Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

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NMEDW Pilot Data Program

The Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse (NMEDW) Pilot Data Program is an initiative to help jump-start studies led by less established investigators who do not yet have adequate funding. The purpose of this grant is not to internally fund entire research projects; rather, the goal is to allow young investigators to obtain feasibility or early pilot data in order to seek sustained funding. The expectation is that once these projects receive external funding, the external grant will fund subsequent project work by the NMEDW.

These pilot grant funds may not be used to supplement or expand existing funded projects. Only investigators who do not have other funds to cover early-stage data analysis are eligible. The pilot grant itself is awarded as hours of NMEDW analyst time for obtaining data from the NMEDW to support a project proposal (e.g., fulfilling a data request).


The following things should be considered by the investigator when submitting:

  • The scope of the data being requested should be limited or targeted so that the number of analyst hours falls within a reasonable range.
  • An average NMEDW data request takes eight to 12 hours of analyst time. Though we will consider exceptions, expect any awards to fall somewhere within this range.
  • The turnaround time for submissions is subject to the availability of analyst time. Requests will be considered in the order in which they are received. Please consider this and allow adequate lead time before any deadlines.
  • Seed grant funds are limited. Funding is not guaranteed.

The following things will be considered in evaluating submissions:

  • We anticipate that the majority of pilot grants will be used to obtain prep-to-research data for grant proposals.
  • Proposals addressing specific a specific hypothesis or a well-defined feasibility question will be favored over open-ended queries or "fishing expeditions."
  • Department chairs may be asked to affirm that alternate funding is not available.
  • Projects that best take advantage of the strengths of the NMEDW will be favored.
  • Proposals from early-stage investigators (assistant professor or postdoctoral fellow) will be favored over more senior investigators.

Application Process

Submit your application for the NMEDW Pilot Data Program through NITRO Competitions. The template, to be included with your submission, can be downloaded here.

The abstract should describe your project in non-technical terms (remember, NMEDW data analysts do not have your domain expertise). Be sure to address the following:

  • Describe the project in high-level terms, including hypotheses.
  • Describe the data you need, including the subject population and data points. Be reasonably detailed with these descriptions (don't say "I need all labs"; say "I need hemoglobin A1c values from 2005 to present").
  • Any request for PHI must be well justified and may require prior IRB approval.
  • Provide information about the planned grant submission, including any due dates or specific data requirements.

Within 10 business days, you can expect to hear from a representative of the NMEDW team confirming receipt of your submission and following up with any further questions. You will be notified via email once a decision has been made. If your project has been selected, you will meet with an NMEDW analyst to scope the data requirements and determine the actual number of analyst hours awarded. The analyst will then provide a service agreement, describing the requirements you’ve agreed upon, for you to sign.

For more information, contact Dan Schneider.

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Participating Institutions: