Data points

UC Davis EHSC Pilot Projects Program is one of the main ways we fund Environmental Health Sciences Research.


The aim of the Pilot Projects Program is to help researchers who are:

  • Early Stage Investigators in Environmental Health Sciences 
  • Established investigators new to Environmental Health Sciences 
  • Established environmental health sciences investigators exploring substantially new research directions in a field relevant to Environmental Health Sciences

Any investigator eligible to take on sponsored research in accordance with UC Davis policy can submit a Concept Letter which consist of a 300 word abstract, applicant details and an NIH biosketch. 


    • October 23, 2023 @ 1pm - Concept Letters (required) are due on InfoReady.  
      • Concept Letters are reviewed for relevance to the NIEHS mission including incorporation of a relevant environmental exposure. Researchers whose concept proposal meets the relevance criteria will be invited to submit a full application.
    • Early November 2023 - Pre-application consultations with EHSC Core Leads.
      • Applicants can request EHSC Core Consults when they submit their concept letter.
      • Typically, applicants who obtain core consults have a higher likelihood of success.
    • November 27, 2023 @ 1pm - Full Applications due on InfoReady
      • See below for the review process. 
    • January 22, 2024 @ 11am-3pm - Finalists' Presentations to the Center Leadership Group
    • February 2024 - Funding decisions 
    • April 1, 2024 - Projects begin
      • The start date depends on timely receipt of NIEHS funding.
      • The start date depends on meeting all the necessary compliance requirements. See below for information about projects requiring IRB and/or IACUC review.  

    PRIORITY AREAS FOR 2023-2024

    Community Engagement, Intervention Research, and Public Policy:
    • Research to inform policies and to benefit environmental justice communities and reduce their exposures; define/measure exposures in communities and relate this to health impacts [see EHSC Community Research Priorities], especially through partnerships with vulnerable communities shouldering heavy economic and pollution burdens; investigate effectiveness of interventions.
    Translational, Transdisciplinary and Clinical or Epidemiologic Environmental Research:
    • Using data or samples from animals exposed to wildfires to understand human exposures and health-related outcomes or biomarkers. 
    • Interactions between climate factors and chemical exposures in human health both, mental and physical.
    • Interventions to mitigate the impacts of environmental exposures; integration of molecular markers with both environmental exposures and disease; development and implementation of sensors or other devices to monitor or model environmental exposures or health outcomes.
    Local Emissions and Acute Pulmonary Health Effects:
    • The UC Davis Air Quality Research Center is a significant co-funder for the above target topic.
    • Priorities for this co-funder include: measurement of local spread of smoke and particulate laden plumes from residential sources, measurements of illness from local smoke plumes, approaches to create real time data for use to identify local spread lofted materials from leaf blower use or residential smoke from fireplaces or barbeques.
    Cancer Research:
    • The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) will be a significant co-funder of cancer-related applications. 
    • UC Davis CCC is particularly interested in team-science focused projects addressing carcinogenic environmental exposures (i.e., wildfire smoke, soil and drinking water contaminants) that impact the center's 19-county catchment area
    • UC Davis CCC's priorities include: studies of the impacts of carcinogenic environmental exposures on underrepresented minorities, communities experiencing persistent poverty, and/or communities in rural areas. CCC co-funded projects should generate preliminary data supporting a multi-PI extramural grant submitted within 12 months after the pilot project ends. Full applications should include a plan for this.
    • In addition to topics identified above, UC Davis EHSC is interested in applications that explore: the impact of environmental and workplace exposures on cancer incidence and outcomes; environmental exposures and the mechanisms of cancer including defining whether certain chemicals are likely carcinogens or impact cellular proliferation; and investigation of health disparities and interactions/differential effects of environmental exposures in populations with potential greater susceptibility to cancer; interventions particular to cancers related to environmental exposures.
    Children's Environmental Health
    Workplace Hazards to Health


    • Type 1 one-year project awards for $20,000 to $30,000 direct costs; a community engagement plan is encouraged but not required. IF the proposal includes community engagement involving effort and time of a community partner, it is expected that this will be reflected in the budget.
    • Type 2 two-year awards for up to $30,000/year direct ($60,000 total) with community outreach and engagement throughout the research process including project design, data collection, interpretation of results and dissemination. At least $5,000/year ($10,000 total) must be allocated to community partners. Requires significant community engagement.
    • Type 3 one-year awards for up to $50,000 direct costs; will compellingly lay the foundation for significantly expanding an established research program through major new extramural funding. These awards are targeted to mid-career or established investigators, either currently working in or new to EHS, and may include some community engagement, similar to Type 1 awards.


    The initial review process incorporates a Scientific Review and a Community Review. Final funding recommendations are made by the Center's Funding Council. 

    • Scientific Review will include evaluation of overall promise, significance, innovation, investigator qualifications, approach, likelihood that the pilot will lead to a funded NIEHS grant application, and/or a robust translation into policy, clinical practice, or community action. The scientific review will also consider alignment with the Pilot Program Priority Areas as one component of likelihood of leading to a funded NIEHS grant. 
    • Community Review will provide all applicants with feedback on either their existing community engagement plan or the potential for community engagement in their work. All proposals are encouraged to include a community engagement component. However, only Type 2 proposals are required to include community engagement plans and/or demonstrate alignment with EHSC Community Research Priorities. For Type 1 and Type 3 projects community engagement plans and/or alignment with EHSC Community Research Priorities may improve the overall score; however, these proposals will not be penalized for not including these elements.  



    If you're interested in applying, it's helpful to know a little about the projects that have received funding. Below are previous Pilot Projects we've supported:



    If selected for funding, grantees must:

    • Acknowledge the Center grant NIEHS P30-ES023513 in all work emanating from the Center-supported pilot.
    • Report on their progress, development and receipt of new grant awards, and submissions and publication of scientific papers using our online reporting system during and for five years after the initial award period.
    • Present their research progress at an EHSC-sponsored seminar, conference, or annual retreat.
    • Present their research to EHSC’s Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
    • Attend an EHSC training on community-engaged research.

    If your project involves human or animal subjects, please:

    • Review application instructions to ensure your human or animal research is described according to NIH requirements.
    • Remember that no award will be issued until IRB or IACUC approval has been received and the NIEHS has authorized allocation of funds.
    • Be prepared to submit IRB/IACUC paperwork for EHSC approval shortly after your pilot award notice.


    You can get more information about our Pilot Projects Program from one of its co-directors: Laura Van Winkle ( or Judy Van de Water ( If you have any logistical questions about InfoReady, finalists' presentations, etc., please reach out to Ruth Williams (