The Pilot Project Program (PPP) is important for fostering the development of clinical, translational, and community-engaged researchers and for increasing the number of underrepresented minorities (URM) in research. Promoting the development of independent URM investigators in translational research will help improve the health of underserved populations since these investigators will have the sensitivity and empathy for understanding their needs and cultural perspectives.

The PPP will facilitate the URM investigators’ access to resources, mentorship, and technology to help them transition successfully into independent researchers. The Core promotes clinical and translational research in selected high impact research areas in consultation with the Alliance Steering Committee and the Community Engagement and Outreach Core (CoE), and the Community Health & Research Council. PPP Core collaborates with the Professional Development Core (PDC) to provide support and training in the development and submission of scientific proposals, including the design of career development plans and mentorship schemes for early career investigators.

  • Specific Aim 1. Advance the development of innovative and interdisciplinary collaborative clinical and translational research on health conditions affecting the Hispanic population through the support of junior faculty (early stage and new investigators) and established investigators via pilot projects.
  • Specific Aim 2. Promote community engagement translational research pilot projects for the studies of community health.
  • Specific Aim 3. Foster the development of competitive researchers in clinical and translational research by providing, with the PDC, the needed skills through a tailor-made career development plan.

PPP has supported pilot projects for the last 8 years as part of the Puerto Rico Clinical Translational Research Consortium (PR-CTRC), predecessor of the Alliance.  The most important accomplishments of the PPP during this period include:

By promoting the development of new knowledge and methodologies the Clinical and Translational PPP supports the development of underrepresented minority scientists conducting translational and clinical research. The PPP promotes the translation of basic science knowledge to the bedside or the community and supports the investigators’ efforts to gain a better understanding of the health disparities that are present in the Puerto Rican and Latino populations. Please see the Alliance Translational Research Approach.


A Program Director / Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who has completed their terminal research degree or post-graduate clinical training, whichever date is later, within the past 10 years and who has not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.


An investigator who has not previously competed successfully for substantial, independent funding from NIH.

Exclusions: all Fellowships (F awards), all individual and institutional career awards (K awards), G07, G08, G11, G13, G20, L30, L32, L40, L50, L60, R00, R03, R13, R15, R21, R25, R34, R36, R41, R43, R55, R56, R90, RL5, RL9, S10, S15, S21, S22, SC2, SC3, T32, T34, T35, T90, D43, and X01. For more information regarding these definitions please click here.

Our Services

The PPP of the Alliance provides the infrastructure, collaborations, and technology for clinical and translational research in health conditions affecting the Puerto Rican (PR) Hispanic population.

The PPP of the Alliance provides the infrastructure, collaborations, and technology for clinical and translational research in health diseases affecting the Puerto Rican (PR) Hispanic.

The PPP provides:

  • Pilot project funding for one or up to two years
  • Participation at the Scientific Annual Conference and opportunity to compete for the Productivity Award
  • Discussions for mentors regarding mentoring styles and problems
  • Town Hall Meetings for the dissemination of scientific information to the community
  • Support for Community Engagement Research
  • Support to unfunded pilot project proposals to improve their competitiveness during resubmission
  • Mock study review sessions
  • Let Me Help your Project

The PPP addresses the objectives of the IDeA-CTR in sustaining the collaboration and coordination of clinical and translational research and addressing health conditions prevalently affecting the medically underserved Hispanic population in Puerto Rico (PR).

The PPP helps implement the Alliance objective to integrate basic, clinical, and translational research among the Alliance partners, collaborating partners, and IDeA state organizations.

The Let Me Help Your Project Program was established to offer support to ongoing IRB/IACUC approved projects that have encountered unexpected difficulties or need further experiments for competitiveness in submitting an R award.


The purpose of this activity is to provide support for limited additional expenses to investigators that are currently funded and active in an area with potential application to the study of health disparities. By providing this additional mechanism we are aiming to help active and productive investigators in more advanced stages of their careers than those supported by the pilot project program, and in that way promote and facilitate the study of health disparities.

The requirements for this supplement program are as follows:

  • The principal Investigator must have an active and funded research project
  • The funded project must be in area of emphasis of the health disparities or with potential applicability to the study of health disparities
  • Funds should be requested for expenses not contemplated in the original budget of their funded study
  • The PI must be a faculty member of one of the three consortium institutions
  • Funds will be limited to research expenses and cannot be used to support travel, salary or administrative costs

Request “Let me Help your Project” Here

In order to process your request, we need:

  • Letter of request, budget, and budget justification
  • NOA of active funded research project
  • Bio sketch – PI (if we have yours on our database, no need to re-send)

If you need additional information, please contact Ms. Antonia L Ortiz, Program Coordinator

InvestigatorInstitutionHealth Disparity AreaProject TitleAward Year
Coralee Pérez Pedrogo, PhD
UPR-Medical Science CampusHIVReducing self-stigma in persons with HIV and drug use disorders in Primary Health Care Settings2018-2019
Demetrio Sierra, PhD
UPR-Medical Science CampusNeuroscienceEffects of concussion on avoidance reward conflict in rodents2018-2019
Yancy Ferrer-Acosta, PhD

Universidad Central del CaribeCancerFolate receptor-assisted targeting of non-small cell lung carcinoma with ligand-decorated nanoparticles2018-2019
Guillermo Armaiz-Peña, PhD

Ponce Health Sciences UniversityCancerRole of adrenergic activated tumor associated macrophages in breast cancer progression2017-2018
Benjamin Bolaños, PhD

UPR-Medical Science CampusAsthmaSeasonal outdoor aeroallergens as risks factors for triggering children's asthma in low income communities in Puerto Rico2017-2018
Amaya Miquelajauregui-Graf, PhD

UPR-Medical Science Campus, Neurobiology InstituteNeuroscienceDevelopmental characteristics of brain activity signals in infants at high risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Puerto Rico2017-2018
Yelitza Ruiz, MD

Universidad Central del CaribeCancerACT to improve sexual health in breast cancer patients with adjuvant therapy2016-17
Mary Helen Mays, PhD

UPR-Medical Science CampusHealth LiteracyMejorando la Salud a traves de la Tecnologfa (Improving Health through Technology)2016-17
Janaina M. Alves, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Universidad Central del CaribeHIVUtility of LIF to protect against HIV-1 associated neurocognitive disorders2015-2016 (Translational Health Disparity Investigator Award)
Nelson D. Cruz Bermudez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
UPR-Rio PiedrasNeurosciencesNeurocognitive mechanisms involved in the processing of attentional biases for negative information in Latino Adolescents2015-2016 (Translational Health Disparity Investigator Award)
Giovanni Tirado Santiago, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
UPR-Rio PiedrasNeurosciencesNeurocognitive mechanisms involved in the processing of attentional biases for negative information in Latino Adolescents2015-2016 (Translational Health Disparity Investigator Award)
Idali Martínez Martínez, Ph.D.
UPR-Medical Sciences CampusHIVIdentification of Biomarkers of Chronic Arthralgia after Chikungunya Infection2015-2016 (Translational Health Disparity Investigator Award)
Carlos E. Rodriguez Diaz, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Sciences CampusHIVContacto-dos: Feasibility of an intervention to manage stigma among HIV-MSM in Puerto Rico2015-2016 (Community-Based Investigator Award)
Carmen J. Buxo-Martinez, Dr.Ph.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Sciences CampusDental HealthOral Clefts: Genetic Risk Factors and Maternal Exposures2012-2013
Wanda I. Figueroa-Cosme, M.D.
Associate Professor
Universidad Central del CaribeHIVPilot testing the effectiveness of Arte con Salud: A Sexual-Health Intervention for Puerto Rican Adult Women2012-2013
Enid J. Garcia-Rivera, M.D.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusCardiovascularA multi-level intervention for self-management of chronic disease in the community2012-2013
Ignacio Pita-Garcia, M.D.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusNeurosciencesGenetic Factors Associated with Pharmacoresistance in Childhood Epilepsy2012-2013
Raul D. Bernabe-Dones,

Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusCancerHPV in colorectal cancer2011-2012

Yamil Gerena-López,

Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusHIVSoluble Insulin Receptor & Insulin Resistance in HIV-Seropositive women using CART2011-2012

Michelle M. Martínez-Montemayor, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Universidad Central del CaribeCancerEqual Detection in Puerto Rican woman as biomarker for metastatic breast cancer2011-2012
Carlos A. Baez-Pagan, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
UPR-Rio PiedrasHIVBupropion as adjunctive therapy to improve immune profile in HIV seropositive smokers2010-2011
Karen G. Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusNeurosciencesNeuropsychological tests as predictors of fear learning and learning and extinction2010-2011
Antonio H. Martins-Baccin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Universidad Central del CaribeHIVTobacco Cembranoid as a Potent Annti-HIV Drug: Therapeutic Implications for AIDS2010-2011
Lynette A. Ruiz-Ortiz,

UPR-Medical Science CampusCancerEstablishment and validation of the rhesus macaques as a model of endometriosis2010-2011
Marta Suarez-Rivera, M.D.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusCardiovascularCardiometabolic Risk Factors, Adipokines, Oxidate Stress, and Vitamin D: A Cross Sectional Analysis of Junior and High School Students in Puerto Rico2010-2011
Pablo E. Vivas-Mejia, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
UPR-Medical Science CampusNeurosciencesMicro-RNA (miRNA) expression signatures in Puerto Rican brain tumor samples2010-2011

Contact our PPP Staff

Valerie Wojna, MD


Tel. 787-759-0306 Ext. 227

Antonia L. Ortiz, BS, MT, CHS


Evangelia Morou, DDS, MS, PhD


Julio Benabe, MD

Scientific Collaborator

Michelle Martínez, PhD

UCC Co-Leader

Martin Hill, PhD

PHSU Co-Leader