Pilot Feasibility Award Program


The Texas Medical Center Digestive Diseases Center provides support to pilot/feasibility (P/F) projects in the area of GI-related research each year. These funds specifically support projects related to the theme for the DDC - GI infection and injury. GI is defined as the gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas. Injury is defined as drug, genetic, ischemic, inflammatory, surgical, nutritional, or stress-induced injury to the gastrointestinal tract. Injury also includes gastrointestinal adaptation and stem cells. Projects should relate to this theme. Awards range between $25,000 to $45,000 for a period of one year. A committee composed of the DDC Internal Advisory Board, plus ad hoc members, evaluates proposals.


Trainees who are recipients of an NRSA individual award (F32) or are supported by an training grant (K08, K22, T32) are eligible for P/F funds, IF they are in their last year of training, have at least one year of research experience, and have suitable expertise and independence to design and carry out the planned experiments. Trainees also should have a commitment from a senior scientist to sponsor their projects and assurance of future faculty appointment from Section/Dept Head. U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status is not required.

Application Guidelines

Our 2020/2021 Pilot Feasibility Program is now closed. We will announce details for our 2021/2022 Pilot Feasibility Program in the Summer of 2021. If you have questions or would like to join our mailing list, please contact All persons interested in submitting an application should initially submit a Notice of Intent with a tentative application title, and the name of the PI, any co-PIs, and their affiliations via the online system by posted deadline.  Questions can be directed to Sara Tristan at

The online system will be made available August 2021. Applicant must adhere to the application instructions and include the required cover sheet when submitting their application. The completed application (including the Summary Sheet) should be submitted as one PDF file via our online system by the required deadline.  You will receive a confirmation email once you have submitted your application.  

This Program Supports

  • New investigators without current or past NIH research support who are seeking to obtain preliminary data to establish a research program in GI-research.
  • Established, funded investigators with no previous work in digestive-disease related areas but who wish to test the applicability of their expertise to a digestive disease-related problem.
  • Established investigators in digestive disease-related areas who wish to test the feasibility of a new or innovative idea, which constitutes a significant departure from their funded research and initiates a new collaboration with another researcher.
Apply now

2021 Pilot Awardees


Xiangsheng Zuo, M.D., Ph.D. (MDACC) “Targeting of PPAR-d for gastric cancer prevention”

Natalia Khalaf, M.D. (BCM) “Predicting Risk of Long-term Complications of Acute Pancreatitis in a U.S. Veteran Population”

Andrea McAlester, Ph.D. (BCM) “Dietary lipid regulation of intestinal tissue repair”

Sara Di Rienzi, Ph.D. (BCM) “Intestinal oxytocin in treatment of gut inflammation”

Joud Hajjar, M.D., M.S. (BCM) “Microbiome in Common Variable Immunodeficiency”

Jill Weatherhead, M.D., MSc (BCM) “Ascaris larvae - host intestinal epithelial interface”

Kanchan Singh, Ph.D. (UTHSC) “Adenosine Signaling in Pancreatitis associated with pancreatic ductal obstruction initiated by mutant Kras”

Media Component

Program Flyer


View the 2020-2021 flyer.