Pilot for Junior Investigators in Basic and Clinical/Translational Sciences

Project Award Amount: $40,000

These pilot projects are intended to support a wide range of biomedical research, including fundamental basic science, clinical/translational science, health policy and social science, digital health (incorporating the use of mobile technology) and population science.

Pilot projects are for one year and not renewable. (Some funding agencies allow for no-cost extensions. This will be clarified in the Award Letter.) All funding agencies require progress reports if an award is received. The number and timing of those reports varies between the agencies. Detailed information about this will appear in the respective funding agencies Award Letter.

For projects focusing on Digital Health Research

Funds are available for research-focused projects in mobile health (dHealth), defined as the use of mobile technology in conjunction with Internet and social media to improve health and wellness and/or to manage disease. dHealth emphasizes use by laypeople but also includes use by clinicians and other health care workers (including public health and community care workers). Awards can be for projects in any health domain where there exists an unmet need or the potential for significant improvement over current approaches.

Projects are encouraged that involve delivery of the technology over mobile devices (mobile phones, tablets, excluding laptops). Examples include mobile phone "apps" for medication reminders, symptom tracking, improved dietary habits, health records exchange, or medical reference. Note that feasibility studies determining the potential value of a dHealth intervention that do not in themselves use or propose to develop a specific technology (e.g., evaluation of technology access in a target group, focus groups/interviews to determine barriers to potential adoption of dHealth interventions) are appropriate.


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

Who's Eligible:
Assistant Professors and Instructors in all series, including adjunct and professional research series, may apply. If the proposal has multiple PIs, both PI1 and PI2 need to meet the eligibility criteria listed above for this grant mechanism (both PI1 and PI2 need to be Instructors and/or Assistant Prof.)

Funder-specific eligibility requirements:

  • Precision Medicine in Rheumatology (PREMIER)  is an NIH/NIAMS funded Center at UCSF with the overarching goal of facilitating and enhancing precision medicine studies in rheumatic diseases. All applicants seeking funding through PREMIER for pilot grants must be members of the Center. All UCSF faculty are eligible for membership, please apply through the PREMIER website http://premier.ucsf.edu/. Please address in the proposal how the project is expected to advance precision medicine in rheumatic disease.
  • Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine (CCMBM) Applicants must be FULL members of the Center. Instructions for becoming a member can be found at http://www.ucsf-mskp30.org/#!becoming-a-member-/c1799. In the body of the RAP application, please address your membership status in any musculoskeletal proposals. We will accept new members as late as February 10, 2017.
  • Cancer Center-MZHF Applicants must be Physician-Scientists, Cancer Center Members or be sponsored by a Cancer Center Member. Please address this eligibility point in any cancer-related proposal.
  •  Cancer Center-CCSG Applicants must be Cancer Center Members or Associate Members. Please address this eligibility point in any cancer-related proposal.
  •  CTSI-affiliated institutions Investigators must apply with documentation of a faculty-equivalent appointment.
  •  Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee (REAC) Applicants must have an appointment with UCSF and School of Medicine

Who's Not Eligible:
Fellows are not eligible. Specialists are not eligible.

NOTE:  To be funded by the Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee (REAC) applicants must have an appointment with the UCSF School of Medicine.

Designation of Research Mentor
All pilot award applications from individuals at the Assistant Professor level or below require the designation of a faculty mentor. This should be an individual who has primary responsibility for overseeing the research career development of the applicant.

Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications
Projects will be evaluated based on the quality of the proposed scientific investigation, the potential of the proposal to lead to a fully-funded independent research grant, and the quality and potential of the applicant and the research team.

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 a well-described mentoring plan.

Background on individual funding agencies

The PREMIER Pilot/Feasibility grants are intended for projects that are translational in nature with studies focused on advancing precision medicine in rheumatology. Projects related to all types of rheumatologic disease and human autoimmune diseases will be considered. Projects should utilize human samples or show direct links to rheumatologic/autoimmune disease in humans. PREMIER consists of 3 Resource Cores (HSCP: Human Studies and Clinical Phenotyping, GMR: Genomics and Molecular Resources, and IB: Integrative Bioinformatics). You must use a portion of your funds in at least one of the Cores, although use in more than one Core is encouraged. For more information on our Cores, PREMIER and to apply for membership, please see our web site at http://premier.ucsf.edu/. We encourage all applicants to contact us at premier@ucsf.edu.  Center personnel can assist with your proposal.

Academic Senate grants are made available in part through endowment funds allocated to specific areas of research. In addition to general funds, the Committee on Research awards money from endowment funds for these specific areas of research:

  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Heart disease, cancer, vascular or circulatory disorders, and epilepsy
  • Eye diseases
  • Cancer
  • Stomach ailments

Note: the above categories apply to both research on the specified disease and related areas of focus. For example, "stomach ailments research" can include stomach ulcers research and research into diabetes focusing on stomach disorders or ailments.

Cancer Center-MZHF (funded by the Mt. Zion Health Fund) provides seed funding to encourage clinical and clinical translational scientists, especially those at the beginning of their research career or established investigators wishing to embark on a new area of study, to initiate promising new projects in cancer research that may enable them to compete successfully for federal research grants. Targeted areas are innovative pilot, phase I/II therapeutic studies and other projects in clinical, health policy, health services, psychosocial and behavioral research that have direct application to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Pre-clinical or laboratory correlative studies that demonstrate a direct path to the clinic will also be considered. The proposed project must be a Mt. Zion-based activity; or led primarily by Mt. Zion-based personnel; or use a Mt. Zion-based resource; or that will especially benefit Mt. Zion constituents (e.g., patients, families, faculty, staff, and/or trainees). Applicants must be physician-scientists and a Cancer Center member or be sponsored by a Cancer Center member. Investigators who are proposing basic science and population research projects are eligible for funding through the Academic Senate, REAC, and CTSI-Pilot Awards.

Cancer Center-CCSG (funded by the NCI P30 award) provides seed funding to encourage innovative cancer-related research in a wide range of research areas, including basic science, clinical and translational science, health policy and social science, and population sciences. Priority is given to translational science and to areas that are generally under-represented, such as population sciences. This program supports novel cancer research initiatives which are not currently funded by research grants and which may ultimately lead to new ways of preventing, detecting or treating cancer. Emphasis is placed on innovative projects, and applicants must be a Cancer Center Member or Associate Member. Training costs and routine equipment purchases are not allowable. International Subcontracts are allowable on CCSG funds, with specific requirements regarding foreign components and if the foreign subcontractor is from industries (see Detailed Budget section below).

CTSI-Pilot Awards provides funding in Spring Cycles ONLY, and supports proposals that focus on:

  • Advancing clinical and translational translational methods, tools and infrastructure;
  • Research that incorporates methods and approaches of particular relevance to children, the elderly, or socially or medically vulnerable populations, with preference for projects focused on developing or advancing critical measurement domains that span all three populations - function and cognition, caregiver burden and context, family dynamics and social support, poverty, and health literacy; or
  • Mobile health, specifically projects involving delivery of the technology over mobile devices and culminating in the generation of new knowledge on digital health methods, efficacy, effectiveness, or policy.

REAC funds pilot projects ranging from basic to clinical and translational. Pilot research should collect data for publication and to acquire successful subsequent funding by other mechanisms. Only School of Medicine faculty qualify for REAC funds.

The CCMBM Pilot/Feasibility grants are intended for projects that are translational in nature and related to musculoskeletal disease. Digital health projects in this area will also be accepted. The CCMBM consists of 3 Research Cores (Imaging, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, and Skeletal Biology). You must use a portion of your funds in, at least, one of the cores although use in more than one core is encouraged. For more information on our Cores and the CCMBM in general, please see our web site at ucsf-mskp30.org.



STEP 1) Complete the 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. Do not include form fields in your PDF document.


Please write your proposal following the instructions listed below and create one single pdf file. Do not include form fields in your pdf document.

Proposal Length: Maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding table of contents and literature cited.

Format Requirements: Arial font; 11pt; 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.     PI Name(s)-Optionally, you may apply with two PIs. If funded, PI1 will be the primary contact for the award set up and management. If the proposal has multiple PIs, both PI1 and PI2 need to meet the eligibility criteria listed for this grant mechanism.  Only one application as PI (PI1 OR PI2) is permitted per cycle.

2.     Project Title

3.     Proposal (maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding literature cited)

  • Aims
  • Background and Significance
  • Preliminary studies
  • Experimental Design and Methods (include time-table)
  • Explain how this pilot project is important for your career goals (e.g., lead to major funding, etc.)
  • Mentoring Plan: Please describe the plan for oversight of this project by your mentor(s), including the specific role of your primary mentor named in this application.

Literature cited (not included in page limit)

It is recommended that PIs with projects involving human subjects prepare an IRB application concurrently with the application for funding. Please refer to the UCSF Human Research Protection Program to determine if your research requires IRB review and if your research meets the definition of human subjects research.

5.     Detailed Budget - $40,000 maximum per proposal and please round up to the nearest thousand (i.e. instead of 39,867 list $40,000).

Use the following form: PHS 398 Form Page 4, "Detailed Budget for the Initial Period" http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html. Add the network recharge rates to your budget.

  Allowable Not Allowable
PI Salary * X  
Co-Investigator(s) Salary  
Post Doc Salary X  
Administrative Support   X
Supplies X  
Equipment X  
Software X  
Personal Computers   X
Mailing   X
Tuition   X
Travel   X
Research Staff Support (e.g. RSA; Lab. Technicial) X  
Patient Care   X
International Subcontracts** X (CCSG) X (CTSI-Pilot Awards, MZHF)
Indirect Costs on Subcontracts at other Universities   X (CTSI-Pilot Awards)

 * NIH base salary cap. Fully justify all requests. Generally, PI partial salary support should not exceed 10% of the budget, anything over 10% must be well justified. Multiple PIs can decide how to distribute that 10% salary support among them (e.g., 5%/5% or 6%/4%).

 ** If CCSG resources are used in partnership with industrial resources, the Cancer Center must assure that applicable federal law governs the public availability of any final products of the research. In addition, NIH must track all pilot projects in this category that include foreign components and, if necessary, State Department clearance must be obtained prior to implementation. Cancer Center staff will act as the liaison between the Centers and the NIH Fogarty International Center, which is responsible for coordinating all clearances.

If you need assistance with budgeting for statistical or recruitment help, please contact CTSI-Consultation Services. Consultation Services offers a free hour to all researchers per project and service, and it can assist with appropriate budgeting if your project is awarded.

Specific funder budget constraints:

PREMIER cannot fund any international projects or expenses. In the budget, you will need to outline how funds will be spent in Core(s). To obtain an estimate regarding Core usage, please use the request services form on the PREMIER website (http://premier.ucsf.edu/content/request-services) and enter RAP grant proposal in your request.  IACUC and IRB approvals letters, and evidence of human studies training (if applicable) need to be provided for timely release of project funds.

CTSI-Pilot Awards cannot fund any international projects or expenses, including projects where there may be foreign co-authorship (if the tool/research becomes the basis for a paper that will be co-authored by someone external to the US). Current K scholars are not eligible to receive salary support from CTSI-Pilot Awards. K scholars must submit the type of K award received and award dates. Current K scholars must also submit justification for the differences between K-awarded project and RAP project. K2 awardees are not eligible.

Cancer Center-CCSG Developmental Funds cannot support training costs and routine equipment purchases. International Subcontracts are allowable on CCSG funds, with specific requirements regarding foreign components and if the foreign subcontractor is from industries (see Detailed Budget section above).

CCMBM cannot fund any international projects or expenses. In the budget, please also outline how much money you will be spending in each CCMBM core. In addition, before the CCMBM can release funds, NIH/NIAMS requires a review of the application to assure all relevant human and animal welfare protocols are approved and in place. Consequently, proof of relevant training for all PIs and Co-Is (if applicable) and IACUC and IRB approvals letters (if applicable) need to be provided for timely release of project funds.

6.   Budget Justification: Clearly justify all costs fully.

7.   NIH Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Investigator(s) and UCSF Faculty Mentor(s) (5 page maximum): Use Form (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/SF424R-R_biosketchsample_VerC.docx) with ‘Other Support’ pages. Include active, pending, and planned proposals. Include percent effort, total direct costs (current year) and potential overlap with the current proposal. Include bio-sketch for both PIs of a multi-PI application.

8.   Letter(s) of support: Provide a letter of support from the department chair or other unit head. In addition, for junior investigators, department chairs/unit heads should comment on the independence of the applicant and availability of research space and other resources for the proposed research. Include the letter of support at the end of your pdf document and address it to the RAP Committee. If there are multiple (two) PIs, a letter of support is required for both PIs. If PIs are in the same department, the chair can vouch for both PIs in a single letter. VIEW SAMPLE.