The PCORI Patient Engagement Awards: A Call for Proposals

One of our core beliefs at PCORI is that patients, clinicians, and other front-line caregivers, and others across the healthcare community have the potential to become valued and real partners in the patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) we support. We practice what we preach in the requirements we place on applicants for our funding and the way we evaluate their proposals.

So we’re pleased today to announce the latest example of how we’re making that principle real – a new funding program called the PCORI Engagement Awards and the first funding opportunity under this program, the Pipeline to Proposals Award.

Listening to our stakeholders

We got the idea for the Engagement Awards program last October, during our first patient engagement workshop. We asked workshop participants to provide input into how we can better serve and connect with patients and the communities interested in being involved with rigorous PCOR– which is, comparative clinical effectiveness research focused on and guided by the needs and concerns of patients. The response was a clear and broad expression of passion, expertise, and willingness within the patient and broader healthcare community to help us pursue this approach to research. The question was how best to do it.


From that discussion was born our Engagement Awards program, which is designed to leverage the community’s passion and expertise by offering targeted funding to dozens of groups of patients, providers and other healthcare community stakeholders interested in supporting the expansion of high-quality, useful PCOR and the implementation of its results.

Our philosophy is that, when the research process incorporates the perspectives of the entire healthcare system and focuses on the questions important to patients and those who care for them, the results are far more likely to be meaningfully incorporated into clinical decision-making and practice.

The Engagement Awards program will have three distinct categories:

  • Knowledge Awards, which will fund activities such as background papers, landscape reviews, and development of mechanisms to share research results.
  • Training and Development Awards, which will cultivate a larger patient-centered research community through activities such as ones that will link interested patients, providers and researchers to build research partnerships.
  • Implementation Awards, which will support activities such as disseminating information and encouraging adoption of PCORI-funded research results, as well as support best practices for engaging patients, providers and other stakeholders in research.

Getting started

The first Engagement Awards, the Pipeline to Proposals Awards, fall under the second category, the Training and Development Awards. The Pipeline to Proposals awards are broken into three tiers, each designed to take another step toward producing community-led, patient-centered outcomes research proposals.


Tier I Pipeline Awards will fund community building and engagement projects by awarding up to $15,000 to groups of patients, providers, stakeholders, or researchers, oriented around a particular issue.   These awards will be managed by five Intermediate Funders (IFs) who will each help up to 10 awardees build strong multi-stakeholder communities and partnership. Today’s announcement is the request for quotes from potential Intermediate Funders and we will announce the recipients later this summer.  Funding announcements for Tier I awards will be released in the fall of 2013 and we will select up to 50 Tier I awardees before the end of the year.

Tier II Pipeline Awards will provide up to $25,000 each to support new or emerging research partnerships, the development of research infrastructure and the generation of research questions and research priorities. Many of these awards will go to successful Tier I awardees, but any patient-researcher partnership is eligible. By the end of this award, partnerships will be expected to have a defined set of research questions and research priorities that the community is interested in studying.  Funding announcements for Tier II awards will be released in late 2013.

Tier III Pipeline Awards will provide up to $50,000 each to fund the development of high-quality research proposals. The goal of the final tier is the development and submission — to PCORI and other research funders — of a patient-centered research proposal that includes appropriate levels of participation from patients and other stakeholders.  Funding announcements for Tier III awards will be released in early 2014.

Engagement Tiers Funding Levels

We believe the Pipeline to Proposals initiative will ultimately provide a major boost in the quality and volume of research proposals we receive, while building new partnerships between patients and others in the research process.  See this overview for additional information.

This is just the first in a series of funding opportunities planned for the healthcare community under our Engagement Awards program. Since PCORI was established, we have highlighted the value of including patients and those who care for them in the research process. We are excited to see how a significant investment in engaging the healthcare community will lead to high-quality information that we all can use.

We hope you’ll consider applying for one of the Pipeline to Proposals awards when our application process opens. Also, look for other funding opportunities to be announced through the Engagement Awards. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts about this idea and all of our work. Please e-mail us at getinvolved@pcori.org with your thoughts. And for updates about our Engagement Awards and other opportunities to help participate in our work, subscribe to our mailing list at pcori.org/signup.

Anne C. Beal, MD, MPH is PCORI’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Officer for Engagement.

Susan Sheridan, MBA, MIM is PCORI’s Director of Patient Engagement.

Suzanne Schrandt, JD is PCORI’s Deputy Director of Patient Engagement.

This post originally appeared at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Blog.