Catalyst Awards to Develop Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Medical Devices, Digital Health and Biotools

OFFERED IN FALL CYCLES ONLY.  This grant will not be reviewed by RAP review committees; It will be independently reviewed by the sponsoring agency.

The Catalyst Program is UCSF’s translational accelerator focused on advancing UCSF discoveries with clinical impact and commercial potential. The centerpiece of the Catalyst Program are Catalyst Awards that provide both industry advisor mentorship and seed funding to UCSF PIs with promising projects. The Catalyst Awards are focused on the development of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, digital health and biotools. Previous Catalyst Awardees include UCSF investigators whose projects span a broad range of innovative concepts. The mentorship and funding awardees received enabled them to reach key milestones along the translational path towards patient benefit and commercialization.

Therapeutics Collaboration

ShangPharma Innovation Awards for the Development of Therapeutics

UCSF has a collaboration with ShangPharma Innovation to progress therapeutics projects towards the clinic. This collaboration, managed by the Catalyst Program, includes both direct project funding and contract research services provided by ChemPartner. 

Award Amounts

  • All award amounts are up to $100,000
  • If chosen for therapeutics collaboration with ShangPharma Innovation, a project can qualify for direct funding of up to $400,000/year -
    plus up to $600,000/year in contract research services at ChemPartner. 

Award Process

Stage 1
Initial Review

The industry Advisor Selection Committee reviews the applications and selects the finalists.
Stage 2
Finalist Presentations
Finalists present their projects to the Industry Advisor Selection Committee (15 minute presentation, 15 minute Q&A) and awardees are selected.
Stage 3
Awardees will participate in mentorship sessions with relevant industry advisors; create a "Target Product Profile" (TPP) for their project and present the TPP and project update to the assembled industry advisors. 

Eligibility: Applicants must be a UCSF Faculty member in any series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) or any rank (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor). Students, Residents and Clinical and Postdoctoral Fellows, and Specialists are eligible to submit applications as a PI if they have a faculty member as a Co-PI.

Submission Rules

Intellectual Property: Projects should have a strong potential for obtaining intellectual property. Any existing IP has to be assigned to, or jointly owned by, the Regents of the University of California. 

Estimated Timeline:

Sept 23, 2019 RAP Application Deadline
Early November, 2019 Finalists informed
November-December, 2019 Finalist presentations to Industry Advisor Selection Committee
January 2020 Announcement of awards 
Spring 2020 TPP Presentation and Project Update to Industry Advisor Selection Committee
Fall 2020 Project Update

Proposals will be evaluated on the following:

1.       Unmet medical need  
         - limitations of current standard of care

2.       Scientific rationale 
         - validation of the approach

3.       Development feasibility 
         - realistic goals and timelines; appropriate aims for translational advancement to commercialization

4.       Commercial attractiveness 
         - indication prevalence and inciedence; competitive landscape; size of market; feasibility of clinical trial;
            reimbursement considerations

5.       Intellectual property status, potential position, and issues 
         - status of disclosures and filings; potential issues


Complete the electronic application form 
Upload the proposal as a SINGLE PDF that includes all the items listed in the instructions below.

Format Requirements:  Arial font; 11 pt; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins.

Application Length: Maximum of 3 pages, (not including PI and team bios, literature citations, and budget pages).

Application Content:

  • P.I. name(s) and project title
  • Brief executive summary that includes: the unmet medical need being addressed; the initial discovery or observation; the specific focus of the Catalyst project; and the future product
  • Details on unmet medical need addressed and competitive landscape (how the medical need is currently being addressed and other approaches being pursued to the same end)
  • Details on the discovery and their implications for the eventual product opportunity; details on the current state of the project
  • Details on the proposed Catalyst Project’s specific aims, and where they will get you along the product development path
  • Intellectual property status (disclosures made to OTM, any patent filings)
  • Current sources of funding for the project; existing collaborations with other institutions on the project; funding strategy after the Catalyst Program phase of the project. 
  • ‘Exit strategy’ (i.e. out-license to industry partner, initiate a clinical trial, start a company)
  • Literature citations 

PI and team short bios

Budget should include budget amount requested for each specific aim of the project, their estimated timeline, and milestones to be achieved.  PIs are required to list their effort whether paid or in kind.

Use the following budget template formCatalyst Program Budget Justification Template

  Allowable Not
Faculty Salary   
Other Salaries* X  
K career development awardees – salary support   X
Consultants X  
Administrative Support   X
Supplies X  
Equipment X  
Software X  
Personal Computers   X
Mailing   X
Tuition   X
Travel** X  
Patient Care   X
Indirect costs on subcontracts   X
GAEL insurance   X

*  NIH based salary cap  
**Travel is restricted to reaching project sites.

Post Award Activities (note: RAP Central does not manage any post-award activities - all awardee communication is directly with Catalyst Program administration)
Catalyst Awardees will participate in two presentations to the Industry Advisors. The first presentation in Spring 2020 will include presenting a Target Product Profile (TPP) and a project update. The second presentation in Fall 2020 will be a further update on the project. These will be opportunities to get additional industry advisor feedback on the project direction.