Catalyst Awards for the Development of Therapeutics, Diagnostics, Medical Devices, and Digital Health

The Catalyst Program is UCSF’s translational accelerator focused on advancing UCSF discoveries with clinical impact and commercial potential. The centerpiece of the Catalyst Program are Catalyst Awards that provide both industry advisor mentorship and seed funding to UCSF PIs with promising projects. The Catalyst Awards are focused on the development of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and digital health. Previous Catalyst Awardees include UCSF investigators whose works span a broad range of innovative concepts. The mentorship and funding awardees received enabled them to reach key milestones along the development path towards safe and effective solutions for patients.

ShangPharma Awards for the Development of Therapeutics

UCSF has a collaboration with ShangPharma Innovation to progress therapeutics projects towards the clinic. This collaboration, managed by the Catalyst Program, includes both direct project funding and contract research services provided by ChemPartner.  

Award Amounts

Therapeutics - if chosen for a collaboration with ShangPharma Innovation, a project can qualify for funding of up to ~$400K/year together plus up to ~$600K/year in CRO services  at ChemPartner. If chosen for UCSF Catalyst Award funding the maximum award is $100K

Diagnostics - up to $100K
Medical Devices - up to $100K
Digital Health - up to $50K 

Award Process

Stage 1: Initial Review

The Catalyst Advisor Award Selection Committee reviews the applications and selects the finalists.

Stage 2: Presentation

Finalists present their projects to the Catalyst Advisor Award Selection Committee (15 minute presentation 15 minute Q&A) and awardees selected.

Stage 3: Post-award

Awardees will participate in mentorship sessions with relevant industry advisors; create a 'target product profile' (TPP) for their project and present it together with a project update to the assembled industry advisors in the Spring of 2019. Awardees will also present a project update to the assembled industry advisors in the Fall of 2019.


Applicants must be a UCSF Faculty member in any series (Ladder Rank, In Residence, Clinical Health Science Clinical, Adjunct) or any rank (Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Full Professor). Residents and Postdoctoral scholars are eligible to submit applications as a PI if they have a faculty member as a Co-PI.

Intellectual Property

Projects should have a strong potential for obtaining intellectual property. Existing IP has to be assigned to, or jointly owned by, the Regents of the University of California. If IP has not been filed, applicants must have an obligation to assign inventions and patents to the Regents of the University of California in accordance with University of California Patent Policy.

Estimated Timeline

Sept 17 RAP Application Deadline
Nov 2 Announcement of finalists
Nov 26 - Dec 6  Finalist presentations to Industry Advisor Selection Committee
Dec 14 Announcement of awards  


Proposals will be evaluated on the following:

1.       Unmet medical need

2.       Scientific rationale

3.       Development feasibility

4.       Commercial attractiveness

5.       Intellectual property status, potential position, and issues



Complete the electronic application form 
Upload your proposal as a SINGLE PDF that includes all the things listed in numeric order in the instructions below. 

Format Requirements:  Arial font; 11 pt; minimum 0.5 inch for all margins.

Application Length: Maximum of 3 pages, (not including PI and team bios, literature citations, and budget pages)

Application Content:

- P.I. name(s) and project title

- Brief executive summary that includes: the unmet medical need being addressed; the initial discovery or observation; the specific focus of the Catalyst project; and the future product

- Details on unmet medical need addressed and competitive landscape (how the medical need is currently being addressed and other approaches being pursued to the same end)

- Details on the discovery and their implications for the eventual product opportunity; details on the current state of the project

- Details on the proposed Catalyst Project’s specific aims, and where they will get you along the product development path

- Intellectual property status (disclosures made to OTM, any patent filings)

- What are current sources of funding for the project?  Are there any existing collaborations with other institutions on the project?  What is funding strategy after the Catalyst Program phase of the project?  What is the ‘exit strategy’ (i.e. out-license to industry partner, initiate a clinical trial, start a company)?

- Literature citations 

- PI and team short bios

- Budget should include budget amount requested for each specific aim of the project, and their estimated timeline

Use the following budget template form:



  Allowable Not
PI Salary * X  
Co-Investigator(s) Salary* X  
Post Doc Salary X  
K career development awardees – salary support   X
Consultants X  
Administrative Support   X
Supplies X  
Equipment X  
Software X  
Personal Computers   X
Mailing   X
Tuition   X
Travel** X  
Research Staff Support (e.g. RSA; Lab. Technician) X  
Patient Care   X
Indirect costs on subcontracts   X

*NIH base salary cap. 

Total Salary Component cannot be more than 25% of the total budget.

**Travel is restricted to reaching project sites.

Budget Justification: Clearly and fully justify all costs. Use the following budget justification template form:


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. If I submit an application for the Catalyst Award can I still submit an application via UCSF's Resource Allocation Program (RAP) to another grant mechanism?
    Yes. Applicants are allowed to submit a proposal for consideration to both the Catalyst Award and another grant mechanism via RAP. However, funding cannot be accepted from both mechanisms for the same scope of work.
  2. If I can submit an application for the Catalyst Award and an additional grant mechanism via RAP, can I choose instead to submit a proposal to two grant mechanisms of my choice via RAP?
    No. Only one application per cycle is allowed to the traditional grant mechanisms via RAP. Applicants are allowed to submit an additional proposal for the Catalyst Award because some of the Catalyst support comes in the form of consultations with expert advisors, rather than funding.
  3. Is the amount requested (up to $100,000 and $50,000 for dHealth) the total amount (including indirect costs) or is it the total direct costs?
    The award amount represents direct costs only. The awardee is not charged for, nor do they pay, indirect costs. Indirect costs do not need to be included in the Catalyst Award application budget.
  4. Can I use Catalyst Award funds for international research?
    No, you cannot use Catalyst funds for any international expenses including travel outside of the U.S.
  5. Can my digital health project receive funding of over $50,000 if warranted?
    No, at this point a digital health project cannot receive more than $50,000.
  6. My project has 2 main PIs instead of 1 lead and 1 Co-PI, can we both be weighted the same if funding is achieved?
    Yes, you can have 2 main PIs on the application and they will be weighted the same. 2 is the limit.
  7. Is filing intellectual property a requirement?
    Not necessarily at the outset. The team will help judge whether /when this is necessary. Keep in mind that "patentability/potential to generate intellectual property" is one of several criteria for scoring the technology proposed by reviewers. The potential for obtaining intellectual property should exist, if not be already filed. Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss proposed technologies with the UCSF Office of Technology Management.
  8. Can the proposed project be testing an already existing drug, device or therapeutic for a new application?
    Yes, but please keep in mind that one area of proposal evaluation is "patentability/potential to generate intellectual property". In the case where an already existing drug is being tested for a new application, intellectual property issues will be increasingly relevant especially if the intellectual property for the drug is held by someone other than UCSF.