Science Market Update

UCSF Research Funding Apparatus Streamlined, More Awards in Less Time

Posted by Jaimee Saliba on Mon, Aug 06, 2012

Funding makes laboratory research possible, which makes discovery possible, which leads to advancing knowledge and treatment options. But the primary job of a top scientist and lab director should not be to write grant proposals at the expense of time spent actually doing research. With that insight in mind, the University of California San Francisco put a system in place 5 years ago called the Resource Allocation Program (RAP). The function of the RAP is to streamline the intramural funding process so that faculty only have to fill out one application for many grants, and then only twice a year on set dates. A recent review of the program shows it to be a success, with a 66% increase in overall applications submitted and approximately a 20% increase in funding awarded in the past year alone.

When grant applications could be filled out and submitted electronically, that was a real boost for researchers. Now imagine the same application applies for a wide range of grants, and one click puts you in the running for all of them. You specify a primary grant that your work seems best suited to, but RAP reviewers will submit your application to as many granting agencies as it may be relevant and show promise for receiving funding. With so many research projects overlapping between funding mechanism categories, not having to commit to only one, or repeat the applications process for each grant, is a real time saver. It might also mean a researcher gets a grant he or she wouldn't have thought to pursue.

UCSF intramural grants (those distributed from within the university) accounted for over $4.6M awarded in 2011-2012. While researchers still must apply for most NIH grants directly, even some NIH funding is available through the RAP, namely funds that have been allocated to a UCSF agency focussing on one disease or health area, such as the Gladstone Institutes. Here are the RAP funding agencies and their funding sources: 

UCSF- Academic Senate
Funds from Endowments
AIDS Research Institute at the University of California San Francisco (ARI)
Funds from Endowments and Gifts
The Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC)
Funds from NIH
Cancer Center - Mount Zion Health Fund (MZHF)
Funds from Mt. Zion Health Fund
Clinical & Translational Science Institute-Strategic Opportunities Support Center (CTSI-SOS)
Funds from NIH
UCSF Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center (DERC)
Funds from NIH
UCSF - Gladstone Institute of Virology & Immunology Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)
Funds from NIH
National Center of Excellence in Women's Health (NCOEWH)
Funds from Mt. Zion Health Fund
Research Evaluation & Allocation Committee (REAC)
Funds from the School of Medicine
UCSF Research Resource Program (RRP)

Beyond creating a simplified system that covers basic, clinical and translational research available for investigators at every stage, RAP is particularly valuable for projects just getting started, which might not yet qualify for direct NIH funding. Supporting this nascent research very clearly leads to outside funding down the line, as studies show. According to Alice Fishman of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the agency that launched RAP in 2007:

“RAP awards provide crucial pilot funding to catalyze research and career development opportunities. This seed money has helped junior faculty and established researchers pursue new ideas and secure additional funding. In fact, over the past five years, RAP awards have resulted in more than $40 million in extramural funding for UCSF.”

ucsf research awards

[Image courtesy of UCSF; photo by Elena Zhukova]

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Tags: CA, University of California San Francisco, biomedical research, 2012 Research Funding, Southwest, California, 2012, San Francisco, Funding, Biotechnology Vendor Showcase, UCSF, Biomedical Research Funding, Mission Bay Campus, UCSF Mission Bay

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