Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) Center Review

All funded projects will be reviewed by the Tufts CTSI BERD Center.

Where relevant, BERD Center staff will provide research teams with recommendations regarding optimal study design and data collection approaches with the goal of maximizing the project’s potential for publication and subsequent funding. They will also offer feedback and advice on the project’s analysis plans (e.g., methodological approaches, budgeting, and estimated time for completion).

Award recipients conducting studies involving large data sets and requiring complex computational modeling may be contacted at the early project stages to offer input on the data collection, management, and analysis.

Institutional and Regulatory Approvals

The project start and release of funds are contingent upon receipt of all necessary local institutional and regulatory approvals. While such approvals are not required at the time of proposal submission, award recipients will be expected to initiate the approval application process upon receiving their notice of award.

If applicable, proof of exempt status determination must be obtained. All applicable local regulatory approvals and/or determination letters must be received by no later than March 2021.

NCATS Prior Approval Requirements

In addition to receiving local institutional and regulatory approvals, projects involving human and/or animal subjects are required to comply, as applicable, with requirements for the NCATS Human Subject Research Prior Approval and NCATS Prior Approval for Planned Research Involving Live Vertebrate Animals.

To ensure all requirements are met by the award start date, applicants and award recipients are strongly encouraged to carefully review the NCATS guidelines and discuss any potential concerns with Tufts CTSI Pilot Studies Program staff ahead of time.

  • Research Involving Human Subjects and/or Human Cell Lines and Tissue Repositories: Projects involving human subjects are required to comply with requirements for the NCATS Human Subject Research Prior Approval. As of April 9, 2020, award recipients conducting human subjects research, including research that is otherwise exempt under Title 45 Part 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations, will be required to submit their IRB approvals and any applicable NCATS-required documentation to Tufts CTSI before their projects can begin. Additionally, those whose research is deemed to be greater than minimal risk, meet the criteria for an NIH-defined clinical trial, or include a foreign component may not begin their projects until the NCATS’ official prior approval for their projects are received. Generally, the NCATS human subjects research prior approval process takes 30 days. However, if a request is returned for any reason and if approval is sought for a clinical trial, the turnaround time may take up to 60 days.
  • Research Involving Animal Subjects: Projects involving animal subjects are required to comply with requirements for the NCATS Prior Approval for Planned Research Involving Live Vertebrate Animals. These requirements apply to work involving animals obtained or euthanized for tissue harvest and/or generation of custom antibodies. Research projects carried out at more than one site are required to provide a description of activities involving the care and use of animals for each site. This rule applies to non-Tufts CTSI-affiliated organization subcontracted by award recipients. Generally, the animal subjects NCATS prior approval process takes approximately 30 days.
  • Non-human and Non-animal Subjects Research: Projects that neither involve human nor animal subjects are not required to seek NCATS’ prior approval. However, if requested, award recipients will be required to provide proof of exclusion status determination issued by the IRB and/or IACUC.

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Description of 2021 Pilot Studies Program timeline


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