Dr. Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato in her lab
Cristina Aguayo-Mazzucato, MD, PhD, Joslin Diabetes Center Recipient of a 2018 P&F award to support her research.

Supporting New Research

The Joslin Diabetes Center Diabetes Research Center (DRC) offers Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Grants in research areas directly related to diabetes - including types 1 and 2 diabetes and their complications - from basic, translational or clinical perspectives. Two P&F grants are offered for up to $50,000 per year, for a duration of two years.

The Joslin Diabetes Center DRC P&F Grant Program has been providing initial funding for new and innovative research projects for more than 30 years. The program is led by Rohit N. Kulkarni, MD, PhD, Associate Director of the DRC.

Projects funded in past years have covered a wide range of topics in the fields of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and their complications, including the control of insulin gene expression, mechanisms of insulin action and resistance, stem cell biology, beta-cell apoptosis, and potential regeneration, mechanisms of leptin action and resistance and autoantigen therapy of type 1 diabetes. The approaches have also been very diverse, covering wide varieties of biochemical, molecular biologic, genetic, immunological and clinical strategies. This breadth of topics and efforts also reflects the diverse interests of Joslin's diabetes research program as a whole. View a list of the awarded projects since 1986 here.

Recruiting talented new investigators and embracing promising new experimental strategies or methods is critical to advancing the science of diabetes. Therefore, this program has traditionally provided support to three types of researchers:

  • New investigators in the diabetes field who have not previously received substantial NIH funding (“New investigators” are defined as having an academic appointment associated with independent space and an independent project. This does not include fellows.)
  • Experienced investigators in the diabetes field who wish to strike out in a novel direction
  • Investigators from other fields embarking on a diabetes-related project for the first time

To accomplish this, we hold a yearly competitive application process. Several months before the submission deadline we announce the upcoming P&F grant opportunity as broadly as possible to eligible departments and institutions. Each year we award two new grants of $50,000 per year, and for two years duration, to researchers based either at Joslin Diabetes Center or at neighboring institutions within Harvard Medical School and affiliated hospitals and centers. Special efforts are made to foster interactions between Joslin Diabetes Research Center (DRC) investigators and the external P&F Study Program awardees. Applicants are asked to submit a description (abstract) of the proposed project using the designated website. Applicants whose applications are eligible are invited to submit a full proposal. Full proposals are judged by internal and external reviewers chosen on the basis of expertise. We utilize a nationwide network of experts in the various fields related to diabetes to identify appropriate reviewers. 

Proposals receiving the highest scores are recommended for funding to begin April 1 of the submission year. Anonymous reviews are provided to the applicants. We try to integrate P&F grant recipients, within Joslin and from other institutions, by encouraging the use of the DRC cores and facilities. This includes facilitating access to Joslin DRC cores, an invitation to give a seminar at the Joslin, and invitations to Joslin retreats and other enrichment activities. Please visit the Enrichment Program portion of this website.

We encourage the submission of translational research projects, in particular new collaborative projects between a Principal Investigator (PI) who is a basic scientist and a PI who is a clinician or clinical scientist. These projects must focus on patients or patient samples. At least one of the two collaborating PIs must be from Joslin. If you are applying for this paired Basic/Clinical award, please specify this within the "Letter of Intent." Please review an NIH definition of "translational research" here.

Important Information Regarding Submissions

View FAQs related to Joslin DRC P&F Submissions

Potential candidates should complete the Joslin Pilot and Feasibility Grant Program Registration Form and then follow subsequent instructions to submit a required "Letter of Intent" (LOI) and biosketch. Received LOIs will be reviewed for eligibility and priority, and the successful candidates will be invited to electronically submit a five-page Research Plan proposal following an abbreviated version of a standard NIH application.


  • Letter of Intent: Monday, December 11, 2023 at 5:00 pm
  • Full Application (by invitation only): Friday, January 26, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Decision announcements will be made in late March 2024 with the funding cycle to begin on or about April 1, 2024, lasting one year. The second year of funding is contingent upon a positive review of the P&F year one progress report.

Candidates determined eligible will be invited to submit proposals using the PHS 398 instructions and PHS 398 forms

A major purpose of the P&F program is to prepare new faculty for the successful submission of competitive NIH grants, hence the requirement for using the NIH format and NIH forms. We also use data collected on the forms for the renewal of the DRC parent grant. We ask that you use the current, non-fellowship NIH biosketch format.

What is the format for the scientific portion of the P&F?

As noted above a major purpose of the P&F program is to help prepare new faculty for successfully submitting competitive grants to the NIH. We therefore require submissions to be in the NIH format, but the Research Plan is limited to five pages.

The five-page Research Plan should include:

  • Specific Aims
  • Significance
  • Innovation
  • Approach, as outlined by the NIH for R01 submissions

Given the reduced length of the P&F, modify section lengths accordingly but include all sections following NIH guidelines. The rest of the items in the Table of Contents (i.e. 5-15) should be included if they fall within your proposal (i.e. if your project involves animal research, include item 10; if you have a SUB, include item 13). However, only the Specific Aims, Significance, Innovation and Approach sections of the proposal are required to be within the five-page limit.

Are there any specific requirements given the new NIH guidelines regarding clinical trials?

Yes. P&F projects that will support clinical trials of more than minimal risk to a participant must receive prior, written approval from NIH. You must document whether your application will support such a clinical trial at the time you apply. Should your application be selected for funding, we will request additional information to be provided to NIH officials. Please see these guidelines regarding Human Subjects Research Proposals

The EIN is a required field in the PHS 398 forms. We also need this information for awardees from sites other than Joslin Diabetes Center.

In many cases applicants will already have relevant institutional IRB or IACUC approvals, and studies can begin immediately upon initiation of the award. While IRB/IACUC approvals are not required at the time of application if an award is made neither experiments nor spending can begin until all institutional approvals are in place.

P&F funding is limited to $50,000/year in direct costs. Submission of a detailed budget and justification helps the reviewers and oversight committee appropriately evaluate the proposal. P&F awards do not cover indirect costs.


Joslin does not encourage, but allows, up to 10% for PI salary + fringe because these are small awards, intended for supporting novel experiments rather than salary support.

Pilot and Feasibility awards are for up to $50,000 per year for a maximum of two years. Awards are made annually, with the second year of funding contingent upon adequate progress in Year 1 and the absence of new overlapping funding, as documented in a required Progress Report to be submitted during the 4th quarter of the first year of funding. These awards are for direct costs only. As with any grant, if you wish to receive a second year of funding, you must submit a two-year budget request.

The total number of Pilot and Feasibility grants awarded during any individual cycle is determined by (1) the availability of Pilot and Feasibility (P&F) Program funds and (2) the quality of the applications received. In general, the Joslin Diabetes Center DRC aims to fund two new Pilot and Feasibility projects each year and two renewals of the previously awarded P&Fs.

What happens once I apply?
All applications will be reviewed by two to three (or more) reviewers. Decisions will be based on reviewer scores as well as applicability to the DRC mission. Final decisions will be made by an oversight committee and notification letters will follow.

The application process is a two-step procedure:

  • The interested candidate should submit an electronic “Letter of Intent” (LOI) and NIH biosketch by Monday, December 11, 2023 at 5:00 pm.
  • Received LOIs will be reviewed for eligibility and priority, and successful candidates will be invited to electronically submit a five-page Research Plan proposal, following an abbreviated version of a standard NIH application, due by Friday, January 26, 2024 at 5:00 pm.

These applications will be reviewed and the awarded P&Fs will be eligible for funding to start on or about April 1, 2024.

At the end of the year, each investigator will be asked to demonstrate progress on their project in order to justify a second year of support, and a final report is required at the end of the funding period.

If your proposal involves human subjects, please review the Human Subjects Project Proposal Resources Document