Pilot and Feasibility Program - Obesity

Pilot and Feasibility Program

The New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center (NYONRC) announces the availability of Pilot and Feasibility grants to support obesity-related research.

NYNORC P&F Recipients

Matthew Yousefzadeh, PhD  
Assistant Professor of Medical Sciences, Columbia University  
Dates of Funding:  2024-2025 
Investigation of senescent cells and their role in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 


Stephanie Rudolph, PhD  
Assistant Professor, Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine  
Dates of Funding:  2024-2025 
Roles for CSF-contacting oxytocinergic neurons in obesity 


Kathryn J Whyte, PhD, RDN 
Associate Research scientist, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University 
Dates of Funding:  2024-2025 
Effects of ultraprocessed food on intestinal energy harvest 


Maxine Ashby-Thompson, EdD, MPH 
Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Columbia University  
Dates of Funding:  2023-2024 
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM)for the Identification of Novel Mediators of Glucose Homeostasis 


Rossana Calderon, MD, MPH 
Assistant Professor in Medicine, Columbia University  
Dates of Funding:  2023-2025
Unraveling vitamin A actions on gut endocrine cells 


Robert Bauer, PhD 
Assistant Professor in Medicine, Columbia University 
Dates of Funding:  2023-2025  
Regulation of Visceral Adipose Tissue Formation by C/EBPɑ 


Viraj Sanghvi, PhD 
Assistant Professor in Medicine, Columbia University
Dates of Funding:  2023-2025   
Understanding and Targeting Deglycation in Obesity 


Juan Manuel Schvartzman, MD, PhD 
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University  
Dates of Funding:  2022-2023 
Effects of microbiome-derived metabolites on chromatin accessibility of the human colon 


George Stratigopoulos, PhD 
Assistant Professor of Metabolic Science, Columbia University  
Dates of Funding:  2022-2024 
Gene prioritization at the FTO locus by looping in arcuate neurons 


Three types of applications will be considered:

  • Proposals from Assistant Professors or Postdoctoral Fellows transitioning to FACULTY STATUS to carry out preliminary studies to be used for an NIH grant application. Applicants with prior funding through this or similar programs should not apply. The “transition to faculty status” means that there is institutional commitment with a start date for a faculty position and a letter is required from the Department Chair or equivalent.
  • Proposals for innovative/high-risk projects by established investigators in the field of obesity/ingestive behavior. Support for current research is NOT acceptable.
  • Proposals from established investigators, without prior funding in obesity, who wish to undertake an obesity-related project.

Please note that graduate students may not apply.


Applicants may request up to $50,000 per year for one year. Indirect costs are NOT applicable. A second year of funding may be considered based on demonstrated progress and availability of funds. The awards can be used for salary support and/or research expenses. Each proposal will be reviewed by two experts.

Application Process


  • Letter of Intent: TBD

  • Completed application (if requested): TBD

Letter of intent

Please email a 1-page non-binding letter of intent stating the applicant’s name, campus address, title of project, and brief outline of the proposed research, as well as other pertinent information, such as current or future use of NYONRC facilities and current obesity-related funding. Append an NIH-type biographical sketch.

Please submit the entire letter of intent as a single PDF file.

Letters of intent should be addressed and e-mailed to:

Judith Korner, MD, PhD
Director for Pilot & Feasibility Program
c/o Bernadette Spina

**Letters of Intent will be reviewed, and invitations for full applications requested by April 10, 2018 based upon suitability of applicant and relevance of proposed work to programmatic emphases of the NYONRC.

Full Application (if requested)

We use a simplified PHS 398 form for Pilot and Feasibility applications. Complete the front page as usual; approval from Grants & Contracts Office is not required.

  • Use the five-page NIH biosketch format for all key personnel.
  • The Research Plan should be limited to five (5) single-spaced pages, using 12-point type and NIH standard margins.
  • Literature Cited and Budget are not included in space limitations.
  • Please submit the entire application as a single PDF file.
  • Where appropriate, IACUC or IRB approval will be required prior to release of funds


Provide a brief background and rationale for the proposed study. If available provide any preliminary data.

Specific Aims

State concisely the objectives 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. Specific objectives of the research proposed may include but are not limited to the following: to test a stated hypothesis, solve a specific problem, challenge an existing paradigm or clinical practice, address a critical barrier to progress in the field, or develop new technology.

Research Strategy

Organize the Research Strategy in the specified order using the instructions provided below. For each Specific Aim, provide preliminary data if available and include a description of: Significance, Innovation, and Approach.


  • Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the proposed project addresses.
  • Clear statement of scientific premise.
  • Statement of hypotheses.


  • Explain how the application challenges and seeks to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms.
  • Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or intervention(s) to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation or intervention(s).


  • Experimental Design: Describe experimental design and methods. 
  • Statistical Analysis: Describe statistical methods that will be used for data analysis. If appropriate, provide power analysis.
  • Provide brief interpretation of anticipated results.

Additional Information

  • Provide a statement regarding scientific rigor and reproducibility.
  • Describe plans for seeking future funding after completion of this proposal.

Literature Cited

References should be cited in this section


Please use the PHS 398 budget form to provide a breakdown of how funds will be allocated in general categories such as personnel, supplies, etc.

*Criteria and eligibility subject to change from year to year