Frontiers of Innovation:  Seed Funds for Large Proposal Development

Request for Applications for the 2016-17 Academic Year

The Office of Research Affairs (ORA) invites applications for one-time, non-renewable seed funding for planning and development activities leading to the submission of proposals for major extramural research support.  

Awardees are expected to submit at least one proposal for major, external funding within two years of the date the UC San Diego funds are made available. External funding pursued may come from federal, state, and private sources. Commitments to develop proposals to specific, large-budget funding opportunities (for example, NSF Engineering Research Centers, NSF Science and Technology Centers[SF1] , DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers, CDC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Centers, NIA Complex Integrated Multi-Component Projects in Aging Research, and NCI Emerging Questions in Cancer Systems Biology) will be prioritized in the 2016-17 competition. Applications involving co-investigators from other research institutions and multiple UCSD VC areas, i.e., General Campus, Health Sciences and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, are encouraged but not required.

FUNDING AMOUNTS.  ORA intends to make up to three smaller ($20-30K) and up to three larger (up to $75K) awards for FY2016–2017. Seed funds awarded may be less than the requested amount, based on the availability of funds. Funds may be used up to two years from the time they are awarded.  (In rare cases, when the intent of the application is to develop a proposal to a funding opportunity for which the next anticipated deadline is uncertain and possibly further into the future than the two-year mark, consideration will be given to extending funds to three years. In such cases, applicants should provide within the seed funding application best-available information from the relevant sponsor regarding the anticipated timeline for the next competition cycle.)

REQUIREMENTS.  The submission of at least one major proposal by a lead Principal Investigator (PI) involving multiple additional investigators. The specific funding opportunities to which proposals will be submitted, with submission deadlines, if available, must be listed in applications for seed funds. The expectation is that funding opportunities pursued will have the potential to generate large awards.  In the arts and humanities and some areas of the social sciences, large proposals may generate awards of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  ORA Research Proposal Development Service (RPDS) will assist all recipients of seed funds. White paper submissions that do not advance to the proposal stage will not satisfy the requirement.

PROPOSAL FORMAT AND LENGTH.  The main body of the application is limited to 5 single-sided pages, 3 of which are on the research plan. Please include the following in this order:

  1. Application title
  2. Abstract
  3. List of participating investigators, including an identified lead PI, with departmental, center, and/or ORU affiliations
  4. Proposed research plan (not to exceed 3 pages within the 5 pages for the main body of the application); include a brief explanation of how the research will advance one or more of the four grand research themes included in UC San Diego’s Strategic Plan:
    • Understanding and Protecting the Planet
    • Enriching Human Life and Society
    • Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity
    • Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society
  1. 2-year timeline of proposed scientific and fund-raising activities
  2. Title, very brief description, and link to the current call-for-proposals for one or more specific, large funding opportunities to be pursued, including proposal due dates; if proposal due dates are unavailable, include, if possible, authoritative information from the sponsor regarding the anticipated timeframe for the next competition
  3. Proposed organizational structure, including the names and institutional affiliations of proposed non-UC San Diego investigators, if any
  4. Rough seed funding budget (see USE OF FUNDS, below)

The main body of the application should be followed by the biographies of up to 5 participating investigators, including the proposed lead PI. Each biography may be up to two pages in length. Any biography format is acceptable. Commitment letters from department chairs, deans, or ORU directors are optional. Any references, figures, tables and images are included in the 5-page limit. Biographies and commitment letters are not included in the 5-page limit.

SELECTION PROCESS AND CRITERIA.  Evaluation of applications will be conducted by a committee appointed jointly by the Office of Research Affairs and the Academic Senate Committee on Committees. Review criteria include potential for success in attracting major extramural support, scientific rigor, potential for creative advances and innovation, potential for establishing excellence of UC San Diego in the given area at the national and international level, and linkage to UC San Diego’s research priority areas.

ELIGIBILITY.  Proposed lead PIs must hold a UCSD appointment that confers PI eligibility. Please refer to this page for details regarding PI eligibility.  

USE OF FUNDS.  Allowable use of seed funding includes meetings with non-UCSD partners, consultants, travel to meet with sponsors, students/postdoc salaries, summer salary of investigators, and other common research uses, including equipment and data needs.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.  Awardees will be required to make a presentation on progress toward major proposal submission and awards won at an annual ORA-hosted workshop.  In addition, a written progress summary is due 12 months after the seed funds are awarded. A final written report is due 26 months after ORA funding.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION.  October 7, 2016, with funding to be available in November 2016. Proposals should be submitted as single pdfs via e-mail to Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Miroslav Krstic (, with a copy to Administrative Coordinator Patrice Lock (

Faculty who may have questions that are not answered in the text above may contact AVCR Krstic (, telephone (858) 534-5556.