Pilot Award

The Pilot Award Program for Investigators New to HIV is aimed for Investigators New to HIV (assistant or associate faculty, including clinical) without past or current HIV/SIV funding with an innovative research idea in translational, clinical, and/or behavioral-epidemiological, HIV/AIDS research. Pilot awards are for one year, they are typically used to initiate a project or to gather preliminary data and findings leading to a future grant application. International research projects are allowed. 

Funding for this program is $50,000 in direct costs (may include personnel salary and benefits). The funding period is one year. Any carry forward of funding is not guaranteed and must be justified. If awarded, indirect costs at appropriate rates will be added to the total direct costs.

Of high interest to CFAR are investigations ranging from basic pathogenesis to clinical outcomes in the research areas of HIV/aging and inflammation, latency, cure, vaccines, co-infections, HIV in women, and research related to health disparities in HIV-infected and HIV-impacted Bay Area populations. Our CFAR Science Cores and Working Group are available to assist you in your research, see VII below. 
NOTE: Projects must be within NIH’s HIV/AIDS research high or medium priority areas. Projects in closely related areas (e.g. TB, HCV, drug use, etc.) must be clearly linked to HIV in order to be eligible for CFAR funding.

Applications for Fall 2021 must be submitted via the RAP website from August 30 to September 27, 2021 - 2:00 PM PST. Any questions about proposal submission and review process contact RAP.

Program Contact - Should you have any questions regarding submission or reporting procedures, please contact Brenda Sanchez, CFAR Developmental Core Manager. If you are considering a study involving any clinical or behavioral intervention, please contact ([email protected],edu) or [email protected]) with a brief description of your study to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR. The complete guidelines for this RFA can be found here: https://cfar.ucsf.edu/sites/cfar.ucsf.edu/files/PDF-Pilot-Program-CFAR-Guidelines-2021-22.pdf

II. ELIGIBILITY - Requirements need to be met as of date of submission; no waivers are allowed. Junior or mid-level Faculty members at the level of Assistant or Associate Professor level at UCSF or our affiliated partner institutes (Gladstone Institutes, Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco Department of Public Health, and San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center/NCIRE) may apply. Faculty members may apply only if they are newly entering the field of HIV research. Investigators may apply only if they are newly entering the field of HIV research. Investigators are not eligible for CFAR Pilot Funding if they have received any past HIV research funding from any agency.

Who is eligible:

  • Current faculty in any Series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical X, Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) in the ranks of Associate professor, Assistant professor, and Clinical Instructor (including acting positions) who have not yet received any HIV/AIDS research funding
  • Current faculty at the assistant professor or clinical instructor level (including acting positions) who have not yet received an R01-equivalent award in HIV/AIDS
  • Non-faculty series or Professional Research Series including Specialist Series. Investigators in these series must make a strong case for their plan for becoming independent researchers
  • All applicants must hold doctoral degree or equivalent terminal degrees

Who is Not eligible: Postdoctoral fellows and full professors; staff; applicants without terminal degrees (e.g. PhD, MD)

Special Considerations for Current K Awardees:

  • CFAR allows current K awardees to provide complementary effort on their CFAR award with salary within their remaining 25% effort, if they also maintain the 75% required on the K-award as long as the specific aims differ from those on the “K” award. Please see the guide notice for details: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-094.html

All pilot award applications from individuals at the Assistant Professor level or below require an HIV research mentor, and faculty at the Associate Professor level are recommended to find an HIV research mentor or collaborator. CFAR requires your research mentor’s support to advise and guide the research portion of your application before submitting it to RAP. The mentor should be recognized as an accomplished investigator in AIDS research, and should be able to demonstrate past success in training/mentoring independent investigators. The mentor’s role is to provide oversight on the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed research. In addition, the mentor must commit to mentoring the applicant’s throughout the duration of the research project.

NOTE: Mentor cannot have supervisory authority over the applicant(s) under any circumstance part-time or full-time during the project period. If the applicant works in your lab and you are his/her supervisor, you are required to find another person to act as a Research Mentor for the applicant’s project. If questions arise, please contact Lauren Sterling, at [email protected], CFAR Managing Director.


  • Clinical Trials: NIH does not allow CFAR to fund clinical trials. ‘If your study involves one or more human subjects, involves one or more interventions, prospectively assigns human subjects to interventions and has a health-related biomedical or behavior outcome.’ If yes, Please contact Lauren Sterling or Brenda Sanchez with a brief description of your study ([email protected], cc: [email protected]) to determine whether your proposed project would be eligible for funding through CFAR.
  • Studies with Foreign Components: If the study has an international component requiring expenditure of funds (excluding travel) or a subcontract to a foreign institution, additional NIH approval and review is required. IRB approvals (both local and foreign), institutional FWA numbers, and human subjects training certifications (for local and foreign investigators) will be required before the release of any funding. [See NIH checklist form: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/sites/default/files/internationalstudieschecklist.doc.] Once all paperwork has been filed with the NIH, approval takes approximately 8–12 weeks.
  • Human Subjects: New investigators should visit the UCSF CHR website for details on when and how to apply for CHR approval at https://irb.ucsf.edu. Information on training, including online training resources, can be found on the CHR website at https://irb.ucsf.edu/citi-human-subjects-training.
  • Studies Above Minimal Risk: The NIH requires additional review (clinical checklist) for all studies above minimal risk or in vulnerable populations. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/sites/default/files/cfarguideclinresstud.doc.
  • Resubmissions: Same research topic with an amended application or research plan rather than a new research topic and new research plan. Requirements: Please use up to one extra page to introduce your revised proposal, addressing the issues raised in the review, and any additional changes to your proposal. A new letter from the Chair is not required if the resubmission is within 2 cycles (one skipped cycle max). You will include the old letter and state your resubmission is within 2 cycles and new letter is not required. Make sure the new changes are highlighted in bold or italic font so the reviewers can easily see where and how the proposal has changed. Do NOT use track changes.?

Completed applications which meet eligibility requirements will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate review committee convened by the UCSF Resource Allocation Program in accordance with NIH review criteria: 1. Significance, 2. Approach, 3. Innovation, 4. Investigator, 5. Environment. Each of these criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall application score.

CFAR makes funding decisions based on several factors – scientific review score, alignment of proposal to CFAR/OAR strategic goals, proposal research area of focus, potential for the PI to become an independent investigator, and alignment with other requirements set forth in the RFA.

VII. OTHER RESOURCES: CFAR Sciences Cores - Awardees are encouraged to use one or more support services from our CFAR research resources:

  1. Implementation Science Scientific Interest Group – Applicants proposing a study in the field of implementation science are encouraged to receive feedback on their project from the CFAR Implementation Science Interest Group. Please contact Joe Watabe to coordinate ([email protected]).
  2. Clinical and Population Sciences Core: Steven Deeks, MD & Jeff Martin, MD, MPH, Directors; ([email protected]; [email protected]).
  3. Immunology Core: Peter Hunt, MD ([email protected]) and Nitasha Kumar, PhD, CIL Director ([email protected]).
  4. Specimen Bank Core: Richard Jordan, DDS, PhD, Director ([email protected]).
  5. Pharmacology Core: Francesca Aweeka, PharmD, Director ([email protected]).

Pilot Awardees