By Kate Darby Rauch
Securing research funding just got easier thanks to the addition of UCSF’s Academic Senate into the Resource Allocation Program (RAP), which is now truly a one-stop shop grant application system making grant-seeking simpler and more convenient.
Essentially, the Academic Senate is adding its $1.2 million in annual grant programs to RAP’s already multi-agency account, creating a $4.2 million pool of more than 20 grant types that can be applied for with one application, on one deadline with two cycles per year. The different funding agencies still make the final granting decisions, but the application and review process is streamlined under RAP.
Funding organizations under RAP include:
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
AIDS Research Institute
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Mount Zion Health Fund
UCSF Gladstone Institute of Virology & Immunology Center for AIDS Research
Clinical and Translational Science, Strategic Opportunities Support program
Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center
National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health
Research Evaluation and Allocation Committee of the School of Medicine
“The Academic Senate complements RAP by providing additional sources that improve the overall ability to fund proposals in different categories, as well as by sharing administrative resources and costs,” says Roland Henry, PhD, incoming chair of the Committee of Research and the current vice chair of the Committee of Research and UCSF professor of radiology and neurology. “The expected overall improvement includes better reviews, the reduced complexity and burden of applying to multiple agencies with multiple deadlines, and greater funding capability.”
Submission deadlines are twice a year, fall and spring. The next deadline is Monday, Sept. 20.
Grant Categories Added
RAP’s array of grant categories includes funds for pilot studies, translational technologies, novel methods, planning, and career development. Now all the pre-existing grants provided by the Academic Senate, such as the re-entry grants, individual investigator grants, and shared equipment grants, have been incorporated into RAP.
In addition to that, other funding agencies have enlarged their portfolio with new grant categories, such as assistance for new mothers juggling maternity leave, infant care and the demands of research.
For this funding cycle, RAP is offering six new grant mechanisms:
- Re-entry awards
- Pilot Research Awards for Junior Investigators Utilizing CTSI Clinical Research Services (CTSI-CRS)
- UCSF Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Center (DERC) Pilot and Feasibility Awards
- T1 Translational Catalyst Program for the Development of Diagnostics and Therapeutics
- Pilot Research Awards in Research Policy
- Post Childbearing Professional Development Leave Award Program
Website Guides Researchers
Years ago, faculty looking for university-housed or intramural research funds faced a dizzying web of different grant types, application requirements and deadlines. While intramural funds aren’t typically the whopper grants needed for large or multi-year projects, they’re essential for smaller and short-term work, often the focus of more junior researchers.
RAP doesn’t cover extramural or outside funding sources or limited submission, but there are discussions underway to provide one-stop access on the RAP website to information on these opportunities as well.
Eager to make the process less cumbersome, three years ago faculty from various UCSF funding agencies created RAP facilitated though UCSF’s Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI). Housed and administratively managed by the CTSI, RAP pulls intramural funding opportunities under one processing organization with one website.
“When I was a junior faculty member, I was told by my mentors to look into the various institutional funding opportunities at UCSF and I found them quite complicated to navigate,” says Dan Lowenstein, MD, professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurology, member of the CTSI Board of Directors, and member of the RAP Steering Committee. “All had different application requirements and deadlines and were located in many different locations on the web. RAP has transformed this. Now, all mentors should advise their junior faculty to explore the RAP website and to get a sense of the portfolio of institutional grant programs at UCSF.”
The best way to learn about the RAP is by exploring its website, which provides step-by-step instructions. For questions, contact Emanuela Volpe via email or phone 415/514-6208.
Streamlined Application Process
RAP improves the quality and usefulness of the application rating system by guaranteeing input from reviewers with specific knowledge in the applicant’s field, which isn’t always the case in grant reviews, stresses Lowenstein. “The chances of getting a fair and more well-informed review are dramatically higher than they were in the past,” he says.
Before RAP, the volume of intramural grant applications was so high that faculty reviewers might be responsible for numerous proposals from disparate funding sources. It was challenging to match each application with a reviewer that would have expertise in the related research field. With RAP, fewer applications per reviewer allow for better organized reviews. Now, Academic Senate reviewers will complement and strengthen the existing RAP review committees.
With its three year track record, RAP is getting glowing reviews from users.
“The process was easy to navigate and I appreciated how clearly I could determine eligibility,” said Alicia Fernandez, MD, faculty with the School of Medicine, based at San Francisco General Hospital. Fernandez will be using a professional development leave grant she applied for through RAP to do research with the Ministry of Health in Argentina on the impact of reducing salt in bakery bread to prevent cardiovascular disease. “This is a very helpful and meaningful award program.”