LDI Small Grants Program

Encouraging Cross-School Collaborations

LDI Small Grants Program

Call for Proposals in Population Health, Health Care Delivery, and Health Policy 

Priority Topic: Addressing Effects of Racism on Health

**Please note: The application period has ended. See the 2021 pilot grants announcement here.**

The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) is requesting proposals for pilot research grants in population health, health care delivery, and health policy research. This year, we seek in particular proposals that investigate and address the effects of racism on health.

LDI is partnering on this call for proposals with a new initiative at Penn, Bold Solutions: Dismantle Racism. Advance Health. Bold Solutions focuses on accelerating the science of structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism, implementing evidence-based interventions to eliminate racism, advancing antiracist health care delivery models and practices that impact health system operations, and partnering with Black communities to improve health. 

Proposals on Addressing the Effects of Structural, Institutional, and Interpersonal Racism on Health

The past year has laid bare the faults in our society. Structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism have created systems that all too often fail the health and wellbeing of Black people and people of color and those who are economically and socially disadvantaged. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the pervasiveness of structural racism and its effects on health. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others sparked a reckoning with the ongoing and deeply entrenched structural racism.

Addressing these long-standing inequities requires action in many elements of society including the entire health care system encompassing the financing and delivery of health care services, recruitment and training of health professionals, and medical research. Systems outside of health care are also clearly interwoven with the impact of racism on health and include the criminal justice system, education, neighborhood environments, and housing. LDI and Bold Solutions are committed to advancing the science of ending racism and achieving health equity.

LDI is therefore prioritizing research proposals that accelerate the science of structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism and align with Bold Solutions’ focus. We are interested in research proposals that apply rigorous and solution-oriented science to dismantle racism and achieve health equity rather than documenting disparities, including (but not limited to) the following: 

  • How racism translates into poor health and health care
  • How structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism in all the systems listed above can be dismantled 
  • How to foster antiracism in individuals and institutions in health care 
  • How systems and policies outside of health care, including those named above, impact the health of Black communities 
  • How to change health care systems to address racism
  • How to influence national and local health policies that currently disadvantage Black and other minority populations
  • How to recruit, train, and retain a diverse and antiracist health care workforce, including building a pipeline of minority students and increasing representation of Black faculty, staff, and administration at all levels of leadership
  • How to design health care financing systems to eliminate segregation of clinical care and restrictions on access

Proposals on Emerging Issues in Population Health, Health Care Delivery, and Health Policy

LDI will also consider proposals related to other important emerging issues in population health, health care delivery, and health policy. Funded proposals usually align with at least one of LDI’s priority areas: Access and Coverage for Health Care, Care for Vulnerable Populations, Improving Care for Older Adults, and Opioid Epidemic. 


1. Stimulate innovative research at Penn
2. Encourage new collaborations between investigators of different backgrounds and disciplines
3. Promote cross-school collaborations
4. Lead to new extramural grant funding or a new research program for the PI

An archive of prior LDI Small Grant awards can be accessed here.


Proposals must be led by an LDI Senior or Associate Fellow. LDI Associate Fellows applying as principal investigators must include a detailed mentorship plan by an LDI Senior Fellow. Applicants may be early-career investigators seeking to establish independent directions, or established investigators pursuing new directions. Penn faculty without LDI affiliations are permitted to be co-investigators on proposals. 


LDI will prioritize meritorious proposals focused on the study of structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism on health. Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Impact. The significance of the problem, and potential for new insights into issues in health and health services.
  • Investigator(s) and Team. The qualifications of the PI and the background and experience of the investigator team. Priority will be given to cross-disciplinary or cross-school teams, and to teams that represent those impacted by the particular aspects of racism being studied
  • Methods. Methodological rigor and appropriateness of the scientific plan.
  • Themes. Priority will be given to proposals focused on the prevention and effects of structural racism on health. Projects focused on LDI’s other priority areas (health care for aging populations, care of vulnerable populations, health care access and coverage, and the opioid epidemic) will also be considered.
  • Future Potential. The likelihood the pilot project leads to new extramural grant funding or a new research program for the PI.
  • Awarded projects are expected to start in January 2021 and must be completed within one year. 
  • After notice of award and as a condition of funding, PIs must submit a letter from Penn’s IRB indicating approval or exemption.
  • All awardees will be required to submit a final report to LDI by January 1, 2022. 
  • Investigators must acknowledge LDI support on all publications and other products of the program.  
  • Investigators may be asked to present their results at an LDI seminar and to serve as a reviewer of pilot grant applications in the future.


LDI Senior and Associate Fellows should complete the online application form which includes a combined PDF electronic version of the following proposal elements:

  • Project Abstract (not to exceed 250 words)
  • Project Description (up to four pages, single-spaced, 11-point font minimum) which contains the following information:
    • Statement of the project’s specific aims, significance, and impact
    • Description of the research plan and methodologies to be employed
    • Clear discussion of how the data will be collected and how key variables will be measured and analyzed
    • Clear explanation of how the proposed project will lead to additional external funding (specifying the funding source) or to a new program of research for the PI.
    • Timetable for project completion (e.g., Gantt chart)
  • Mentorship Plan (up to 1 page). LDI Associate Fellows must also include a detailed plan for mentorship from a Senior Fellow.
  • Project Budget
    • Proposals must include an itemized budget of up to $20,000 for Senior Fellows and up to $5,000 for Associate Fellows.
    • An accompanying budget justification should clearly describe and justify the specific items to be funded by the grant.
    • The budget may include project staff salaries and benefits, consultant fees, data management, supplies, and other direct expenses. Budgets may not include faculty or trainee salaries, travel to meetings to present work, equipment, or indirect costs. Internal service center fees tied to faculty effort are not permitted unless independently justified.
  • Principal Investigator’s Biosketch with selected relevant publications, current research support, and research support received during the past three years (follow current NIH biosketch guidelines)
  • Other Pending or Funded Grant Proposals for the same or similar project
  • Co-Investigators’ abbreviated Biosketch(es) with selected relevant publications (not to exceed two pages)
  • Appendices, limited to essential information that is directly relevant to the proposal, e.g. a pilot survey form or an outside collaborator’s support letter

For questions, please email us at PennLDI-info@wharton.upenn.edu