Pilot Project

Congratulations to our CACHET Pilot Grant Awardees


Dr. Kirsten Almberg (UIC)
Characterization of agricultural herbicide exposures in reproductive age women

Dr. Brisa Aschebrook-Kilfoy (UofC)
The impact of air pollution on biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk in environmental justice communities in Chicago

Dr. Yu-Ying He (UofC)
FTO and RNA methylation in arsenic skin tumorigenesis

Dr. Jyotsna Jagai (UIC)
Evaluating the utility of gut and residential environment microbiome as markers of cumulative environmental exposures in breast cancer risk

Dr. Sola Olopade (UofC)
Air pollution exposure and pregnancy outcomes in women in the Chicago Multiethnic Prevention and Surveillance Study

Dr. Igor Paprotny (UIC)
Low-cost Direct Reading MEMS PM2.5 Sensors for Community Deployment

Dr. Garth Rauscher (UIC)
Linking air toxics exposure data to residential histories in a large cohort of women


The goal of the Pilot Projects Program is to enable investigators at UIC and UChicago to generate preliminary data supporting NIH applications in Environmental Health Science (EHS) research. The likelihood of success for future funding is a key criterion in the review of the proposals.


  • Young Investigator Awards: CACHET affiliate members (Research Associates, and Instructors) or CACHET members (Research Assistant Professors and Assistant Professors).
  • Idea Awards: CACHET members or participants in the CACHET Community Engagement Core (CEC)
  • Inter-Institutional Award: Proposals that are co-led by two CACHET members; one from each institution, with complementary expertise. 

Proposal Requirements:

  • NEW: Utilization of CACHET Core Facilities (Integrated Health Science Facilities Core [IHSFC], Biomarkers, Microbiome) or interaction with CEC is mandatory. Please see CACHET website (https://www.chicago-cachet.org/) for Core Facility resources.  Note: IHSFC has multiple resources for most investigations that can be leveraged.
  • Young Investigator Awards: (a) an hypothesis-based EHS research project that requires generation of preliminary data; (b) no prior history of federal grant support; and (c) a strong mentorship plan with a CACHET member. The application must include a letter from a faculty sponsor describing the mentoring plan and timeline to seek independent grant funding.
  • Idea Awards: The project must be related to EHS research, with particular emphasis placed on areas of interest of CACHET Focus Groups and/or activities of CACHET Cores (see CACHET Website).
  • Inter-Institutional Awards: The project must be collaborative research between investigators at UIC and UChicago, must show tangible synergy, and must be related to EHS research. The application must contain:
  • a rationale paragraph justifying collaboration across institutions (i.e., complementary expertise and/or resources from two institutions)
  • a paragraph outlining plans for a collaborative team science proposal to outside agencies.

Budget and Project Duration*:

  • Young Investigator Awards: up to $25,000 for one year; may include a request for salary support for the PI. Renewal for an additional year upon a meritorious progress report may be considered.
  • Idea Awards: up to $25,000 for one year; may not include salary support for the PI.
  • Inter-Institutional Awards: up to $35,000 for one year; may not include salary support for the PI. Renewal for one more year upon a meritorious progress report may be considered.

*Recommended budget amount and/or duration for funded applications may be adjusted by the CACHET Executive Committee.

Proposal Format: Half-inch margins, Arial 11 point font

  • Specific Aims – One page
  • Research Plan – up to 3 pages.
    • Introduction/Background
    • Hypothesis/Specific Aims
    • Research Approach
    • Paragraph about plans for future grant application
  • References
  • Budget and budget justification
  • Supporting documents (e.g. letters of support).

Key Dates:

  • Letter of Intent: Requested by November 7, 2018, but it is not mandatory.
  • Application Deadline: November 30, 2018
  • Proposal Reviews: Completed by January 15, 2019
  • Project Start Date: January 31, 2019.

For more information:
UIC: Contact Amanda Abramson at 312-996-6961 or amandaa@uic.edu
UChicago: Contact Liz Stepniak at 773-702-9663 or lstepnia@bsd.uchicago.edu