The RDAR Center is dedicated to understanding the causes and impacts of rural drug addiction and its related challenges and harms. The RDAR Center’s long-term research mission is to better understand and mitigate rural drug addiction and its personal and social harms by linking pre-clinical studies to field-based behavioral, neural, social, and clinical research. Center-sponsored projects will range from the microscopic world of the synapse in human biology to the social and geographical environments in which drug use interventions take place, exploring rural drug addiction from synapse to society.

To support Center projects, the RDAR Center is founding the Longitudinal Networks Core Facility. The LNC will recruit and retain a cohort of rural drug users (the Rural Health Cohort) from which RDAR Center projects will regularly collect data. This will lay the groundwork for long-term Center infrastructure that allows RDAR Center researchers to lead efforts to address specific challenges raised by drug addiction in rural settings and develop appropriate interventions for those settings. The Rural Health Cohort (RHC) will provide a five-year longitudinal surveillance of 600 participants. The RHC will begin by screening for active drug use and recruitment will take place via peer referral. The RHC will also utilize mobile technology to capture responsive Ecological Momentary Assessment (rEMA data with the Open Dynamic Interaction Network (ODIN) cellphone software. ODIN will track the social network interactions of RHC participants and allow investigators to ask questions of study participants during the course of their day regarding both internal thoughts and emotions, and external activities, locations and relationships.

The goal of the RDAR Center Pilot Program is to provide support to emerging scholars and promising research projects to acquire preliminary data necessary to apply for and obtain external federal funding. Successful applicants will receive up to $50,000 in direct costs for 1-2 year projects, as well as access to resources of the Center for professional development and project support. Budget requests are limited to $25,000 in direct costs per year.

***If you are interested in referencing past RDAR Center Pilot RFAs, please see here.***

Relevant Areas of Research:

This mechanism aims to support innovative, collaborative research that either uses the resources of LNC/RHC or engages in pre-clinical research with clear implications for human clinical application on the issue of rural addiction. Fiscal Year 2020-2021 preference areas have been identified to be:

  • Exploring the basic science of addiction that could inform future research with rural populations;
  • Exploring contemporary and historical narratives of community and cultural experiences related to rural drug use and addiction. This area may include the creative representation of voices and experiences;
  • Extending the capability of LNC Facility technologies;
  • Extracting scientific knowledge from longitudinal and social network data collected from the RHC Study;
  • Advancing the data-analytic capacity of the LNC Facility;
  • Employing LNC Facility technologies in addiction-related research;
  • Contributing to the understanding of drug addiction prevention and/or intervention with a focus on rural approaches.

Priority will be given to those projects most likely to lead to successful extramural funding. In addition, projects that make an impact on addiction-related treatment access, underrepresented minority and/or rural populations, and can introduce or evaluate new tools or technologies useful in addiction recovery—are of high interest. For questions on if your research would qualify for Center support, please contact Devan Crawford, A PDF file with the below instructions can be downloaded here.

How to Apply

Step 1

  • Letter of Intent Submission
  • Letter of Intent Review

If selected, Step 2

  • Full Application Submission
  • Full Application Review

Letter of Intent Submission

A letter of intent (LOI) is required prior to submission of the pilot grant application. Letters of intent should use standard NIH formatting requirements (½ inch margins, Arial size 11-point font). The letter of intent should be submitted as a PDF file and sent by email to Devan Crawford, Letters must be received by 5pm CDT on September 1, 2020. Late letters will not be accepted.

  • Two-Page LOI Document (including the following headings):
    • Study Title
    • Project Summary, including specific aims
    • PI and Research Team Expertise and Collaborative History
    • Significance and Scientific Premise
    • General Approach
    • Impact as related to the RDAR Center's long-term research mission (see above)
  • References (not included in 2-page count)
Letter of Intent Review:

Letters will be reviewed by the RDAR Center Internal Mentoring and Advisory Committee, a body of scholars with representation across clinical, translational, bench, and social sciences. Letters will be evaluated for their significance and scientific merit. Highest priority will be given to projects aligning with identified preference areas, those demonstrating scientific rigor, and those most likely to lead to successful extramural funding. Those invited to submit full applications will be notified by September 15, 2020. Full applications will be due November 1, 2020. The RFA and requirements for invitees are detailed below. Please email your LOI and NIH biosketch as a combined PDF document to Devan Crawford at or 402-472-2243.

Full Application Submission Process

Only investigators who have submitted the required letter of intent and have been invited to submit a full proposal are eligible. Second year funding is contingent upon favorable review by the RDAR Center Leadership Team concerning project progress; scientific integrity; rigor of project; potential for Center synergy; and potential for successful external funding. Full applications should use standard NIH formatting requirements (½ inch margins, Arial size 11-point font). The full application should be submitted as a PDF file and sent by email to Applications must be received by 5pm CST on November 1, 2020. Late applications will not be accepted.

The Full Application must include the following components:

  1. NIH Biosketch, with personal statement related to your vision for center involvement
  2. A small grant R03 style proposal including:
    • NIH Face Page (
    • Project Summary (limited to 30 lines of text, or less)
    • Specific Aims (1 page)
    • Research Plan: (5 pages)
      • Significance
      • Innovation
      • Approach
      • Broader Impacts (as related to the RDAR Center’s mission)
    • References (not part of the page limits)
  3. Budget (use attached budget template)
  4. Budget Justification
  5. Protection of Human Subjects Section (if applicable)
  6. Inclusion of Women & Minorities and Inclusion of Children (if applicable)
  7. Vertebrate Animals Section (if applicable)
Full Application Review:

The Internal Mentoring and Advisory Committee (IMAC) will review all applications, using the NIH review criteria (Significance, Investigator(s), Innovation, Approach, Environment), modified as appropriate for this Pilot Grant Program. Three reviewers will provide critiques on each application. The Overall Score will also include considerations, including topic foci; relevance to the RDAR Center mission; inclusion of other IDeA institutions and COBRE facilities; and the potential for impacting addiction and related harms. The IMAC will suggest ranking to the RDAR Center Leadership Team. The Leadership Team will make recommendations for funding, which will be forwarded to the External Advisory Committee (EAC) for final approval. IMAC members cannot review applications from their departments or receive pilot grants. Finalists will be notified by December 1st and will be required to obtain all regulatory approvals prior to EAC review.

Special Considerations, Institutional Approvals, and Reporting

Budget Restrictions:

Faculty effort is not allowed, and faculty salary support is not allowed. Student/post-doctoral stipend is not allowed but student/doctoral salary/wages are permissible. Wages for technical personnel are permissible. Equipment (>$5,000 per item) is not allowed. Renovation and/or honorariums are not allowed. Travel is limited to research-related tasks only (e.g., no conference travel). Travel to locations outside of the US, Puerto Rico, and Canada is not allowed. Provided all regulatory approvals (IRB, IACUC, NIGMS) have been obtained, funding will likely be made available to your institution on March 1, 2021.

Indirect Costs (F&A):

Indirect costs associated with pilot grants will be awarded to the investigator’s institution for NIH-funded pilots. Please work with your Sponsored Programs Office to ensure that your proposed budget includes your institution’s correct F&A rate. Additional pilot funds may be contributed by partner institutions, rather than NIH, and these institutionally designated awards will not include indirect costs.

Clinical Trials:

If your project meets the NIH definition of a clinical trial, you must check “Yes” when answering the clinical trial question on the NIH face page. If you answer “YES” to all four questions below, your project is considered a clinical trial.

  • Does the study involve human participants?
  • Are the participants prospectively assigned to an intervention?
  • Is the study designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants?
  • Is the effect being evaluated as a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome?

For additional information, visit:

Regulatory Approvals:

If your project includes human subjects or vertebrate animals, your institutional IRB or IACUC (respectively) approval is required before funds can be released. Protocols must be submitted to IRB for approval within 30 days of notification of funding and final approval sent to us within 90 days.

Additional Requirements:

Pilot project grant recipients must participate in Center Enhancement and Programmatic Activities. Pilot recipients will be required to provide Twice Annual Project Updates at Monthly Center Meetings. Pilot recipients must submit written annual progress reports [standard NIH - RPPR Sec 6 A-H]

Eligibility and Eligible Institutions:

Current full-time faculty at a participating institution are eligible to apply. Participating institutions include the University of Nebraska at Kearney, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Individuals must be eligible to apply for NIH funds (i.e. US citizen or a permanent resident). Individuals not currently receiving funds from another RDAR Center mechanism are eligible to apply.