Pilot for Established Investigators in Basic and Clinical/Translational Sciences

Project Award Amount $50,000


These pilot projects are intended to support a wide range of biomedical research, including fundamental basic science, clinical/translational science, health policy, social science, digital health (incorporating the use of mobile technology) and population science.

Pilot projects are for one year and not renewable. (Some funding agencies allow for no-cost extensions. This will be clarified in the Award Letter.) Pilot research should collect data for publications and to acquire successful subsequent funding by other mechanisms. A proposal with content not covered by the specific funding sources listed below under "Funder-Specific Eligibility Requirements" would still be eligible for this pilot grant mechanism. 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.

For projects focusing on Digital Health Research

Funds are available for research-focused projects in mobile health (dHealth), defined as the use of mobile technology in conjunction with Internet and social media to improve health and wellness and/or to manage disease. dHealth emphasizes use by laypeople but also includes use by clinicians and other health care workers (including public health and community care workers). Awards can be for projects in any health domain where there exists an unmet need or the potential for significant improvement over current approaches.

Projects are encouraged that involve delivery of the technology over mobile devices (mobile phones, tablets, excluding laptops). Examples include mobile phone "apps" for medication reminders, symptom tracking, improved dietary habits, health records exchange, or medical reference.  Note that feasibility studies determining the potential value of a dHealth intervention that do not in themselves use or propose to develop a specific technology (e.g., evaluation of technology access in a target group, focus groups/interviews to determine barriers to potential adoption of dHealth interventions) are appropriate.


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

Who's Eligible:
UCSF Faculty in any Series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) in the ranks of Associate Professor and Full Professor can apply.  Appointees to the Professional Research Series at the ranks of Associate Research and Research (full) can also apply. Appointees to the Librarian Series may apply.
If the proposal has multiple PIs, both PI1 and PI2 need to meet the eligibility criteria listed above for this grant mechanism (both PI1 and PI2 need to be Associate and/or Full Prof.)

Who's Not Eligible: Specialists are not eligible.

Funder-Specific Eligibility Requirements:
NOTE:  a proposal with content not covered by the specific funding sources listed below would still be eligible for this pilot grant mechanism.

Precision Medicine in Rheumatology (PREMIER)

PREMIER is an NIH/NIAMS funded Center at UCSF with the overarching goal of facilitating and enhancing precision medicine studies in rheumatic and autoimmune diseases. All applicants seeking funding through PREMIER for pilot grants must be members of the Center. All UCSF faculty are eligible for membership; please apply through the PREMIER website http://premier.ucsf.edu/. Established investigators should clearly address in their proposal:

1) How the project is expected to advance precision medicine in rheumatic or autoimmune disease.

2) How the project differs from or extends your ongoing research. 

These grants are intended for projects that are translational in nature with studies focused on advancing precision medicine in rheumatology. Projects related to all types of rheumatologic and/or human autoimmune diseases will be considered. Projects should utilize human samples or show direct links to rheumatologic/autoimmune disease in humans. PREMIER consists of 3 Resource Cores (HSCP: Human Studies and Clinical Phenotyping, GMR: Genomics and Molecular Resources, and IB: Integrative Bioinformatics). You must use a portion of your funds in at least one of the Cores (HSCP: Human Studies and Clinical Phenotyping, GMR: Genomics and Molecular Resources, and IB: Integrative Bioinformatics), although use in more than one Core is encouraged. For more information on our Cores, PREMIER and how to apply for membership, please see our web site at http://premier.ucsf.edu/. For projects focused on Rheumatoid Arthritis you may also consider applying for BPRAR pilot grants. We encourage all applicants to contact us at [email protected].  Center personnel can assist with preparation of your proposal.

School of Dentistry (SOD) - (will not sponsor Fall 2021 but Spring 2022 instead)

A proposal MUST have a SOD PI and at least one SOD collaborator in another department within the School of Dentistry or another discipline if the collaborator is in the same SOD department. This is a mandatory requirement.  Proposals that involve collaboration between a basic researcher and a clinical researcher (specifically NOT between two clinician-researchers, unless they form a new team from fundamentally different disciplines) are encouraged but not required.

In addition to two SOD PIs, proposals including School of Medicine, School of Nursing or School of Pharmacy collaborators are welcomed.

Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology and Medicine (CCMBM)
Applicants must be FULL members of the Center. Instructions for becoming a member can be found at https://ccmbm.ucsf.edu/become-member. In addition, investigators should explicitly indicate how the proposed work:

  1. A. tests the feasibility of a new or innovative idea related to musculoskeletal disease representing a clear and distinct departure from their ongoing research; B. addresses a problem in musculoskeletal field, and that the PI is new to this field.
  2. addresses a problem in musculoskeletal field, and that the PI is new to the field

In the body of the RAP application, please address your membership status and how you fulfill either of these proposal criteria.  We will accept new member applications up to two weeks prior to the RAP deadline.

The CCMBM Pilot/Feasibility grants are intended for projects that are translational in nature and related to musculoskeletal disease. Digital health projects in this area will also be accepted. The CCMBM consists of 3 Research Cores (Imaging, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Study Design, and Skeletal Biology and Biomechanics). You must use a portion of your funds in, at least, one of the cores although use in more than one core is encouraged. For more information on our Cores and the CCMBM in general, please see our web site.

Cancer Center - CCSG Developmental Funds (funded by the NCI P30 award). This program provides seed funding to encourage innovative cancer-related research in a wide range of research areas, including basic science, clinical and translational science, health policy and social science, and population sciences. Priority is given to innovative, translational science and to areas that align with HDFCCC research priorities. This program supports novel cancer research initiatives which are not currently funded by research grants and which may ultimately lead to new ways of preventing, detecting, or treating cancer. Training costs and routine equipment purchases are not allowable. International Subcontracts are allowable on CCSG funds, with specific requirements regarding foreign components and if the foreign subcontractor is from industries (see Detailed Budget section below).  

Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee (REAC) applicants must have an appointment with UCSF and School of Medicine. REAC funds pilot projects ranging from basic to clinical and translational. Pilot research should collect data for publication and to acquire successful subsequent funding by other mechanisms. 

Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health is a transdisciplinary UCSF Center with the overarching goal of improving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) worldwide. Applicants seeking Bixby funding must be members of the Center. Any UCSF investigator working in SRH is eligible for membership. To apply, you may self-nominate or a current member may nominate you to the Bixby Director at least two weeks before the RAP application deadline. The purposes of the Bixby award are to: 1) catalyze new collaborations among Bixby members; 2) support innovative research with the potential for large impact; and 3) advance health care, policy or education in abortion, adolescent sexual health, contraception, HIV/STIs or pregnancy and birth. A new collaboration is work with a Bixby member on another team with whom you have not previously conducted research or authored an abstract or manuscript. Please address in your proposal how you expect the project to advance Bixby collaboration, how the project is innovative, and how it will ultimately impact SRH. Ideally, pilot research will collect data for publication. For projects focused on HIV/AIDS, you may also consider applying for CAPS-HIV Innovative Grants. For projects focused on pregnancy and birth disparities, you may also consider applying to the PTBi-CA Pilot or Innovation Awards in Prematurity Research.

Submission Rules
Criteria for Review/Evaluation of Applications
Projects will be evaluated based on the quality of the proposed scientific investigation, the potential of the proposal to lead to a fully funded independent research grant, and the quality and potential of the applicant and the research team. Consideration will also be given to documented need for the funds based on review of investigator's biosketch and other relevant information.

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.

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(s) - Optionally, you may apply with two PIs. If funded, PI1 will be the primary contact for the award set up and management. If the proposal has multiple PIs, both PI1 and PI2 need to meet the eligibility criteria listed for this grant mechanism (both PI1 and PI2 need to be Associate and/or Professor). Only one application as PI (PI1 OR PI2) is permitted per cycle.

2. Project Title

3. Proposal (maximum 6 pages, including figures and tables, excluding literature cited and Community Engagement component (if applicable).

  • 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 pilot project is important for your career goals (e.g., lead to major funding, etc).

Additional Section ONLY for proposals targeting School of Dentistry funding

Explain how this work will address the needs in the strategic plan of the School of Dentistry as delineated in
Discovery” (page 9 of the School of Dentistry Strategic Plan): https://dentistry.ucsf.edu/sites/default/files/2018-10/StrategicPlan_FNL_0.pdf

Focus scientific discovery in key areas of high relevance to oral health and dental practice, including:

  • Cancer
  • Craniofacial Biology
  • Biomaterials and Bioengineering/Tissue Regeneration
  • Precision/Personalized Dentistry with an emphasis on dental caries
  • Global Oral Health and Health Disparities

Explain how the applicant plans to use this opportunity to further network with SOD faculty outside of the applicant’s
traditional area or department.

Literature cited (not included in page limit)

4. Detailed Budget:  $50,000 maximum per proposal; round up to the nearest thousand (i.e. instead of $49,867 list $50,000).

Use the following form: PHS 398 Form Page 4, "Detailed Budget for the Initial Period":
Add the network recharge rates to your budget.

    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



Post Doc Salary



Network Recharge Rates X  

Administrative Support












Personal Computers






General Automobile and Employee Liability (GAEL)   X







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



Patient Care



International Subcontracts**

(CC-CCSG only) 


Indirect costs on Subcontracts



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 Insurance (GAEL) are NOT allowable costs.
  • The award amount is DIRECT COST ONLY.

** If CCSG resources are used in partnership with industrial resources, the Cancer Center must assure that applicable federal law governs the public availability of any final products of the research. In addition, NIH must track all pilot projects in this category that include foreign components and, if necessary, State Department clearance must be obtained prior to implementation. Cancer Center staff will act as the liaison between the Centers and the NIH Fogarty International Center, which is responsible for coordinating all clearances.

Specific funder budget constraints:

PREMIER cannot fund any international projects or expenses. You must use a portion of your funds in at least one of the Cores (HSCP: Human Studies and Clinical Phenotyping, GMR: Genomics and Molecular Resources, and IB: Integrative Bioinformatics), although use in more than one Core is encouraged. In the budget, you will need to outline how funds will be spent in Core(s). To obtain an estimate regarding Core usage, please use the request services form on the PREMIER website (http://premier.ucsf.edu/content/request-services) and enter RAP grant proposal in your request.  IACUC and IRB approvals letters, and evidence of human studies training (if applicable) need to be provided for timely release of project funds.

Cancer Center-CCSG Developmental Funds cannot support training costs and routine equipment purchases. International Subcontracts are allowable on CCSG funds, with specific requirements regarding foreign components and if the foreign subcontractor is from industries (see Detailed Budget section above).

CCMBM cannot fund any international projects or expenses. In the budget, please also outline how much money you will be spending in each CCMBM core. In addition, before the CCMBM can release funds, NIH/NIAMS requires a review of the application to ensure all relevant human and animal welfare protocols are approved and in place. Consequently, proof of relevant training for all PIs and Co-Is (if applicable) and IACUC and IRB approvals letters (if applicable) need to be provided for timely release of project funds.
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.

6. NIH Bio-sketch of Principal Investigator(s) 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 or other unit head. In addition, for junior investigators, department chairs/unit heads should comment on the independence of the applicant and availability of research space and other resources for the proposed research. Include the letter of support at the end of your PDF proposal and address it to the RAP Committee. If there are multiple (two) PIs, a letter of support is required for both PIs. If PIs are in the same department, the chair can vouch for both PIs in a single letter.  VIEW SAMPLE