Pilot Program

Goal of the Pilot Program | Types of Pilot Program Grants | Scope | Priorities for Funding | Funded Projects 2017-2018 | Contact Information

UK CARES Pilot Program Grant Funding Program

Goal of the Pilot Program:

The overall goal of the UK Center for Appalachian Research in Environmental Sciences (UK CARES) Pilot Program is to enhance the interactions and expand the critical mass of investigators and citizen scientists with expertise and experience in transdisciplinary, translational environmental health research on the UK campus and in Appalachian communities. The purpose of pilot program is to provide a new opportunity and resources to support innovative, collaborative environmental research. To accomplish this, the program will: 

  • Expand the research mission of UK CARES by supporting new and novel areas of investigation in promising transdisciplinary and community-engaged areas of environmental health sciences and environmental medicine.
  • Provide research support, including financial, administrative, and mentoring, for early career faculty to establish competitive research programs in environmental health sciences and environmental medicine.
  • Provide support for faculty to explore new and innovative directions representing a significant departure from ongoing funded research into the environmental health sciences discipline.
  • Enhance the interactions with citizen scientists in Appalachian Kentucky and expand the critical mass of investigators with expertise and experience in transdisciplinary, translational environmental health and environmental medicine research on the UK campus and in the community.
  • Foster opportunities that meet the goals and research interest areas relevant to NIEHS and the Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers.

Types of Pilot Program Grants:

The pilot program will utilize a number of funding mechanisms to ensure flexibility in the ability to take advantage of new funding opportunities. The categories of awards will be as follows: 

      I.         Innovation/High Impact Award

 This award is for investigators at all stages of career development; junior, midlevel, and senior investigators, and is intended to stimulate innovation and to support pilot studies that will lead to extramural funding. Pilot grants will support projects that catalyze new research opportunities, expand research interactions with citizen scientists, volunteer faculty, or bring new dimensions to the center. The total award is limited to $50,000 which must be spent over 18 months.  

     II.         Early Career Investigator Award

This award is intended to support pilot studies by early stage investigators to obtain preliminary data for an extramural grant submission. The maximum award will be $25,000 which must be spent over 18 months. This award is only open to investigators in the early stage of their career, or investigators who are transitioning into a new area. Applicants must identify a mentor to assist with the investigator’s training. If appropriate for the focus of the project, applicants are expected to identify at least one citizen scientist in Appalachian Kentucky to collaborate on the project.


The types of projects that will be considered within this mechanism include projects that:

  • Stimulate the development of new translational inter- and multidisciplinary teams with a focus on environmental health sciences.
  • Support investigators entering into the field of environmental health sciences.
  • Support investigators changing focus within the discipline of environmental health sciences.  For example, investigators moving from environmental science related to diabetes to environmental science associated with cancer.
  • Promote community-engaged research in collaboration with citizen scientists to solve environmental health issues in Appalachian Kentucky.
  • Provide support for early career investigators.
  • Develop new methodologies to leverage institutional strengths and new initiatives.
  • Pursue high-risk, high reward studies.

Priorities for Funding: 

The main priorities for funding are:

  • Scientific merit of the project,
  • Clear clinical and translational relevance for residents of Appalachian Kentucky, and
  • Likelihood that funding will result in submission of a competitive application for extramural funding.

Where appropriate, priority will be awarded based upon the strength of the research team including citizen scientists or, for early career investigators, the mentorship team and citizen scientists.

Funded Projects 2017-2018:

  • Assessing Environmental Health Literacy among Appalachian Technical Stakeholders
    Anna Hoover, PhD, Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, College of Public Health (Early Career Investigator)
  • The BREATH Study: Using Breath biomaRkers to Understand Environmental Contributions to Asthma in The Appalachian Region of Kentucky
    Jamie Sturgill, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine (Early Career Investigator)
  • Community-Engaged Appalachian Drinking Water Health Effects Study
    Jason Unrine, PhD, Department of Plant and Soil Science, College of Agriculture
    Wayne Sanderson, PhD  Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health
  • Environmental Exposures and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Appalachian Kentucky
    Debra Moser, PhD, Department of Nursing Practice, College of Nursing
    Andrew Morris, PhD, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine

Contact Information

Thomas Curry, PhD 

(859) 323-6166
Research Development Director
Joel Thompson, PhD

(859) 323-7939
Administrative Coordinator
Amy Thomas
(859) 323-7395