and aimed at obtaining preliminary results for a full application for extramural funds will be given priority. Emphasis will be placed on innovation and transformative potential of submitted proposals. The content of proposals, while linked to applicants’ current research, should demonstrate a clear evolution towards novel, relevant, and untested research areas. An integrative health research project is defined as any project aimed at gathering evidence related to integrative approaches or therapies.

Integrative approaches can be multimodal and address lifestyle related interventions (e.g., nutrition, etc.) and behaviors. Integrative therapies, as defined by NIH, include use of natural products (e.g., botanicals, dietary supplements, and probiotics) and mind and body approaches [mind/brain-focused practices (e.g., meditation, hypnosis), body-based approaches (e.g., acupuncture, massage), meditative exercise (e.g., yoga, tai chi), and art and music therapies]. In addition to integrative health research studies, these awards are also open to proposals that pilot new methodologies to assess multimodal approaches to integrative or whole person care.

Owing to the short timeframe of the awards, no projects requiring an IND or an IDE will be considered for funding.


Application Opens: November 30, 2021

Deadline: Friday, February 18, 2022

All materials must include the investigator’s name at the top right corner, use a font no smaller than 11 pts, and include margins no narrower than 0.5 inches.

The application must include:

  • Biosketches for PI and co-PIs (New NIH format)
  • Suggested Reviewers
  • Lay Summary (max 300 words) written content explaining project to a general/lay audience
  • Abstract and Keywords
  • Research Plan (5 pages max, plus references) must include:
    • Specific Aims
    • Significance (be sure to address the translational potential of the project)
    • Innovation
    • Approach
    • Plans for applying for extramural funding
  • SSIHI Pilot Project Implementation Plan (click here to download form)
  • Home department letter of support
  • Budget (itemized, 1 page maximum)
  • Budget Justification
    • Funds cannot be used to support the PI’s salary, computer purchases, or travel; other personnel salaries are allowable
    • No overhead will be provided for outside institutions

Regulatory Approval: Please note that while having regulatory approval (IRB, IACUC) is not necessary at the time of submission, awarded funds will not be released until such approval has been received.  We will not allow carry-forward on these one-year awards.  Also, if all regulatory approvals have not been received 6 months after award date, the Institute may withdraw the award.

Post-Award Project Support: Before funds are released, an activation meeting will be held with the awardee, a department financial analyst, and Institute staff at which the team will review the project implementation plan resources that will be provided to the research team.

Application Review Process: Review criteria will include:

  • Significance and impact of the proposed research
  • Qualifications of the PI and research team
  • Innovation
  • Approach; Scientific strength of the research design
  • Scientific environment
  • Project feasibility within the proposed time frame
  • Likelihood of generating extramural funding

SSIHI, in collaboration with the UCI ICTS, participates in a national CTSA External Reviewer Exchange Consortium (CEREC) to improve fairness in the scientific review process and better match applicants with feedback from experts in their respective fields. In submitting an application, you agree to allow reviewers external to UCI access to your application materials.


Full Proposal Deadline: Friday, February 18, 2022

Submission Instructions:

  1. STEP 1: Please email your intention to apply to Georgia Christodoulou at gchrist3@hs.uci.edu

Please include the following in this email:

Principal Investigator(s) Name

Co-Investigator Name(s) (if applicable)

Title of Project

  1. STEP 2: After emailing your intention to apply, you will receive an individualized link and passcode to a submission portal, in which you will upload all required documents. If you do not receive a response following STEP 1, please contact gchrist3@hs.uci.edu.
  1. STEP 3: A notification email indicating the receipt of all your application materials will be sent within 24 hours of submission. If you have not received this confirmation, please contact Georgia Christodoulou at gchrist3@hs.uci.edu

For more information, please contact Georgia Christodoulou at gchrist3@hs.uci.edu.

Announcing our 2022 awardees here!

Our 2021 spring awardees can be found here!