AIM-AHEAD Hub Specific Pilot Grant Program

Call for Proposals

AIM-AHEAD Hub Specific Pilot Grant Program

Call for Proposals

Key Dates

Solicitation Release Date: April 17, 2023

Application Due Date: June 20, 2023

Application Review Date: June 28, 2023

Earliest Start Date: September 1, 2023


Issued by

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program




The AIM-AHEAD Program seeks to support multidisciplinary research projects that use artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) to develop novel algorithms and approaches to address health disparities and inequities in alignment with the North Stars in populations that experience health disparities. Research projects that use new or existing real-world datasets or synthetic data, such as electronic health records (EHR), image data, and social determinants of health (SODH), to develop and enhance AI/ML algorithms and AI/ML applications that have potential to reduce health disparities while improving healthcare and outcomes are of particular interest. This Hub Specific Pilot Grant Program is designed for AIM-AHEAD hubs to provide support to new stakeholders in their regions to conduct small-scale, community-engaged research studies that align with the overall goal of AIM-AHEAD.




The overarching goal of AIM-AHEAD is to build trusted partnerships to increase and enhance the engagement of underrepresented researchers and communities in the development of AI/ML models and expand the capabilities of this emerging technology to address health disparities and advance health equity.  Underrepresented and underserved communities are often disproportionately burdened by infectious and chronic diseases as well as related complications. Individuals and institutions in these communities can provide data and expertise that can transform the field by contributing ideas for research question/hypothesis generation, diverse recruitment approaches of study participants, interpretation of findings, and novel analytic strategies. The benefits from including underrepresented individuals, institutions, and communities can be significant; however, historical inequities in resource allocation have limited financial, infrastructural, and data science training capacity of these constituent groups to engage in research applying AI/ML approaches to the study of outcomes of interest to them.


The AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center (A-CC) is comprised of four cores: 1) Leadership/Administrative Core; 2) Data Science Training Core; 3) Data and Research Core; and 4) the Infrastructure Core. Each core provides distinct resources that are essential to expand and support education, training, and implementation of AI/ML models and research addressing health disparities and advancing health equity. Brief descriptions of the cores are provided below.


Leadership/Administrative Core: Leads the overall A-CC recruits and coordinates consortium members, project management, partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and outreach to enhance the diversity of researchers in AI/ML related research, with emphasis on health disparities research, and to establish trusted relationships with health disparities groups to enhance the diversity of data used in AI/ML research. The Leadership/Administrative Core is comprised of seven regional hubs (i.e., Central, Northeast, North and Midwest, South Central, Southeast (2), and West) that are designed to engage partners and stakeholders across the United States (U.S.). This core operates as a Pass-Through Entity (PTE) for AIM-AHEAD. 


Data Science Training Core: Develops, implements, and assesses data science training curriculum to enhance capacity among diverse population groups, specifically underrepresented or underserved groups impacted by health disparities. 

Applicants may want to explore the OCHIN Community Health Equity Database for feasibility assessment as they write their proposals. OCHIN provides the means do so through use of Cohort Discovery, a web-based software tool for obtaining counts of patients matching user-specified inclusion/exclusion criteria. To gain access to Cohort Discovery, AIM-AHEAD program applicants must have completed and be up to date with standard training in Human Subjects Research and Responsible Conduct of Research such as those offered by the CITI Program. To request access to OCHIN’s Cohort Discovery, AIM-AHEAD program applicants can complete the OCHIN i2b2 End User Agreement.


Data and Research Core: Determines and addresses research priorities and needs in linking and preparing multiple sources and types of research data to form an inclusive basis for AI/ML use cases that will illuminate strategies and approaches to ameliorate health disparity. This may include facilitating the extraction and transformation of data from electronic health records (EHR) for research use and consideration of social determinants of health as crucial contributors to health. 


Infrastructure Core: Conducts the assessment of data, computing, and software infrastructure models, tools, resources, data science policies, ethical AI, and AI/ML computing models that will facilitate AI/ML and health disparities research; and establishes pilot data and analysis environments to accelerate overall A-CC aims. 



Purpose/ Objectives

The AIM-AHEAD Hub-Specific Pilot Program is designed for hubs to provide support for stakeholders in their regions to conduct small-scale, community-engaged research studies or capacity building projects that align with the overall goal of AIM-AHEAD. Effective community-engagement is a key approach to build and maintain trust among underrepresented communities to reduce health disparities through AI/ML initiatives. Each hub will solicit pilot grant applications that: 1) provide stakeholders with support to address critical issues related to their unique culture and context; 2) allow direct interaction between key stakeholder organizations, AIM-AHEAD hubs, and AIM-AHEAD technical cores; 3) provide stakeholders from underrepresented communities with capacity building opportunities; and 4) enhance local stakeholder understanding of and facility with AI/ML analytic methods. Funding through the Hub Specific Pilot Grant Program is expected to establish sustainable efforts that will enhance community participation in AI/ML research, accelerate the dissemination of study findings to underrepresented communities, and provide preliminary data to enhance the competitiveness of future larger-scale NIH grant applications for AI/ML research applications.


AIM-AHEAD hubs will solicit high-quality applications that can be completed within one year through a call for proposal process. Pilot projects must be aligned with the AIM-AHEAD North Stars (See below). Additional information on the North Stars may be found on the AIM-AHEAD website (


NS I    Develop a diverse, equitable, and inclusive AI/ML workforce.


NS II   Increase knowledge, awareness, and national-scale community engagement/empowerment in AI/ML.


NS III   Use AI/ML to address disparities and minority health in behavioral health, cardiometabolic health, and cancer. ​


NS IV  Build community capacity and infrastructure in AI/ML to address community-centric health disparities and minority health.





Eligible organizations can include:


Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education


Consistent with the goals of the AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center, the following types of Higher Education Institutions are highly encouraged to apply for support:

  • Hispanic-Serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCUs)
  • Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)


Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)


For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)


Eligible Applicants

Individuals who are affiliated with an eligible institution (described above) can apply for hub-specific funding.  Previous AIM-AHEAD hub-specific pilot grant awardees are eligible to apply for funding under this program, however, the projects must be distinct from the previous award. 


Budget estimates, number of awards, and duration of the program

The number and size of the pilot grants will be determined by each hub. A maximum of $300,000 per hub will be allocated to support 2-4 projects in Year 2 for this program (See Key Dates section). The research and/or capacity building supported by funded applications will need to be completed within one year. 


Potential risks/challenges and mitigation measures

The risks and challenges for the Hub-Specific Pilot Program include submission of timely invoices and monthly reports as well as the completion of monthly project management and evaluation documents. Potential mitigation strategies involve the development of standardized reporting tools, the use of easily accessible systems for information exchange, applicant organizations sufficiently staffed to facilitate compliance, and appreciation of the heterogeneity of the infrastructure of organizations.  


Expected Outcomes and Impact of the Program

The Hub-Specific Pilot Grant Program is expected to expand the AIM-AHEAD consortium, lead to consortium-wide pilot grant applications, and enhance the professional networks of AIM-AHEAD stakeholders, particularly those from groups underrepresented in AI/ML research. Findings from the hub specific pilot grants have the potential to generate strong proof-of-concept data that can be scaled into larger NIH grant applications. 



Review Criteria

A Review Committee comprised of AIM-AHEAD Hub members will use the following criteria to evaluate proposals and select award recipients:


  • Does the proposal identify a community partner that demonstrates acceptance to engage in the proposed research and/or capacity-building activities?
  • Are underserved or under-represented community-defined priorities and the proposed research focus and approach? To what extent will the community partner benefit from proposed research and/or capacity-building?
  • To what extent does the proposal align with the North Stars and overall goals of the program?
    To what extent is the project likely to advance these goals?
  • Does the proposal develop novel algorithms or methods for addressing a health disparity, or generate novel insights into factors contributing to a health disparity?
  • Does the proposal provide a strong rationale and solid track record for community engagement in the proposed project?
  • To what extent is there a clear link between community identified priorities and the focus and approach of the proposed research and/or capacity-building?
  • To what extent does the proposal address solid research methods, evidence-based approaches to build and sustain community partnerships and participation?
  • To what extent is the proposed approach reasonable to achieve the goals of the project? What is the likelihood of a successful outcome?
  • To what extent does the proposal appropriately consider ethical, legal, and privacy considerations?
  • Is this project likely to generate sufficient preliminary data, insight, and experience that can lead to a larger NIH grant application?



Application Submission Guidelines, Components, and Review Process

Submission using AIM-AHEAD Connect and InfoReady platform

The AIM-AHEAD Consortium utilizes the online portal InfoReady for the submission of proposal applications.  Please use this link to access, complete, and upload the above application components no later than June 20, 2023. The application should be directed to the hub that represents your geographic location. We recommend contacting the relevant hub Principal Investigator before submitting your application.

Read the Call for Proposal 
Application Process:

Step 1: Click here to register as a “mentor” on AIM-AHEAD Connect (our Community Building Platform)

Step 2: Click here to submit an application for review using InfoReady platform*.

 * To submit your application in InfoReady, please use Chrome, Firefox, or Edge. If you're using Safari, make sure to clear your cache before logging in.

Please note both steps must be completed for consideration.

All applications must be received by June 20, 2023 5 PM Eastern Time.

Which leadership hub should I connect with?

States Hub
American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii Central Hub
click here to contact
Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming North/Midwest Hub
click here to contact
Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington D.C. Northeast Hub
click here to contact
Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas South Central Hub
click here to contact
Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virgina, West Virginia Southeast - Meharry Hub
click here to contact
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, U.S. Virgin Islands Southeast - Morehouse Hub
click here to contact
Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands West Hub
click here to contact


Application Components

  1. Applicant Information (Principal Investigator or Pilot Program Director)
    1. Provide your name, institution/organization, department, position title, research area, and email address
    2. Gender, race/ethnicity 
  2. Biosketch (5 pages limit) in NIH ( or other formal, a curriculum vitae of 5 pages, or a professional resume.
  3. Proposal Summary (limit 300 words)
  4. The proposed research focus or scope must fall within the AIM-AHEAD North Stars and community engaged research. (See above) 
    1. The Research Description should consist of the following sections:
      1. Title and Specific Aims (1 page)
        1. Provide a clear, concise summary of the aims of the proposed work and its relationship to your long-term goals. State the hypothesis to be tested.
      2. Significance (1 page)
        1. Must address the premise for the pilot grant
        2. State the importance of the problem, the critical issue to be addressed, and the significance and relevance for community stakeholders
        3. Explain how the proposed project will advance scientific knowledge or technical capability
        4. Describe how the pilot grant will help to prepare a competitive external grant upon completion of the pilot funding
      3. Approach and Timeline (3 pages)
        1. Must also include the feasibility of accomplishing the proposed research and/or capacity-building activities that promotes inclusive participation, data collection, retention (if applicable), and future involvement n AI/ML-related work.
        2. Describe a community-engaged research study design and strategies for inclusive participation, data collection, and retention (if applicable)
        3. Specify data source, primary data collection or a data base, data use agreement, IRB approval, etc. (if applicable).
      4. Investigative Team (1 page maximum)
        1. Provide description of the investigative team and their experience related to the proposed project
        2. Must clearly identify a community member and/or stakeholder that aligns with the proposed study
      5. References Cited (1 page maximum)
        1. List only references cited in the Project Description or supplementary documents of the proposal. 
      6. The Budget and Budget Justification (2 pages)
        1. Use the NIH Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period for Page one. 
        2. Justification should be included under the separate fields for itemizing costs (consultants, equipment, supplies, travel, etc.) for Page 2. The total budget includes direct and indirect costs. Applicants should budget for travel costs to attend the Hub Annual Meeting and the AIM-AHEAD Consortium Annual Meeting.
      7. Responsible Conduct of Research, Human Subjects, and Animal Training

        NIH funding requires that investigators and all key personnel MUST comply with the Responsible Conduct of Research requirement. Additionally, projects that involve human subjects or data from living humans are required to submit the study protocol for review from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and provide documentation of the determination from the IRB.


There is flexibility in assigning page limits among the 5 components, but the proposal should not exceed 9 pages.



Review Criteria

Hubs will conduct an internal review of applications for completeness and adherence to proposal guidelines. Incomplete and non-adherent applications will be returned unreviewed. All eligible applications will be reviewed following a modified NIH peer review process. The standard NIH scoring range (1-9) will be used to assess the strengths and weakness of the criteria: 


  • Overall Impact
  • Significance
  • Innovation
  • Approach


Additional Review Criteria. Evaluations of the project teams and the institutional environment will be evaluated, but not scored. 


Each hub will identify a subset of proposals for funding. NIH AIM-AHEAD program staff will review the final pool of applications recommended for funding and provide the final approval. PIs of successful proposals will be notified by each hub via email. Feedback on the overall application will also be provided to all applicants via email. 


Pilot Grant Awardee Expectations 

The Applied Ethical AI (AEAI) Sub-core was established to provide support in surfacing, reasoning about, and resolving ethical issues in the AIM-AHEAD program. It is expected that all pilot projects will work with the AEAI on the development of an initial ethics review and plan for their project and will commit to participating in two AEAI-supported ethics forums during their sponsorship. These forums are designed to highlight and address ethical challenges in the development and implementation of AI/ML and range from open office hours to moderated discussions on hot topics in ethics and AI/ML.


Hub pilot grantees will also be expected to participate in the following components of the overall AIM-AHEAD program which include: 


  1. Participation in monthly awardee meetings (via Zoom).
  2. Timely submission of monthly reports, invoices, and surveys
  3. Participation in annual hub and AIM-AHEAD meetings.
  4. Delivery of presentations of pilot study results in AIM-AHEAD meetings.
  5. Agreement for AIM-AHEAD to disseminate project findings and lessons learned through online websites, social media, and other communication channels.
  6. Provision of a summary of project status about milestones listed in the proposal, challenges faced, plans to overcome those challenges, usage of funds, and next steps.
  7. By the project end date, submission of a final report of research findings, usage of funds, and a list of publications, grant applications, articles, and conference talks.


Available Data Sources

Applicants are encouraged to utilize their own datasets or align with a community partner with data resources. Conversely, AIM-AHEAD resources can be utilized including the OCHIN Community Health Equity Database on AIM-AHEAD Service Workbench or MedStar Health EHR through the AIM-AHEAD Data Bridge (AADB).

Dataset options (more information available on below datasets/cohorts):


Dataset Brief Description Data Allowed Size Analysis platform tools

A customized subset from OCHIN Community Health Equity Database

Primary care EHR and SDOH data from a 33-state network of community-based health centers. 

HIPAA Limited Data Set, patient-level data with dates and geographic information if needed for research 

A customized subset will be created from over 6 million records for the research question of approved projects 

AIM-AHEAD Service Workbench

Six curated MedStar Health EHR datasets from AIM-AHEAD Data Bridge OR option for custom curated dataset from MedStar Health EHR

Six curated dataset options of EHR data from underrepresented communities

De-identified dataset; Multiple curated dataset options

(see detailed data description on the AADB website)

MedStar Health EHR has a population of 5+ million records; curated datasets vary in size - See AADB website for more information

AIM-AHEAD Data Bridge

Selected Open datasets on AWS 

A variety of datasets available including clinical and genomic data

Public data, and controlled access data (depends on dataset)

Selected AWS Open Datasets 

AIM-AHEAD Service Workbench

NIH All of Us

The All of Us Research Program  is building one of the largest biomedical data resources of its kind. 

The All of Us Research Hub stores health data from a diverse group of participants from across the United States.




Electronic Health Records


Biosamples Received

All of Us Researcher Workbench


OCHIN Community Health Equity Database

OCHIN, a nonprofit health care innovation center with a core mission to advance health equity, operates the most comprehensive database on primary healthcare and outcomes of traditionally underserved patients. The OCHIN Epic EHR data warehouse aggregates electronic health record (EHR) and social determinants of health (SDH) data representing >6 million patients from 170 health systems and 1,600 clinic sites across 33 states (4.6 million patients are ‘active,’ with a visit in the last 3 years).


Approved AIM-AHEAD projects can obtain access to up to 10 years of longitudinal OCHIN Epic ambulatory EHR data, which is research-ready on the PCORnet Common Data Model (CDM). Contributing health systems are outpatient community-based health centers, which deliver comprehensive, culturally responsive, high-quality primary care health care services for communities most impacted by health disparities. This includes individuals and families experiencing poverty, houselessness, migrant agricultural workers and veterans. Community-based health centers often provide on-site services such as dental, pharmacy, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and social work regardless of patients’ ability to pay.

The OCHIN Community Health Equity Database will be accessed on the AIM-AHEAD Service Workbench.


See Data Dictionary of the OCHIN Community Health Equity Database on AIM-AHEAD Service Workbench. 


MedStar Health AADB Data


MedStar Health Research Institute hosts a robust database of Electronic Health Records which can be made available to approved pilots. The MedStar Health System includes an extensive network of clinical facilities in the mid-Atlantic region, including 10 hospitals (33% rural hospitals) and includes over 300 points-of-care connected by MedStar’s EHR system, built on the Cerner Millennium platform. The system includes 5 million unique patients with approximately 31% African American patients. Project-specific datasets can be curated and made available for pilot use. Additionally, the AADB has curated six AI/ML-ready datasets which are fully de-identified and ready for access upon regulatory clearance. 


Six AADB available curated datasets:

  • Cardiometabolic correlates and maternal health
  • COVID-19 pandemic: Cardiometabolic, cancer, and behavioral health
  • Opioid use and misuse
  • Schizophrenia data
  • Voice-Assisted Personal Assistance in Heart Failure
  • Breast and Lung Cancer Images


To learn more about these data, visit  AADB website.


Requirements Prior to Obtaining Access to AIM-AHEAD Curated Data (AADB):


  • Mandatory Human Subjects Research Trainings such as CITI “Human Research (Protection of Human Subjects)” and “Responsible Conduct of Research”.
  • Initial data consult with the MedStar Health AADB personnel to refine data request within 30 days of award.
  • Submission for IRB approval/determination within 60 days of award.
  • Signed data use agreement and IRB approval/determination within 90 days of award.


AWS Open Datasets

More information (description and links) available here


Acronym Name of AWS open dataset


EMory BrEast Imaging Dataset


1000 Genomes


The Cancer Genome Atlas


Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD)


UK Biobank Pan-Ancestry Summary Statistics


Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First)


Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET)


Human Cancer Models Initiative (HCMI) Cancer Model Development Center


Cancer Genome Characterization Initiatives - Burkitt Lymphoma, HIV+ Cervical Cancer


Pancreatic Cancer Organoid Profiling


National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research - Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) Genomics and Expression


CoMMpass from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation


The Human Connectome Project


Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium 2 (CPTAC-2)


Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium 3 (CPTAC-3)



Social Determinants of Health – Social determinants of health (SODH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. (Healthy People 2030).


Synthetic Data - Synthetic datasets are generated through computer programs, instead of being composed through the documentation of real-world events. The primary purpose of a synthetic dataset is to be versatile and robust enough to be useful for the training of machine learning models. ( 




AIM-AHEAD Hub Specific Pilot Projects FAQs


Questions regarding the Hub-Specific Pilot Program, please create a help desk ticket and select the regional hub in the dropdown based on your location (refer to regional hubs and states table above): Create Help Desk Ticket

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