Pilot Grants FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network (CTR-IN) Pilot Grants.

  1. What is the purpose of the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program?
  2. What type of research activity will the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program support?
  3. Are animal or cell culture studies supported by the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program?
  4. Who is eligible to apply for a CTR-IN Pilot Grant?
  5. Does the Pilot Grants Program accept multiple Principal Investigator applications?
  6. What are the responsibilities of a Pilot Grant recipient?
  7. What are the permitted expenses for a CTR-IN Pilot Grant?
  8. Does the Pilot Grants Program allow large equipment purchases (i.e., > $5,000)?
  9. How much should I budget for the CTR-IN Annual Scientific Meeting in my pilot grant application?
  10. What approvals are required for conducting human research?
  11. How will pilot grant applications be reviewed?
  12. How are funding award decisions made?
  13. What are the program priorities that help to guide funding decisions?
  14. What are the reporting requirements for pilot grantees?
  15. Will there be opportunities to meet with other grantees and network with potential research partners?
  16. What other resources are available through the CTR-IN?
  17. What is the BERD Core?
  18. How much time will the CTR biostatistician have toward my pilot project?
  19. Will the biostatistician help with my pilot application?
  20. What if I use a biostatistician that is not supported through the BERD Core?
  21. What is the PD Core?


What is the purpose of the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program?

The CTR-IN Pilot Grant Program is a Limited Competition Mentored Career Development funding opportunity. The mission of the CTR-IN is to build clinical and translational research capacity and facilitate extramural funding success among investigators with faculty appointments at the 13 universities in the Mountain West Research Consortium. The program provides research funding, a mentored pathway of milestones leading to publication, expansion of research skills, and career development to achieve independent investigator status as reflected in the submission of a National Institutes of Health R-level grant proposal (or equivalent) in clinical or translational research. Pilot funding support can be transformative in the Mountain West by helping existing programs reach national competitiveness, addressing regional health disparities, providing opportunities for new investigators to become successful in clinical or translational research, and for established basic scientists to transition into these areas.


What type of research activity will the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program support?

Eligible clinical or translational research embraces a spectrum of scientific disciplines (e.g., epidemiology, biostatistics, pharmacology, social and behavioral sciences, nutrition, nursing, health economics, biomedical engineering, community-based participatory research, dental health, and medicine), methodologies (e.g., observational and experimental), health professions (e.g., nursing, public health, pharmacy, clinical psychology, sports physiology, physical therapy), and medical specialties and subspecialties. Any application proposing clinical translational research meeting the NIH definition will be eligible.

Clinical research includes (1) patient-oriented research; (2) epidemiologic and behavioral studies; and (3) outcomes research and health services research. Further detail of this definition can be found in the Human Subjects Research Definitions and Terms of the PHS 398 (Part III-25): click here … Supportable projects must have measurable outcome(s) that will lead to publications, and that, ultimately, have a strong likelihood of leading to a sustainable research program for the Principal Investigator.

Translational research (T1-T4) includes:

  • T1, Translation to Humans: Testing basic science discoveries in humans for clinical effect and/or applicability;
  • T2, Translation to Patients: Testing new interventions in human subjects under controlled environments to form the basis for clinical applications and evidence based guidelines
  • T3, Translation to Practice: Research on the application of new interventions or therapies in general practice; research that yields knowledge on best ways to implement new medical interventions in the clinic; and
  • T4, Translation to Population: Investigations of factors and/or interventions that influence the health of populations; ultimately results in improved health of the public.


Are animal or cell culture studies supported by the CTR-IN Pilot Grants Program?

We appreciate the fact that pre-clinical (i.e., animal and cell culture) studies provide important information that are essential before translation to human studies is possible. However, the NIH program that funds the CTR-IN requires us to follow a strict definition of translational type 1 (T1) research that excludes most pre-clinical animal and cell culture studies. This policy supports the CTR program goal of developing new clinical and translational research programs in the region, following NIH guidelines for this type of work. These guidelines also serve to complement (rather than duplicate) support provided by other INBRE and COBRE mechanisms at IDeA institutions that emphasize support for pre-clinical programs.


Who is eligible to apply for a CTR-IN Pilot Grant?

Applicants must have a faculty-level appointment with a minimum of 0.5 FTE support at a participating CTR-IN Institution, and they must be eligible to submit extramural grant applications from their institution as a Principal Investigator (PI).While the Principal Investigator of a pilot project application must be a faculty member (or hold a letter of academic title) from one of the partner institutions, other collaborators will be encouraged to participate as co-investigators to foster new clinical collaborations. Early or New Stage Investigators (click here … ) are encouraged to apply. Established researchers wanting to move from basic science into translational or clinical research also are eligible to apply. Per IDeA program policy, an awardee may not concurrently receive research funding through other IDeA mechanisms (e.g., COBRE or INBRE).


Does the Pilot Grants Program accept multiple Principal Investigator applications?

No, while the CTR-IN encourages multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations, CTR-IN pilot grants are career development awards intended to assist a single Principal Investigator obtain the requisite experience and skills to achieve success as an independent extramurally funded investigator. The inclusion of co-investigators and consultants on pilot projects is strongly encouraged.


What are the responsibilities of a Pilot Grant Recipient?

Pilot Grant recipients are expected to interact with the Professional Development (PD) Core, formalizing a mentorship relationship through an Individual Development Plan (IDP). Pilot Grant recipients also are expected to utilize the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Research, & Design (BERD) Core. Pilot Grant recipients are expected to use the knowledge and data obtained through CTR-IN support to develop and submit R-level grant proposals to NIH Institutes (or similar extramural sponsors, e.g., AHA, ACS, ADA, PCORI, NSF, DOD) to continue their research. Pilot Grant recipients are also expected to report on their activities and research progress both during and after the period of their Pilot award. Research progress updates should be provided on a continuous basis via the CTR-IN web portal for the duration of the CTR-IN program. During their year of research support, pilot grant investigators are expected to attend, and participate in, the CTR-IN Annual Scientific Meeting. At the Annual Meeting pilot grant PIs will: 1) give an oral presentation summarizing their work to-date; 2) present a poster summarizing their work to-date; 3) meet with the External Advisory Committee to discuss their activities and their plans for achieving independent extramural support. Participation of pilot grant mentors in the Annual Meeting alongside the pilot grant PI is highly encouraged and support for that is available as a separate allocation in addition to the direct costs of the pilot grant itself.


What are the permitted expenses for a CTR-IN Pilot Grant?

Permitted expenses include support for half of the salary and benefits associated with the PI’s effort, salaries for research personnel, research supplies, and participant expenses. The PI must devote a minimum of 20% effort to the pilot grant, but please see Special requirements regarding PI support below. All expenses must be allowable under NIH guidelines. The following are not allowable: Equipment costs over $5,000, computers/laptops, significant foreign participation, tuition and fees for graduate students, and subcontracts to institutions located in non-IDeA states. Services provided in non-IDeA states can be purchased on a fee-for-service basis. Publication costs (i.e., page charges) are also not allowable, however support for those costs is available upon request through the CTR-IN Administrative Core both during, and after, the period of pilot grant support.

Budgets must also include travel expenses to the CTR-IN Annual Scientific Meeting where pilot grant recipients are expected to give a presentation on their research. Other travel expenses are permitted if necessary for conducting field work as part of the pilot project, or for domestic travel if justified for establishing a mentorship relationship, accessing experts or other resources, or presentation of peer-reviewed findings from the project at up to one national meeting per year.

Budgets may not support office supplies, phone costs, or other costs considered to be indirect expenses under NIH guidelines, unless justified as directly related to research data collection. Facilities and Administration rates (i.e., indirect costs) will be held to 10% according to the agreement endorsed by the responsible official at each of the partner institutions. Budget items not well-justified may be reduced or removed upon the recommendation of scientific reviewers, and/or the Internal Advisory Committee.

Special requirements regarding PI support: Pilot Grant PI’s must devote at least 20% effort to the proposed research, and up to 50% effort may be proposed. While the budget narrative must reference the full amount of effort required to accomplish the proposed scope of work, the budget may request CTR-IN funds for not more than half of the PI effort. The balance of PI effort is to be covered by institutional support in the form of release from teaching, direct salary support, assignment of time provided to pursue scholarly activity, or other mechanism appropriate to the institution. This support is not a formal cost share, and no recording/reporting requirements exist. Budgets should list the full PI effort proposed as appropriate for their appointment in calendar months, or academic and summer months. Support requested may not exceed half of that value.


Does the Pilot Grants Program allow large equipment purchases (i.e., > $5,000)?

The CTR-IN is particularly focused on building Clinical and Translational Research capacity at partner institutions by focusing on researchers and the provision of support expertise and training. Large equipment purchases (i.e., > $5,000) are not allowable expenses for Pilot Grant projects.


How much should I budget for the CTR-IN Annual Scientific Meeting in my pilot grant application?

The pilot grant applicant should plan on a 3-4 day meeting in Las Vegas, NV with expenses to include hotel, airfare and local travel. There will be no registration fee. Budgeting $1,500 for the pilot grant PI to attend the meeting should be sufficient.


What approvals are required for conducting human research?

As with any NIH-funded research, projects must adhere to all requirements regarding protection of human subjects, including approval by the grantee’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) when relevant. Funds related to collection of human subjects’ data will not be released to the investigator until necessary IRB approvals are in place. Awardees must also provide documentation of human subjects training for key personnel (e.g., CITI). Other regulatory requirements such as the use of biohazard materials will be monitored per the procedures and guidelines of the investigator’s institution.
Award will not be granted if IRB approvals are not in place by full submission.


How will pilot grant applications be reviewed?

Pilot grant applications will be assigned to experienced grant application reviewers using standard NIH scoring criteria. In addition to the standard NIH review components (i.e., overall impact, significance, innovation, investigator, approach and environment) reviewers will be asked to qualitatively respond to the following questions: (1) Are plans for future extramural grant application(s) clear?; (2) If the proposed pilot project is successful, will the findings yield sufficient preliminary data to support a future NIH grant application?; and (3) Is the planned research concordant with the CTR-IN mission of supporting research that can address health issues in the Mountain West? (4) Will the proposed project help the PI to achieve independent status in clinical or translational research in a manner that would be much less likely absent this support. Reviewers will be asked to adhere to standard NIH conflict of interest guidelines.


How are funding award decisions made?

Funding decisions involve a 5 step process:

1) Scientific review using a rubric based on NIH guidance to Study Section members and supplemented by CTR-IN specific considerations as described just above. Each application is typically reviewed by 3 independent reviewers.

2) Results of the scientific reviews are tabulated and ranked. Those results are provided to the CTR-IN Internal Advisory Committee (IAC), acting in a role similar to an NIH Council, for recommendations accounting for both scientific merit and concordance with CTR-IN policy considerations.

3) The recommendations of the IAC are provided to the External Advisory Committee (EAC) for further review with regard to scientific merit and concordance with the CTR-IN mission to increase independent extramurally-supported research.

4) The EAC recommendations are provided to the CTR-IN Principal Investigator who makes final decisions on awards selected for Intent to Fund based on scientific review, IAC and EAC recommendations, and program priorities.

5) Packets for applications selected for Intent to Fund, with all required documents, including but not limited to, updated IRB approvals, CITI certifications, and the like which may have been requested under the Just-In-Time process, are forwarded to the NIGMS Program Office for agency approval. Sub-awards are then offered for applications approved by the NIGMS.


What are the program priorities that help guide funding decisions?

The primary program priorities are 1) to develop new clinical and translational research programs in the region; 2) to foster the development of investigators in the region who can conduct clinical and translational research; 3) to foster collaborations that can help achieve those goals;4) support health research relevant to rural and vulnerable populations; and 5) to provide distribution of program resources across the partner institutions concordant with the guidance of scientific peer review.


What are the reporting requirements for pilot grantees?

Research progress updates should be provided on a continuous basis via the CTR-IN web portal for the duration of the CTR-IN program. Reporting elements include a summary of progress towards completion of specific aims, completion of current enrollment tables, recording of related publications, presentation or other dissemination activities and listing of related research grant applications and status. At minimum, pilot grantees will be required to provide these progress report updates on a quarterly basis during their funding period, and annually in the early spring following the end of their CTR-IN support.


Will there be opportunities to meet with other grantees and network with potential research partners?

Pilot Grant investigators will present interim findings and progress at the CTR-IN Annual Scientific Meeting that will be attended by Network members, experts from the External Advisory Committee, and invited outside scientists. This venue serves as an opportunity for pilot investigators to highlight research progress, pose emerging questions, receive expert feedback, and develop external collaborations.


What other resources are available through the CTR-IN?

Pilot Grant recipients will have access to, and be expected to participate in, the educational and career development activities provided by the both BERD Core and Professional Development (PD) Core. They will also have access to editorial assistance for abstracts and manuscripts and other documents related to their supported work. Awardees are encouraged to access all elements of the CTR-IN Grants Pipeline such as Grant Writing Workshops, Grants Clubs, Visiting Scholar Awards, and Mini-Sabbatical Awards.


What is the BERD Core?

The Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Research & Design (BERD) Core is a resource within the CTR-IN. The BERD Core provides education in the fundamentals of clinical and translational research. It supports CTR-IN investigators through assistance with study design, biostatistics, and basic data management. The BERD Core has identified a biostatistician at each partner institution who is funded by the CTR-IN and available to investigators for local support. Additional resources are available to CTR-IN investigators through the BERD Core, located at the University of New Mexico Clinical Translational Science Center. For more information on the BERD Core please click here …


How much time will the CTR-IN biostatistician provide to assist with my pilot project?

Investigators who request biostatistical support on their project are expected to meet with the BERD Core biostatistician at their institution during the planning stage of the pilot grant proposal. Free biostatistical support on funded pilot projects will be provided through the BERD Core, exclusive of time spent preparing the proposal.


Can I include a biostatistician who is not supported through the BERD Core on my pilot project?

No, the CTR-IN and BERD Core will only support the designated biostatistician(s) at your institution. Another biostatistician from one of the eligible institutions could be the Principal Investigator or collaborator on a pilot grant application, but this biostatistician’s effort on the pilot grant would not be financed by the BERD Core.


What is the PD Core?

The Professional Development (PD) Core is a resource within the CTR-IN that will work with each individual Pilot Grant awardee recipient to facilitate their development towards independent clinical or translational research. Investigators will receive access to coursework developed for training in all aspects of clinical and translational research. This will be provided via multiple modalities to facilitate access by investigators with diverse backgrounds and locations. For more information on PD Core, please click here …

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Contact Us

To contact the MW CTR-IN Administrative Core by phone, you may call (702) 895-1079 between 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday - Friday, excluding holidays. Or, you may email us at ctr-in@unlv.edu at any time.

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Chantal A. Vella, PhD, FACSM, is a tenured professor in the Department of Movement Sciences and the Director of the Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory at the University of Idaho. Dr. Vella graduated from the University of New Mexico with a PhD in Exercise Science. Her post-doctoral fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism focused on factors associated with glucose regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Vella’s education and research expertise give her a unique perspective on chronic disease prevention across the lifespan. Her primary research focus is understanding the health benefits of physical activity and health consequences of sedentary behavior. She is interested in understanding the independent effects of physical activity and sedentary behavior on cardiometabolic disease risk factors such as obesity, inflammation, insulin resistance, and the gut microbiome.

Rachel Boren Bio

Rachel Boren, PhD, is the Associate Director for the Tracking & Evaluation Core. Dr. Boren earned her doctorate in Educational Research, Statistics, and Evaluation from the University of Virginia, where she was trained in program evaluation and research methods in education and the social sciences. She has worked as an evaluator in higher education for over a decade for programs that focus on university student success, K-12, healthcare, and workforce development. She is currently the Director of the SOAR Evaluation and Policy Center at New Mexico State University in the College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation. There, she oversees her SOAR team as evaluators on many grants in and outside of the university for funders at the federal, state, and local levels. She is on the NMSU Institutional Review Board and has a background in mixed methods research and survey design.

Nancy Pandhi Bio

Nancy Pandhi, MD, MPH, PhD, serves as the CTSC Liaison for the MW CTR-IN Program. She is Associate Chair, a practicing family physician and tenured Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico. In addition, she is Director of the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center.

The aim of Dr. Pandhi’s community-engaged mixed methods research program is improving the delivery of ambulatory care to vulnerable populations through participant-centered engagement approaches implemented at the individual, team, and organizational levels. She is a founding member of the Health Experiences Research Network and serves on its national steering committee. She co-led the first U.S. project applying these rigorous internationally vetted methods for examining lived health experiences and translating them for educational and clinical quality improvements. At the University of Wisconsin, she co-founded the Primary care Academics Transforming Healthcare collaborative to bring together multidisciplinary change leaders and physicians and bridge primary care clinical transformation and rigorous scientific study.  Dr. Pandhi received her B.A. at the University of Chicago, MD at Virginia Commonwealth University, and MPH and PhD at the University of Wisconsin.

Jeffery Chaichana Peterson, PhD

Jeffrey Chaichana Peterson received his PhD from the University of New Mexico and trained as a Minority Research Fellow for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Association of Schools of Public Health/Prevention Research Centers. Currently, he is a Research Professor in the University of Montana’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences and the Associate Director of the Mountain West CTR-IN’s Community Engagement and Outreach (CEO) Core. He works in the area of implementation science and advocates for community-based, participatory, and culture-centered approaches to translate evidence-base research from academia tot he front lines of public health practice. In his career, he has worked with diverse populations including the urban homeless, migrant farm workers, Latina pregnant or parenting teens, American Indian communities, and transgender sex workers, among other vulnerable populations.

Beth Tigges Bio

Beth Tigges, PhD, RN, PPCNP-BC, FAAN is the Director for the Tracking & Evaluation (T&E) Core of the MW CTR-IN Program. She is a tenured Professor and Regents’ Professor at The University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Nursing in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has experience with mixed methods evaluation of large and complex research centers, particularly those emphasizing infrastructure development, team science, mentoring, and institutional change.  She is the founding Director of Tracking and Evaluation for the University of New Mexico NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Center (2010–present), and past Co-Chair of the national NIH-NCATS CTSA Program Evaluators’ Group (2017-21). She leads the evaluation for the following NIGMS-funded grants:  UNM Center for Brain Recovery and Repair; UNM Autophagy, Inflammation, and Metabolism Center of Biomedical Research Excellence; and the UNM study, Effectiveness of Innovative Research Mentor Interventions among Underrepresented Minority Faculty in the Southwest. She has a background in instrument development and psychometrics, and has designed and/or conducted eight community-based studies, including the U.S. National Children’s Study in New Mexico. Dr. Tigges received her B.S. in Nursing from Penn State, her M.S. in Nursing from Yale University, and a PhD degree from Columbia University in public health and social psychology.

Robert Seville Bio

Robert “Scott” Seville, PhD, will serve as the Associate Director of the MW CTR-IN Pilot Projects (CP3) Core and is the Chair of the Concierge Network. He is currently a Professor of Zoology and Physiology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Wyoming. Currently, he serves as the Lead Concierge for MW CTR-IN Concierge Network. Previously, he served as the Associate Dean for the University of Wyoming Outreach School where he had oversight of UW facilities, staff and programs across Wyoming including managing UW Academic Regional Centers located on each Wyoming community college and the Wind River Indian Reservation. He received his Master’s and PhD degrees, and Postdoctoral training in Zoology/Physiology/Parasitology from the University of Wyoming, Laramie, in Wyoming followed by a NSF/NATO Fellowship in Parasitology.

Dr. Seville’s research has focused on the taxonomy, systematics, and parasite-host co-evolution using gastrointestinal protozoan parasites (coccidia) in wild hosts as a model system. Additionally, he brings experience in leading and managing NIH-funded activities as the Program Director/Principal Investigator, Outreach/Education Core Director, and previously Program Coordinator for the IDeA-funded Wyoming INBRE program. In these leadership roles, he has been responsible for working with the INBRE leadership team and the University of Wyoming Office of Research and Economic Development in managing ~$35M in support from NIGMS IDeA Programs with a number of research, education programs and projects focused on addressing health disparities in rural and American Indian communities in Wyoming.

Tony Ward Bio

Tony Ward, PhD, will serve as the Director for the new upcoming Community Engagement and Outreach (CEO) Core in Years 6-10 of the MW CTR-IN Program. In addition to teaching within University of Montana’s School of Public and Community Health Sciences, Dr. Ward’s research focuses on investigating the relationship between air pollution and respiratory health, working with rural and American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) populations throughout our region. Concurrently, he is the Co-PI on two NIEHS-funded R01s investigating the impact of residential wood burning on respiratory health in both children and elderly populations living in rural and tribal areas located in the southwest, northern Rocky Mountains, and rural Alaska Native communities. He is also the Co-PI on a NIH funded Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) project that educates rural and AI/AN students in schools throughout Montana, Idaho, and Alaska about air quality/respiratory health. Moreover, Dr. Ward is the Chair at the University of Montana, School of Public and Community Health Sciences in Missoula, Montana, and the State of Montana Director of the CEO Core for the AI/AN Clinical Translational Research Project (CTRP). Dr. Ward received his Masters degree in Environmental Science and Industrial Hygiene from the University of Houston, Clear Lake in Texas, and his PhD degree in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Montana, Missoula, in Montana along with a Postdoctoral.

Dr. Ward has experience conducting Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) in rural and underserved communities, including AI/AN communities. His experience with the AI/AN CTRP will be a valuable asset for his role as the CEO Core Director for the CTR-IN, providing synergy for both of the IDeA Programs.

Chad Cross Bio

Chad Cross, PhD, MFT, PStat(R) is the Co-Associate Director for the Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Research and Design (BERD) Core for the MW CTR-IN Program. In this role, Dr. Cross provides expertise in scientific research, biostatistical analysis, and Core leadership. Dr. Cross has been a faculty member at several universities (currently at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas), worked for approximately 10 years in federal service (US Environmental Protection Agency and the Veterans Health Administration), and worked in private industry as a scientific subject matter expert and statistician.

Dr. Cross is trained as a multidisciplinary scientist. He received is PhD in Ecological Sciences (focus in Quantitative Ecology and Statistics) from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia. He additionally holds several master’s degrees: Computational & Applied Mathematics/Statistics (Old Dominion University), Medical Entomology & Nematology (University of Florida), and Counseling (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). His undergraduate training was at Purdue University, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in biological sciences and the other in wildlife science. Dr. Cross has several active areas of research. These include: (1) Public Health: Investigations in population health related to chronic and infectious diseases, with special emphasis on quantitative methodology and use of large databases; (2) Epidemiology & Biostatistics: Applications of statistics and epidemiological principles to problems in the health sciences – for example clinical trials, multivariate models, and population sampling strategies; (3) Medical Entomology & Parasitology: Applied research and field work in arthropod-borne and parasitic diseases, including population-based estimation of disease burden and the intersection of medical entomology and forensic science; (4) Quantitative Ecology: Applications of statistics to problems in the environmental and ecological sciences – for example Bayesian models for estimating avian fatality around wind turbines and mark-recapture sampling; and (5) Psychometrics: Applications of statistics to problems in the psychological sciences – for example randomized controlled trials for interventions and pattern recognition for finding clusters of patients with shared pathology.

Ruben Dagda Bio

Ruben Dagda, PhD, is the Associate Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core for the MW CTR-IN Program. In this role, he coordinates the Advance to Funding (ATF) Program and the Grant Writing Workshops (GWW). He received his PhD degree in Pharmacology from the University of Iowa and received his Postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Dagda is also an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Nevada Reno

In this role for the ATF Program, he assists research investigators in the review of their grants prior to submission to the NIH to provide constructive feedback from our many expert reviewers to increase their probability of extramural funding. Hence, the ATF Program functions very much like a “study section”. He is also in charge of coordinating the GWWs, which assist research investigators in improving their knowledge and skills in the preparation of grants to make them more competitive for extramural grant funding. He is currently investigating the molecular mechanisms that lead to mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in cell culture, tissue and animal models of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Dagda has authored multiple research manuscripts and review articles in the areas of toxicology, toxinology, mitochondrial function, and neurobiology. At the University of Nevada Medical School (UNSOM), he is committed to the training and education of undergraduate, graduate students and postdocs in his lab. His main research goals are to elucidate the prosurvival signaling pathways that regulate mitochondrial function, transport and turn-over in neurons and how aging and neurodegenerative diseases negatively impact these processes. The end goal is to develop novel small molecular drugs that can reverse neurodegeneration and elevate mitochondrial function in age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

Brach Poston Bio

Brach Poston, PhD, is an Associate Director of the Educational Resources in the Professional Development (PD) Core of the Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network (MW CTR-IN). He is an Associate Professor in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences Department.  He teaches Neurophysiology of Movement, Scientific Basis of Strength Training, and Advanced Strength Methods within the undergraduate program, and Neurophysiology of Movement and Biomechanics of Strength within the graduate program.

Dr. Poston’s research focuses primarily on the use of non-invasive brain stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation) to improve motor skill and learning in Parkinson’s disease, aging, and young adults. He also conducts research on strength training and muscle fatigue as well as concussion in boxing and mixed martial arts.

Before coming to UNLV, Dr. Poston was a project scientist at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas. Prior to this position, he completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in the Human Motor Control Section, Medical Neurology Branch of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health. He also received postdoctoral training at Arizona State University in neural and motor control.

Dr. Poston earned his Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado-Boulder, a Master’s in Exercise Physiology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and a Bachelor’s in Physical Education from Southwest Missouri State University. He has received research funding from NIH/NINDS, Mountain West CTR-IN, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Poston has also served on several NASA human performance grant review panels and will become Director of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Ph.D. program at UNLV in 2022.

Juli Petereit Bio

Juli Petereit, MS, PhD is the Associate Core Director of the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design (BERD) core for the MW-CTR-IN Program. In addition, she is the Director of the Nevada Bioinformatics Center and Co-Director for the Data Science Core for Biomedical Research, NIH IDeA NV INBRE at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Dr. Petereit received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and MS in Applied Mathematics from UNR in 2016 and 2010 respectively. 

As a bioinformatics scientist, Dr. Petereit supports researchers at UNR as an expert in small- and large-scale statistical analyses, quantitative analyses, statistical inference, (social/gene) network modeling, analysis of complex statistical data, analysis of large-scale high-throughput omics data, and other advanced bioinformatics and biostatistical applications. She serves an interdisciplinary research community and is involved in numerous research projects ranging from survey studies in social behavioral science to studies examining protein levels across multiple experimental conditions.

Dr. Petereit has been involved with the Nevada Bioinformatics Center since March 2017 and has continued to contribute her unique skill set towards providing comprehensive support for the MW CTR-IN Program’s need for study design, biostatistics, and data management. She is committed to integrating biostatistics support into the fabric of MW CTR-IN clinical and translational research culture by providing state-of-the-art bioinformatics and (bio)statistics services for individual research projects by conducting custom and standardized data analytical protocols (for bioinformatics, biostatistics, and biomedical data science), developing statistical & computational pipelines to ensure reproducible research, and assisting in pre-proposal support and extramural grant applications.

Akshay Sood Bio

Akshay Sood, MD, MPH

Akshay Sood, MD, MPH is the Associate Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core for the Mountain West CTR-IN Program. As the Associate Director for the PD Core’s Mentoring Unit, Dr. Sood’s focus is on the Mentorship Program. Dr. Sood obtained his Master’s in Public Health from Yale University and completed his fellowship training in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine at Yale University – School of Medicine.

Dr. Sood is currently the Assistant Dean of Mentoring and Faculty Retention for the School of Medicine Office of Faculty Affairs and Career Development at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNM-HSC). In addition, he is a Tenured Professor for UNM-HSC’s Department of Medicine, Divisions of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine and Epidemiology. Dr. Sood’s interest in the epidemiology of chronic lung diseases has helped him build a unique academic career around the clinical translational basis for the association between non-smoking host factors and obstructive lung diseases. He leads the UNM HSC Faculty Mentor Development Program and is the P.I. of a U01 grant on the “Effectiveness of Innovative Research Mentor Interventions among Underrepresented Minority Faculty in the Southwest (NIGMS U01GM132175-01)”. He serves as a member of the Executive Steering Committee of the Diversity Program Consortium at the NIH. Dr. Sood has a natural passion for research education, supporting scholars, and trainees as they learn the steps necessary to assemble an independent research program. His mentoring experience provides a strong basis for his leadership for the MW CTR-IN Program’s PD Core.

Larissa Myaskovsky  Bio

Larissa Myaskovsky, PhD, is the Director of the Professional Development (PD) Core, Director for the Mountain West CTR-IN’s Ambassador Translational Research in Progress (ATRIP) Program, and Director of Mentoring Unit for the Mountain West CTR-IN Program.  She is a tenured Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Director of the Center Healthcare Equity in Kidney Disease at the University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Myaskovsky received her BA in Psychology with Specialization in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, her MA in General-Experimental Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, and a fellowship in Health Services Research at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. With more than 20 years of research experience and funding, her NIH and VA-funded research focuses on the social determinants of health and using a multi-method and multi-disciplinary approach to identify and understand disparities in healthcare processes and outcomes, and to develop interventions to reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations. Before joining the UNM faculty in 2017, Dr. Myaskovsky was a tenured Associate Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, and completed a year-long NIH-funded Professional Mentoring Skills Enhancing Diversity leadership training program through the National Research Mentoring Network, and was the 2017 recipient of the Philip Troen, MD Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentoring Award. She has taught medical writing and presentation, research grant design and development, measurement design and development, and healthcare disparities research methods to early career faculty, fellows, graduate and medical students. Dr. Myaskovsky is passionate about research education, and supporting scholars and trainees as they assemble an independent research program. Her mentorship and leadership experience provides a strong basis for leading the MW CTR-IN Professional Development Core.

Curtis Noonan Bio

Curtis Noonan, PhD, MA is the Director of the Clinical Pilot Projects Program (CP3) Core. He has served in this role for the past five years and will continue to serve in this role for the next grant cycle. The CP3 Core has successfully administered the single institution, single investigator and the multi-site pilot grants since the inception of the Mountain West CTR-IN Program.

Dr. Noonan received his MA degree in International Health and Development from George Washington University and his PhD in Environmental Health, Epidemiology from Colorado State University. He is currently a Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Montana. He has led NIH funded multi-site randomized trials focused on improving health outcomes and reducing exposures among vulnerable populations exposed to elevated levels of particulate matter from burning of biomass fuels for residential heating. Dr. Noon is a member of the Infectious, Reproductive, Asthma and Pulmonary Conditions (IRAP) Study Section.

Weiyu Mao Bio

Weiyu Mao, PhD, MSW, MPhil is an Associate Director of the Educational Resources in the Professional Development (PD) Core of the Mountain West Clinical and Translational Research Infrastructure Network (MW CTR-IN) Program. Dr. Mao is a tenured Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Mao received her Master of Social Work, PhD, and post-doctoral training from the University of Southern California (USC) as well as her Master of Philosophy in Social Welfare from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Bachelor of Law from Nankai University, China.

Dr. Mao’s research program aims to improve health and quality of life for vulnerable older adults and their families. Dr. Mao’s current research has focused on the investigations of social determinants of health (including oral health) in both heritage- and receiving- cultures. Dr. Mao strives to further the understanding of health disparities (including oral health disparities) among older ethnic and racial minority populations (e.g., older Asians and older Asian Americans) and explicate how social determinants, especially understudied psychosocial determinants, are associated with varying exposures and vulnerabilities to health inequities.

Dr. Mao has been gravitating towards interdisciplinary research and leading interdisciplinary teams, including collaborators from sociology, nursing, public health, and medicine. Dr. Mao’s work has been featured in high impact peer reviewed journals, including The Gerontologist, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Journal of Dental Research, Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, and The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Mao is currently working on two pilot projects funded by the Asian Research Center for Minority Aging Research (Asian RCMAR), National Institute on Aging and by Division of Aging and Disability Services, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Mao has a passion for advocating, promoting, and supporting research and related activities.     

Richard Larson Bio

Richard Larson, MD, PhD, serves as the CTSC Liaison for the MW CTR-IN Program. He is the Executive Vice Chancellor for Research of Health Sciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center as well as a tenured Professor at the University of New Mexico. In addition, he is also the PI of the UNM Clinical and Translational Science Center. He also served on the Board of Directors for the National Center for Genome Research. In 2001, he co-founded Cancer Services of New Mexico, a non-profit organization which serves, free of charge, over 2000 New Mexicans suffering from cancer each year. Moreover, he is the President of the Cancer Services of New Mexico Foundation. In addition, Moreover, he also serves as the Chair of the Mountain West Research Consortium, which was critical in laying down the ground work for the eventual development of the MW CTR-IN Program. Dr. Larson received his MD and PhD degrees from Harvard University and performed his residency training at Washington University in St. Louis and fellowship training at Vanderbilt University in Pathology.

Francisco Sy Bio

Francisco S. Sy, MD, DrPH is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the MW CTR-IN Program. He is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Public Health. Dr. Sy earned his Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) in Immunology & Infectious Diseases in 1984 from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and his Master of Science (SM) in Tropical Public Health in 1981 from Harvard T.F. Chan School of Public Health. He obtained his MD degree in 1975 and BS Pre-Med in 1970 from the University of the Philippines.

Dr. Sy worked at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 12 years. In 2004, he was appointed as a Health Scientist Administrator in the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) where he developed and managed the NIMHD Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Program. He also managed the NIMHD Loan Repayment Program and the Research Endowment Program. In 2007, Dr. Sy was promoted to the position of Director of  Extramural Activities and Scientific Programs at NIMHD.  As the DEA Director, Dr. Sy was responsible for the scientific and administrative management of the division, and served as the principal advisor to the NIMHD Director on programmatic resource decisions and research administration policies. He provided leadership and oversight of the Grants Management Office, Scientific Review Office, and the Scientific Programs Office at NIMHD. Dr. Sy advocated and wrote the justifications for adding sexual and gender minorities (SGM) in the list of health disparities populations which was approved by the NIH Director and Secretary of HHS in 2016. When he retired from NIH in May 2016, his colleagues at NIH, CDC and the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) created the Francisco Sy Excellence in Mentorship Award. It is an annual award given to an outstanding scientist who has excelled in mentoring junior scientists at HHS.

Dr. Sy worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 4 years. He was a Senior Health Scientist in the Program Evaluation Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. He was a member of the CDC SARS Outbreak Investigation Team in 2003. He led the CDC SARS Community Outreach Team in Asian communities in the U.S. to mitigate the fear and stigma associated with SARS.  Dr. Sy was an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at University of South Carolina School of Public Health and taught infectious disease epidemiology for 15 years. Dr. Sy developed and continues to serve since 1988 as the Editor of AIDS Education and Prevention- An Interdisciplinary Journal, a bimonthly peer reviewed international journal published by Guilford Publications in New York.

Xiaomeng (Mona) Xu

Dr. Xu is a 2015 MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant Awardee recipient. Her project was entitled, “Understanding the Role of Self-Expansion in Physical Activity”. Her research focuses on cardiovascular behavioral health including weight control, smoking and physical activity; close relationships, especially romantic; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) neuroimaging. Dr. Xu is also interested in these research areas in the context of individual differences such as trait self-control, and development over time, such as aging or as a romantic relationship progresses.

Dr. Xu received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in psychology from New York University, and Master of Arts Degree in psychology from Stony Brook University, and a Ph.D. in social health psychology from Stony Brook University. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship sponsored by the National Institutes of Health at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and The Miriam Hospital.

Dr. Xu is an Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology at Idaho State University and was honored as a 2015 Rising Star from the Association for Psychological Science. As a result of her advanced work in the field, the Association for Psychological Science has recognized Dr. Xu as an outstanding psychological scientist. As facilitated by the Individualized Development Plan (IDP) which is a critical component of the CTR-IN PG award, Dr. Xu had a successful mentorship experience with her mentor, Claudio Nigg, PhD, from the University of Hawaii. The pilot grant’s IDP provides mentorship for career development. As a result of the mentoring facilitated by the IDP, Dr. Xu has collaborated with Dr. Nigg on various projects, which have led to a manuscript publication, poster presentations, future collaborations, etc. Moreover, based on her academic productivity which has been significantly facilitated by the MW CTR-IN PG award, she will be applying for tenure at Idaho State University.

Susan Tavernier

Education: BSN from Whitworth University in Spokane in Washington; MSN from Loyola University of Chicago; PhD in Nursing from the University of Utah; Postdoctoral fellowship from the College of Nursing at the University of Utah.

MW CTR-IN helped to provide education in grant management, post-award processes, timeline projections, and meaningful tools for grant tracking.

Dr. Tavernier was a Year 4 MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant Awardee in 2016. Her project was entitled, “The Patient Voice in Healthcare”. The MW CTR-IN pilot grant was also instrumental in helping her with the nuances of grant management including hiring personnel, budgets, quarterly and annual reports. As a nurse scientist, her research area focuses on cancer patients. She has gained expertise with large qualitative data sets and has conducted research in the clinical setting. Dr. Tavernier is currently an Assistant Professor at Idaho State University in the School of Nursing and was a recipient of a Presidential Scholarship for new health service researchers from Academy Health.
Additionally, she has authored a chapter on Symptom Distress in the textbook Cancer Symptom Management 4th Edition, and has served as a review panel member for the Oncology Nursing Foundation for research and awards. She is also an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society.

Blakely Brown

Education: PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota; RD from the University of Minnesota

MW CTR-IN helped to expand collaborations for a nutrition and physical activity study with a direct impact on the health of community children.

Dr. Blakely Brown was a MW CTR-IN Pilot Grant (PG) Awardee and Visiting Scholar in 2014. Her project was entitled, “Developing and Pilot Testing Parent Education Activities within a Childhood Obesity Prevention After-School Program”. Dr. Brown built upon this PG research funding from the MW CTR-IN Program and secured 3 additional extramural grants also in the areas of childhood obesity totaling $278,167 in extramural grant funding as follows: (1) Partnerships to Prevent Childhood Obesity on the Flathead Indian Reservation; (2) Generations Health Project: An After-School and Home Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Program; (3) and USDA Strengthening Grant: Growing Strong Generations. These research studies have allowed Dr. Brown to successfully expand her research collaborations with rural and Native American communities that have resulted in longitudinal outcomes reporting risk factors for diabetes in native and non-native children, assessments of environmental and behavioral factors associated with risk for childhood obesity and diabetes in youth in rural communities.
Dr. Brown’s research, teaching and service focus on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, maternal-child health, childhood obesity and diabetes prevention, community-based participatory research methods, Native American health and diversity-related activities.