Hardship Awards

Project Award Amount $50,000


Hardship proposals are intended for investigators who are experiencing a temporary interruption in extramural funding and can document hardship. Projects are for one year and are not renewable.

Hardship awards are stop-gap measures to maintain a baseline level of research activities during a gap in funding. Examples of appropriate proposals include maintenance of a breeding colony of transgenic mice, maintaining existing or longstanding patient cohorts enrolled in clinical, social, or behavioral research, partial support of a long term research associate/manager or research coordinator, or supplies to allow a defined set of experiments or acquisition of preliminary data needed for grant resubmission.

Specific reasons for the temporary interruption in funding may include personal illness, unsuccessful funding applications, disruptions due to COVID-19, or other reasons. These reasons should be well justified. Additionally, the consequences of funding interruption should be clearly explained and the Hardship award budget and budget justification should reflect what is needed to keep the research program going.

All funding agencies require progress reports if an award is received. The number and timing of those reports varies between the agencies. Detailed information about this will appear in the respective funding agencies Award Letter. Any resulting publication must directly acknowledge the funding agency.

Note: For Hardship Awards, priority is given to applicants who have never received funding in this category.


Eligibility requirements need to be met as of date of submission; no waivers are allowed.
NOTE:  Cycle Break Rule does NOT apply to this grant mechanism.

Who's Eligible: UCSF Faculty in all series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) and at all ranks (Instructor, Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor) are eligible. Appointees to the Professional Research Series and to the Librarian Series are also eligible.

To be funded by the Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee (REAC) applicants must have an appointment with the UCSF School of Medicine. 

Who's Not Eligible: Specialists, Residents, Fellows/Postdocs.

Submission Rules

Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications
Hardship applications will be reviewed by the Career Development Review Committee.  Applications will be evaluated in two ways. First projects will be assessed based on the quality of the proposed scientific investigation, the potential of the proposal leading to a fully funded independent research grant, and the qualities and potential of the applicant.

Applications that meet eligibility requirements will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by the Career Development Review Committee in accordance with NIH review criteria: 1. Significance, 2. Approach, 3. Innovation, 4. Investigator, 5. Environment. Each of these criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall application score. Hardship applications will also be assessed secondarily based upon the nature of the hardship, the applicants’ overall track record of funding, and why the hardship has impacted the potential for funding.

Selection of Awardees
Funding decisions are made independently by each funding agency based on several factors: scientific review score, alignment of proposal to funder’s strategic goals, proposal research area of focus, and specifically called out eligibility or other requirements like membership in a center, affiliation with a specific school or relevance to a stated auxiliary topic.


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.).

Click here to preview an inactive template of 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. 


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: Maximum 8 pages, including figures and tables, excluding table of contents, literature cited and community engagement component, if applicable.
Format Requirements:  Arial font; 11 pt; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins; no appendices; include page numbers and table of contents.

Definition: same research topic with an amended application or research plan rather than a new research topic and new research plan.
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. Make sure the new edits 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". A new letter of support from the Department Chair or other Unit Head is required in all cases.

1. P.I. Name. Only one application as PI (PI1 or PI2) is permitted per cycle.

2. Project Title

3. Proposal (max 8 pages, including figures and tables, excluding literature cited and evidence of funding attempts; community engagement component (if applicable).

  • Specific aims. Do not submit an application that describes an idea that is the same or similar to one used in a previously funded RAP grant. If it is a similar idea, describe how the new proposed research is uniquely different.
  • Feasibility: Describe what steps you are taking to ensure the proposed project can be completed within the one year project period for this grant (approximately 300 word max).
  • Background and significance
  • Preliminary studies
  • Experimental design and methods (include time-table)
  • Explain how this project is important for your career goals (e.g., lead to major funding, etc.)
  • Mentoring plan, if applicable: describe the plan for oversight of this project by your mentor(s), including the specific role of your primary mentor named in this application.
  • Reason for hardship. A clear explanation of how the funding lapse has come about and steps that the PI has taken to overcome this hardship (2 page maximum).
  • Evidence of funding attempts.
    1. Please include the Abstract/Summary page and Specific Aims of extramural applications that have not been funded and therefore have created the hardship.
    ​2. Please provide copies of the Critiques of previously submitted grants that have not been funded. Include correspondence with extramural agencies if appropriate. (not included in page limit)
  • Literature cited (not included in page limit)

4. Detailed Budget: $50,000 maximum per proposal; round up to the nearest thousand (e.g., instead of $49,869 list $50,000).
Use the following form: PHS 398 Form Page 4 "Detailed Budget for the Initial Period": http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html

    Budget Preparation Resources:
    OSR: Develop a Budget 
    Standard Budget Components, including information on personnel costs (salary and benefits)
    NIH: Develop Your Budget



Not Allowable

PI Salary*



Co-Investigator(s) Salary 

Network Recharge Rates X  

Post Doc Salary



Administrative Support












Personal Computers *












Research Staff Support (e.g. RSA; Lab. Technician)



Patient Care



Indirect Costs



General guidelines:

*The NIH base salary cap applies.  PIs are required to list their effort whether it is paid or in kind.

PI partial salary support should be well-justified with respect to project activities. Due to their small size, RAP grants are designed for project support and are not intended to provide PI salary support unrelated to the project.  PI salary amounts greater than ~10% of the requested award amount (e.g., $5,000 of a $50K award proposal, not 10% FTE) must be well justified and it should reflect work done by the PI to conduct specific scientific tasks on the project (e.g. data collection, computation) and not merely general supervision of project goals and personnel.  

Multiple PIs can decide how to distribute the 10% salary support among themselves (e.g., 5%/5% or 6%/4%).

  • The 10% limit on salary support is a guideline and includes SALARY & FRINGE BENEFITS.
  • Update: General Automobile and Employee Liability (GAEL) are NOT allowable costs.
  • The award amount is DIRECT COST ONLY.

5. Budget Justification: Clearly and fully justify all costs.

For all personnel, clearly identify any discrepancies between the actual effort (i.e. real percent time) the individual will contribute to the project, versus the amount of salary effort they are requesting.  This is particularly important for personnel/PI's who expect to contribute project effort with little or no salary, such as those whose salary is above the NIH base salary cap.

Recall: PI salary amounts greater than ~10% of the requested award amount must be well justified.

6NIH BioSketch of Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator(s) and UCSF Faculty Mentor(s) (if applicable) (5 page maximum)

Use this version: Biosketch Version F Include biosketches for all PIs of a multi-PI application, and any other key personnel such as Co-Investigator(s) or UCSF Faculty Mentor(s). In section "D. Additional Information", list the relevant recent past, planned, active, and pending proposals, including percent effort and total direct costs (annual), where possible. Include a brief discussion of any potential overlap with the current proposal.

 7Letter(s) of Support: Provide a letter of support from the department chair/unit head. Include the letter of support at the end of your PDF proposal and address it to the RAP Committee