IN-SPIRE Grant Program


In-SOD Pilot Research (IN-SPIRE) Projects
(Revised August 21, 2022)


The University of Maryland School of Dentistry is pleased to announce the third round of the   IN-SPIRE Grant competition for 2023-2024 to provide starter funds for projects specifically focused on exploratory, collaborative, interdisciplinary research that involve faculty from a minimum of two departments/divisions in the School of Dentistry as co-principal investigators (co-PIs). The awards aim to enable cross disciplinary projects that combine basic and clinical research as well as early stage investigators.

Deadline: 5 pm, November 1, 2022

Eligibility: at least 2 faculty-level co-applicants (= or > .5FTE) from 2 different departments/divisions. Priority will be given to projects that include a strong clinical/translational component.

Budget/Grant period: 12 months ($10K award); 12-24 months ($30K award)

Application: follow directions below.

Please submit completed application to Ms. Shereece Singleton at

Award winners will be announced in December 2022. The anticipated funding start date is in mid January, 2023.

A. UMB SOD IN-SPIRE Funding Opportunities


This Request for Proposals provides 12/24 months of funding for two types of grants: 12-month/$10K; and 12 to 24-month/$30K.

  •  $10K Grant

    Aims to stimulate collaborations among faculty of different depts/divisions of the School of Dentistry on exploratory projects. The application does not require preliminary data. This grant is meant to explore an idea with the hope of generating preliminary data to support an application for external funding.
  • $30K Grant

    Aims to support new or existing collaborations between School of Dentistry faculty that have high potential for future federal, foundation or industry funding. A planned application for external funding to continue/further develop the project must be clearly articulated in the proposal and is a key deliverable of this award.

B. Eligibility

  • Any 2 faculty members from different departments/divisions at the level of Research Associate, Clinical/Research/Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor from the School of Dentistry are eligible to apply as co-principal investigators for an IN-SPIRE Grant.
  • Faculty on the Instructor track are also encouraged to apply provided that a letter from their chair indicates support for the project and that appropriate resources (e.g., space) and time will be made available for the applicant to perform the research.
  • Individual co-PIs may submit only one proposal in response to this Request for Proposals, but can serve as a non-PI collaborator on other proposals.
  • Undergraduates, graduate students, dental and dental hygiene students, residents and postdoctoral fellows are not eligible to apply as principal investigators, but may be team members on a proposal.
  • Eligible submissions must include specific milestones, with clear outcome endpoints, and a realistic timeline for completion within the 12/24 months funding period.
  • IN-SPIRE awards are not meant to be considered supplements to existing grants. We will consider an application to be used in conjunction with an existing grant if it shows the IN-SPIRE project could successfully leverage a new award or renewal.
  • PIs with previously-funded IN-SPIRE awards may apply for another IN-SPIRE grant as a co-PI as long as all progress reports from previous awards are filed. In addition, the application will be evaluated rigorously based on the success of the previous grant period.
  • Research projects submitted to a previous IN-SPIRE call for proposals but not selected for an award may be re-submitted. An accompanying cover letter should note how the current proposal differs from the original submission and how the reviewers’ comments are addressed.

C. Regulatory Requirements/Approvals

  • Animal Studies

    All grants that involve animal studies must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to initiating any animal research activities. All other required institutional approvals (e.g. Biosafety registrations, Radiation Safety registration, etc.) must be obtained prior to initiating any research activities for which the certification/registration/approval is required. While advance approval by these bodies is not a prerequisite for submission of an IN-SPIRE application, award funds will not be released until all approvals have been obtained.
  • Human Subjects Research

    All grants with projects involving human subjects research must obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval as well as satisfy other institutional requirements (e.g. Biosafety registrations, CITI training and HIPAA certification of staff, Clinical Engineering clearance of devices, Radiation Safety registration, etc.) prior to the release of grant funds.

  • Conflicts of Interest

    At the time of application, before funds are awarded, and throughout the project period, it is the responsibility of the awardee and all members of the study team to report any financial or fiduciary interests that might appear to present a conflict of interest. These interests must be reported to the IN-SPIRE committee (ISC) and the Conflict of Interest Officer, UMB Research Integrity Office. The presence of a conflict of interest does not disqualify investigators from receiving this award but will require the review and management of this conflict by the Conflict of Interest Officer. The failure of any member of the study team to disclose all outside interests could result in the termination of this award and the disallowance of all study costs.

    More information about the UMB Conflict of Interest Policy, including examples of what constitutes an outside interest, may be found at the website (

D. Funding Restrictions

  • All grants
    • Allowable expenses: Research supplies, core services
    • Unallowable Expenses: salary support; travel and publication costs; administrative support; alterations or renovations of laboratory space; purchase of lab or office furniture; purchase of desktop or laptop computers, printers, copiers or scanners for personal use; purchase of periodicals or books; phone services and professional societies membership dues.
  • $30K grant only
    • Allowable expenses: New equipment or equipment rental; costs should be no more than 20% of the total budget
  • $10K grant only
    • Unallowable Expenses: Purchase or rental of equipment
  • Requests must be no more than $10,000 (1 yr) or $30,000 (12 to 24 months) in direct costs.
  • Indirect costs are not allowed for either type of grant.
  • Budget requests must be realistic and well-justified in the budget justification.
  • Cost extensions may be approved on a case-by-case basis with strong justification for use of remaining funds at the end of the award period.
  • Where applicable, necessary regulatory approvals (e.g., IACUC, IRB) must be obtained prior to disbursement of funds.
  • All funded projects will be required to submit a written progress report to the ISC due within 30 days of the end of the award.
  • For $30K awards, an intermediate progress report is required 30 days before the end of year 1 of the grant, i.e. December 15, 2023. Failure to submit progress reports in a timely manner can have significant implications for the project and may result in termination of funding.
  • Funds will be disbursed in one installment ($10K grant), or two installments ($30K grant), with the second installment contingent upon submission of a satisfactory progress report before the end of year 1.


Note-1: the IN-SPIRE application and review procedures parallel those of a NIH grant application in format and content. Consistent with NIH applications, all IN-SPIRE applications must strictly adhere to the guidelines and requirements listed below. Failure to comply with the guidelines may result in the application being rejected immediately without review.

Note-2: Presentation and Formatting

  • Font should be either Arial or Times New Roman and no smaller than 11 points.
  • Margins should be at least 0.5 inches on all sides.
  • The name of the co-PIs should appear in the top right-hand corner of each page.
  • Text should be single spaced.

 The applicants must provide:

A. Cover Page (limited to 1 page, signatures excluded)

Should include:

  • Title of IN-SPIRE Project;
  • Selected funding mechanism ($10K/12 months or $30K/12 to 24 months);
  • Names, academic ranks, and appointments of the designated co-PIs and other key collaborators and succinct description of their respective roles in the project;
  • Confirmed support for the project from the relevant department chairs/division heads, particularly as it pertains to laboratory space, use of equipment and clinical-off time necessary to performing the project;
  • The cover page should be signed by the co-PIs and the relevant department chairs/division heads.

B. Abstract (limited to 20 lines of text)

The abstract is not included in the page limits of the Research Plan. The abstract should not contain proprietary confidential information.

The abstract should include:

  • A brief background of the project
  • The significance of the proposed research
  • The unique features, new collaborations, and innovation of the project
  • The methodology (action steps) to be used
  • Expected results

C. Specific Aims

A NIH application-styled Specific Aims page is required. For instructions on how to write a Specific Aims page, please refer to

D. Research plan

The research plan is limited to 3 ($10K award) or 4 ($30K award) single-spaced pages (including figures and tables).

The research plan should accomplish the following: (not in any particular order)

  • orient the reviewers to understand the scientific basis for the project
  • highlight novel collaborations and highly innovative aspects of the project
  • identify hypotheses to be tested
  • indicate how the research will advance the field
  • succinctly describe methodology to convince reviewers of feasibility and validity. There is no need for preliminary data. However, applicants must demonstrate they have the expertise to perform the study. This could be in the personal statement in the biosketches.
  • identify specific milestones highlighting goals to be attained
  • provide a 12/24-month timeline of the project, presented as a chart, or a short paragraph
  • identify anticipated problems and possible solutions, where applicable
  • sex as a biological variable must be considered in the application.

E. Budget (1 page maximum)

  • The budget should be formatted as a table with 3 columns: the item to be purchased, the number of items and the cost per item.
  • The budget should include categories such as supplies, equipment and any other expenses required to complete the study. Categories in amounts less than $1,000 do not have to be itemized
  • If animals are to be purchased, please state the number and species
  • If a human cohort is used, please indicate the number of participants

F. Budget justification (1 page maximum)

  • A comprehensive budget justification is required and should describe how each budgeted item is to be used in the study
  • If a human cohort is used, please indicate how the funds will be used
  • The budget justification MUST include an explanation of other funding sources that will be used to cover costs required by the project but not covered by IN-SPIRE funds.

G. Biographical sketch information

  • A biographical sketch in NIH-format for the co-PI(s) (5-page limit). The form provided at MUST be used. Use the NIH format for due dates on/before January 24, 2022. A sample biosketch is also available at this site. The biosketch must include all 4 sections listed on the form: Education and Training; and the three lettered sections: A. Personal Statement; B. Positions and Honors; C. Contributions to Science. IN ADDITION, include one page with current and pending research support. Research Support must include source of funding, title of the award, role of the IN-SPIRE investigator (e.g., PI, co-PI, co-I, key personel, consultant) start and end dates of the award, and direct costs for the entire period of the award (typically 5 yrs for an R01) available to the IN-SPIRE PI. (Note that Scholastic Performance does not apply to IN-SPIRE applications)
  • Biosketches are not needed for support staff, though you may include a brief statement about the role of each support staff and their qualifications (1-page limit).

H. Reference list of up to 1 page (not included in the page limits). References are format-neutral, but must be discoverable on Pubmed and at a minimum indicate title, year, journal, issue and page numbers, and authors. For authors, please use et al after the 3rd author.

I. Regulatory Approvals (IRB and IACUC; state whether projects have been submitted for review or include the determination or approval letter).


  • Prepare each of the required sections and combine in a single ordered pdf.
  • Submit by e-mail to Ms. Shereece Singleton at


Priority will be given to clinical/translational projects. Other factors that will impact the overall score of an application include the feasibility of project completion within a 12/24-month period, the appropriateness of the budget and budget justification, the potential for collaborations between clinical investigators and basic researchers, and for collaborative research opportunities for early stage investigators, and the investigators’ plans for submitting a grant application for external funding.

Per the NIH model, applications will be evaluated and scored using the following 5 criteria:

Significance –

  1. Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
  2. How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?


  1. Are the PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project?
  2. Do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise?

Innovation - 

  1. Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? 

Approach - 

  1. Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
  2. Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
  3. Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?
  4. If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?
  5. Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects?

Environment - 

  1. Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?
  2. Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?


The ISC, composed of representatives evenly from clinical and research departments, forms the core of the review committee. As appropriate, external experts may be sought out to assist in the review of applications that are not sufficiently in the expertise area of the ISC. A major aim of the committee will be to ensure that the distribution of grant funds is well-balanced between projects with a stronger clinical component vs. those with a stronger basic research component.

Note that although the ISC expects every application to adhere to the guidelines, there may circumstances that strongly justify departing from the guidelines. If the applicants feel very strongly that they should be granted an ‘exception’ to the guidelines (e.g., a budget item, a SOD external co-PI), they should make the case in their cover letter. Every such request will be evaluated on its merit, for instance, a significantly increased probability of future funding associated with it.


All publications, abstracts, poster presentations, and grant applications resulting from research supported by the IN-SPIRE Program should cite the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Dentistry as a contributing source of support. Please include the following citation:

“We acknowledge the support of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry IN-SPIRE grant program”