DGSOM Seed Grant Program

Strategic Vision

The David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) Research Themes has been charged with increasing the impact of basic, translational, clinical, and community research at UCLA in high-priority and broadly defined research areas. In addition, the Institute of Precision Health (IPH) has been aggressively building an infrastructure for collecting genetic information for a broad range of UCLA patients; IPH seeks to identify diverse research projects that either take advantage of this infrastructure or focus on the development of alternative precision health strategies for advancing knowledge and improving patient care.

Many DGSOM researchers are already immersed in highly impactful research funded by individual grants and contracts, or by start-up funds provided to new faculty. However, to address many of the most important unanswered questions in biology, the most significant unmet needs in medicine, and existing inequities in health and healthcare, the diverse expertise found in multidisciplinary teams of investigators will be required. The assembly of outstanding, multidisciplinary teams is challenging because investigators often are required to reach outside of their comfort zones and interact effectively with researchers with very different areas of expertise, or across the basic/translational/clinical/community research spectrum. Importantly, large team science grants from government agencies and private foundations often require evidence that a team has already established productive interactions.

DGSOM Seed Grant Program

In recognition of the strategic vision described above, the DGSOM Research Themes and the IPH will focus the DGSOM Seed Grant Program on an effort to promote the assembly of teams of researchers that are well-positioned to perform innovative, high-impact research and ultimately compete for large team science grants from federal agencies and private foundations.

Applications may include faculty throughout the UCLA campus in any biomedical or medical research area in which groundbreaking advances catalyzed by teams of researchers can be envisioned.

One important aspect of the program is that we would like to encourage compelling projects relevant to our newest Theme in Health Equity and Translational Social Science, as well as projects that span two or more of our Research Themes; faculty discussions of potential cross-Theme projects may lead to efforts in new areas in which an investigator team may have the potential for an unusually large impact.

As in prior years, all investigator teams must include at least three key participants, and all are required to include at least one promising faculty member at the Assistant Professor level in an impactful position as a co-PI or highly significant co-investigator; the goal is to enhance the career development of our junior faculty. Priority will also be given to newly assembled research teams rather than teams that have already been working together for multiple years unless an existing team is pursuing an entirely new direction.

Tentative Dates

July 15
Planning Grant Applications Due by 11:59 PM
August 16
Planning Grant Decisions Announced
November 15
Full Grant Applications Due
(Restricted to Planning Grant Recipients)
December 20
Final Decisions Announced (Tentative)
January 3
Earliest Funding Date

We also ask all applicants to briefly describe how their proposed research may address health, healthcare, and/or social inequities. Only a small number of planning grants will be awarded to increase the probability that those who receive planning grants will ultimately receive funding. This year’s application process will again include two phases, in recognition of the amount of time, thought, and effort needed to assemble a multidisciplinary team.

Phase I

In the first phase, brief applications for small Planning Grants will first be requested and evaluated (submission deadline, July 15; see specific instructions below). Successful applicants will be permitted to spend up to $1,000 (with notifications planned by August 16) to help fund team science planning activities, including internal meetings, brainstorming sessions, and/or workshops over a 3-month time period. (These funds are not generally intended for experiments unless a key experiment is essential to establish the feasibility of the proposed project.)

These activities should be aimed at identifying key members of the team, developing a cutting-edge research plan, and identifying specific external funding opportunities that can be pursued at the conclusion of the seed funding period.

Phase II

In the second phase of the application process, Full Grant applications (due November 15) requesting up to $250,000 of direct costs will be submitted. These applications will be restricted to Lead PIs who were awarded a Planning Grant.

In addition to a 3-page research proposal, the Full Grant application will include one or two paragraphs describing why the proposed project is timely and compelling, a description of specific future extramural team-science funding opportunities that are anticipated, a description of how the proposed research may address health, healthcare, and/or social inequities, and a summary of the team assembly activities carried out during the three-month planning period (see specific instructions below).

Application Instructions and Other Information

The earliest funding date will be January 3 and a total investment of up to $2 million is envisioned. Depending on funding availability, successful applicants for Full Grant support may be permitted to submit a renewal application for future funding, with the renewal application subject to competitive review.

Contact Information

Please direct questions to Dion Baybridge at DBaybridge@mednet.ucla.edu

General Eligibility
  • The Lead PI for both a Planning Grant application and a Full Grant Application must be a UCLA faculty member in the Regular Professor, In-Residence Professor, Clinical X Professor, or Health Sciences Clinical Professor series, or a fully independent investigator in the Adjunct Professor or Researcher Series.
  • The Lead PI on each application must hold a primary appointment on the UCLA campus, in that her or his extramural grant applications must typically be submitted through the UCLA Office of Contract and Grant Administration. An exception to this policy will be made for applications relevant to the Health Equity and Translational Social Science Research Theme; in these research areas, faculty with primary appointments at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science are permitted to apply.
  • Each faculty member may serve as Lead PI on only one Planning Grant application.
  • Faculty who identify with a group historically underrepresented in science and medicine are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Full Grant applications can be submitted only by Lead PIs awarded a Planning Grant.
  • A faculty member may serve as a Co-PI or Co-Investigator (but not Lead PI) on more than one Planning Grant application and more than one Full Grant Application, although excessive commitment could be detrimental during the review process.
  • All investigator teams are required to include at least one promising Assistant Professor in an impactful position as a co-PI or highly significant co-investigator.
  • Faculty in the Adjunct and Research series can serve as Co-PIs or Co-Investigators (but not Lead PIs unless fully independent) on Planning Grant applications and Full Grant applications.
  • Faculty at CTSI partner institutions can serve as Co-PIs or Co-Investigators (but not Lead PIs) on Planning Grant applications and Full Grant applications, except in areas relevant to the Health Equity and Translational Social Science Theme, as specified above.
  • Faculty will be asked to indicate which of the seven Research Themes are relevant to the application, and may select Precision Health as a strategic priority that is highly relevant to application. Alternatively, the applicant may select “Not Relevant to a Research Theme.” This information will be used to identify appropriate reviewers, but applications on all topics will be given full consideration by a diverse group of reviewers from the Research Themes and IPH, and with additional expertise included on the review panels as needed.

Please Note:

The PI of each funded award must submit a six-month progress report and final annual report. The reports will include:

  1. Scientific report – status of research and progress to date
  2. List of publications made possible by the award (if any)
  3. List of external funding applied to/received as a result of the award
  4. Financial report

Submission and approval of the 6-month Progress Report are required for continued funding.

General Evaluation Criteria

General evaluation criteria for all Planning Grant applications and subsequent Full Grant applications:

  • Novelty, significance, and potential impact of the project for advancing knowledge and/or improving human health
  • Qualifications of the Lead PI, Co-PIs, and Co-Investigators, including the required junior faculty member
  • Research plan
  • Potential for the project to improve health, healthcare, and/or social inequities (please address this issue in all applications).
  • Preliminary data is not necessary for new teams but can be helpful for existing teams
  • The extent to which the investigator team is considered to be new rather than long-standing
  • Potential to lead to a successful team science award from the NIH or another funding agency
  • Evidence that the PI has actively pursued funding from the NIH and other agencies over the past three years

Please note:

  • Applications that are primarily for equipment purchases are not suitable for this funding mechanism.
  • Research proposals should not directly overlap with actively funded team science grants, but applications can draw on the expertise of each team member, possibly resulting in some overlap with funded individual grants.
  • The review processes for grant submissions are confidential and applicants will not receive comments or scores.

 

The Planning Grant application should include the following three items assembled into a single PDF (please use Ariel 11 font for application text with 0.5-inch page margins):

  • A two-page document consisting of:
    • A project title
    • The name of the Lead PI and names of up to two Co-PIs that have already been identified (with the understanding that additional Co-PIs and Co-Investigators may be identified during the Planning Grant period).
    • A one- or two-paragraph summary of the scientific problem and general, anticipated approach.
    • A one-paragraph statement describing aspects of the project that are unique and compelling. Why will the project make a difference? Why is it timely and ripe for pursuit?
    • A brief list of key references.
    • A one-paragraph description of how the research may address health, healthcare, and/or social inequities, and/or how the research includes researchers from groups underrepresented in science and medicine.
    • A one-paragraph discussion of the potential for the project to lead to a large extramural grant. Please be specific about the research and funding landscape of the field and about funding agencies and specific RFAs that are on the horizon and likely to be available (e.g. NCI’s Cancer Moonshot and NIH BRAIN Initiative).
  • NIH-style Biosketches for the Lead PI and up to two Co-PIs or Co-Investigators who have been identified at the time of the Planning Grant application.
  • NIH-style Other Support page for the Lead PI.
  • A list of grant applications submitted by the Lead PI over the past 3 years. Please use the template that can be downloaded here. The purpose of this request is to ensure that the Lead PI is actively pursuing extramural funding.

Application Instructions

Full applications can be submitted by all Lead PIs who have been awarded a Planning Grant.

The Full Grant application should include the following items assembled into a single PDF (please use Ariel 11 font for application text with 0.5-inch page margins):

  • A 3-page research proposal, which includes:
    • Project title
    • Names and academic titles of Lead PI, Co-PIs, and Co-Investigators
    • A summary of the scientific problem
    • A list of the specific aims
    • Preliminary data (Preliminary data not essential, but can be included if available. Please embed any figures and legends in 3-page proposal)
    • Research plan
    • Up to 15 key references (can exceed the 3-page limit)
  • Up to 2 additional pages including the following paragraphs
    • A 1- or 2-paragraph statement describing aspects of the project that are unique and compelling. Why will the project make a difference? Why is it timely and ripe for pursuit? (This should be a refined version of the text included in the Planning Grant application)
    • A 1-paragraph description (for all applications) of 1) how the research may address health, healthcare, and/or social inequities, 2) how consideration of inequities may have impacted design of the study, and/or 3) how the research includes researchers from groups underrepresented in science and medicine.
    • A 1-paragraph discussion of the potential for the project to lead to a large extramural grant. Please be specific about the research and funding landscape of the field and about funding agencies and specific RFAs that are on the horizon and likely to be available (e.g. NCI’s Cancer Moonshot and NIH BRAIN Initiative). (This should be a refined version of the text included in the Planning Grant application)
    • One paragraph summarizing the use of the Planning Grant funds and activities that took place to develop the plan for the Full Grant application.
  • NIH-style budget (using standard NIH budget page). Total budgets can be up to $250,000 in direct costs and may consist of the following:
    • Salaries (PI and co-PI salaries are not permitted)
    • Supplies (include major supply categories))
    • Essential equipment (limited to $25,000)
    • Animals
    • Other
  • Brief budget justification narrative (one paragraph)
  • Biosketches for Lead PI, Co-PI's, and/or Co-Investigators
  • ARC and IRB approvals do not need to be included with the application, but must be provided prior to funding; failure to provide approvals soon after grants are approved for funding may jeopardize funding.

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