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Discovery grants support translational science projects that involve basic research, clinical research and/or community/population health research approaches for the purposes of collecting critical preliminary data for submission of extramural grant applications and to publish, disseminate or implement research findings. We place a premium on applications proposing interdisciplinary team science and new collaborations.

This grant opportunity requires an interdisciplinary team collaboration with at least one Co-Investigator/Collaborator from a different discipline. Existing investigator teams may submit new and innovative project ideas as long as the novelty of the proposed research direction is clearly distinguished from the principal investigator’s (PI’s) and research team’s past and current research. Existing investigator teams also must meet the interdisciplinary requirement (i.e. should not be made of investigators who are working in the same lab such as an investigator and a post-doctoral fellow). Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) are encouraged to submit applications as PIs.

Applications emanating from SCTR Scientific Retreat/s, patient-centered and community-engaged research, and those focused on dissemination and implementation science are strongly encouraged.

Up to $25,000 direct costs for a 12-month period from the date a Notice of Award is issued

Key Dates Spring Cycle: RFA Release - February 1, 2024; Applications Due (by 5:00 pm) - April 5, 2024; Recommendation for Funding Notification - June 3, 2024; Earliest Possible Start - July 1, 2024; Key Dates Fall Cycle: RFA Release - August 12, 2024; Applications Due (by 5:00 pm) - October 1, 2023; Recommendation for Funding Notification - December 1, 2023; Earliest Possible Start - January 1, 2025;

All applications will be submitted online using the InfoReady application portal.

For detailed application instructions and information, please read the RFA or look at the Application Requirements below.

1) Obtain a Study ID for the proposed project through SPARCRequest

If you have existing study in SPARC that is directly related to the proposed study, you will need to add the SCTR Discovery Pilot Project Grants funding opportunity to your existing study.

If your study is NOT already in SPARC, you will need to create a study to obtain a Study ID for your proposed study.

Note: in step 2, select “Pending Funding” under Proposal Funding Status and select “Internally Funded Pilot Project” as the Potential Funding Source, and indicate “SCTR” when asked for Sponsor Name.

Detailed information about the steps to obtain a SPARC Study ID can be found in the "How to Obtain a SPARC ID accordion on this page.

For additional assistance with SPARCRequest, contact the SCTR SUCCESS Center at

No application materials should be uploaded in the SPARCRequest system.

2) Complete the InfoReady application, upload all required documents where indicated, check your application for errors and omissions, and SUBMIT your proposal in InfoReady.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Principal Investigators (PIs) must have an MUSC faculty appointment
    • faculty from other institutions are encouraged to partner with MUSC faculty on collaborative applications
  • Students, trainees, and faculty members may serve as Co-Investigators
  • The investigative team must represent interdisciplinary collaboration
  • PIs can have only one active grant award from SCTR at any given time

Please note that all applicants are recommend to obtain a biostatistical consultation with Biostatistics, Epidemiology, & Research Design (BERD). To request a consultation, visit SPARCRequest and select SCTR from the service catalog, then choose “Biostatistics, Design & Epidemiology” under the SCTR service category.

Specific Aims (1 page)

State concisely the goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcome(s), including the impact that the results of the proposed research will exert on the research field(s) involved. List succinctly the specific objectives of the research proposed (e.g., to test a stated hypothesis, create a novel design, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology), translational potential of the proposed research, and potential impact as applicable.

SCTR-specific instructions: Each team member’s role, how the project will stimulate new and interdisciplinary collaborations that would otherwise might not have taken place, plans/potential to secure future extramural grant funding including funding agency and mechanism (R, P, U, or any other).
Learn more about specific aims on the NIH website.

Research Strategy (3 pages)

Learn more about research strategy on the NIH website.

Literature Cited (if applicable)

Literature cited does not count toward page count limits.

Learn more about literature cited on the NIH website.

Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Requirements

The following are only required for PIs meeting NIH ESI criteria.

  • Qualified senior co-investigator(s) as mentor(s) must be identified and include the mentor(s) name, biosketch and support letter(s)* on the application
  • Strong mentorship plan - include details of ESI/mentor interactions, frequency of meetings, timetable and plan for achieving research independence, additional resources etc.
  • Potential of the project to lead to independent funding with a plan to submit a K-series or R-series application

*Support letters do not count toward the page limit of the application.

Timeline (1 page)

Timelines should be in table format.

Detail your plan for extramural grant applications, publication, dissemination, and/or implementation of findings.

NIH Biosketches

Submit biosketches of all investigators and mentors.

  • A CV/resume is sufficient for any investigator who is non-academic or a community member.
  • Combine all the biosketches together as a single PDF file in the order of the project team members listed in the application form (PI’s biosketch being the first) to upload
  • If a consultant(s) is involved in the proposed project, please include the name(s) and her/his roles/duties in the research proposal. You do not have to include their information on the InfoReady application form or submit biosketches.

Learn more about NIH biosketches on the NIH website.

Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period

PHS 398 format.

Submit in PHS 398 format.

Budget Justification

Learn more about budget justification on the NIH website.

Progress Report

Progress reports are required for PIs with prior SCTR awards, including: SCTR Discovery Grant, SCTR High Innovation High Reward Grant, SCTR Team Science Pilot, SCTR Telehealth Pilot, SCTR Community Engaged Scholars Program, and SCTR KL2/COM K12.

Required Components:

  • Were you the principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI of any SCTR funding in the 2 years preceding the submission date for the new pilot project you are proposing? Examples of previous funding may include SCTR pilots, KL2, and the community engaged scholars program.
  • PI or Co-PI's Name
  • Funding Mechanism
    • SCTR Discovery Grant
    • SCTR High Innovation High Reward Grant
    • SCTR Team Science Pilot
    • SCTR Telehealth Pilot
    • SCTR Community Engaged Scholars Program
    • SCTR KL2/COM K12
    • Other SCTR funding (describe)
  • Title of your project
  • Brief report of no more than 3 pages about your study progress
    • Specific aims & findings/results of each specific aim
    • Summary of overall results
    • Conclusions of project
  • Description of any of the following results of your project:
    • Peer-reviewed publication(s)
      • List all publications
    • Extramural funding award(s)
      • List all awards
    • Intellectual property disclosure to your institution's technology office
      • List all technologies, including: early stage, intermediate stage, advanced stage, commercialization/product sales, and all other technology
      • Describe the type of IP

Allowable costs

  • Faculty Salary Support. Faculty members’ effort, related to the proposed pilot project, must be clearly listed in the budget. Support of faculty salary and fringe benefits is allowed up to 5% effort for each faculty member subject to the NIH salary cap. It should be noted that personnel salary requests and all other budget item requests should be clearly justified and appropriate to conduct the proposed research properly.
  • Effort Reporting. SCTR Pilot Projects are funded by MUSC Institutional funds. For institutional compliance purposes, it is the PI’s responsibility to make sure all faculty effort listed in the budget is in compliance with their institutional effort policy. Investigators are not required to accommodate their effort on the pilot project budget. However, they have to be in compliance with their respective institution’s effort policy should they choose to charge the effort to other funding sources.
  • Other Personnel Support. Salary and fringe benefits are allowed for technical support, such as: Research Fellows, Research Assistants/Coordinators, Research Nurses, etc.
  • Non-personnel Research Expenses. Some allowable expenses are: supplies, equipment (under limited circumstances), animal purchase cost and care, study subject compensation, study subject transportation costs, in- and out-patient care costs, and statistical and computational services including personnel and computer time. All expenses must be directly related to the proposed research.
  • Subawards. Please indicate potential subaward(s) to other institutions clearly on the budget. No signed documents from subaward institution(s) are needed at the time of application submission. The SCTR Finance Office can assist the PIs and their Business Managers to establish subawards once an application is approved for funding.

Unallowable Costs

  • Students. SCTR pilot project funds cannot be used to cover student tuition, fees or health insurance costs, either directly or indirectly as a stipend. If an application proposes a student stipend as undergraduate or graduate student research assistant, funding support will be deemed inappropriate and not funded. If an application proposes a graduate student as a research assistant, you must provide a justification as to why a student is included in the proposed project and how work on this pilot project is related to the student’s thesis/dissertation research project. Proposed student(s) – undergraduate and graduate – must be identified by first name and last name (i.e., TBD/TBN is not allowed).
  • Ancillary Personnel. Salary support for ancillary personnel such as Mentors and Administrative Assistants is not allowed.
  • General office supplies and equipment, computers and laptops (unless specifically requested and justified), membership dues and fees, travel costs to conferences/meetings, publication and subscription costs, mailing costs, and rent are not permitted.
  • Facilities & Administrative (Overhead/Indirect) Costs. Facilities and administrative costs, also known as indirect/overhead costs, are not permitted.
  • Go to and log in with your MUSC net ID and password
  • Select ‘South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR)’ from the menu on the left
  • Select ‘Funding Opportunities’ from the drop-down menu (towards the middle of the page)
  • Select ‘SCTR Discovery Pilot Project’ from the Funding Opportunities page (towards the top of the page)
  • Select ‘+’ to put the service in your cart
  • Choose Yes/No for the popup question ‘Is this a new request?’
  • Select ‘save and continue’ (on your right)
  • Log in with your MUSC net ID and password, add your request as directed (i.e. new request or adding it to your already existing request (SRID) using ‘Visit Your Dashboard’) and then process accordingly.
  • If it is new request, then select ‘Save and Continue’
    • Select ‘Start a New Study’
    • Complete all of the starred (*) fields and then click ‘Save’
    • Select ‘Pending Funding’ for the ‘Proposal Funding Status’ question
    • Select ‘Internal Funded Pilot Project’ for the ‘Potential Funding Source’
    • Indicate as ‘SCTR’ for the ‘Please Specify’ and ‘Sponsor Name’
    • Select ‘Save’
    • Add estimated ‘Start Date’ and ‘End Date’ fields (For example: 9/1/2022 to 8/31/2023)
    • Then click ‘Save and continue’ (at the bottom of the page, to your right).
    • Steps 3 and 4 listed on top of the page are not required. Move directly to ‘Step 5’ by clicking the arrow.
    • Review your request and click ‘Submit Request’. This step must be completed to add the funding opportunity and receive a confirmation.
    • ‘Request-ID’ (without -0001, which is your request SPARC ID, should be added to your InfoReady application form where it is indicated to add the SPARC ID.
  • Go to and log in with your MUSC net ID and password
  • Select the appropriate Protocol ID from the list on your dashboard
  • Then click on ‘Add/Modify Request’ (middle of the page, towards your left)
  • From the ‘Browse Service Catalog’ (menu on the left) select ‘South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute (SCTR)’
  • Then select ‘Funding Opportunities’ from the drop-down menu (towards the middle of the page)
  • Select ‘SCTR Discovery Pilot Project Grants from the Funding Opportunities page (towards the top of the page)
  • Choose ‘No’ when you receive the ‘New or Existing' popup.
  • Click the ‘Step 5’ arrow on top of the page to review and submit the request.
  • ‘Submit’ your request. This step must be completed to add the funding opportunity to the existing SRID.

Questions regarding the application process may be emailed to SCTR’s Office of Science Development.

Special Mechanism: K-Awardee and Pre-Doctoral Trainee Collaborative Discovery Grant

This special mechanism for the SCTR Discovery Grant seeks to promote a team-based collaborative translational research project between a current or recently graduated K-awardee and a predoctoral trainee while enhancing team science and mentoring. This will replace the former K and T Collaborative Pilot Grant offered by SCTR. 

Special Requirements: 

  • Requires a team collaboration with a current or recently graduated K-awardee, a predoctoral trainee, as well as their respective mentors, all with primary appointments at MUSC.
  • Eligible K-awardees include current awardees who are institutionally or extramurally supported, or previous awardees no more than 3 years from completion of their K-award as of 9/1/2023.
    • Mid-career K-awardees (K24, K02, K18) are not eligible to apply as a PI for this special mechanism (but they can serve as mentors or Co-Is on a team)
  • The K-awardee should be the PI submitting the application and the predoctoral trainee should be a Co-PI for the grant.
  • Respective mentors shall be part of the team and are expected to provide necessary oversight for the research project.
  • Letters of support from the mentors of the K-awardee and predoctoral trainee are required.

Discovery Grant Outcomes

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