Core Operational Improvement Awards (COIA)

Award Amount from $25,000 up to $100,000 (Spring Cycle Only) - NOT OFFERED IN SPRING 2024


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

Each funded grant will have a maximum budget of $100,000. Awards may be used to pay for personnel, training, software, minor renovations, moving charges, equipment, and related expenses that can be demonstrated to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide return on investment. 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, automated sample preparation instruments, or tools enhancing quality control which improve downstream processes. Equipment usage will be required to be documented in iLab. 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 Core Assistance Fund, the Core Award for Research and Development, and the Shared Technology Award. Contact the sponsor funding agency if you have questions regarding COIA allowable equipment and costs. We anticipate funding 1-2 awards, ranging from $25,000-$100,000. The funds must be spent within 2 years 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 cores 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. 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 and PI2 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.

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.

Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications

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

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


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) - You must 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. Only one application is permitted per cycle.

2. Project Title

3. Name of Cores (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) 
 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.