Emerging Investigator Program

The Emerging Investigator (EI) Guided Research Program

Applications for the 2023/24 EI Guided Research Program are now closed. Applications will again open for the 2024/25 cohort in April 2024.

Up to three projects focused on health systems research for children and youth with special health care needs will be funded up to $15,000 (1-year).

Watch the application assistance webinar now!

About the Program

The Emerging Investigator Guided Research Training Program has a goal of bringing investigators new to CYSHCN research into the field. Junior investigators (within five years of their terminal degree) and experienced investigators who are interested in switching fields are targets for this program.

Length of Program
Through a competitive process, three EIs will each receive the award to help them pay for a 12-month long research project of their choice that maps to the CYSHCNet National Research Agenda.

Award Amount
The EI Award provides up to $15,000 to address an important area of concern for the health or healthcare of children or youth with special healthcare needs and their families.

Project Mentor Requirements
Emerging investigators are connected to a project mentor who is a content expert for a 12-month period during which EIs attend webinars, works-in-progress sessions (WIPS), and monthly meetings with their project mentors. EIs are required to have mentors from their home institution to guide them through the day-to-day workings of the project. CYSHCNet Network leaders are also available as content experts and connectors to other researchers from the Network.

The award is open to investigators from any academic institution that serves children and youth with special health care needs.

Proposals are welcome from those who are:

  • Fellows from any discipline that serves CYSHCN, e.g. nurses, social workers, physicians, pharmacists, social scientists, junior faculty, etc.
  • Faculty members no more than 5 years out from completion of all training (fellowship or post-doc)
  • More experienced investigators who are new to the field of CYSHCN (with documentation about their change of field)
  • Applicants  from underserved populations are especially encouraged to apply.

Below is a partial list of  topic areas in which mentoring is available:

  • Community Based Participatory Research
  • Coordination with MCH Title V Programs
  • Family Engagement
  • Health Care Transitions
  • Health Systems
  • Home Care Systems Research
  • Home Nursing
  • Life Course Health Science
  • Medicaid Spending Research
  • Medical Complexity in Children: Health Care Delivery, Improving Care
  • National Data Set -Secondary Analysis
  • Pediatric to Adult Transitions
  • Person Reported Outcomes
  • Qualitative Methods: Grounded Theory
  • Quality Improvement
  • Quantitative Methods: STATA
  • Telehealth

The below information can be downloaded as a PDF: emerging-investigator-faq1

1. What is the definition of an Emerging Investigator?
CYSHCNet Emerging Investigators are defined as:

  • Faculty members who are no more than 5 years out from completion of all training as of the date proposals are due (fellowship or post-doc)
  • Fellows
  • Residents
  • Experienced investigators who are new to the field

2. Who can apply?
Applicants from any U.S. academic institutions that serve children and youth with special health care needs are eligible to apply. 

3. Does the Emerging Investigators Program accept applications from others who are not physicians?

4. Can two applicants from the same institution submit proposals to the Emerging Investigators Program?
Yes, however, only one proposal from each institution will be considered for the award.

5. Can previous awardees apply?
No, but previous applicants who are still eligible are encouraged to reapply.

Proposals & Application Process
1. How do I log into the application?
The application is accessible on the CYSHCNet web site. No log-in is necessary.

2. Should checklists be submitted with the initial and full proposals?
No, your application checklist is intended to assure you prepare all necessary materials and should not be submitted.

3. What is the Participation Statement?
The participation statement is included on the bottom of the Cover Page to be submitted with your proposal. Should an applicant receive funding through the Emerging Investigators Program, they must commit to attending any conference calls or in-person meetings as part of their chosen funding path.

4. Where do I send my proposal?
Please submit all materials through the online application or email to Charlene.Shelton@CUAnschutz.edu.

5. What format should I use for my biosketch?
The biosketch should use the standard NIH biosketch form and may not exceed five pages.
Instructions for completing the biosketch form can be found here. The NIH biosketch includes a Personal Statement. As part of this statement, please describe how the proposal relates to and will help to facilitate the investigator’s career path for this purpose as it relates to the proposed research agenda. Please include a biosketch for both the applicant and primary mentor.

1. Will a mentor be assigned to me or do I find my own mentor?
Both. You should have a mentor from your institution. The Network will also pair you with a mentor who is a content expert in your field.

1. Is travel to a regional or national conference required?
You are required to submit an abstract to a conference. If it is accepted, the Network will fund up to $1,500 of travel expenses for you. These funds include conference registration and are part (10%) of your total award. Funds may also be applied for your family partner’s travel. Funds are meant to supplement any travel funds you may have.

2. My institution requires that I include indirect costs. Is this acceptable?
Indirect costs are capped at 26%.

3. Can I include myself or my mentor in the budget to cover time spent on the project?
Neither an applicant nor mentor may have effort.

4. Can I include funds for a statistician in my budget?
Yes, direct costs for statisticians are acceptable, as long as they are properly justified in the
submitted proposal.

Transferring Institutions
1. I am transferring institutions. What is the process for transferring my award funds?
Please notify the CYSHCNET of institutional changes via written notice on institutional letterhead. Include your name, contact information, project title, funding track, and the contact information of the administrator handling your award funds at your current institution. Any unused funds at your current institution should be returned via check to the CYSHCNET Central Office by mail:
The written notice may be sent by email to Charlene.Shelton@CUAnschutz.edu
CYSHCNET will disburse your remaining award funds after receipt of payment information for your new institution. Please note this may take a couple of months pending your institution’s internal processes.

2. Mentorship relationship after transfer should be verified: will you keep the same mentor? What level of commitment will s/he be able to provide? If you secure a new mentor, s/he should send a letter with information on the level of commitment to the project that s/he is able to provide.

Family/Caregiver Involvement
1. How should I involve families/caregivers in my study?
Families/caregivers of CYSHCN should be involved in a meaningful way. They should have the opportunity to participate in the design of the study, if possible, or they should be consulted about the project. Having families/caregivers as respondents only is not sufficient. Specific questions about how to involve families/caregivers should be directed to the Network.

Publication and Data
1. Am I required to share data with the Network?
No. The Network is currently not a data repository.

2. How will findings be disseminated?
At least one paper submission to a peer-reviewed journal is expected. Findings may also be posted on the Network’s website and/or other social media platforms. The PI is expected to translate findings into non-technical language that is accessible to the broader community of stakeholders, for publication on the Network’s website. We will also ask for a short narrative to put on website.

3. Are reports due to the Network?
Yes. Since the Network is funded by the Maternal Child Health Bureau, reports are required. A form will be sent to the PI by the Network Program Manager with complete instructions and due dates.

Current Emerging Investigator Projects

Emerging Investigator: Julia Heneghan, MD
Project Title: Ecological Momentary Assessment of Outcomes after Critical Illness in Children with Medical Complexity
Family Partner(s):  Elizabeth Marsh
Location: University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital

Emerging Investigator: Rachel Macak, MD
Project Title: Caregiver Decision-Making and Advice Regarding Tracheostomies in Preterm Infants with Severe Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
Family Partner(s): Teresa Glade
Location: University of Utah

Previous Emerging Investigator Projects


Emerging Investigator: Jennifer Peralta, MD, MST
Project Title: A Socioecological Approach to Social Complexity, Family Functioning, and Community-Based Systems of Care Among Children with Medical Complexity
Family Partner(s):  Catalina Jaimes
Location: UCLA

Emerging Investigator: Marie Pfarr, MD
Project Title: Telemedicine Use in Children with Medical Complexity
Family Partner(s): Maria Leadon
Location: Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center

Emerging Investigator: Emmanuel Aryee, MD
Project Title: Early Introduction of Palliative Care Among Families of Children with Medical Complexity
Family Partner(s): Sandra Clancy, PhD
Location: Massachusetts General Hospital for Children


Emerging Investigator: Denise Lillvis, PhD
Project Title: Examining Factors Associated with Increased Physical Trauma for cyshcn
Family Partners: Ali Perfetti, Jessica Colarusso, Tondelaire Cotton 
Location: Oishei Children’s Hospital, University at Buffalo

Emerging Investigator: Abby Musial, MD
Project Title: BAD Med: Burden Alleviation using Deprescribing of Medications in CMC
Family Partner: Allison Loechtenfelt 
Location: Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center

Emerging Investigator: Verenea Serrano, PhD 
Project Title: Characterizing integrated behavioral health services for young children with medical complexity and their caregivers in primary care 
Family Partners: SanJuana  Dorado, Tanica Hancock 
Location: Children’s Hospital Colorado


Emerging Investigator: Stefanie Ames, MD
Project Title: Assessment of caregiver experiences and unmet healthcare needs following discharge home after a critical illness in a child or youth with special healthcare needs
Family Partner: Amanda Mueller 
Location: UCLA/University of Utah

Emerging Investigator: Arda Hotz, MD
Project Title: Use of Durable Medical Equipment and Supplies in Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs
Family Partner: Theresa Applegate 
Location: Boston Children’s Hospital


Emerging Investigator: Molly Easterlin, MD
Project Title: Understanding the effects of chronic medical procedures in children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD): A qualitative study of patient,parent, and nurse perspectives
Family Partner: Lauren Agoratus

Emerging Investigators:Morgan Crossman, PhD & Olivia Lindly, PhD
Project Title:
 High quality health care, IDEA services and adverse family impact for U.S. CSHCN: The role of prematurity in early childhood
Family Partners: Amber Klevin & Kristen Earl
Location: MassGeneral Hospital for Children 

Emerging Investigators: Nicole Werner, PhD
Project Title: Creation of an adaptive taxonomy of barriers and facilitators to in-home care of children with cerebral palsy
Family Partner: Barbara Katz
Location: University of Wisconsin, Madison