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Pilot Grants Available – Apply by Sept 15, 2021

Pilot grant awards for Columbia faculty, post-docs, trainees, and graduate students are available, up to a maximum of $40,000. The awards are designed to support pilot empirical or conceptual work on ethical, legal, economic, and social issues related to advances in genetics. We are especially interested in proposals that address these issues in psychiatric, neurologic or behavioral genetics, but studies addressing ELSI issues in other areas of genetics are also welcome.

Examples of possible projects include:

  • The implications of new genomic technologies for prenatal and neonatal screening
  • How genetic diagnosis shapes or interacts with identity or conceptions of responsibility
  • The privacy implications of surveillance using genetic or “big data” technologies
  • The social and psychological impacts of geneticization
  • The economics of translating advances in genetics into clinical care


Involvement of faculty from more than one department and multiple disciplines is encouraged. Non-Columbia faculty can participate in a project so long as a Columbia faculty member or post-doc is the principal investigator. Trainee and graduate student applicants may propose a faculty supervisor or will be matched with an appropriate faculty member if needed. Applicants should submit:

  • A 3-page research proposal that details the specific aims, background to the study, preliminary data (if any), research plan (including plan for data analysis, if appropriate), innovation/significance, and future plans.
  • An NIH-style biosketch or curriculum vitae for the PI and any associated investigators.
  • A detailed budget with justification. Funds can be used to support salaries and other research costs.


Proposals will be scored on the basis of:

  • Innovation and significance of the research
  • Quality and intellectual merit of the project
  • Likelihood of serving as the foundation for obtaining further funding and plan for seeking this funding


Priority will be given to junior faculty, post-docs, trainees, and graduate students who are interested in research in this area, and to projects with the potential to lead to additional federal or foundation funding. Studies “piggy-backed” on existing research projects are welcome.

We actively support diversity and welcome submissions from investigators that address diverse populations, and proposals from investigators of all backgrounds, especially those underrepresented in medical research.

Proposals should be submitted electronically as a single PDF document to psa21@columbia.edu by September 15, 2021. Funding will begin October 4, 2021 and funds must be utilized by June 30, 2022. A final project report will be required. Inquiries concerning prospective applications are welcome: Paul S. Appelbaum, MD, Director, Center for Research on Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) of Psychiatric, Neurologic & Behavioral Genetics, at psa21@columbia.edu.