LDI Small Grants Program

Encouraging Cross-School Collaborations

LDI Small Grants Program

Call for Proposals in Health Systems and Health Policy

The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) is requesting proposals for pilot research grants in the broad category of health systems and health policy research. We seek proposals that investigate emerging medical, economic, social, and policy issues that influence how health care is organized, financed, managed, and delivered. Funded proposals usually align with at least one of LDI’s priority areas: Aging, Access & Coverage, Vulnerable Populations, and Opioid Epidemic. Applications for the 2020 grants were due by November 11, 2019 (see below).

This Call for Proposals is intended to:

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

Pilot proposals that help support these goals will be given preference, as will proposals that align with at least one of LDI's priority research areas. These areas are: health care delivery for aging populations, care of vulnerable populations, health care access and coverage, and the opioid epidemic. Through funding from a generous gift to LDI, up to two pilots focusing on care of vulnerable populations will be funded.

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


The goal of LDI's Pilot Project Program is to provide seed funding for health systems and health policy research projects to help Senior Fellows and Fellows attract external support for large-scale studies. The budget for a Senior Fellow pilot project grant will be under $20,000. The budget for an Associate Fellow pilot project grant will be under $5,000. Proposals submitted should explain clearly how the proposed project will lead to additional external funding (specifying the funding source) or to a new program of research for the PI.


An LDI Senior Fellow or Associate Fellow must be the principal investigator for a proposal to be eligible for funding. In addition, LDI Associate Fellows applying as principal investigators must include a detailed mentorship plan. Penn faculty without LDI affiliations are permitted to be co-investigators on proposals.

Potential applicants may be early-career investigators seeking to establish independent directions, or established investigators pursuing new directions. Projects that have already received funding are not eligible under this solicitation. Proposals will be assessed against the following criteria:

  • Impact. The significance of the problem, and potential for new insights into methodological, ethical, and/or policy issues in health and health services.
  • Investigator(s). The qualifications of the PI and the background and experience of the investigator team, with particular value placed on cross-disciplinary/cross-school teams. For junior PIs, a clear mentorship plan should be delineated.
  • Methods. Appropriateness and methodological rigor of the scientific plan.
  • Themes. The project’s alignment with LDI’s priority areas ( health care for aging populations, care of vulnerable populations, health care access and coverage, and the opioid epidemic).
  • Future Potential. The likelihood the pilot project leads to new extramural grant funding or a new research program for the PI.

All investigators selected for LDI Pilot funding must eventually submit a final report to the Leonard Davis Institute at the end of the funding period. Investigators may also be requested to present their results at a research seminar at LDI and to serve as a reviewer of pilot grant applications in the future. Investigators must acknowledge LDI support on all publications and other products of the program and send copies of all products to LDI. Projects must be completed by December 31, 2020.


Funds may be used to support LDI Associate Fellow and project staff salaries and benefits, consultant fees, data management, supplies, and other direct expenses. Funds may not support faculty salaries, or travel to meetings to present work. Equipment purchases are discouraged but can be allowed with sufficient justification. No indirect costs are permitted. No internal service center fees tied to faculty effort are permitted unless independently justified.


LDI Senior Fellows and Associate Fellows applications 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 description of next steps (e.g., plans for external funding and/or a new research program)
    - timetable for project completion (e.g., Gantt chart)
  • LDI Associate Fellows must also include a detailed Mentorship Plan (limited to one page in addition to the 4-page Project Description).
  • Project Budget that clearly describes and justifies the specific items to be funded by the grant (not to exceed one page)
  • Principal Investigator’s (PI’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 (please limit these to essential information that is directly relevant to the proposal, e.g. a pilot survey form or an outside collaborator’s support letter)

Do not send this proposal to the University Office of Research Services before submitting it to LDI. As a condition of funding, PIs of all approved proposals must eventually submit a letter from ORS indicating that the project meets all regulatory standards, but these approvals need not be obtained prior to submitting the proposal to LDI.

The deadline for submitting applications for the 2020 round of grants was Monday, November 11, 2019. The awards were announced in early January, 2020

Applications should be submitted electronically here.

For questions, please contact Tali Ruskin at (215) 898-0973 or at truskin@wharton.upenn.edu.