The David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) Research Themes have been charged with increasing the impact of basic, translational, clinical, and community research at UCLA in high-priority and broadly defined biomedical research areas. The UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) provides the infrastructure to support high-impact, multidisciplinary team science to improve health and health care in our diverse Los Angeles community. 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 to established laboratories, or by start-up funds provided to new laboratories. However, to address many of the most important unanswered questions in biology and the most significant unmet needs in medicine, 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.
In recognition of the strategic vision described above, and in collaboration with the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the DGSOM Research Themes and the IPH will focus the 2020 DGSOM Seed Grant Program on an effort to promote the assembly of new teams of scientists 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 are encouraged from faculty throughout the UCLA campus in any biomedical or medical research area in which groundbreaking advances catalyzed by teams of researchers can be envisioned. Applications that take advantage of the infrastructures established by the IPH and CTSI are especially encouraged, as are applications that span disciplines or span the basic, translational, clinical, and community spectrum.
One important new aspect of the 2020 program is that we would like to encourage compelling 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, on the basis of UCLA’s diverse strengths, an investigator team may have the potential for an unusually large impact.
Similar to last year’s program, all investigator teams 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. A high priority will also be given to newly assembled research teams rather than teams that have already been working together for multiple years. In addition, only a small number of planning grants will be awarded to increase the probability that those who receive planning grants will ultimately receive funding. The 2020 Seed Grant application process will include two phases, in recognition of the amount of time, thought, and effort needed to assemble a multidisciplinary team.
In the first phase, brief applications for small Planning Grants will first be requested and evaluated (submission deadline, February 24, 2020; see specific instructions below). Successful applicants will be awarded up to $1,000 (with notifications planned by March 16, 2020) to help fund team science planning activities, including internal meetings, brainstorming sessions, and/or workshops over a 4-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.
In the second phase of the application process, Full Grant applications (due July 20, 2020) 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, and a summary of the team assembly activities carried out during the three-month planning period (see specific instructions below).
The earliest funding date will be October 15, 2020 and a total investment of up to $3 million is envisioned. 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.
Please direct questions to Dion Baybridge at DBaybridge@mednet.ucla.edu
The PI of each funded award must submit a six-month progress report and final annual report. The reports will include:
Submission and approval of the 6-month Progress Report are required for continued funding.
General evaluation criteria for all Planning Grant applications and subsequent Full Grant applications:
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):
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):