Population Health

Chronic disease pilot grants

Person checking activity statistics on a smart watchThe Population Health Initiative, in partnership with Novo Nordisk and the University of Washington’s Engineering Innovation in Health program, is launching a pilot grant program to catalyze innovative projects that seek to develop solutions for people experiencing chronic disease(s). This program is intended to support UW researchers in testing scalable ideas that seek better understanding at the intersections of biology, data, digital tools, behavior and financial implications.

Funding of up to either $100,000 each for Digital Biomarkers focus (two projects) or $50,000 for Financials Implications of Disease focus (one project) is available. The period of performance for these projects is 13 months for each pilot project, with performance evaluated in a midterm (six months) and end of the year (13 months) evaluation.

Applications were due on May 31, 2022. Learn about the two awarded projects by visiting the News section of our website.

Purpose of program

The purpose of this funding call is to launch or redirect research projects intended to better understand, prevent, mitigate or reverse the impact of chronic disease on the health and well-being of domestic and international populations.

Specifically, Novo Nordisk is interested in projects that focus on one of the following therapeutic areas:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Growth disorders
  • Haemophilia

Proposed projects must be in one of these therapeutic areas and of one of the two following types:

1. Digital Biomarkers (two projects)
This type of project seeks to develop new strategies that leverage wearables, biosensors and/or other digital strategies to allow for better measurement of biomarkers in everyday, non-clinical settings. Potential projects could include, but are not limited to, the following types of endeavors:

  • Collecting patient data in an integrated and comprehensive way (e.g., blood chemistry, clinical info, behavioral information) to create a disease “signature” that is ethical and complies with patient and data privacy laws.
  • Finding approaches for individuals to better understand their disease through self-health monitoring systems (e.g., methods that incorporate multiple sources of information).
  • Determining digital approaches to understand initiation points for disease treatment and/or disease onset.
  • Identifying the range of data sources (i.e., digital footprint) the average American has that could be used to interpret and predict health.
  • Integrating the collection of data from sources such as Apple Watch, Fitbit, Amazon Halo, and so forth to offer a more comprehensive understanding of wellness that strays away from reliance upon single-source data.
  • Developing new and affordable wearables or sensors for the therapeutic areas of interest, potentially in combination with and integrating data from other sources.

2. Financial Implications of Chronic Disease Prevention (one project)
The other type of project will seek to better understand the potential financial benefits to payors, employers, and others of investing in prevention in the therapeutic areas of interest. The financial costs of chronic disease treatment are in many cases well documented, but a gap exists when it comes to detailing the business case for investing in preventative health. Accordingly, Novo Nordisk is interested in projects in areas that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Alleviating financial barriers in healthcare.
  • Creating affordable and accessible prevention, treatments, and therapeutics.
  • Innovating a model to overcome limiting financial factors that make healthcare inaccessible to specific locations/populations.

Research teams are encouraged, but not required, to engage an industry partner(s) in their projects.


Open to faculty members and PI-eligible research scientists from all three University of Washington campuses (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma).

To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration across UW departments and campuses, applications will only be accepted from project teams made up of two or more principal investigators (PIs). Each PI must hold primary appointments in different and distinct academic departments.

Research teams are encouraged, but not required, to engage an industry partner(s) in their projects.


The timeline for call for proposals is as follows.

  • Application Period Opens: May 1, 2022
  • Application Deadline: May 31, 2022 (11:59 p.m. Pacific)
  • Project Teams Notified: mid-July, 2022
  • Period of Performance: September 1, 2022 – September 30, 2023
  • Midterm Performance Evaluation: March 15, 2023

All proposed projects must be appropriately scoped so all work can be completed within the 13-month period.

If selected for funding consideration, Novo Nordisk will have a 30-calendar-day period in which to review application materials and a draft budget. Once Novo Nordisk approves of finalized materials and a final budget, the project team(s) will be notified that work may begin. If the review of materials and finalizing the budget delays the notification to begin work beyond the 30-day period, the period of performance should be adjusted to account for the delay.

All project teams receiving funding will be required to submit a mid-project written update to the Population Health Initiative no later than February 1, 2023. A final report detailing project accomplishments and final budget reconciliation will be due no later than September 30, 2023. Project teams will also have the opportunity to present their findings to representatives of Novo Nordisk and other potential industry partners.


Funding amounts of up to $100,000 each for Digital Biomarkers focus (two projects) or $50,000 for Financials Implications of Disease focus (one project)—which final amounts will be determined based on the fair market value of the research and other work required for each proposed projects— are available. A project budget may exceed these limits only if the Co-PIs have secured the additional funding as a match from their school/college/department, and in no event will Novo Nordisk provide funds in excess of these funding amounts and the fair market value of the research and other work performed as part of an approved project.

Departments of designated lead co-investigators will manage day-to-day administration of these sponsored research funds, in partnership with the Population Health Initiative.

Allowed expenses include:

  • Personnel (i.e., salaries and benefits for faculty, staff and students)
  • Equipment, materials and supplies
  • Other direct costs related to the project (must detail the expense and include rationale for Novo Nordisk’s review/approval in a finalized budget prior to project commencement)

Unallowable expenses include:

  • Indirect/overhead costs
  • Publication and patent cost
  • Office supplies
  • Administrative support
  • Marketing efforts
  • Tuition for graduate students

All allowable expenses must adhere to applicable University of Washington policies. Please engage your department’s finance contact with questions regarding such expenses. In addition, an Office of Sponsored Programs review is not needed prior to submitting an application.

Review criteria

Successful applications/project proposals should:

  • Demonstrate how the proposed interdisciplinary collaboration will address either the 1) digital biomarkers or 2) financial implications of chronic disease prevention;
  • Describe how the work is either a novel project or redirection of an existing endeavor from one purpose to another (i.e., projects should not simply be an extension of existing work);
  • Demonstrate how the work is innovative and feasible;
  • Propose a framework, methods, approach, and analyses that are adequate and appropriate to the aims and time constraints of the project; and,
  • Detail an evaluation plan that clearly describes the preliminary data or proof-of-concept the project team is seeking and how it will be used to pursue additional funding or concept development (i.e., the measure of a successful project).

Applications are encouraged, but not required, to include the following:

  • Partial or full funding match (in funds or in kind) from the Co-PIs’ schools/colleges/departments;
  • Student, staff or intern engagement in the project that furthers educational and training experiences;
  • Proposes a project that engages an industry partner; and/or
  • Plans for sustainability of work after funding (if applicable).

Members of the Population Health Initiative executive council, Novo Nordisk, and Engineering Innovation in Health program will review and score all applications. If needed, the reviewers will consult with appropriate subject-matter experts as part of the evaluation process. Funding will be provided to the highest-scoring applications, contingent on Novo Nordisk’s approval of that application’s proposed project and all parties’ ability to agree upon a finalized budget reflecting the fair market value of the research and other work to be performed under the project proposal/application.

Application format

Applications must meet the following standards:

  • Submitted as a single PDF file
  • Paper size no larger than standard letter (i.e., 8 ½” x 11”)
  • Margins of at least 0.5 inch (top, bottom, left, and right)
  • Single-spaced
  • Eleven-point font or larger using either Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman
  • Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams, and charts is acceptable as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%
  • We do not require a specific citation format

Each application must contain the following sections:

  • Completed cover sheet (project title, total budget, applicant names)
  • Abstract (250 word maximum)
  • Research plan (two pages, including tables and visuals but excluding references)
  • Evaluation plan and project timeline (one page)
  • Biographies for all investigators (limit of 250 words per investigator)
  • Budget, budget justification, and potential matching funds (template provided)
  • Letters of support are not required but will be accepted. Limit of two.

Download application template

Submit an application

Applications can be submitted beginning on May 1, 2022. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific) on Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

The application must be submitted as a single .pdf file through the following online submission portal.

Review by the Office of Sponsored Programs is not needed.

Submit an Application

Please contact us with any questions regarding this pilot grant program or the application process.