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Research Pilot Project Program

    The Utah Center for the Promotion of Work Equity (U-POWER) offers two grant opportunities: one dedicated to community-initiated projects relevant to Total Worker Health® and a research pilot project program that provides seed money (between $5,000-$15,000) to support innovative research from any discipline that explores the role of power in defining conditions of work that create inequity in work and affect the safety, health, and well-being of workers and communities.

    U-POWER also seeks to engage interested stakeholders in the community of practice, and recipients of the RPPP should plan to participate in at least two center activities (including journal clubs, seminars, informal discussion groups, etc.) over the 12-month period of performance.

    Research Pilot Project Program (RPPP) proposals are due by March 1, 2023. Download the RFP here and see detailed application instructions here. Applications should be sent in Microsoft Word or PDF format to 

    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health defines TWH as “policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being.” TWH prioritizes organizational approaches to advancing worker well-being across multiple domains, including the following:

    • Physical and psychosocial characteristics of the workplace 
    • Employment terms, patterns, and organization
    • Public policies regarding work, communities, and the social safety net
    • Workforce demographics 

    U-POWER is a community of practice whose members recognize the role of power in the social determinants of health and the work conditions that create and sustain inequity and ill health among workers. Power is the ability to make what one wants to happen and is manifested through work conditions, including the physical conditions in a worksite, nature of communications, job tasks and activities, employment terms, relationships between workers and overseeing parties, and the social safety net. Power creates and sustains vulnerable workers, precarious employment, and high-risk work, and determines whether workers have access to the conditions necessary for TWH. 

    The RPPP seeks to support innovative research from any discipline that explores the role of power in defining conditions of work that create inequity in work and affect the safety, health, and well-being of workers and communities. 

    Prospective PIs applying to the U-POWER RPPP can be graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, or faculty at the University of Utah and other institutions of higher education in Region 8 (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana) or the neighboring state of Nevada.

    Applicants who are not students or employees of an institution of higher education may apply using a multiple PI (mPI) model, where the mPI is a faculty member at an institution of higher education in Region 8 or Nevada. Investigators may be from any disciplinary background.

    Priority will be given to applications that include new interdisciplinary teams, interdisciplinary approaches, junior investigators, or investigators from under-represented groups. 

    Applications must be submitted by March 1, 2023 for funding beginning May 2023. Applicants do not need to be affiliated with the University of Utah to apply. Please visit this page for application forms and templates. Questions should be directed to Dr. Camie Schaefer at or 801-310-0668.

    1. Cover page. The cover page is a fillable PDF that asks for contact information for the PI and an administrator, information related to additional review criteria (junior investigator, U-POWER priorities, inter-disciplinary team or perspectives, research-to-translation continuum) or for evaluation of the RPPP program (membership in underrepresented group, discipline, institution)
    2. Specific Aims. The specific aims should succinctly (1 page) outline the context and rationale of the proposed project, list clear and achievable specific aims, and explain the overall impact of the proposed study.
    3. Research Strategy. The research strategy should be no more than 6 pages and should include three sections:

      1. Significance. This section should utilize the Burden, Need, Impact framework of NIOSH and should describe both how the proposed study responds to NIOSH priorities for TWH and aligns with the U-POWER mission, theme, and values.
      2. Innovation. Explain how your project is innovative (e.g. explores new scientific avenues, has a novel hypothesis, will create new knowledge, or how your project can refine, improve, or propose a new application of an existing concept or measure) 
      3. Approach. The research strategy should include a timeline and should consider rigor and reproducibility as defined by NIH. Additionally, this section should include an Extramural Funding Plan that identifies specific program announcements and agency priorities along with a timeline of anticipated application.
    4. Biosketch. Modified short biosketches (2 pages each) should be provided in the NIH format for PI and Key Personnel, including the mentor (if applicable).
    5. Budget and Budget Justification.  An optional template has been provided. Regardless of format, the budget and justification should describe expenses in the following categories: i) personnel (students only), ii) equipment, iii) travel, iv) supplies and other direct costs, and v) indirect costs. No faculty or staff salary may be included in the budget.
    6. Protection for Human Subjects. If the study involves human subjects, applicants must either identify the category for exception under 45 CFR Part 46 or justify the involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk. The applicant must address inclusion of women, minorities, and individuals across the lifespan. Applicants are encouraged to use the Single IRB process if multiple institutions are involved in the study. If the study involves animals or biohazards, applicants must provide appropriate justifications.
    7. Mentorship Plan. If the PI is a graduate student or post-doctoral scholar, the mentor should provide a signed letter that describes how they will provide mentorship for the PI. If the PI is not affiliated with an institution of higher education, the mPI should provide a signed letter that describes how they will engage with and mentor the PI.


    All investigators, but particularly junior investigators and graduate students, are encouraged to request support from U-POWER staff and investigators before submitting a pilot project application. Interested applicants should contact Dr. Camie Schaefer, Associate Director of U-POWER (; 801-310-0668) for more information on any of the following programs:

    • Writing assistance and pre-submission review
    • Scientific concept review 
    • Grant-related professional development activities (e.g. mock peer reviews and pre-submission application critiques)
    • Assistance with finding a community partner for collaboration 
    • Assistance with identifying a mentor

    Interested applicants are encouraged to reach out for assistance as soon as possible, but at least two weeks before the application due date. Recipients of assistance are not obligated to submit a final application, nor are they guaranteed successful funding. 

    The RPPP review committee is composed of invited individuals with appropriate expertise, including junior and senior investigators and investigators with U-POWER and other Centers for Excellence in TWH. Reviewers will utilize the NIH scoring criteria (Significance, Investigator(s), Innovation, Approach, and Environment) and consider additional review criteria for this announcement (new interdisciplinary teams, interdisciplinary approaches, junior investigators, investigators from underrepresented groups, and alignment with U-POWER themes) to assign an Overall Impact score. Each application will be reviewed by 2-3 reviewers. Following review, applicants will receive a packet containing the award decision, a summary of the review discussion, overall score, and written peer reviews.