Hardship Awards

Project Award Amount $50,000



Hardship awards are intended for investigators who will be experiencing a temporary interruption in research funding within the award year. The research funding requested may be used to maintain effort on a current project, to support extensions of currently funded research aims, or to fund new research aims in the context of gaps due to insufficient research funding. 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 research personnel; or funding for supplies to allow acquisition of preliminary data needed for grant resubmission.

Specific reasons for the temporary interruption in funding may include personal or staff illness, unsuccessful funding applications, disruptions due to COVID-19 or other facilities closures, 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. Applicants should explain why they believe this is only a temporary disruption in funding and describe efforts to ensure future funding. Personal or professional context or background related to income disadvantage, gender or underrepresented investigator status may also be described if there are intersectional impacts relevant to the hardship.

All funding agencies require progress reports from awardees. The number and timing of those reports varies between the agencies. Detailed information about this will appear in the Award Letter. Any resulting publication must directly acknowledge the funding agency and/or parent grant award.

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 (described on the Submission Rules page does NOT apply to this grant mechanism.

Who is 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)   and appointees to the Professional Research Series and to the Librarian Series.

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

Who is 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 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.

Proposals will be assessed based on the quality of the proposed scientific investigation and the potential of the described research to lead to subsequent independent research funding. The qualities and potential of the applicant within the context of prior scientific community contributions will be considered and should be described. Hardship applications will also be assessed equally based upon the nature and context of the hardship, the applicants’ overall track record of funding, why the hardship has impacted funding, and plans to obtain future funding.

The proposal will be evaluated based on the following questions: click here to view the review form for this grant mechanism.

Selection of Awardees
While grant criteria are scored by relevant review committees, funding decisions are made independently by each funding agency based on several factors: scientific review score, career development context, 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 formPlease 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 6 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 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding literature cited and evidence of funding attempts; community engagement component (if applicable).

Within the 6-page limit:

  • 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).
    • If the proposal is to maintain effort on a current project, the Feasibility section should speak directly to what can be accomplished during the 1-year RAP award period. 
  • Background and significance
  • Preliminary studies
  • Experimental design and methods (include time-table)
    • IF this Hardship Award proposal is to maintain effort on a current project, applicants may use and amend the relevant sections of the original project grant, describing the current project shortfalls and any additional requirements of the Hardship RFA, and bearing in mind the RAP grant page limitations.
  • Explain how this project is important for your career goals (e.g., leading to future 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.

Outside of the 6-page limit:

  • Reason and context for hardship. The application should include clear explanation of how the funding lapse has come about and steps that the PI has taken or will take to overcome this hardship. Applicants should explain why they believe this is only a temporary disruption in funding and describe efforts to ensure future funding. Personal or professional context or background related to income disadvantage, gender or underrepresented investigator status may also be described if there are intersectional impacts relevant to the hardship. Describe any additional personal or professional factors that may be relevant to the hardship (2 page maximum not included in 6-page proposal limit).
  • Literature cited (not included in page limit)
  • Evidence of funding attempts if relevant to the hardship (not included in page limit)
    1. Insert copies of the Abstract/Summary page and Specific Aims of extramural applications that have not been funded and therefore have created the hardship.
    2. Provide copies of the critiques of previously submitted grants that have not been funded. Include correspondence with extramural agencies if appropriate.    

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:



Not Allowable

PI Salary*



Co-Investigator(s) Salary



Network Recharge Rates



Post Doc Salary



Administrative Support












Personal Computers *












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



Patient Care



Indirect Costs



Publication Fees; max $5K



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. Budget Overlap - If the proposed study is closely related, directly supplementing a current study, or a sub-study of existing funded research listed in the applicant’s bio sketch, clarify the relationship between the two projects and explain why the additional funding is needed.

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.

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.

6. 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)

 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. This is an important consideration, and the letter should explicitly address the means by which the department chair/unit will support the candidate and the evidence supporting high potential for future funding.