Bridge grants offer support for College of Medicine investigators

To strengthen the competitive position of meritorious unfunded grant applications, Penn State College of Medicine principal investigators may request support for Bridge Grants.

Potential applicants should recognize that the resources available to support Bridge Grants are limited, and funding will be given to only the most promising highly meritorious applications. All primary investigators who apply will receive written critiques.

Submission information will be provided when applications are being accepted.

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RFA Details: Bridge Grants

Eligibility Expand answer
  • The principal investigator must have their primary academic appointment in the College of Medicine at the rank of assistant professor, associate professor or professor.
  • The individual research grant application must have been reviewed during the last 12 months by NIH (with a grant numbered in the “R” series, such as an R01 or R21), NSF or other government agency, or a major voluntary health agency (such as ACS) that uses a peer review system and provides written critiques to applicants; the critique must be for a full proposal. The proposed research should be performed at a Penn State campus.
  • The critique and score of the external application should suggest that it is a meritorious proposal and unlikely to be funded without revision. NIH applications that were scored by the Center for Scientific Review or an institute-specific review committee will generally be considered meritorious. Documentation of an equivalent level of excellence will be required to establish eligibility for applications submitted to sponsors that use a different scoring system.
  • The principal investigator must be planning to
    • acquire additional preliminary data that will strengthen the proposal; and
    • submit a revised application to an appropriate external sponsor within the coming year.
  • The principal investigator’s department must commit to supporting 50 percent of the direct costs of the Bridge Grant.
  • Particular attention to the quality of grantsmanship in preparation of the application is strongly encouraged, as revised versions of Bridge Grant applications that were previously reviewed and not funded are not eligible for submission in response to this RFA.
  • Projects that have received previous support from a Bridge Grant during the past four years are not eligible for additional support from this program
Program Guidelines Expand answer
  • Bridge Grants are intended to support the acquisition of additional preliminary data that will help the project become more competitive for external support in the near future and to help maintain research momentum. Note that if a revised application is submitted to the external sponsor before or soon after the Bridge Grant application is submitted, and if that external grant is identified for funding before the Bridge Grant funding period, the PI must promptly notify the Office of Research Affairs and Research Development, who may require the principal investigator to relinquish all unobligated funds.
  • Bridge Grant applicants may request up to 50 percent of the project’s recommended annual direct cost funding, not to exceed $100,000 direct costs plus applicable indirect costs, for up to a 12-month period.
  • Bridge Grants may be used to support salaries and fringe benefits for the principal investigator and other faculty and staff within the College of Medicine, student stipends, supplies, equipment, publication costs, expenses related to the use of human subjects and domestic travel expenses directly related to the conduct of the research project. Funds may not be requested to support the salaries of collaborators from other colleges or institutions.
  • Although it is anticipated that principal investigators would generally not request more than 5 percent effort on a Bridge Grant project, applicants are reminded that the committed effort must be appropriate for the scope of the project and the work to be performed by the principal investigator.
  • The principal investigator of each Bridge Grant award will be required to submit detailed progress reports and related information to comply with requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Proposal Format Expand answer

Prepare the Bridge Grant application as a single PDF. The final PDF should include all of the information listed below in the order indicated:

  1. Cover page: Complete the internal award cover page found in Box (Penn State Access ID login required)
  2. Table of contents: Include page numbers starting with the cover page and numbering all pages consecutively.
  3. Letter from the PI:
    • Provide a brief overview of the history of the project, including any previous internal or external funding. For applications that are related to unfunded competing renewals, include the current balance of funds in the grant account and plans for their expenditure.
    • Specify the deadline and sponsor for the planned submission of the revised or new application to the external sponsor.
    • If bridging an A1 to an A0, for the purposes of the Scientific Review Committee only, address the comments from the summary statement of the previous A1 submission, and describe what changes are anticipated for the A0 application.
    • Explain specifically how the proposed Bridge Grant will support all possible outcomes, including how it will help strengthen the revised application to be resubmitted and how the Bridge Grant will help maintain the momentum of the project during the development and review of the resubmitted (A1 or A0) application.
  4. Letter of support from your department chair: The chair’s letter should document their agreement to fund 50 percent of the direct costs of the proposed Bridge Grant and to support any other departmental resources that are committed to the project in the application. If the application is subsequently approved for funding, the chair will need to identify the budget and fund numbers that will be used to support the departmental match. The department chair’s letter should be addressed to the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.
  5. New investigator development plan: If the principal investigator is a new investigator who has not had substantial external funding, and/or is currently being supported on another faculty member’s grant, the letter should also include a plan to describe the department’s commitment to the PI’s further development as an independent investigator.
  6. Summary statement: Include a copy of the entire summary statement or other critique for the unfunded application including priority/percentile scores and any relevant correspondence from the sponsor regarding the review and their decision not to fund the application.
  7. Response plan for the revised external grant proposal: This plan will provide the reviewers with more information regarding your approach to obtaining external funding for this project. Assuming the experimentation in the Bridge Grant proposal yields the expected outcomes, provide:
    • Specific aims for the future external proposal (one page)
    • For those seeking to bridge between A0 and A1, an introduction to the revised proposal (one page)
  8. Abstract: An abstract of the research plan for the Bridge Grant.
  9. NIH biosketch: Include a current NIH biosketch for the principal investigator and other key personnel. Biosketch forms are available on the NIH website. For the principal investigator, include a research support section that includes relevant previous three years, current and pending grant and contract awards. List the sponsor, project title, project period and current year direct costs budget and clearly indicate whether there is or is not any duplication with the studies proposed for support by the Bridge Grant.
  10. Research plan for the proposed Bridge Grant: Describe the studies that will be supported by the Bridge Grant in four pages, including any figures and tables. A clear distinction should be made between the specific aims proposed for the Bridge Grant funding and those proposed for the external application. The same aims may not be used for both. Ensure that the specific aims for the proposed studies are achievable within a 12-month period and within the constraints of the funding provided by the Bridge Grant.
  11. References
  12. Budget request: Provide a SIMS Budget, per the instructions elsewhere in this RFA. The SIMS budget will require using the “group” function to create two components, one for the CURE funds and one for the department funds. A separate justification page should be provided for both the CURE component and the department component. For budgets utilizing CURE funds, the total cost of out-of-state personnel, subcontractors and consultants must not exceed 2 percent of the total grant costs. Reviewers will delete any budget items that lack strong justification.
  13. Attachments: If the studies proposed in the Bridge Grant application involve collaboration with another investigator or investigators, or the use of facilities or other resources that are under the purview of another investigator, include a letter(s) from that investigator(s) to document their contributions to the proposed research. Do not include any reprints, manuscripts, surveys, tests, inventories or other similar attachments.

You must also submit a copy of the unfunded external application as a single and separate PDF file.

Instructions for Preparing a Bridge Grant Budget in SIMS Expand answer

Using SIMS budget, create one budget. Build the budget using the “Group” function to create two separate components as follows:

CURE-Funded Group:

  • 50 percent of the direct costs (e.g. $50,000) for the CURE component
  • Plus 20 percent F&A
  • Total cost of out-of-state personnel, subcontractors or consultants must not exceed 2 percent of the total grant (e.g. $1,000)

Departmental Match Group:

  • 50 percent of the total costs (e.g. $50,000) for the department component
  • F&A is unallowable

Submit the two grouped SIMS budget components. Print each group on a separate page and clearly identify the CURE Group and the Department Match Group at the top of each budget page.

Budget justification: Include a detailed budget justification, on a separate page, for each group.

Questions regarding the SIMS budget process should be directed to the Office of Research Affairs at 717-531-8495.

Review and Selection Process Expand answer
  • Applications for Bridge Grants will be evaluated by a Scientific Review Committee (SRC), who will consider:
    • Scientific merit of the project as indicated by the original application, the external review, and the proposed experimentation.
    • Likelihood that the proposed aims will be completed within 12 months with the requested funding and significantly strengthen a new application to an external sponsor.
    • Potential for the proposed Bridge Grant to enhance the competitive position of the previously-unfunded application and maintain the momentum of a previously funded project during the review of the new external application.
  • The assigned reviewers will develop written recommendations that will be returned to the PI at the conclusion of the review process.
  • Funding recommendations for Bridge Grants will be developed by the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in consultation with the Director of Research Development, who will consider both the recommendations of the reviewers and the availability of funding from the CURE Program.
  • Priority will be given to proposals that:
    • Are recommended as most highly meritorious by the SRC.
    • Support the acquisition of preliminary data that will strengthen larger external proposals which will further strengthen the research environment at the College of Medicine (R01 or R21).
    • Are submitted by tenured or tenure-track investigators who do not currently have substantial external funding and/or recent internal grant awards supported by CURE funds.
Awards Expand answer

These Bridge Grants will be supported in part by funds that the University will receive from the Commonwealth Universal Research Enrichment (CURE) Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Thus, the principal investigator of a Bridge Grant application recommended for funding will be invited to develop a strategic plan for final approval by the Department of Health prior to the issuance of a Bridge Grant award. If the proposed research involves human subjects, IRB approval must be obtained before the application can be forwarded to the Department of Health. At the time an application is prepared for submission to the Department of Health, principal investigators will need to submit other related documents, including the Penn State Internal Approval Form and the Department of Health Certification Form.

Evaluation Process for Funded Bridge Grants Expand answer

Principal investigators will be required to submit detailed annual reports in June of each year and a comprehensive final report in December following the completion of their project. Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will arrange an evaluation of the project by at least three independent experts in the field who will review the strategic plan, the annual reports and the final report and rate the project as outstanding, favorable or unfavorable. The principal investigator and the institution will then be asked to respond to each of the critiques and all this information will be posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website and made available to members of the Legislature.

It is therefore essential that principal investigators who accept support from the CURE Program make every effort to achieve the stated aims of their project and that they commit to complying with the detailed reporting requirements of this program.

In addition, principal investigators of funded Bridge Grants will be expected to serve on the College of Medicine Scientific Review Committee upon request.

Previous Awardees Expand answer

Previous recipients of funding from College of Medicine bridge grants are listed here.

For Details

Questions on this award should be directed to Research Development at 717-531-6949 or

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