Each year our Clinical and Translational Science Award pilot projects program awards approximately $500,000 in translational pilot funding to advance health in South Texas. We identified needs to improve the timeliness, transparency, and efficiency of the review process by surveying applicants. Lean six sigma methodologies, following a “Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control” approach, were used to streamline the pilot project application and review by identifying and removing bottlenecks from process flows. We evaluated the impact of our reorganized review process by surveying applicants and reviewers. Process mapping identified pilot project review as the main source of delay, leading to the implementation of a study section-style review mechanism. After one cycle, 90.3% of pilot applicants and 100% of reviewers were highly satisfied with the new processes and time to award notice was reduced by 2 months. All reviewers familiar with both review processes preferred the study section. We demonstrated how lean six sigma, a methodology not commonly applied in research administration, can be used to evaluate processes in translational science in academic health centers. Through our efforts, we were able to improve timeliness, transparency, and efficiency of the review process.