2020 COVID-19-Related Research Pilot Grant Program: Colorado CCTSI Experience
When the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic reached Colorado in early March 2020, the leadership team of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) rapidly responded to this public health emergency by establishing a new rapid-review pilot grant program, the CCTSI COVID-19-Related Research Pilot Program (C2R2 Pilot) with $100,000 budgeted for this program. The goal of the C2R2 Pilot program was to greatly accelerate the development of diagnostics, treatments and innovative technologies that would have an immediate impact on the COVID-19 outbreak in Colorado. We rapidly mobilized our CCTSI team to develop a Request for Application (RFA) in 3 days, issue the RFA with an application deadline in 7 days, review the proposals in 3 days, and issue the awards shortly thereafter. The entire application process took place in less than two weeks, from releasing the RFA on 3/31/2020 to announcing four awardees on 4/10/2020. We had an incredible response with 60 Letters of Intent (LOI) and 55 applications submitted through our customized REDCap submission platform by the deadline for applications on 4/3/2020. Each application underwent expedited review by the Review Committee, which consisted of 22 experts, including faculty at Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado State University, Denver Health Hospital, National Jewish Health, and University of Colorado Boulder, and a feasibility analysis was conducted by our Regulatory Core and CTRC leadership. Each application received two overall impact scores, and the ten top scoring applications (average NIH score below 20) were discussed at the CCTSI C2R2 Pilot Council on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The four most impactful and feasible C2R2 Pilot proposals were awarded $25,000 each for a 12-month funding period. Financial accounts were activated in the University’s financial system by 4/10/2020 for immediate use. Thus, we compressed the usual several month process for Pilot Grant submissions, review and awards to less than 2 weeks. The following four C2R2 Pilot awards were issued.