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 Catalyst Award Industry Advisor Selection Committee.

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 the Kunal Patel Catalyst Awards that provide both industry advisor mentorship and seed funding to UCSF Principal Investigators (PIs) with promising translational projects. The Kunal Patel Catalyst Awards are focused on the development of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, digital health, and biotools. Cell therapy projects are of special interest as there is potential for funding through our partnership with the Living Therapeutics Initiative  (LTI) at UCSF. Projects that address important problems with high relevance to clinical or translational neuroscience and human health, that can lead to a tangible benefit to patients, are of special interest at this cycle will include a partnership with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

Previous Catalyst Awardees include UCSF investigators whose projects span a broad range of innovative concepts. The mentorship and funding awardees receive enable them to reach key milestones along the translational path towards patient benefit and commercialization.

To support the challenging work of translating breakthrough academic discoveries into treatments and diagnostics that benefit patients, Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Mukesh Patel has generously funded the creation of the “Kunal Patel UCSF Innovation Fund” to support the Catalyst Program. UCSF Innovation Ventures and the Catalyst Program are very grateful to the Patel family for their generosity. Learn more.

Award Amounts

  • All award amounts are up to $100,000

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 (10 minute presentation, 15 minute Q&A) and the awardees are selected by the Committee.

Stage 3

Awardees will:

  • Participate in mentorship sessions with relevant industry advisors.
  • Create a Target Product Profile (TPP) for their project with the assistance of Catalyst Interns and present the TPP and project update to the assembled industry advisors.
  • Teams will also have the opportunity to participate in the NSF i-Corps Program.

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, 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 (IP): 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:

October 2 , 2023

RAP Application Deadline

November, 2023

Finalists Informed

January, 2024

Finalist Presentations to Industry Advisor Selection Committee

February 2024

Announcement of Awards

Spring 2024

Consultation Sessions

Summer 2024

TPP Creation with Catalyst Interns

Fall 2024

TPP Presentation and Project Update to Industry Advisors

Spring 2025

Project Update to Industry Advisors

Proposals will be evaluated on the following:

1.        Unmet medical need  
         - Disease area focus

          -limitations of current standard of care
         - potential for clinical impact

2.       Scientific rationale 
         - validation of the approach

3.       Development feasibility 
         - realistic goals and timelines

         - appropriate aims for advancing along the translational path

4.       Commercial attractiveness 
         - indication prevalence and incidence; competitive landscape; size of market;

feasibility of clinical path; reimbursement considerations; ability to attract additional follow-on funding

5.       Intellectual property status
         - status of disclosures and filings; opportunities to generate IP; potential issues

Specifically for cell therapy/LTI targeted projects: ability to contribute to LTI goals and help establish UCSF as a leader in this area. Neuroscience projects will be selected based on alignment with the Weill Institute's goals and priorities.


STEP 1) Complete the electronic application form.  Please note there are several pieces of information that need to be provided directly via the electronic application form (selecting the appropriate grant mechanism, providing demographic information, uploading an abstract, etc.).

STEP 2) Upload the proposal as a SINGLE PDF that includes all the items listed in order from 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:

  • PI 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 how  the aims will further the project along the product development path
  • Intellectual property status (disclosures made to OTMA, 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’ (out-license to industry partner, initiate a clinical trial, start a company, etc.)
  • Additional requirements
    • Literature citations 
    • PI and team short bios (please do not include NIH biosketches)
    • Budget – include the amount requested for each specific aim of the project; each aim’s estimated timeline, and the milestones to be achieved by that aim. PIs are required to list their effort whether paid or in-kind. Use the following budget template form: Catalyst Program Budget Justification Template

Allowable Expenses:




Faculty Salary 


Other Salaries*



Network Recharge Rates 



K career development awardees – salary support






Administrative Support












Personal Computers












Patient Care



Indirect costs on subcontracts



GAEL insurance



Publication fees (max $5K)  X  

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