2021 Request for Pilot Study Applications

The OPTICC Center—a strategic collaboration of the University of Washington (UW), Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC)—is soliciting applications for pilot studies. The purpose of this small grants program is to advance the mission of the OPTICC Center and help researchers obtain substantive and methodologic guidance as well as pilot data to support large, extramural implementation-related proposals.

Our Center strives to improve cancer outcomes by supporting optimized implementation of evidence-based interventions (EBIs) in community and clinical settings for a wide range of cancers across the cancer care continuum. We achieve this by testing and refining robust, yet practical methods for (1) identifying and prioritizing barriers in settings where cancer control EBIs are delivered, (2) improving methods for matching implementation strategies to address high-priority barriers, and (3) optimizing strategies for large-scale evaluation and use in community and clinical settings implementing cancer control EBIs. We accomplish this work by collaborating with the clinical and community partners that comprise our Implementation Laboratory (I-Lab).

Pilot study awards provide up to $50,000 total costs for one year. All proposed pilot projects must employ at least one of the OPTICC Center’s methods for optimizing EBI implementation (hereafter called optimization methods). Small pilot study grants employing one or two OPTICC Center optimization methods would be expected to be approximately $10-15K in size. Larger pilot studies, employing multiple OPTICC Center optimization methods are also welcome. The proposed budget should be commensurate with the proposed work. Larger pilot studies should describe a concrete plan for further steps beyond the pilot study (e.g., how the pilot study will lead to extramural funding).

What we’re looking for

We seek pilot studies that employ OPTICC Center optimization methods to address the cancer control priorities of our Implementation Lab partners. These methods include rapid evidence reviews, rapid ethnographic analysis (REA), design probes, prioritization procedures, causal pathway diagramming, and rapid prototyping.

We have expert faculty in the OPTICC Center’s Research Program Core who can advise you on the use of these, provide toolkits to support your use of them, or collaborate as research team members, depending on the size and complexity of the pilot study (see Submission and Review Process below).

Applications must employ one or more OPTICC Center optimization methods and focus on cancer control evidence-based intervention implementation. Applications that do not will not be considered for funding. Potential questions using one or two, or multiple OPTICC methods are suggested below. Successful applications are not limited to these questions.

Rapid ethnographic analysis: What implementation barriers and facilitators exist in this clinical or community setting that need to be addressed? What are provider or patient perspectives on implementing X evidence-based intervention? What are the workflow implications of implementing X EBI? What adaptations to the intervention or the context are needed to implement X EBI?

Design probes: How do providers or patients experience delivering or receiving X EBI? What barriers are salient? What meaning is ascribed to those barriers? How much importance is assigned to those barriers? What is the lived experienced of the provider or patient and how that interfaces with the EBI under consideration?

Rapid prototyping: How should X implementation strategy be packaged or delivered to optimize Y EBI’s reach or impact or reduce Y EBI’s cost? How could X EBI be optimized for Y patients or Z providers?

Rapid evidence review: What are typical barriers to implementing X EBIs in Y contexts? How does Y implementation strategy work? Through what mechanism? To achieve what effect?

Prioritization procedures: How feasible or useful are the OPTICC Center’s prioritization procedures for selecting among an overwhelming number of EBI barriers? How can stakeholders be engaged in prioritization? What are the “right” criteria for prioritizing implementation barriers? How do researcher prioritizations compare to stakeholder prioritizations?

Causal pathway diagramming: Which implementation strategy is best to address X barrier to achieve Y outcome? What preconditions need to be in place for Y implementation strategy to work? What contextual conditions might amplify or dampen the effect of Y implementation strategy on Z outcome? How do I build an implementation roadmap with my partners?

Optimization: How can we optimize X evidence-based intervention implementation to increase reach? Increase impact? Reduce provider burden? Reduce patient burden? Reduce cost?

Planning: How should we best proceed with implementing X EBI? What implementation barriers should be targeted? Which implementation strategies should be deployed?

Sustainability: X EBI has been implemented. How can it be sustained? What strategies would work?

OPTICC Center Implementation Lab Partners have identified the following topics as cancer control priorities:

Cancer screening (colorectal, cervical, breast, and lung cancers)

Cancer prevention evidence-based intervention implementation

Cancer treatment evidence-based intervention implementation

Health equity/health disparities

Telehealth implementation and sustainment

Precision medicine

OPTICC Center priorities span the cancer care continuum. Implementation Lab Partners are working to optimize implementation of evidence-based interventions in cancer prevention (e.g., healthy lifestyle education, programs), cancer screening (e.g., mammograms, FIT, pap smears, HPV vaccination), cancer treatment (e.g., patient navigation, chemotherapy workflows), cancer survivorship (e.g., programs, cancer surveillance), and end-of-life care (e.g., hospice, goals of care).

We highly encourage applications that address the cancer control priorities of our I-Lab partners. Applications that do not focus on Partner priorities will still be considered; however, applications that do will be considered more favorably.

We highly encourage applications that involve collaboration with an I-Lab Partner. Applications that do not include a collaboration with at least one of our Partners will be considered; however, applications that do will be considered more favorably.

Applicant Eligibility

Principal Investigators and Co-Investigators must be faculty members, research scientists, research staff, or students at UW, KPWHRI, or FHCRC

We highly encourage applications from members of under-represented groups

We highly encourage applications from early-career investigators or scientists-in-training who do not have their own peer-reviewed research support

Submission and review process

Applications Open

April 1, 2021

Last day to submit LOI

May 14, 2021

Full Proposals Due

July 1, 2021

Award Decisions

August 1, 2021

Award Start Date

September 1, 2021

Letter of Intent (LOI)

Principal Investigator (PI) submits Letter of Intent by 5:00 pm PDT on or preferably before May 14, 2021. LOI requirements are described below, and the template is linked in the banner below. Early submission prior to this date is encouraged so PIs have more time to prepare a full proposal.

LOIs will be assessed for relevance and feasibility with regard to 1) alignment of the research question with Lab Partner site priorities, 2) application of OPTICC Center optimization methods, 3) current capacity of the Lab Partner sites, 3) likelihood of recruiting a site champion for the research, as needed; and 4) likelihood of recruiting an adequate number or sites, and within sites, an adequate number and type of participants to meet the research targets.

Discuss Proposal Fit

Relevant experts from the OPTICC Center’s I-Lab Core and Research Program Core will review the LOI and, if in scope for OPTICC, we will discuss with the PI the proposed research question, study methods, design, and intended sites. These experts will focus first on match-making the PI with a site from the I-Lab, unless a relationship is already established. Next, these OPTICC experts will work with the PI to refine the research questions and approach to ensure OPTICC methods are a match.

Submit Full Application

If invited to move to Step 3, PI submits full application (details below) by 5:00 pm PDT July 1, 2021. This deadline will be strictly adhered to with no exceptions. Submit applications as a single PDF to Janell Blackmer at jla@uw.edu.

Scientific Review

Submitted applications will be assigned to three scientific reviewers from the OPTICC Center and evaluated using NIH criteria and scoring procedures (i.e., Significance, Approach, Innovation, Investigator, and Environment).

Just in Time

Awardees must submit all Just-in-Time materials (e.g., IRB approval) and meet all compliance requirements prior to receiving funds for a September 1, 2021 start date.

Submit Letter of Intent by 5pm May 14, 2021 to request approval to apply

Requirements for Pilot Award Recipients

Requirements and deliverables

  • Acknowledge OPTICC Center support on all publications and presentations related to the pilot study (P50CA244432).
  • Final report of spent funds including receipts (due dates will be communicated at the time of award).
  • 2-3 sentence narrative summary of the project and two paragraph, lay-friendly description of the project, results, and next steps.
  • Permission to use photos/videos, project summary, and results summary on OPTICC Center website.
  • All post-award requirements to be completed within the period of performance.

Comply with NIH and Moonshot public policies

Public Data Sharing from projects

Cancer Moonshot Requirements for Data Sharing: “Under the Policy, applicants for extramural research funding (grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts) (collectively, “Applicants”) for Cancer Moonshot Research Projects are required to submit a Public Access and Data-Sharing Plan that (1) describes their proposed process for making resulting Publications and, to the extent possible, the Underlying Primary Data immediately and broadly available to the public; and (2), if applicable, provides a justification to NCI if such sharing is not possible. Underlying Primary Data should be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding the privacy of participants and protecting confidential and proprietary data. The Policy is in addition to requirements and expectations specified under other applicable NIH public access and data sharing policies.

Open Access Publications

Research must be published in journals offering Immediate open-access for publications. The OPTICC Center will cover expenses related to these publications.

Full Application Requirements

(If invited to proceed to Step 3)

Completed Cover Sheet:  Template includes project title, total budget, all applicant names and affiliations

Abstract: 250 word maximum

Budget: Completed budget template plus budget justification (1 page) and any evidence of potential matching funds

Biosketches: Use the new 2021 format for Key Personnel and Other Significant Contributors

Literature Cited: Limit only to literature cited in the text

Letters of Support: Not required, but will be accepted. Limit of two per application.

Research Plan: 3 Pages, excluding references

  • Specific Aims: 1 page
  • Significance and Innovation: 1 page
  • Methods: 1.5 pages
  • NIH guidance available here


Research Team, Timeline & Future Plans: 1 page

  • Describe qualifications and roles of each team member
  • Provide a timeline for the proposed work
  • Describe how the work will support a future grant application to federal or foundation funders
Applications must meet the following standards
  • Submitted as a single PDF file
  • Paper size no larger than standard letter (8.5″ x 11″)
  • Margins of at least 0.5 inch (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Single-spaced
  • Eleven-point font or larger using either Arial or Times New Roman
  • Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams and charts is acceptable as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%
  • We do not require a specific citation style but please use a single style consistently throughout the application


Budget Guidelines

Pilot study awards provide up to $50,000 total costs for 1 year. Smaller pilot study applications are encouraged. A project budget may exceed $50,000 only if the PI has secured the additional funding as a match from their organization/school/college/department (as indicated in a letter or email from the department chair). All allowable expenses must adhere to applicable University of Washington policies.

Please contact your department’s finance lead with questions regarding any expenses. In addition, an Office of Sponsored Programs review is not needed prior to submitting an application. Allowable and unallowable expenses are specified below. Suggestions for planning your application budget are available from the NIH and from NIAID (advice applicable to all applications).

Allowable Expenses

  • Personnel (i.e., salaries and benefits for faculty, staff and students). Please note, if you are proposing a multi-method project, you may be asked to include OPTICC Research Program Core Expert Faculty into your budget to ensure appropriate level of their support.
  • Equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Travel, including airfare, transportation, and per diem lodging, meals and expenses (subject to all UW travel policies)
  • Tuition for graduate students
  • Other direct costs related to the project (must detail the expense and include rationale)
  • Indirect/overhead costs*

Unallowable Expenses

  • Patent costs
  • Office supplies
  • Administrative support
  • Hosting expenses (e.g., receptions, alcohol)
  • Marketing efforts


*Although indirect/overhead costs are allowable, we will prioritize applications that do not request them in order to support multiple pilot funding awards. Organizations that waive their indirect/overhead costs or provide matching funds to cover them, will need to submit a letter from an authorized official as part of their full application.

Download the Request For Applications as a PDF