Pilot Grant Program - Investigator Development Core

The HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention is pursuing a bold research agenda aimed at addressing the public health crises that health disparities inflict on our most vulnerable communities. With support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), this national center (Research Centers in Minority Institutions, RCMI) will serve as an exemplar for how community-engaged research can accelerate the discovery of innovative basic biomedical mechanisms and/or cost-effective prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and intervention strategies that can be disseminated and implemented directly into underserved communities.


This short-term (1-year) funding opportunity will support 3-5 innovative pilot grants ($30,000 to $50,000) that seek to break new ground in addressing disparities in addictions and cancer prevention while leveraging the data to successfully transition into a developmentally appropriate NIH funding mechanism (e.g., K- and R-series).


Moreover, mentorship and professional development activities will be structured to develop the next generation of health-equity scientists capable of advancing data-driven and culturally-responsive breakthroughs in addictions and cancer prevention.


All questions regarding this Request for Applications may be directed to Dr. Olivera Nesic-Taylor or Dr. Ezemenari Obasi.


Deadline: January 8, 2021


View Guidelines


Pilot Funding for Basic Biomedical Science

In support of the institute's goal to become a model for advancing transdisciplinary health science through strong partnerships with communities, organizations and other key stakeholders, HRI is requesting applications to expand the HEALTH Research Institute in the area of basic biomedical science. Basic biomedical science provides a transformative platform to discover novel pathological and pathophysiological mechanisms that could be rapidly translated into population-specific targets of prevention and treatment.

Funded HRI Pilot Projects

The purpose of the pilot research program is to strategically seed feasibility and proof of concept studies that will lead to the development of novel findings that address one or more health challenges faced by our local, state or national communities. The HRI pilot grant awardees are:


Investigating Efficacy of Epigenetic Therapy in Ovarian Cancer

Fatima Merchant, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Project Team Includes:

  • Wanda Wosik, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
  • Lewis Francis, Ph.D. (Swansea University College of Medicine), Collaborator


Role of 27-hydroxycholestrol, the Endogenous SERM that Links Cholesterol Metabolism and Estrogen Receptor Signaling, in Adipose Tissue Function

Michihisa Umetani, Ph.D., Principal Investigator


Project Team Includes:

  • Yang Zhang, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
  • Preethi Gunaratne, Ph.D., Collaborator


Functional Cortical Deficits and Cortical Hemodynamic Changes in Minority Older Adults with Type II Diabetes

Stacey Gorniak, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team Includes:

  • Luca Pollonini, Ph.D., Co-Investigator
  • Steven Woods, Psy.D., Co-Investigator
  • Emily LaVoy, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

Physical Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer Metabolism

John Miller, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

Project Team Includes:

  • Martha Y. Suarez Villagran, Ph.D., Postdoc
  • Dale Hamilton, M.D. (Houston Methodist Research Institute), Collaborator / Co-Investigator
  • Additional collaborators from the UH Colleges of Natural Sciences & Mathematics and Engineering are expected to participate as the project expands.


Computerized Suicide Prevention for Latinos in Primary Care
Michael J. Zvolensky, Ph.D, Principal Investigator


Project Team Includes:

  • Andres Viana, Ph.D, Co-Investigator
  • Rheeda Walker, Ph.D, Co-Investigator
  • Jodi Berger Cardoso, Ph.D, Co-Investigator
  • Monica Garza, Ph.D, Co-Investigator

The Intersectionality of Nutrition, Alcohol Abuse, and Infectious Disease Susceptibility
Elebeoba E. May, Ph.D, Principal Investigator

Project Team Includes:

  • Ezemenari Obasi, Ph.D, Co-Investigator

UHAND Pilot Projects

Mexican Immigrants' Biological and Behavioral Cancer Risk Based on Stress
Dr. Daphne Hernandez and Dr. Hua Zhao


Watchful Living: A lifestyle intervention for black and Hispanic prostate cancer patients and their partners
Dr. Dalnim Cho and Dr. Richard Simpson


Novel Formulation of Synthetic Retinoid for Chemoprevention
Dr. Guang Peng and Dr. Xinli Liu