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 
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: 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: Up to one extra page to introduce your revised proposal, addressing the issues raised in the review, and any additional changes to your proposal may be submitted. A new letter from the Chair is not required if the resubmission is within 2 cycles (one skipped cycle maximum). Please include the original letter and state that your resubmission is within 2 cycles and that a new letter is not required. Make sure the new changes are highlighted in bold or italic font so that reviewers can easily identify proposal changes. Do not use track changes.

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) and please round up to the nearest thousand ((i.e. instead of $49,967 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 

Add the network recharge rates to your budget.  PIs are required to list their effort whether 'paid' or 'in kind'.



Not Allowable

PI Salary*



Co-Investigator(s) Salary 


Post Doc Salary



Administrative Support












Personal Computers *












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



Patient Care



Indirect Costs



*NIH base salary cap. Fully justify all requests.

General guideline: PI partial salary support should not exceed 10% of the requested award budget NOT 10% of PI salary.  An amount over 10% of the award budget must be well justified. 

  • General Automobile and Employee Liability (GAEL) can be included in the requested budget
  • 10% includes SALARY & BENEFITS
  • The award amount is DIRECT COST ONLY

5. Budget Justification: Explain the intended use of hardship funds. Clearly describe all funds that are available to you and your laboratory from both intramural and extramural sources, including discretionary funds. State whether you have applied for SOM Bridge Funding or have requested hardship funds from your department or any other sources.

6. NIH 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.

 7. Letter(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