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FY 2020 Seed Grant Program Request for Research Proposals


The Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) at The University of Iowa supports and conducts Iowa-focused environmental health research relating to environmental toxins. CHEEC’s research mission is ‘to determine the levels of environmental contamination which can be specifically associated with human health effects’.


CHEEC seed grants are intended for pilot studies that stimulate the growth and development of innovative lines of environmental health research. The program seeks to fulfill the education and research missions of Iowa colleges and universities by promoting the involvement of students in research activities.

Grants are awarded to innovative and original research for exposure and risk assessment studies;  environmental treatment and remediation techniques that reduce exposures; monitoring and sampling methods; laboratory methods development; statistical analysis relating environmental exposures to health outcomes; database design and development; health survey design; and studies based on innovative biochemical, molecular, genetic, and cellular approaches that aid understanding of mechanisms of toxicity relating human exposure to environmental contaminants.

While all research topics will be considered, CHEEC is especially interested in supporting studies that: (i) promote the training and professional development of students at Iowa colleges and universities; (ii) actively engage communities in Iowa in research activities; (iii) have well-defined plans to visualize collected data and broadly disseminate research outcomes to diverse stakeholder groups; and (iv) address emerging exposures that are relevant to the public health of Iowans.


CHEEC is a state of Iowa funded research center. Faculty, staff and students at colleges or universities in Iowa, and researchers and educators affiliated with Iowa environmental or health agencies are encouraged to apply.


The maximum award is $40,000 (direct costs only). Awards cover one year. CHEEC anticipates making up to 4 awards this funding cycle.


Grant proposals are reviewed on a competitive basis. Reviews will be conducted by the CHEEC Executive Committee and extramural experts. Proposals will be assigned priority based on the following criteria:                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  • Originality and innovation of the proposed research
  • Ability of the proposed research to adequately test and answer stated hypotheses
  • Likelihood of successfully achieving stated research objectives
  • Relevance and clear link to human health effects
  • Response to CHEEC’s mission and relevance to the state of Iowa
  • Plans for disseminating information and engaging stakeholders regarding research achievements.
  • Potential for future grant support
  • Justification of budget items
  • Adequacy of quality assurance/quality control plan

This grant program seeks to fund innovative and original research. Pilot scale proposals that make a strong case for innovation and originality receive the most favorable reviews. ‘Add-on’ funding or studies that are a derivative of a larger, already funded or previously proposed study are not accepted. Preference will be given to proposals supporting early career researchers and proposals representing a new, “high risk, high reward” research direction for more senior investigators.


For the FY2020 grant cycle CHEEC will be using InfoReady Review.  InfoReady is an online grant portal that will enable CHEEC to accept applications, coordinate proposal review and conduct ongoing project reporting more efficiently. The application, titled CHEEC Seed Grant FY2020, can be found here. University of Iowa researchers can log into the system using their existing HawkID and password.  External researchers will need to create a login account.

A complete application should include the following three documents.  Documents should be saved as a .pdf file.  Proposals should be prepared in single spaced (or greater) and no smaller than 12-point font.

  1. Abstract (1 page limit)
  • Proposal title, investigator(s), affiliation, mailing address
  • Abstract (300 word limit)
  1. Proposal (6 page limit)
  • Introduction and short literature review.
  • Clearly stated research hypothesis (if applicable).
  • A statement discussing how the proposed research is innovative and original.
  • Project description and research methods, including how the hypothesis will be tested.
  • Quality assurance/quality control plan.
  • Discussion of the link to human health effects.
  • Relevance to CHEEC's mission and to the state of Iowa.
  • Brief timeline of research activities.
  • Research dissemination/stakeholder engagement plan
  • Detailed budget - a narrative justification should be appended.
  • Discussion of potential for further grant support.
  1. Appendices
  • Budget and narrative (2 page limit)
  • 2-page CV of principal investigator(s) and key personnel. Please list currently funded research AND previous funded research relevant to the seed submission.
  • Further supporting documentation (letters of support, past history of funding from CHEEC, etc).
  • Statement indicating how the project will undergo human-subject/animal use certification (1 page limit)

Funds may be used to support students and support personnel, and to purchase supplies and equipment. No faculty salary support is allowed. Travel necessary to conduct the study is allowed. Travel to conferences/professional meetings is not allowed with grant funds.

Researchers who have received CHEEC funding within the past 5 years should include (in the Appendix) the year and title of the funded research project, and a brief summary of the significant research outcomes and major products (e.g., manuscripts, meeting presentations, externally funded grants, etc.) resulting from the prior work. If the current submission is for a similar line of research, applicants must describe how it differs from past funded projects.


Projects involving human-subjects or animal-use should include a statement indicating the project will undergo the appropriate review process. If awarded, funds will not be released until human-subjects or animal-use approval is granted. If the application does not include human or animal subjects, a letter or copy of an email from the institutions IRB or IACUC committed stating that condition is required.  The IRB or IACUC approval or exemption certification form must be submitted to Darrin Thompson at as soon as the certification is available.  No funds will be released without certification.


The primary investigator is required to submit a final progress report to CHEEC. This report will consist of an online survey through InfoReady.

The report includes questions related to the project’s findings/results, implications of these results for the public health of Iowans, and plans for future research and pursuing related external funding opportunities.

CHEEC will provide a link to the report at the end of the project.  The primary investigator should submit the survey within three months of project completion.


Proposals must be uploaded to CHEEC’s InfoReady Review site by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 24, 2020.  Late or incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Awards will be announced on Wednesday, April 30, 2020.

For more information on the CHEEC Seed Grant Program:

Email, or see the CHEEC website at


CHEEC Grants to Schools Program for Drinking Water Lead Testing & Remediation

Call for Participating Schools: The University of Iowa Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) is pleased to announce its Grants to Schools Program. In partnership with the Iowa State Hygienic Laboratory, the grant program will provide up to $10,000 per school to cover testing for lead in school drinking water. Funds can also be used for the removal and replacement of high priority drinking water outlets that are found to have unsafe levels of lead. Sampling of every water outlet in the school will be conducted by trained personnel from CHEEC. Sample analysis will be conducted by the State Hygienic Laboratory, which is certified for lead testing under the US EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule. Throughout the sampling, analysis and repair process, CHEEC will work closely with school personnel and relevant stakeholders (school staff, parents, and school board) to communicate testing results in a timely and clear fashion and to develop a remedial action plan that prioritizes minimizing exposure to lead through school drinking water. 

For the Fall 2019 project period, CHEEC is looking to work with up to five elementary schools. Priority will be given to public elementary schools with older drinking water infrastructure that have limited prior testing results for lead. This is not a research study. CHEEC is providing this program as a public health service to be proactive in limiting lead exposure in school children.

About Lead in School Drinking Water: Lead can enter into drinking water through plumbing materials, including drinking water fountains and other fixtures. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in water. Testing is the only sure way to tell if there are elevated levels of lead in your drinking water. Because of the legacy of lead in the plumbing of older buildings it is recommended by the EPA that schools test their drinking water to “pinpoint potential lead sources to reduce their lead levels to the lowest possible concentrations.”

There is no known safe level of lead exposure for children. Young children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure due to their ongoing growth and development. Exposure to lead can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, liver and kidneys. Lead has the potential to cause lower IQs, hearing impairments, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, developmental delays, and poor classroom performance.

There is no federal law requiring testing of drinking water in schools, except for schools that own and/or operate their own public water supply and are thus regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act through the Lead and Copper Rule. Currently, there is no Federal or State funding available to assist schools with lead testing and remediation.

Ready to Participate or Have Questions?: Interested schools should contact the CHEEC at: or 1-319-335-4550.