CVS Pilot Funds for Vision Research


To promote innovative pilot research at the Center for Visual Science to help applicants establish collaborative novel research in vision science.

The CVS Pilot Funds Program aims to:

  1. foster collaboration across CVS members from different departments
  2. collect pilot data for future grant applications (preferably R01 mechanism from the National Eye Institute).


  • CVS Faculty are eligible to apply
  • Applicants must have a strong track record of research productivity and provide evidence that no alternative funds are available for the project. Applications that merely extend an ongoing research program are not eligible
  • Each application should have at least two co-applicants, each having a primary faculty appointment in a different department. Co-applicants with or without prior record of collaboration are eligible to apply, but priority will be given to novel collaborations
  • Faculty should direct the funds towards acquisition of pilot data for a full grant application, preferably R01 National Institutes of Health, National Eye Institute
  • Faculty can be applicants or co-applicants in more than one application
  • Faculty who receives funding will be expected to review applications in future funding cycles


Budget requests for up to $50,000 will be considered for a one-year period; no-cost extensions are not allowed. A minimum of 2 pilot seed funds will be granted, although this number may increase with topup funding from other departments (currently under negotiation). Funds may not be used for faculty salary, teaching relief, or travel.

Secured top up funding for the current call comes from the Institute of Optics and from the department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. As per contributing Department Chairs request, grants potentially cofunded by these departments should include in their budget funding for at least one summer graduate or undergraduate student to participate in the project.


A review committee composed of three faculty will make funding recommendations to the Director of the Center for Visual Science, for final approval.

Proposals that respond to the Center for Visual Science vision for excellence and impact, and that contribute to increased engagement between members of the vision science community will be most valued. The committee will evaluate the innovation, approach, and significance of the proposed research, the synergistic nature of the interdepartmental proposed collaboration, and the likelihood of the proposed research to achieve further funding in federal programs. Pilot Research that can boost applications to the NIH (NEI) R01 program will be highly considered, as successful applications will reinforce the Center’s P30 core grant requirements.


Submissions for 2023 are closed.

Required Materials

  • Cover Sheet
    • Project Title
    • Project Leads contact information (at least two, PI and co-PI)
    • Departments of Primary Affiliation of applicants
    • Amount Requested
  • Research plan in the modified format of an NEI R21 application (1 page Specific Aims + 5 pages Research Strategy, Arial 11 font, 0.5” margins). This structure should include the additional, program-specific information:
    • Explain the overarching goal of the planned research, the main gaps in the field addressed, and what specific pilot data that you want to gather with these pilot funds
    • Explain why the planned research is significant and innovative
    • Explain how the requested pilot funding will help secure extramural funding. If pilot data are expected to support an NEI R01, indicate the RFA
    • Explain how the collaboration enriches PI’s research programs and fits the mission of the Center for Visual Science
    • The research plan should be in plain text for non-specialist consideration
  • CV: Provide biosketches for the PI and Co-PIs and other significant collaborators (5 pages max. in NSF, NIH, or NEH style)
  • Budget:
    • Provide an itemized budget including a brief justification for each line item:
      • Funds may not be used for faculty salary, teaching relief or travel
  • Current and pending support (in the style of NIH Other Support documents):
    • For each participating faculty who has external grant support, provide:
      • Funder, title, duration, and amount of all active and pending awards
      • A brief summary of the projects
  • Department chair endorsement (start application early so chair may respond!):
    • What is the project's importance to the investigator and the department?
    • How will support lead to extramural funding that would otherwise not be obtained?
    • Does the faculty have other internal funding that could be allocated to the proposed project?
    • What is your plan for departmental cost-sharing? If applicable.

Post-Award Follow-Up

Within two months of the end of the funding period, the faculty member involved should submit a written final report.


Please direct any questions to



Farran BriggsMichael Telias

PIs: Farran Briggs & Michael Telias. Grant Title: Modeling retinoic acid-driven maladaptive plasticity in the visual pathway of retinal degeneration mice

Adam SnyderEd Lalor

PIs: Adam Snyder & Ed Lalor. Grant Title: Multi-scale mechanisms of feature-based attention in humans and non-human primates

Michael TeliasSusana Marcos

PIs: Michael Telias & Susana Marcos. Grant Title: Studying the role of retinoic acid signaling in refractive error and myopia