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  • We're on a mission...

    The Center for Health Disparities Research at the Medical University of South Carolina is focused on eliminating racial/ethnic, socioeconomic and rural/urban disparities in health.

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    through excellence in all phases of our work and continually improving our programs and practices based on new knowledge.

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    to communities through development of health interventions that are effective and practical in the real world.

HEROIC Pilot Study Funding

HEROIC Pilot Study Funding - Call for Proposals

The VA Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC), a Center of Innovation (COIN) in Charleston, accepts proposals for funding pilot studies for investigators to collect preliminary data, set foundations and work out logistical challenges in preparation for submitting VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) grant applications.

These projects will be used to support principal investigators in Charleston as they develop partnerships through projects conducted at both Charleston and other sites in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN). Locally initiated pilot projects will be reviewed by the Center Executive Committee, comprised of center senior investigators, and will be aligned with the center mission (health equity and access/rural health) andHSR&D priority areas.

The main contact for pilot study proposals is HEROIC Research Health Scientist Rebekah Walker, PhD, at

Currently, proposals are being solicited that satisfy one or more of the following requirements:

  • Develop preliminary data required by grant reviewers to support resubmission to HSR&D.
  • Collect pilot data necessary to prepare and submit a competitive HSR&D grant application.
  • Facilitate collaborative partnerships within VISN 7 in support of a competitive HSR&D multi-site application.

Awards - HEROIC may make one or more awards each cycle as determined by available financial resources and expected impact of pilot funding applications received. Funding is limited and the process is competitive. Budgets should be itemized and well justified. In addition, the application should be clear about how pilot data will be used toward an HSR&D application. Awards may be up to $15,000, but we anticipate the average award to be considerably smaller. Under exceptional circumstances, applications may be submitted for larger amounts, but permission to do so must be obtained from the Center Executive Committee.

Eligibility - All awardees must have an affiliation with the HEROIC COIN, though they need not be core investigators. Projects cannot require oversight by Central Office (i.e., clinical trial registration with, data safety monitoring board (DSMB) or OMB survey review). For pilot projects implemented at multiple sites, funds must be administered by a Charleston PI, who will work at VA facilities within VISN 7 who have limited support for health services research (Augusta VAMC, Columbia VAMC, Atlanta VAMC, Birmingham VAMC, and Tuscaloosa VAMC).

Application - Three-page concept paper using HEROIC template should be submitted by the deadline, along with an itemized budget. Funds cannot be used for non-VA salary, travel or online publications, but can be used to purchase data, provide participant incentives, and pay consultant fees for activities such as data transcription. Equipment should not be included unless HEROIC does not have shared equipment that meets the needs of the project. COIN-supported staff will provide assistance to PIs in the execution of funded pilot projects as appropriate. For this reason, salary should not be included unless specific expertise is needed that is not already available via COIN supported staff.

Examples of Selected Projects:

Nichole Tanner - The objectives of this study are to:
a) Identify the best method with which to approach an eligible high-risk Veteran to discuss and offer lung cancer screening.
b) Among those eligible Veterans who refuse lung cancer screening, understand and identify barriers to screening.
c) Identify barriers and facilitators among primary care providers (PCPs) to offering lung cancer screening to high-risk Veterans. Integrate these findings to develop interventions that promote patient-centered decision making in lung cancer screening.

By examining and developing methods to facilitate acceptance of lung cancer screening and identifying barriers to screening in high risk Veterans, the VA may better understand the best way to recruit eligible Veterans to undergo recommended LC screening. Identification of barriers to screening may contribute to future interventions that limit these barriers and increase the number of eligible Veterans screened for LC.


Neal Axon - The objectives of this study are to:
a) Characterize rural Veterans’ perceptions of evolving VA access initiatives.
b) Determine Veterans’ knowledge of and preferences for future care access based on Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability (VACA) Act .
c) Identify barriers and facilitators for implementation of this new access initiative. This pilot study will provide critical pilot data concerning the developing Veterans Choice Program and its likely impacts on access to care, satisfaction, health care costs, and health outcomes for rural Veterans affected by this program.

Contact Us

Rutledge Tower
135 Rutledge Ave., Room 280
Charleston, SC 29425-5930
Phone: 843-792-0906
Fax: 843-876-1201