Pilot Award for Investigators New to HIV

Project Award Amount $50,000


The Pilot Award Program for Investigators New to HIV is aimed toward investigators (assistant or associate faculty, including clinical) without past or current HIV/SIV funding with an innovative research idea in translational, clinical, and/or behavioral-epidemiological, HIV/AIDS research. Pilot awards are typically used to initiate a project or to gather preliminary data and findings leading to a future grant application. International research projects are allowed. Some topics of current high interest include HIV and aging-inflammation, latency, cure, vaccines, co-infections, implementation science, HIV in women, and research related to health disparities in HIV-infected and HIV-impacted Bay Area populations.

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: lauren.sterling@ucsf.edu) to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR.

Funding Opportunity
The award level for this program is $50,000 in direct costs (may include personnel salary and benefits). The funding period is one year. The number of grants awarded is determined by funding available. Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed and must be fully 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).

  • The funding period is one year. The number of grants awarded is determined by funding available.
  • 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 awardees institution via subcontract at UCSF.
  • A Progress reports will be due to the CFAR Program office at six months and at the end of the project period.
  • Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed and must be fully justified. If this application is awarded, indirect costs at appropriate rates will be added to the total direct costs.


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

Faculty members at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor level at UCSF or our affiliated partner institutes (http://cfar.ucsf.edu/about/partners) may apply. Faculty members may apply only if they are newly entering the field of HIV research. Investigators are not eligible for CFAR Pilot Funding if they have received any past HIV research funding from any agency. 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. For additional questions contact Lauren Sterling, CFAR Managing Director at Lauren.Sterling@ucsf.edu.

Designation of Research Mentor

All pilot award applications from individuals at the Assistant Professor level or below require an HIV research mentor, and faculty at the Associate Professor level are recommended to find an HIV research mentor or collaborator. CFAR strongly recommends seeking your research mentor’s support to advise and guide the research portion of your application before submitting it to RAP.

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 (elvin.geng@ucsf.edu).

Clinical and Population Sciences Core: Steven Deeks, MD & Jeff Martin, MD, MPH, Directors; (SDeeks@php.ucsf.edu; martin@psg.ucsf.edu).

Immunology Core: Jeffrey Milush, PhD, Director (Jeffrey.Milush@ucsf.edu)

Virology Core: Teri Liegler, PhD; Joseph Wong, MD, Directors; (TLiegler@sfgh.ucsf.edu,joseph.wong2@va.gov).

Specimen Bank Core: Richard Jordan, DDS, PhD & Yvonne DeSouza, MS, Directors (richard.jordan@ucsf.edu,Yvonne.DeSouza@ucsf.edu).

Pharmacology Core: Francesca Aweeka, Director (FAweeka@sfghsom.ucsf.edu)

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 (lauren.sterling@ucsf.edu) 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).

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: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/sites/default/files/internationalstudieschecklist.doc].
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 Program Analyst, at Brenda.sanchez@ucsf.edu. Additional information related to application for funding can be found on the CFAR website: http://cfar.ucsf.edu/award-type/pilot. And the complete PDF:


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 as PI 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)http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/inclusion-enrollment-report.pdf

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, plus 26% on the first $25,000, for each sub-contracting institution. 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” (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/fp4.doc) to prepare your budget. The grid below describes the budget items which are allowable/not allowable for the Pilot Award Program:

Pilot Award Program Budget


Not Allowable

PI Salary



Co-Investigator(s) Salary


Postdoc Salary



Administrative Support












Personal Computers*












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



Patient Care



Indirect costs***



Others 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 http://controller.ucsf.edu/pam/cas_guidelines.asp

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 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms/biosketch.htm).

8. Letter of Support
Please provide a letter of support from the department chair or other unit head and from the project mentor or collaborator (if applicable). For all applicants, the department chair/unit head should indicate support for the application with signature. The mentor/collaborator’s letter of support should indicate agreement to serve as an HIV resource for the applicant and indicate their support for the submission of the application.

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.