San Diego Nathan Shock Center

Pilot Grant Program

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - San Diego Nathan Shock Center - Pilot Grant Program

Pilot Grant Program

San Diego Nathan Shock Center Pilot Grant Program

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2024 Call for applications: to be announced soon

2023 call for applications - Description

The Research Development Core of the San Diego Nathan Shock Center (SD-NSC) is requesting applications for its Pilot Grant program. The goal is to support projects that will explore the heterogeneity of aging by taking advantage of the scientific services offered by one or more of the SD-NSC Research Resource Cores. These are the Human Cells Models of Aging Core, which offers cell lines from our unique cohort, Heterogeneity of Aging Core, which offers single cell transcriptomics and epigenetic analysis, mass spectrometry and high-resolution imaging to assess the heterogeneity of cell and tissue aging studies; and the Integrative Models of Aging Core, which offers computational tools to integrate and interpret large datasets from single cell sequencing, proteomic and imaging related to the heterogeneity of aging. For more details on these core service offerings, please see the presentations from the SD-NSC Workshop, 2021 or 2022 edition.

Up to $20,000 will be awarded to each of the six selected projects, to cover Core services at the SD-NSC subsidized rates. In addition, the center will provide awardees, access to training workshops and career development opportunities and cover expenses to travel to the San Diego center to attend and present their work at a new edition of the SD-NSC Symposium on Heterogeneity of Aging. Awardees will also be paired with an established SD-NSC investigator or SD-NSC affiliated investigator, who will provide feedback and help ensure project success. For junior applicants, this SD-NSC advisor will also serve as a mentor and be available to consult for career development.

Required Components of the proposal

Proposals must be limited to 3 pages and include:

  • Project title
  • Project PI
  • Scientific abstract (≤150 words)
  • Significance of the proposed research
  • Experimental approach

Proposals should also include:

*Note: rates will be updated on 7/1/2023, please create your budget with these updates rates.

These sections will not count against the page limit

Format: Proposals must use Arial font of at least 11 pt., and have at least half-inch margins on all sides.

Application Deadline

Proposals are due on or before August 22 2023 at midnight through the Salk institute Competitions Portal. Please create a user profile in the portal to submit your application by following these instructions.


The Research Development Core offers this opportunity to:

  • Junior researchers who are beginning their careers in the basic biology of aging: including Postdoctoral Fellows and Staff Scientists who finished their PhD within the last 10 years OR Assistant professors within the first 5 years of initial faculty appointment.
  • Established investigators new to aging research: these researchers wish to join the field and do not yet have an R01 OR a publication in aging research.
  • All Applicants must be associated with a US academic institution.

Exclusions and limitations

The proposed project should not be supported by an existing grant. The award cannot support salaries and should cover direct costs only. Funds are not available for animals, animal supplies, or animal charges. Funds must be spent by May 31, 2024.

Changes to the project and delays need to be communicated to, and be approved by the Center.

Review procedures

Submitted applications will be sent to the Pilot Award Review Committee, which consists of the SD-NSC Executive Committee and three external reviewers from among active aging researchers. The Committee will use NIH scoring scale and evaluate proposals following these criteria:

  • How well does the investigator's research question align with the Center's goal to better understand the heterogeneity of aging?
  • Significance/How important is the project to the basic biology of aging field?
  • Investigator/Potential for this investigator to make significant and innovative contributions to the basic biology of aging field?

The highest scoring applications will be selected by voting at a meeting of this Committee, during which potential SD-NSC advisors will also be identified. Feasibility of top applications will be assessed as a last step before confirming the awardees. Awardees will be notified in late October 2023, through email.

Reporting requirements

Awardees are expected to submit a 2-page final report to SD-NSC one month after the end date of the project, i.e., by Jun 30th 2024. This report should highlight scientific conclusions and impact, and evaluate the effectiveness of the SD-NSC scientific advisor. Recipients are also expected to cite the SD-NSC as a source of funding in resulting publications and include these at the end of project report.

Award Recipient Follow-up

Successful applicants will be required to provide the SD-NSC with the following:

  • A seminar on the pilot study research at the SD-NSC Workshop/ Symposium on March 2025.
  • Notification of abstracts or papers published to which the pilot study contributed, up to 5 years after the end of the project.
  • Notification of extramural grants sought and awards received that relate to the pilot study, up to 5 years after the end of the project.

Questions and Contact

Please read our FAQ page which includes common questions about the program, and troubleshooting when creating your user account or submitting your application.

If you have further questions in regards to the program or how to submit your proposal, please email, or join us on June 6 or 13 at 10am PT for a consultation session with Dr. Alessandra Sacco, head of the SD-NSC Research Development Core (zoom links to join below),

Consultation sessions

  • Option 1: Tuesday, June 6, 2023 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 898 7568 3732

Passcode: 962302

  • Option 2: Tuesday, June 13, 2023 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 813 4952 0447

Passcode: 008446

Click here to view previous Pilot Grant awardees »