Core Operational Improvement Awards (COIA)

Award Amount up to $100,000 (Spring Cycle Only)

Up to four awards available


Campus Cores 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 Core Operational Improvement Awards (COIA) designed to support cores in the goal of improving the efficiency of their operations. Funding for these awards is provided by the EVCP’s fund for Core Improvement. Applications that propose cross-department collaboration and/or merger of existing core facilities will be required for this round.

Up to four grants will be awarded, to a maximum of $100K each. Awards may be used to pay for personnel, software, minor renovation or moving costs, equipment, and related expenses that can be demonstrated to improve efficiency and/or reduce costs. Allowable equipment purchases: Any equipment purchase considered under this award must be directly related to the improvement of core operations, and the proposal shall describe how the purchase accomplishes that goal. Allowable equipment can include support instruments greater than $5,000 in cost that do not generate data directly but aid in workflows, such as robotics or automated sample preparation instruments. Equipment greater than $5,000 in cost that generate data directly is not supported under this award as there are other mechanisms for funding, such as Institutional Matching Instrumentation Awards.


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.  Applications must have at least 2 core facilities participating and how the improvement would benefit their operations. Proposals may be submitted by directors, technical directors, managers, or supervisors of cores, and may cover more than one core. PI1 must be a Core Director, Core Manager or Core Technical Director 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 be 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.

Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications

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

  • Possess the potential to enable high scientific impact
  • Offer broad benefit to the UCSF research community
  • Showcase collaboration and teamwork
  • Implement operational changes including merging smaller facilities into a larger operation
  • Invest in operational changes that will lead to long-term sustainability
  • Leverage departmental contributions, particularly from multiple departments


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: 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, manager or technical director of a core. If funded, PI1 will be the primary contact for the award set up and management. Only one application is permitted per cycle.

2. Project Title

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

4. Summary of Operational Improvement (250 words)

5. Explain the impact of this Operational Improvement. 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 $10,000)

9. Sources and amounts of any other funding

10. Equipment Disposition (if equipment is included 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 Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s) and Co-Investigator(s) (5 page maximum). Use Biosketch Version F form. 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. Do not include Bio-sketches of the Major and Minor users.

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.