Applications Review Criteria

Similar to the NIH process, each proposal is carefully reviewed by at least two independent evaluators for scientific merit based on translational focus and significance. The following criteria are taken into consideration:


  • Overall Impact Score - Reviewers should provide their assessment of the likelihood that the proposed career development and research plan will enhance the candidate’s potential for a productive, independent scientific research career in a health-related field, taking into consideration the criteria below in determining the overall impact score.
  • Career Dev Plan/Career Goals & Objectives - What is the likelihood that the plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate and lead to a scientific research career and/or scientific independence? Are the candidate’s prior training and research experience appropriate for this award?
  • Research Proposal - Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? Are the proposed research question, design, and methodology of significant scientific and technical merit? Has the candidate presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Is the research plan of high quality, and does it have potential for advancing the field of study? Is the scientific and technical merit of the proposed research plan of significance? Will the proposed research lead to an independent line of research for the candidate?
  • Mentors and Mentoring Plan - At least 2 mentors are required. Primary and Secondary mentors must be from CTSC partner institutions. Additional mentors may be from any institution. Are the qualifications of the mentor(s) in the area of the proposed research appropriate? Does the mentor(s) adequately address the candidate’s potential and his/her strengths and areas needing improvement? Is there adequate description of the mentor’s proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate? Is there evidence of the mentors’ previous experience? Is there evidence of the mentors’ current research productivity and peer-reviewed support? Is there evidence of the mentors’ active/pending research funding? Do the letters from mentors document their willingness to participate in the award program? Is the proposed Mentoring plan likely to contribute substantially to the scientific and professional development of the candidate, and facilitate his/her successful transition to independence? (see Instructions for Mentoring Plan)
  • Environment & Departmental CommitmentIs there a strong statement of commitment by the department to the levels of effort required to devote directly to the research and career development activities described in the application? Is the departmental commitment to the career development of the candidate appropriately strong? Is the environment for scientific and professional development of the candidate of high quality? Is there assurance that the department intends the candidate to be an integral part of its research program as an independent investigator?
  • The following areas receive additional priorities for their special relevance to the CTSC mission:
    • Translational and Clinical Research Focus - Projects aimed at improving research methods and/or incubating novel technologies to accelerate multidisciplinary clinical and translational research.
    • Pre-clinical studies should have near-term potential to translate into patient- oriented research, clinical trials (phases I or II) are permitted.
    • Emphasis is placed on:
      • Drug discovery, targeted therapeutics, biomarker or device development and novel technologies.
      • Comparative effectiveness and health disparities research - Projects focusing on health needs of LGBTI and underserved populations and/ or directly impacting health outcomes in the community.
      • Pediatric and Women’s Health Studies
      • Life course studies of disease
      • Studies incorporating Biostatistical Methodology and Design

Questions? See CTSC FAQs, or email