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Active Studies

Emnet Gammada
Ann Crawford-Roberts

Research Scholarship & Awards

Pilot Study on Racial Disparities and Psychotic Mental Illness

The MIRECC will fund up to 3 proposals in the coming year that focus on racial disparities and the effects of racism on the functioning of individuals with psychotic mental illnesses.  

Pilot grants can be proposed by MIRECC fellows, psychiatry residents, or postdocs in affiliated VA or University sites.  Proposed projects should align with the VISN 22 MIRECC theme of improving functional outcomes of individuals with psychotic mental illness.  It is anticipated that most proposals will provide data that will support larger proposals to the VA or NIH. 

STATEMENT OF INTEREST  (Deadline: October 15, 2020)


Individuals who are interested in applying for an award should send a brief statement of their interest to Steve Marder, the MIRECC Director, at   Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their statement and proposal with the Key MIRECC Individuals at their respective site (see below).   


The Statement should not exceed one-half page, formatted with Arial/Times New Roman in at least 11 point font with half-inch margins. It should include:

1. Project title and MIRECC mentor

2. Summary of research question (not to exceed 50 words)

3. Project design/methods


The statement  will be scored on: 1) significance and alignment with this RFA and 2) design and methods. Applicants selected to submit a full proposal will be notified by October 22, 2020.


Key MIRECC Individuals:


Interested applicants should contact one of the following individuals:


San Diego:   

Greg Light, PhD

Lisa Eyler, PhD


Los Angeles:  

Steve Marder, MD

Sonya Gabrielian, MD


FULL PROPOSAL (December 18, 2020)


Proposal selection criteria: Pilot grants are evaluated according the following criteria:

1. The scientific quality of the proposal. 

2. The degree to which the proposal fits within the goals of the MIRECC.  

3. The professional strengths of the applicant. 

4. The degree to which the proposal is expected to advance the applicant’s career development.

5. The degree to which the project will contribute to a program of research that will address disparities and the effects of systemic and interpersonal racism in psychotic mental illnesses.


Initial approval by a MIRECC Unit or Core Director: Before developing a full proposal, applicants need to seek input and approval from the MIRECC Unit or Core Director most closely tied to their study. This Director will assist the applicant in preparation of the full proposal and its budget.  

Budgets should be $10,000 or less.  With the agreement of Unit leaders, proposals may also include the use of MIRECC staff and other resources (e.g., statistical consulting or database support from the Data Unit, equipment and supplies, patients recruited by the Treatment Unit, etc.).


Interactions with Data Core:

Applicants must: 

1. Join a planning teleconference and a virtual Pala Pilot grant workshop with members of the Data Core. Specific Aims for the pilot grant will be presented and discussed at the workshop, but the Aims are not expected to be in final form at that time.  

2. Arrange for an individual statistical review of the proposal with a member of the Data Core after the workshop and well in advance of the final submission.




The intention is to make the proposal preparation as simple as possible for both applicants and evaluators.  All submissions should follow the NIH guidelines for fonts and margins (Arial/Times New Roman at least 11 point font).  Submissions should be no longer than four (4) pages (including text, budget, references and tables).  Proposals that exceed four pages will be returned without review.  In addition, a biosketch should be included.


Proposal sections:

1. List project title, relevant Core or Unit, and MIRECC supervisors

2. Specific aims and hypotheses 

3. Background 

4. Research plan

5. Relationship to MIRECC’s core themes and to racial disparities and the effects of racism in psychosis

6. Investigator’s long-term plan, if study is funded

7. Budget (see budget guidelines)

8. References


Budget Guidelines 

  • Funding cannot be utilized for the purchase of any type of equipment or software.  However, existing MIRECC equipment is available for use by investigators and staff.
  • If you are including animals in your budget, please discuss with the appropriate Unit Chief. 
  • If your study requires subject payments discuss this issue with the relevant Unit or Core Director to determine how that will be accomplished.  
  • Funding cannot be utilized for travel or registration reimbursement.
  • Although funding will be allocated at time of approval (and upon receipt of IRB approval), processing of orders can take up to 30 days, depending on item requested.  
The Impact of Discrimination on the Human Immune System

The UCLA Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) under the direction of Drs. Michael R. Irwin, Director, and Steve Cole, Associate Director, announced a seed grant initiative for research on the Impact of Discrimination on the Human Immune System. The RFA called to analyze the psycho-neuro-immunologic pathways through which prejudice and discrimination contribute to disparities in physical and mental health as a function of race and ethnicity, sex and sexual identity, age, ability, and other aspects of social identity, with funding of up to $20,000 per year for two years. Of the many applications received, 3 outstanding proposals are awarded in 2021:


The Influence of Racial Discrimination on Gene Expression of Inflammatory and  Cellular Aging Pathways.” This study examines racial disparities in disease risk by identifying specific  types of genes that are activated in association with racial discrimination, and tests the potential of  psychological and social factors in reducing the effects of racial discrimination on cellular aging.


An examination of the psychological and immunological correlates of discrimination  in a community-based sample of Black Americans.” This study examines correlations  between brain inflammation and discrimination in a community sample of Black Americans to better  understand the effects of discrimination on mental health.


“A conserved transcriptional response to intersectional discrimination.” This study  examines a diverse sample of sexual minority men from the mSTUDY cohort in order to assess the impact  of intersectional—or combined forms of—discrimination on the conserved transcriptional response to  adversity, an immune gene expression pattern that may be a useful biomarker outcome for psychosocial  interventions addressing adverse social experiences.  


The Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Semel Institute has an over two-decade  recordof supporting innovative and impactful research in psychoneuroimmunology, and building  collaborative bridges across disciplines and department at UCLA. The missions of the Cousins Center  for Psychoneuroimmunology, and its affiliated Mindful Awareness Research Center, can be found at and partial listing of prior seed grants can be found at awarded-seed-grants-ucla-faculty

Anti-Racism Seed Grant