Research Pilot Project Program

UF Health CAN has initiated a pilot project program to stimulate research in areas directly relevant to autism spectrum disorder. The pilot project program will provide seed funding to eligible investigators to launch research efforts that will generate preliminary or pilot data needed for competitive extramural grant applications and result in publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Note: Because of restrictions on clinical and research activity necessitated by the COVID-19 health care crisis, pilot project grant activities must conform with current University and UF Health guidelines for resumption of activities.

Funding Level

Funding awards will be customized to the proposed project but cannot exceed $25,000. The budget for each grant will need to be justified and limited to expenses required to conduct the research (e.g., support of a research assistant, tele-health equipment, participant compensation). Funds to support faculty salary will not be considered although conference travel may be included. Funding will be awarded for a one-year period with the potential for a one-year, no-cost extension that is non-renewable.


UF Faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students are eligible to apply. Applicants will be limited to one submission per RFA as principal investigator but may be a co-investigator on more than one application. The proposed project must have IRB or IACUC approval prior to an award being made. Applicants must be ready to begin the proposed project within 3 months of receiving notice of the award. This requirement may be modified given logistical challenges to initiating and establishing a methodological approach based on tele-health technology. If the funded project is not processed via UFIRST in the time period negotiated, the award will be forfeited.

Application Format and Deadline

The application should be prepared using the UF Health CAN Pilot Award Proposal template. A letter of support from the faculty mentor must accompany applications from graduate students or post-doctoral fellows. The application should also include an NIH style biosketch for key personnel. The significance, impact, approach and expected outcomes of the proposed study should appropriately addressed and emphasized.  Clinical research project applications should provide sufficient documentation in the Research Strategy section to support successful recruitment and retention of research participants. In addition, these proposals should provide documentation to support the feasibility and utility of a tele-health approach. Request for applications (RFA) will have an October 1, 2020 or June 1, 2021 deadline for submission. Please submit all application materials via email to Dr. Mark Lewis at


Selections for awards will be made by the UF Health CAN Research Task Force and approved by the Center Director. Review of proposals will be conducted by at least three independent experienced and knowledgeable reviewers with the requisite expertise who have been designated by the Research Task Force. Reviewers will employ the NIH review criteria of Significance, Innovation, Investigator and Approach. The Research Task Force will also invite content experts from within the UF community on specific applications where ad hoc reviewers are needed. In addition, reviewers will consider relevance of the proposed project to autism spectrum disorder and potential for extramural funding.


Successful recipients are required to submit an interim progress report 6 months after initiation of the awarded project. A final report on the project including publications and presentations resulting from the funded project should be submitted to the Research Task Force Chair at the end of the funding period. Awardees will be expected to present the results of their work at a UF Health CAN research seminar. Findings stemming from the funded projects are expected to be submitted for publication and used as preliminary data in an extramural grant application within two years of completion of the project.