Mentored Scientist Award Program in HIV/AIDS

Project Award Amount $50,000


The CFAR Mentored Scientist Award is a grant targeted toward mentoring and training early stage investigators at a senior stage of clinical or postdoctoral training or new faculty at UCSF or affiliated partner institutes to conduct a research project, allowing them to acquire preliminary data and findings leading toward a future grant effort. Investigators with backgrounds in clinical, basic, behavioral-epidemiological, implementation, and/or Health Disparities HIV/AIDS research are all welcome to apply.

Of high interest to CFAR are investigations ranging from basic pathogenesis to clinical outcomes in the research areas of HIV/aging and inflammation, latency, cure, vaccines, co-infections, HIV in women, and research related to health disparities in HIV-infected and HIV-impacted Bay Area populations. CFAR has designated funding for at least two awards in both of basic and clinical/epidemiological/behavioral/translational sciences, and one award in Health Disparities. International research projects are allowed.

Applicants for this award must indicate a faculty research mentor(s) who will commit to guiding the applicant throughout the duration of the proposed project.

NOTE: Projects must be within NIH’s HIV/AIDS research high or medium priority areas.

NIH does not allow CFAR to fund clinical trials or human use of an investigational drug. If you are considering a study involving a clinical intervention (e.g. approved drugs and/or standard-of-care), please contact Brenda Sanchez with a brief description of your study (brenda.sanchez@ucsf,edu) cc: to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR.

The award level for this program is $50,000 in direct costs (may include personnel salary and benefits). The funding period is one year. Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed and must be throughly justified. If this application is awarded, indirect costs at appropriate rates will be added to the total direct costs. (Please note under the RAP funding portal your award could be co-funded by two or more agencies, each requiring separate accounts and documentation). CFAR commits to funding in two priority research areas as long as scientifically meritorious proposals are received in each:

  • Basic Science (two or more awards)
  • Clinical/Translational/Epidemiological/Behavioral Sciences (two or more awards)
  • Health Disparities (one or more awards)
  1. The number of grants awarded is determined by funding available.
  2. The funding period is one year.
  3. All CFAR-funded research conducted in an international setting must have both UCSF and international institution CHR approval and must be approved by the NIH before funding will be released to the awardee’s institution via subcontract at UCSF.


Eligibility requirements need to be met as of date of submission; no waivers are allowed.

Investigators must be at UCSF or affiliated partner institutes (

  1. Postdoctoral or clinical fellows in training
  2. Current faculty at the assistant professor or clinical instructor level (including acting positions) who have not yet received an R01-equivalent award in HIV/AIDS

Special Considerations for Current NIH T32 and K Awardees:

  • Current T32 awardees can apply for CFAR funds provided salary/stipends are NOT from CFAR award
  • Current mentored K awardees can provide complementary effort on the CFAR without salary within their remaining 25% effort. The mentored CDA must also maintain the 75% on the K. K-awardees should consult with their program officer on the K to make sure they will allow this exception.

Designation of Research Mentor

All Mentored award applications require a faculty research mentor from UCSF or a UCSF-affiliate. ( CFAR requires your research mentor’s support to advise and guide the research portion of your application before submitting it to RAP. If no such person has yet been named, the applicant must arrange this before submission of the grant proposal.

The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in AIDS research, and should be able to demonstrate past success in training/mentoring independent investigators. The mentor’s role is to provide oversight on the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed research. In addition, the mentor must commit to mentoring the applicant’s throughout the duration of the research project.

NOTE: Mentor cannot have supervisory authority over the applicant(s) under any circumstance part-time or full-time during the project period. If the applicant works in your lab and you are his/her supervisor, you are required to find another person to act as a Research Mentor for the applicant’s project. If questions arise, please contact Lauren Sterling, at, CFAR Managing Director.

Criteria for Review / Evaluation of Applications
Completed applications which meet eligibility requirements will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate review committee convened by the UCSF Resource Allocation Program in accordance with NIH review criteria: 1. Significance, 2. Approach, 3. Innovation, 4. Investigator, 5. Environment. Each of these criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall application score.

CFAR Research Resources
Awardees are encouraged to use one or more support services from our CFAR research resources:

Implementation Science Scientific Working Group – Applicants proposing a study in the field of implementation science are required to have an expert from the new Implementation Science Working Group consult with them regarding their study. Send an email with a brief study description to Elvin Geng, SWG Director (

Clinical and Population Sciences Core: Steven Deeks, MD & Jeff Martin, MD, MPH, Directors; (;

Immunology Core: Jeffrey Milush, PhD, Director (

Virology Core: Teri Liegler, PhD; Joseph Wong, MD, Directors; (,

Specimen Bank Core: Richard Jordan, DDS, PhD & Yvonne DeSouza, MS, Directors (,

Pharmacology Core: Francesca Aweeka, Director (

Health Disparities Core: Applicants proposing to conduct research with human subjects, especially local and/or underserved communities, are encouraged to consult with the Health Disparities Core. Send an email with a brief study description to Lauren Sterling, Managing Director ( to receive this consultation.

CHR/IRB Approvals: All NIH-funded research requires IRB approval and human subjects training certification. All awardees whose research involves human subjects (e.g., patients or cohorts or the use of specimens/samples/medical record data) will be required to apply for and obtain approval for their research from the UCSF Committee on Human Research (CHR).

Note: Funding for research projects involving human subjects will not be released until a CHR approval or CHR waiver letter (citing the awardee's name) and proof of human subjects training have been received and forwarded to the NIH program office. If you have any questions regarding the CHR approval process, please contact the MSO for your department. New investigators should visit the UCSF CHR website for details on when and how to apply for CHR approval at Information on training, including online training resources, can be found on the CHR website at

At no point can CHR approval or waiver expire during the project. Should CHR approval expire before the study is completed, all study research must be stopped immediately, and cannot be recommenced until CHR approval has been obtained.

Research that is NOT considered human subject research per CHR Guidelines: Under limited circumstances, research involving only unidentifiable or coded private information or specimens is not considered human subjects research (refer to This can be determined and certified by the Principal Investigator based on the diagram Determining Whether Human Subjects are Involved in Research When Obtaining Private Information (data) or Biological Specimens, If only coded/unidentifiable samples or data will be used in the proposed research, a CHR waiver or self-certification will be required, refer to Exempt Certification and Non-Human Subject Research Application

STUDIES ABOVE MINIMAL RISK: The NIH requires additional review (clinical checklist) for all studies above minimal risk

IRB approvals, consent docs, protocol will be required. Once all paperwork has been filed with the NIH, approval takes approximately 8–12 weeks.

Studies with Foreign Components:

If the study has an international component requiring a subcontract to a foreign institution, additional NIH approval and review is required. IRB approvals (both local and foreign) institute FWA#, and human subjects training certifications (for local and foreign investigators) will be required before the release of any funding. [See NIH checklist form:].
Once all paperwork has been filed with the NIH, approval takes approximately 8–12 weeks.

NOTE: International research proposals should provide two separate budgets: A foreign budget listing all its expenses with 8% indirect cost factored in, and 2) domestic budget listing all its expenses with 26% indirect cost factored in. Rule of thumb: If the expense is done at UCSF or affiliated institution, then it is a domestic expense; conversely if it’s a foreign expense, it must occur at the foreign location. Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed and must be fully justified.

Program Contact

Should you have any questions regarding submission or reporting procedures, please contact Brenda Sanchez, CFAR Core Development Manager, at Additional information related to application for funding can be found on the CFAR website: And the complete guidelines description:

Selection of Awardees
Funding decisions are made independently by each funding agency based on several factors – scientific review score, alignment of proposal to funder’s strategic goals, proposal research area of focus, and specifically called out eligibility or other requirements like membership in a center, affiliation with a specific school or relevance to a stated auxiliary topic.


STEP 1) Complete the RAP electronic application form
STEP 2) Upload your proposal as a SINGLE PDF that includes all the things listed in numeric order in the instructions below


Please write your proposal following the instructions listed below and create one single PDF file.
Proposal Length: Maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding table of contents and literature cited. Format Requirements: Arial font; 11 pt; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins; no appendices; include page numbers and table of contents.

Definition: same research topic with an amended application or research plan rather than a new research topic and new research plan.
Requirements: Please use up to one extra page to introduce your revised proposal, addressing the issues raised in the review, and any additional changes to your proposal. A new letter from the Chair is not required if the resubmission is within 2 cycles (one skipped cycle max). You will include the old letter and state your resubmission is within 2 cycles and new letter is not required. Make sure the new changes are highlighted in bold or italic font so the reviewers can easily see where and how the proposal has changed. Do NOT use track changes.

  1. Investigator Name (no multiple PIs); only one application is permitted per cycle.
    • Country of citizenship
    • Country of permanent residence

2. Project Title

3. Foreign Country. Supply the following (if applicable):

  • Country
  • Project field site
  • Foreign institution FWA number
  • Foreign IRB date of approval and approval number (specify if pending)

4. Proposal - (maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, [a-e below] excluding literature cited and additional human-subjects information [f-i below])

a. Aims (list at least two aims)

b. Background and Significance

c. Preliminary studies

d. Experimental Design and Methods (include time-table)

i) Hypothesis, ii) Rationale, iii) Experimental approach, iv) Interpretation of results

e. Explain how this pilot project is important for your career goals (e.g., lead to major major funding, etc.

f. Mentoring Plan. Describe the plan for oversight of this project by your mentor(s)

including the specific role of your primary mentor named in this application. (not included in the page limit)

g. Literature cited (not included in the page limit)

h. Protection of Human Subjects description (if applicable)

i. Inclusion/Enrollment Table (if applicable for studies proposing human subjects, including existing resources)

5. Budget - The award level for this program is $50,000 in direct costs for a one-year project period. Please round up to the nearest thousand (i.e. instead of $49,869 list $50,000).

Direct costs may include personnel (salary and fringe benefits), consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel to perform the study or to present findings from the study, and other expenses. Travel, along with other costs, must be fully justified.

Note: Any foreign component is limited to 8% indirect costs. All applicants applying from other institutions besides UCSF should contact Frank Fernandez or Brenda Sanchez for assistance developing your budget with indirect cost allowability.

Please use the NIH PHS 398 form “Page 4: Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period”.

( to prepare your budget. The grid below describes the budget items which are allowable/not allowable for the International Award Program:

Mentored Science Award Program Budget


Not Allowable

PI Salary



Co-Investigator(s) Salary



Post Doc Salary



Administrative Support












Personal Computers *









Travel **



Research Staff Support (e.g. RSA; Lab. Technician)



Patient Care



Indirect costs ***



Other Expenses ****



* Computers are only allowable when essential to the conduct of the proposed research. If the computer is planned to be used for other projects / responsibilities in addition to the CFAR project, we request that the cost of the computer be shared with those other project budgets, in accordance with the amount of use anticipated by each project.
** Travel for awardees is allowed only if required to conduct the study or to present findings from this study at a conference (not simply to attend a conference).
*** Budget should include your fully allowable federally-negotiated indirect costs
**** Refer to the UCSF Charging Practices and Guidelines of allowable Expenses

6. Budget Justification: Clearly and fully justify all costs including benefit rates and indirect costs. Please contact us for assistance with your budget and/or sub-contract.

7. NIH Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Investigator(s) (5 page maximum).

Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator, co-investigators, and UCSF Faculty Mentor(s): Use NIH SF424 Biographical Sketch Format page (

8. Mentor’s Letter of Support
Include a letter of support from your research mentor that includes the information outlined below:

  • Specific areas in which mentoring will be provided/mentor’s role in the project
  • Mentor’s background in mentoring
  • Describe how the project fits with the mentor’s research agenda and mentees career development
  • Describe mentor’s working relationship (previous and/or current) with applicant

9. Institutional Letter of Support (If Non UCSF)

Please provide a letter of support from the project site institution with signature. The site/institution should comment on the independence of the applicant and availability of space and other resources for the proposed research.