Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center

Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC)

The overarching goal of the Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (PESC) of the Pittsburgh Pepper Center is to promote and fund innovative multidisciplinary pilot research in the topic areas of balance, mobility, aging, and their interfaces.

The Pepper Center will periodically announce calls for pilot applications and is now accepting applications for Fall 2016. Click here to read the announcement and download the application form.

The goals of the PESC are to:

  • Promote innovative multidisciplinary research on balance, mobility, and aging
  • Encourage supplements to ongoing studies
  • Promote innovative techniques and methods for research on mobility, balance and aging
  • Partner with other groups [i.e., Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) and Aging Institute] to leverage overall funding for individual pilot projects
  • Promote, evaluate, and select for funding
    • Standard pilot projects ($25,000-$50,000 per year)
    • Small pilots (up to $10,000)
    • Developmental projects ($35,000-$70,000 per year)
  • Conduct post-award processes (e.g., monitor adherence to ethics, safety, privacy, tracking of subsequent productivity and other related matters)

PESC Leadership

Dr. Joseph T Hanlon, PharmD, MS, received training in clinical pharmacy and epidemiology/health service research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. After nearly 20 years as a faculty member at Duke, he left to become a tenured endowed Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Geriatric Pharmacotherapy at the University of Minnesota for 6 years. In 2004, he joined the faculty at Pitt. Currently, he is a tenured Prof Geriatric Medicine, Pharmacy and Epidemiology as well as a Health Scientist at the VA GRECC (Geriatric Research Education), Pittsburgh. He also serves as the co-director of the Geriatric Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Gero-Informatics Research and Training Program at Pitt. He is a practicing board certified clinical pharmacist specialist in geriatrics. Dr. Hanlon is an active and continuously externally funded clinical researcher since 1987. Dr. Hanlon is well published for his research in the area of drugs as a cause of geriatric syndromes (including falls, fractures, functional status decline, mobility problems).1-10 He also has considerable experience in the award and management of pilot study awards through his current NIA funded K07 leadership award designed to build a cadre of well-trained investigators in the field of geriatric pharmaceutical outcomes research. He also has extensive experience as a journal editor and a grant reviewer for NIA, AHRQ and the VA. Dr. Hanlon has been an active member of the Pittsburgh OAIC since his arrival in 2004 and took over as the PESC core director in July 2013.

(Return to Top)

How to apply for Pilot funds

  • Applications are solicited annually via our website and by University wide email.
  • Potential applicants are encouraged to discuss their plans with the Pepper leadership prior to submission.
  • An initial Letters of Intent (LOI) is requested to ensure applications are relevant to the Pepper theme.
  • Investigators with approved LOIs are invited to submit full proposals and to discuss their Resource Core needs.


  • A cover letter that specifies how the proposal meets the Pepper research priorities. All cover letters must address relevance and plans for next steps after the proposed study is completed.
  • One page abstract.
  • Five page research proposal includes specific aims and hypotheses, background, preliminary studies (if any), methods, a timeline, and references.
  • Budget and budget justification.
  • Biosketches of investigative team.
  • Human safety and vertebrate animals forms.
  • Signed approval forms for use of Resource Cores or ongoing studies.
  • Final checklist.
  • Applicants are encouraged to propose knowledgeable reviewers in their cover letter as well.
  • The application due date is generally 2-3 months after the announcement date in order to allow for planning, consultation, preparation and signatures.

Any questions, please contact Dr. Joe Hanlon.

(Return to Top)

Program Evaluation

Type of award Standard Project Developmental Project Small RCDC Project
Source of funds PESC ICS, CPOC, DMAIC Core(s) PESC
Award amount $25,000 total One or more years One year
Duration Up to 3 years One or more years One year
Eligibility PITT Faculty Core Investigator RCDC trainee other than KL2 Scholar
Unique criteria Unique criteria Techniques and approaches that expand the capacity of one or more Cores Must have a Pepper mentor

(Return to Top)

This website was created by the Center for Research on Health Care (CRHC) Data Center. Contact the webmaster if you are experiencing any problems with this site.