Application Procedure

Our Pilot & Feasibility Grants related to Nutrition, Obesity, and Metabolism are generally awarded once per year, with applications solicited starting at the beginning of the year and awards announced over the summer. Awards are up to $30,000 over 1 year, with possibility for an additional $30,000 during year 2 via a competitive renewal if good progress is achieved.  


Eligible applicants fall into one of 3 categories: (1) Early career investigators in nutrition, metabolism, or obesity; (2) established investigators new to the field of nutrition, metabolism or obesity research; or (3) established investigators in the field looking for funding for a new direction in nutrition, metabolism or obesity research.  Investigators from any Harvard institution are eligible to apply.  Per NIH rules, fellows are not allowed to be PI of these grants, but final-year fellows may apply if the grant would be awarded after completion of their fellowship.  Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of our Core laboratories.

We highly encourage applicants from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine (URM) / underrepresented in academia (URiA) to apply for P&F funding in response to this RFA. We are committed to providing funding to a diverse group of P&F investigators.

New and Competing Renewal Applicants:

Applications are required to use PHS 398 grant forms where appropriate. Proposals must be single spaced and follow the NIH format guidelines. Please submit the entire application as a single PDF file using the form here.
Statement of Intent with institutional approval signature and Scope of Work (View example here)
• Research Plan (5 pages, references are not included in the 5-page limit)
a. Specific Aims
b. Significance
c. Innovation
d. Approach
e. Relevance of the Proposed Project to the theme of nutrition/obesity/metabolism
f. References
• NIH Form Page 4: Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period: HERE
• NIH Form Page 5: Budget for Entire Proposed Project Period *include Budget Justification: HERE
• NIH Biographical Sketch* (for PI and all Key Personnel involved in the project)
*must be in the NEW NIH format, instructions can be found HERE
• NIH Other Support Page** (PI only)
**must be in the NEW NIH format, instructions can be found HERE
• NIH Inclusion Enrollment Report (if applicable), template can be found HERE
• Facilities and Other Resources
• Letter of Support
• List of Reviewers (include 3 or 4 names as suggested reviewers)
Note: Include their full names, mailing address, telephone and e-mail address
• *Renewal Applicants only* see additional instructions below

Download the PHS 398 instructions and forms here.

Please note: Any P&F projects that propose a clinical trial of more than minimal risk require prior approval from NIDDK, which we will obtain upon successful review of your project. If your P&F project is considered to involve human subjects and is awarded, you will be asked to provide additional information required by NIDDK prior to the project start date. It is recommended that your initial application include a clear description of study population, sample size and power.

Competing Renewal Applicants:

Along with your application forms, please be certain to tell us the progress you have made in the first year (limited to two pages), your plans for the proposed second year as well as a report on expenditures from the 1st year and include any carryover.  Renewal applicants may apply in any NORCH funding cycle after initial funding – applicants are encouraged to apply once strong progress has been made.

Purposes for which funding may be used:

Funds may be used for technical support including salary for research assistance and supplies. Consultants are allowed. Equipment less than $5,000 can be requested. PI salary support may also be requested, although this is not required. Requested effort should not exceed the effort needed to complete the project.

Expenditures not allowed:
• Mentor, Co-Investigator salary support
• Secretarial/administrative personnel salary support
• Subawards (Consortium Agreements)
• Computers, Laptops and Peripherals
• Tuition
• Travel (Domestic and Foreign)
• Publication Costs
• Dues and Membership Fees
• Equipment costing $5,000 or more
• Rental of office or laboratory space
• Indirect Costs

Please note that, since part of the criteria for grant-funding include the applicant’s accomplishments and potential for success, these grants may NOT be transferred to another PI once awarded.

Maximum Award:

Please submit a budget for up to $30,000 in direct costs. Indirect costs are not supported, and all grants must be awarded to an HMS-affiliated institution.  The period of funding is for one year, beginning August 1. Investigators must reapply for a second year of funding if interested.

Review Process:

All applications will be reviewed by the NORCH Center Leadership. Applications with the highest merit will be sent for peer review. Preference will be given to junior investigators particularly those with K awards or equivalent. All applications are encouraged to consider utilizing and incorporating Center core services in the proposal if applicable.


For non-science related questions, please contact our team at

For science-related questions, please contact Dr. Takara Stanley at 617-724-9109 or

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I talk about the 2nd year of funding in my initial application?

No, unless you wish to mention it very generally. Unlike some other P&F programs that have non-competing renewals, our second year of funding requires a competitive renewal with submission in a subsequent P&F cycle. (In other words, unfortunately we cannot guarantee a second year of funding.) So, in your initial application, please focus on a project that can be completed in a single year of funding, and please budget for 1 year.

Does this need to go through research management?

If you are at an institution outside of MGH, please ask your grants administrator. If you are within the MGH (and the award would be internal), then, no, this does not need to go through Grants Management and a Statement of Intent is not necessary for submission. 

What about Indirect Costs?

The $30,000 award amount is in Direct Costs. If the P&F award is made within MGH, indirect costs at the NIH rate will be allocated to a separate fund for the P&F award. If the P&F award is made outside of MGH, the award is issued through MGH as a subcontract and indirect costs are not supported.

Who should write the letter of support?

There is not a strict requirement for the position of the person who writes the letter of support, except that it should be a faculty member. The person who writes the letter should know the applicant, his/her/their potential, his/her/their research, and be able to speak about the importance of the P&F award in the applicant’s future research goals. For a new investigator, it is often a research mentor who writes the letter, whereas for more senior investigators it is often a division or department chief.

Can I recommend external reviewers?

Yes. Since grants are submitted on a wide range of topics related to nutrition, obesity, and metabolism, we rely on applicants to provide the names of expert reviewers who know the field well enough to judge the impact of the grant. Suggested reviewers may be within HMS/HSPH or external. Applicants should not name someone who has a conflict of interest because they have worked very closely with the applicant, although some familiarity and collaboration with the applicant is allowed as long as both applicant and reviewer think the review will be fair. 

Can fellows apply for this award?

Although pre-doctoral fellows and clinical fellows are not eligible for the award, certain fellows are eligible: (1) Post-doctoral research fellows who know that they will be continuing at the same institution during the award period may apply. (2) Final-year clinical fellows (e.g., in the third year of a subspecialty fellowship) who know that they will be continuing at the same institution during the award may apply. In each case, the applicant should please briefly state somewhere in the application that they will be remaining at the same institution during the award period.

Can I take this award with me to another institution if I move?

No, unfortunately we are not able to transfer awards to different institutions if PIs change institutions. On rare occasions, if the funds are mostly spent and there are specific plans to continue the work collaboratively once the PI (P&F recipient) changes institutions, we can transfer the remaining funds to a mentor or other PI who will continue to the work in collaboration with the previous PI (P&F recipient).