Mentored Scientist Award Program in HIV/AIDS

Project Award Amount $50,000


The CFAR Mentored Scientist Award is a mentoring and training grant targeted toward early stage (either at a senior stage of clinical or postdoctoral training or junior faculty) investigators at UCSF or affiliated partner institutes in the conduct of a research project. These awards are typically used to acquire preliminary data and research skills leading toward a future grant effort. Applicants for this award must indicate a faculty research mentor(s) who will commit to guiding the applicant throughout the duration of the proposed project.

Funding for this program is $50,000 in direct costs (may include personnel salary and benefits) for one year. Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed. If awarded, indirect costs at appropriate rates will be added to the total direct costs.

Of high interest to CFAR are investigations ranging from basic pathogenesis to clinical outcomes in the research areas of HIV/aging and inflammation, latency, cure, vaccines, co-infections, HIV in women, and research related to health disparities in HIV-infected and HIV-impacted Bay Area populations. Our CFAR Science Cores and Working Group are available to assist you in your research. NOTE: Projects must be within NIH’s HIV/AIDS research high or medium priority areas.

NIH does not allow CFAR to fund clinical trials. If you are considering a study involving any clinical or behavioral intervention, please contact ([email protected],edu, cc. [email protected]) with a brief description of your study to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR. If it is not, we will provide advice on alternative funding options.

Program Contact - Should you have any questions regarding submission or reporting procedures, please contact Brenda Sanchez, CFAR Developmental Core Manager. The complete guidelines for this RFA can be found here:


Eligibility requirements need to be met as of date of submission; no waivers are allowed.

Investigators must be at UCSF or affiliated partner institutes (Gladstone Institutes, Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco Department of Public Health, and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center/NCIRE.) Investigators with backgrounds in clinical, basic, behavioral-epidemiological, implementation, and/or health disparities HIV research are all welcome to apply.

Who is Eligible:

  • Postdoctoral or clinical fellows in training
  • Current faculty in any Series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) at the Assistant Professor or Clinical Instructor level (including acting positions) who have not yet received an R01-equivalent award in HIV/AIDS
  • Non-faculty series - Professional Research Series, Librarian Series and Specialist Series. Investigators in these series must make a strong case for their plan for becoming independent researchers.

Who is NOT Eligible: Associate and Full Professors or Staff; applicants without terminal degrees, (e.g. PhD, MD).

Special Considerations for Current NIH T32 and K Awardees:

  • Current T32 awardees can apply for CFAR funds provided NO salary/stipends are taken from the CFAR award.
  • CFAR allows current K awardees to provide complementary effort on their CFAR award with salary within their remaining 25% effort, if they also maintain the 75% required on the K-award as long as the specific aims differ from those on the “K” award. Please see the guide notice for details:

All mentored award applications require a faculty research mentor from UCSF or a UCSF-affiliate. ( at the time of submission. CFAR requires your research mentor’s support to advise and guide the research portion of your application before submitting it to RAP. The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in AIDS research, and should be able to demonstrate past success in training/mentoring independent investigators. The mentor’s role is to provide oversight on the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed research. In addition, the mentor must commit to mentoring the applicant throughout the duration of the research project.


  • Clinical Trials: NIH has revised the definition of Clinical Trials in 2018: ‘If your study involves one or more human subjects, involves one or more interventions, prospectively assigns human subjects to interventions and has a health-related biomedical or behavior outcome.’ If yes, Please contact Lauren Sterling or Brenda Sanchez with a brief description of your study ([email protected], cc: [email protected]) to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR.
  • Studies with Foreign Components: If the study has an international component requiring expenditure of funds (excluding travel) or a subcontract to a foreign institution, additional NIH approval and review is required. IRB approvals (both local and foreign), institutional FWA numbers, and human subjects training certifications (for local and foreign investigators) will be required before the release of any funding. [See NIH checklist form:] Once all paperwork has been filed with the NIH, approval takes approximately 8–12 weeks.
  • Human Subjects: New investigators should visit the UCSF CHR website for details on when and how to apply for CHR approval at Information on training, including online training resources, can be found on the CHR website at

Completed applications which meet eligibility requirements will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate review committee convened by the UCSF Resource Allocation Program 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.

CFAR makes funding decisions based on several factors – scientific review score, alignment of proposal to CFAR/OAR strategic goals, proposal research area of focus, potential for the PI to become an independent investigator, and alignment with other requirements set forth in the RFA.

Awardees are encouraged to use one or more support services from our CFAR research resources:

  • Implementation Science Scientific Working Group – Applicants proposing a study in the field of implementation science are required to have an expert from the new Implementation Science Working Group consult with them regarding their study. Send an email with a brief study description to Elvin Geng, SWG Director ([email protected]).
  • Clinical and Population Sciences Core: Steven Deeks, MD & Jeff Martin, MD, MPH, Directors; ([email protected]; [email protected]).
  • Immunology Core: Jeffrey Milush, PhD, Director ([email protected])
  • Specimen Bank Core: Richard Jordan, DDS, PhD, Director ([email protected]).
  • Pharmacology Core: Francesca Aweeka, Director ([email protected])
  • Health Disparities Core: Applicants proposing to conduct research with human subjects, especially local and/or underserved communities, are encouraged to consult with the Health Disparities Core. Send an email with a brief study description to Lauren Sterling, Managing Director ([email protected]) to receive this consultation.


TO APPLY (instructions):

STEP 1) Complete the RAP 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

Instructions for Proposal PDF
Please write your proposal following the instructions listed below and create one single PDF file.
Proposal Length: Maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding table of contents and literature cited. 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. 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. Investigator Name (no multiple PIs); only one application is permitted per cycle.

  • Country of citizenship
  • Country of permanent residence

2. Project Title

3. Foreign Country. Supply the following (if applicable):

  • Country
  • Project field site
  • Foreign institution FWA number
  • Foreign IRB date of approval and approval number (specify if pending)

4. Proposal - (maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, [1-6 below] excluding literature cited, mentoring plan, and additional human-subjects information [7-9 below])

  • Aims (list at least two aims)
  • Background and Significance
  • Preliminary studies
  • Experimental Design and Methods (include time-table): a) Hypothesis, b) Rationale, c) Experimental approach, d) Interpretation of results
  • Explain how this pilot project is important for your career goals, e.g., leads to future funding, etc.
  • Mentoring Plan. Describe the plan for oversight of this project by your mentor(s) including the specific role of your primary mentor named in this application (not included in the page limit)
  • Literature cited (not included in the page limit)
  • Protection of Human Subjects description (if applicable)
  • Inclusion/Enrollment Table (if applicable for studies proposing human subjects, including existing resources)

5. Budget - The award level for this program is $50,000 in direct costs for a one-year project period. (Direct expenses must = $50,000). Direct costs may include personnel (salary and fringe benefits), consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel to perform the study or to present findings from the study, and other expenses. Travel, along with other costs, must be fully justified. For all awards, appropriate indirect costs will be added to the total direct costs.

Note: Any foreign subcontracting institution is limited to 8% indirect costs. All applicants applying from other institutions besides UCSF should contact Frank Fernandez, cc Brenda Sanchez for assistance developing your budget with the appropriate allowable indirect costs.

Please use the NIH PHS 398 form “Page 4: Detailed Budget for Initial Budget Period” ( to prepare your budget. The grid below describes the budget items which are allowable/not allowable for the Mentored Award Program:

Mentored Science Award Program Budget


Not Allowable

PI Salary



Post Doc Salary



Administrative Support



Program Supplies









Personal Computers*












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



Patient Care



Indirect costs***



Others Expenses****



* Computers are only allowable when essential to the conduct of the proposed research. If the computer is planned to be used for other projects / responsibilities in addition to the CFAR project, we require that the cost of the computer be shared with those other project budgets, in accordance with the amount of use anticipated by each project.
** Travel for awardees is allowed only if required to conduct the study or to present findings from this study at a conference (not simply to attend a conference).
*** Budget should include your fully allowable federally-negotiated indirect costs
**** Refer to the UCSF Charging Practices and Guidelines of allowable Expenses

Note: If chosen for an award, applicants must adhere to NIH policy specifying that the collection of salary support from CFAR NIH funds while simultaneously collecting salary support from an NIH K and/or T32 award is unallowable.

6. Budget Justification: Clearly and fully justify all costs including benefit rates and indirect costs. Please contact us for assistance with your budget and/or sub-contract if you have any questions.

7. NIH Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s); Mentor(s), and Co-Investigator(s) and UCSF Mentor(s) if applicable) (5 page maximum).
Use this version: Biosketch Version E. 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.

8. Letters of Support – Department Head and Mentors

  1. Department Head / Unit head (should indicate support for the application)
  2. Mentor’s Letter of Support: Include a letter of support from your research mentor that includes the information outlined below:
    • Specific areas in which mentoring will be provided/mentor’s role in the project
    • Mentor’s background in mentoring
    • Describe how the project fits with the mentor’s research agenda and mentees career development
    • Describe mentor’s working relationship (previous and/or current) with applicant

9. Institutional Letter of Support (If Non UCSF)

Please provide a letter of support from the project site institution with signing official signature. The site/institution should comment on the independence of the applicant and availability of space and other resources for the proposed research.