Pilot Grants

A major objective of NJ ACTS is to successfully translate biomedical discoveries to clinical applications by promoting creative and innovative science.

The NJ ACTS Pilot Program offers pilot grants to foster collaborative research among faculty in three institutions: Princeton University, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers University. These pilot projects will then provide a path to sustainable, extramurally funded independent research across the alliance.

The NJ ACTS Pilot Program is funded through the generous support of the NIH CTSA Award, the New Jersey Health Foundation, and each of the academic partners.

Pilot Grant Award Categories
Category Description
Translational and Clinical Sciences For projects along the T0-T4 continuum that focus on novel aspects of the heterogeneity of disease and response to therapy.
Methodological and Infrastructure For projects that advance our ability to conduct translational research by developing novel methodologies or creating new infrastructure resources.
Propel For projects that allow investigators to explore new areas or augment studies in high risk/gain manner by supporting novel ideas, new technologies, new research methods, pilot clinical data acquisition, licenses to databases, and purchase of small equipment or data sets.
Valued Partnership For projects that support team research and build liaisons with key partners in industry, government, nonprofits, other CTSAs and/or insurance companies. Must leverage NJ ACTS support with partner in-kind services/funding.
Novel Approaches to Evaluation For projects that use state-of-the-art approaches to conduct systematic needs assessments, program evaluation, tracking studies and outreach analysis concerning translational research and science within a CTSA Hub.
Pilot Grants Awarded - 2022


Project Title

Christoph Buettner, Rutgers
Bryan Pfister, NJIT
Does Mild Traumatic Brain Injury increase the risk of diabetes Translational
Timothy Buschman, Princeton
David Zald, Rutgers
Quantifying the dynamics of working memory in patients with schizophrenia Translational
Subhajyoti De, Rutgers
Saum Ghodoussipour, Rutgers
Urine cell free DNA based noninvasive characterization of druggable genome in bladder cancer Methodological
Anat Kreimer, Rutgers
James Millonig, Rutgers
Decoding autism regulatory variants using computational genomics in human iPSC-derived neurons Methodological
Josh Berlin, Rutgers
Mesut Sahin, NJIT
Neuroprotective potential for acute electrical stimulation after mild traumatic brain injury Propel
Martin Blaser, Rutgers
Gloria Bachman, Rutgers
Estrogen modification by the microbiome and its role in endometrial hyperplasia Propel
Sarah Brislin, Rutgers
Paul Boxer, Rutgers
Neurobiological predictors of multi-systemic therapy outcomes in justice involved youth Valued Partner
Elizabeth Luth, Rutgers
Kathryn Bowles, VNSNY
Translating data science to palliative care: improving reporting/claims based algorithm Valued Partner
Jaya Satagopan, Rutgers Harnessing socio-cultural similarities between diverse populations to evaluate uptake of cancer screening in under-represented groups Process
Pilot Grants Awarded - 2021
Investigators Project Title
KiBum Lee, Rutgers
Xiaoyang Xu, NJIT
Therapeutic Development of Patient Cell-derived Exosomes for Effective CVD Treatment
Sabine Petry, Princeton
Zhiyuan Shen, Rutgers
Targeting of mitotic spindle assembly factor TPX2 for cancer therapy
Yingda Xie, Rutgers
Cameron Myrhvold, Princeton
Padmapriya Banada, Rutgers
Development of CRISPR-basd, multiplex, point-of-care testing pathway for tuberculosis and COVID-19
Bharat Biswal, NJIT
Laszlo Zaborszky, Rutgers
Investigating tissue-specific functional maps and its correlation with cognitive domains in Alzheimer’s Disease
Luigi Brunetti, Rutgers
Mohamed Donia, Princeton
Incorporating drug metabolism by the human gut microbiome into personalized medicine
Stephen Crystal, Rutgers
Nathaniel Daw, Princeton
Jason Roy, Rutgers
Post-Release Outcomes of Prison Based Treatments and Interventions for Opioid Use Disorder
Celeste Nelson, Princeton
Shridar Ganesan, Rutgers
The effects of cell and tissue-level heterogeneity on triple-negative breast cancer progression
Mohammad Ali Saghiri, Rutgers
Vivek Kumar, NJIT
A Novel Expandable Endodonic Biomaterial
Chang Chan, Rutgers Development of computational methods to identify oncogenic tyrosine kinase transcripts
Alexander Ploss, Princeton Capturing the impact of SARS-CoV-2 evolution on human pulmonary responses
Alexander Neimark, Rutgers Development of Computational Models to Explore Interactions of Coronavirus Virions with Lung Surfactant Films
Danelle Devenport, Princeton Novel mouse models for live imaging basement membrane dynamics and breach in melanocyte migration and melanoma
Peter Kokkinos, Rutgers
Joshua McGee, Rutgers
Exercise blood pressure as a predictor of left ventricular hypertrophy in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus
Jinglin Fu, Rutgers
Bo Wang, Delaware Diagnostics
dNANOSIS, a Rapid and Reliable Nucleic Acid Assay for Detecting Infectious Diseases
Victoria Abraira, Rutgers
Jian-Ming Lee, Unilever
Skin Deep: a Rutgers-Unilever partnership for topical pain relief
Zhi Wei, NJIT
Joseph Glessner, CHOP
Deep Learning Methods for Identifying Copy Number Variations
Amesika Nyaku, Rutgers
Erin Zerbo, Rutgers
Jenna Mellor, Rutgers
Risk Environment Analysis to Inform Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution (OEND)


Pilot Grants Awarded - 2020
Investigators Project Title
Jonathan Cohen, Princeton
Anna Konova, Rutgers
Laura Bustamante, Princeton
Motivation for cognitive and physical effort in depression
Andrea Graham, Princeton
William Gause, Rutgers
Improving mouse models of lung defense: neutrophil-mediated parasite resistance, tissue damage and repair
Eun Jung Lee, NJIT
Vivek Kumar, NJIT
Dominic Del Re, Rutgers
Angiogenic peptide hydrogel for cardiac repair
Daniel Notterman, Princeton
Ian Marshall, Rutgers
Kristina Olson, Princeton
Developing a longitudinal cohort of transgender youth to access health and wellbeing through physical, psychological, and molecular assessment
Roman Voronov, NJIT
Joseph Freeman, Rutgers
A Microfluidics Technology for Non-Sacrificial Analysis of Biomaterial Implants In Vivo
Yelda Semizer, NJIT Mechanisms of Medical Image Perception in Radiologists
Howard Stone, Princeton
Mohamed Labib, NovaFlux Inc.
Aerosol Production of Bacteriophage Formulations from Submicron Droplets for Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Applications
Barbara Tafuto, Rutgers
Riddhi Vyas, Rutgers
Trish Pruis, OHSU
CTSA Hub Website Database and Search Engine


Pilot Grants Awarded - 2019
Investigators Project Title
Alice Chu, Rutgers
Jordan Taylor, Princeton
A dynamic functional splint to restore hand function in children with cerebral palsy
Emanuel Goldman, Rutgers
Zemer Gitai, Princeton
Wlodek Mandecki, Rutgers
A FRET-based HTS to identify antibacterial drug leads targeting ternary complex formation in E.coli
Xiaoyang Xu, NJIT
Yuanxiang Tao, Rutgers
Development of a new long-acting local anesthetics and its application in chronic pain
Abdelfattah El Ouaamari, Rutgers
Esteban Engel, Princeton
Structural and functional mapping of islet β cell sensory innervation
Gerard Fluet, Rutgers
Sergei Adamovich, NJIT
Remote evaluation of upper extremity motor control
Antje Ihlefeld, NJIT
Yu Lan Mary Ying, Rutgers
Leveraging functional near infrared spectroscopy for auditory brain health
Yi Chen, NJIT
David Foran, Rutgers
A natural language processing platform for automated information extraction from EHR’s for clinical decision support and investigative research
Dantong Yu, NJIT
Xinyue Ye, NJIT
Yaqun Wang, Rutgers
Apply natural language processing and deep learning to EMR management, preprocessing and decision making
David Barker, Rutgers
Catherine Jensen Peña, Princeton
Pain as a trigger for opioid dependence in the context of epigenetic susceptibility
Kathryn Edin, Princeton
Sarah Gold, Princeton
Housing and Health in New Jersey’s Capital City


Pilot News and Publications

The Pilot Grants Program 2022 – 5 categories of proposals:

The NJ ACTS Pilot Program offers one year pilot grants to foster collaborative research among faculty in three institutions: Princeton University, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers University. We expect that the NJ ACTS Pilot Program will increase collaborative research and provide a path to sustainable, extramurally-funded independent research across the alliance.

NJ ACTS committed $640,000 in 2022. The program is funded through the generous support of the NIH CTSA Award, the New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF), and each of the academic partners. There are five different categories of projects. Collaboration requirements and funding amounts vary by project type. Translational and Clinical Sciences awards are up to 100K; Methodological/Infrastructure, Propel and Valued Partnership awards are up to 50K; and a new category, Process Innovation, has awards of up to 40K.


Pilot Grants Program is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, as well as funds from the New Jersey Health Foundation.

For more information, contact NJACTS@rbhs.rutgers.edu.

Pilot Co-Leads

Arnold Rabson, MD

Arnold Rabson, MD

Director, Child Health Institute

Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University
Laura Gallagher Endowed Chair of Developmental Biology
Samuel Wang, PhD

Samuel Wang, PhD

Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience

Wang Laboratory
Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University

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Guiling (Grace) Wang, PhD, CFA

Guiling (Grace) Wang, PhD, CFA

Professor of Computer Science

Associate Dean for Research
Ying Wu College of Computing, New Jersey Institute of Technology

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