Core Assistance Fund (CAF)


Award Amount from $5,000 up to $25,000 (Fall and Spring Cycle)


Cores and shared resources serve researchers across UCSF by providing essential access to state-of-the-art scientific instruments, services, and advice on experimental design and data analysis. UCSF’s Research Resource Program (RRP) is sponsoring the Core Assistance Fund (CAF) awards to assist and improve Core operations through acquisition of support equipment, reagent purchases for developing new services, upgrades, repair costs, or Items that cannot be placed on recharge. Funding for these awards is provided by the EVCP’s fund for Core Improvement. Examples of how this award could be applied include unexpected costs due to inflationary supply cost increases, increased need for PPE related equipment such as biosafety cabinets, and aid in service repairs.

Each funded grant will have a maximum award of up to $25,000, which may be used to pay for personnel, training, software, minor renovations, moving charges, supplies, equipment, and related expenses that can be demonstrated to enhance operations, improve efficiency, and provide return on investment. We are allowing these awards to help serve as matching funds for assistance proposals that have a budget over $25,000 and other funding sources to complete the assistance request will need to be provided. Contact the sponsor funding agency if you have questions regarding CAF allowable costs. We anticipate funding 2-3 awards, ranging from $5,000-$25,000. The funds must be spent within 6 months of receiving the award.


The grants are available to existing certified Campus Cores as well as cores or facilities that plan to become Campus Cores with the help of the award. The core must also be implemented or scheduled to begin implementation of the UCSF Core Management System, iLab. For assistance in identifying a Campus Core partner or to be scheduled for iLab implementation, please contact the RRP.

Proposals may be submitted by directors, technical directors, managers, or supervisors, and may cover more than one core. PI1 must be a Core Director, Core Technical Director, Core Manager or Core Supervisor and either: holds a faculty appointment in any series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) or a non-faculty academic appointment (Professional Research Series, Specialist, Academic Coordinator) or be a Lab Research Supervisor 1 or 2 in the Research and Laboratory Career Tracks Family. PI2, if relevant, should either hold the same appointment titles listed above as PI1 or be or a UCSF Faculty in any Series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) in all ranks (Instructor, Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor) including Appointees to the Professional Research Series and Librarian Series. If PI1 is not eligible to be the PI on the intended extramural application, PI2 must be eligible to serve in this role.

Submission Rules

Application Process

Step 1) Complete the RAP electronic application.

Step 2) Applications will be reviewed and scored by the RAP technology committee and finalists will be selected based on these scores.

Step 3) Finalists will be invited to prepare a detailed budget for their projects and a 10-minute face-to-face presentation. The RRP Strategic Advisory Committee will recommend projects for funding and final decisions will be made by the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Applicants will be notified by RRP if a face-to-face presentation is necessary.

For proposals containing an assistance request with a total budget over $25,000, showcasing other funding sources will be required and follow the review process above.

For proposals containing an assistance request with a cost of $25,000 or less, they will be reviewed independently by the sponsoring agency and funding recommendations will be decided by the Vice Chancellor for Research. The sponsoring agency may send any proposals through the full review process above if necessary and will notify the applicant. 

Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications

Priority will be given to proposals that demonstrate the following review criteria:

Document unexpected costs due to an emergency.
Provide justification for equipment to operate in a safe manner meeting EHS requirements
Showcase sharing between other cores and labs for common equipment requests.
Highlight how space could be freed up. For example, if groups are storing older non-operational equipment for spare parts, proposals showcasing what old equipment is being surplused and the resulting liberated space will be given additional significance.

Items always to consider:

  • Possess the potential to enable high scientific impact
  • Offer broad benefit to the UCSF research community
  • Showcase collaboration, teamwork, and sharing
  • Invest in operational changes that will provide returns and lead to long-term sustainability
  • Leverage departmental contributions, particularly from multiple departments
  • Management plan for the operation and sharing of the equipment within a campus core resource


STEP 1) Contact the sponsor funding agency if you intend on applying, so they can provide feedback on your planned application.

STEP 2) Complete the electronic application form.

STEP 3) 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: Recommend no more than 2 pages, excluding figures, tables, table of contents and literature cited (if relevant).

Format Requirements: Arial font; 11 pt; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins; no appendices; include page numbers and table of contents.

Resubmission Definition: Same project request with an amended application rather than request for different project.

Resubmission 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. P.I. Name(s) - Optionally, you may apply with two PIs. PI1 must be a director, technical director, manager or supervisor of a core. If funded, PI1 will be the primary contact for the award set up and management.

2. Project Title

3. Name of Core (and state if approved campus core or intended campus core)

4. Summary of assistance request (250 words)

5. Explain the impact of this assistance request. Include metrics that you will collect to demonstrate improvement

6. Who will benefit (Basic, Clinical or Translational Research, which departments or programs approximately how many investigators, fellows etc)

7. What is the risk of not doing this?

8. Ballpark budget (to the nearest $1,000)

The maximum award amount is $25,000. Please round up to the nearest thousandth (i.e. instead of $4,567, list $5,000). Matching funds for equipment may be shared among several sources, including departmental funds and individual research grants, all sources of funding should be listed in the budget including the amount to be requested from NIH or other internal/external sources. All related costs including personnel effort and supplies needed for instrument validation should be included in the budget. Clearly state and justify each item in the budget including why this model was selected. A quote from the manufacturer is required for review. This award may be used towards cost of equipment or to fund maintenance costs or personnel during the validation period. In most cases the funding period will be one year, however for innovative technology that requires development as well as validation this period may be extended. Budgets of more than one year must be well justified and will not be granted for instruments that do not require a development phase.

Note: If your Other Support references projects that may appear to have scientific or budgetary overlap with this proposal, please clearly identify and explain why this proposal is unique and non-overlapping.

9. Sources and amounts of any other funding

10. Equipment Disposition (if equipment is incuded in the proposal)

If the PI leaves UCSF, title to the equipment purchased using these award funds (in whole or in part), remains with UCSF.

11. NIH BioSketch of Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator(s) and UCSF Faculty Mentor(s) (if applicable), (5 page format):

      Other support pages of Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Investigator(s) and UCSF Faculty Mentor(s)

12. Letter(s) of Support:

  • Provide a letter from the Research Resource Program certifying the Core’s status as a Campus Core or explain how this award will help the core to gain campus core status.
  • If the budget includes matching funds from other sources provide a letter of support from each entity that will provide support.
  • Provide a letter of support from the Department Chair or other unit head. If there are two PIs, a letter of support is required for both, but if from the same department, the chair can vouch for both with a single letter. If the Department Chair will provide matching funds this can also be included in a single letter.

13. Documentation and usage data

Please provide MyReports of your operations of the current and previous 2 fiscal years. Your financial analyst will be able to help you access and pull up. Provide usage data as well highlighting increased or decreased usage of services/instrumentation related to the request. For proposals requesting funds for unexpected costs, please provide invoices from Bear Buy.