2017 UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences: Trailblazer Award Program

UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
2017 Trailblazer Award Program
Call for Proposals


The UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, established by the extraordinary generosity of Joan and Sanford I. Weill, brings together world-class researchers with top-ranked physicians to solve some of the most complex challenges in the human brain.

There have been several changes to the UCSF Weill research funding program this year and we encourage faculty to read this document carefully.

The Institute’s 2017 Trailblazer Award Program seeks to fund compelling, high risk/high reward research in the neurosciences. Clinical, translational, and basic scientists are all welcome to apply. The target for this program is clinical and translational research focused on a broad spectrum of neuroscience challenges, including therapeutics, diagnostics, imaging technology, biomarker discovery/validation, and computational methods. We seek to support creative research projects that are focused on improved patient outcomes, especially those that employ concepts of convergent neuroscience research, crossing levels of analysis from genomics and imaging to behavior and implementation, and considering the dimension of time.

UCSF Weill 2017 Trailblazer Awards

• These awards may be used to support salary, or any other research need, of neuroscience-focused research; however, salary coverage should not exceed 50% of the total budget.

• Approximately nine awards are expected to be granted in 2017.

• The project period is one year.

  • The budget maximum is $100,000 (total costs) for a single investigator project or up to $200,000 (total costs) for a multiple PI proposal.
  • Budgets are for direct costs only; no indirect costs should be included.
  • Each PI is limited to one application.


Announce Call for Proposals

May 2nd

Proposal Submission Deadline

June 16th

Scientific Review Period and Finalist Selection

June 19th – July 5th

Finalist PI Live presentations and/or Selection by Steering Committee

July 6th - July 14th

Announcement of Award

July 17th

Approximate Funding Start Date

August 1st


  • Applicants must be researchers with a UCSF faculty appointment, as evidenced by a departmental chair (or equivalent) signature on the cover sheet statement.
  • Proposals can come from individual PIs or from multiple PI teams.
  • Researchers can hold only one Weill award at a time. 2016 SCHOLAR AWARDEES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR THE 2017 COMPETITION.
  • Early career investigators are especially encouraged to apply.

Proposal Instructions (Arial 11 font; 0.5 inch margins)

  1. Cover Page (1 page limit): Cover page with name of award program, deadline, title of proposal, scientific disciplines represented in the collaboration (if applicable), amount of funding requested, Principal Investigator name(s), academic titles, departments, phone numbers, UCSF box numbers, and email addresses. Identify the contact PI and the UCSF department that will manage the award, the accounting manager/contact name, UCSF box number, email address, and phone number. Chairperson/Director statement signed by the contact PI’s department Chair or ORU Director.
    1. Chairperson/Director Statement: I am aware and supportive of this proposal submission. I affirm that the applicant has a UCSF faculty appointment and has access to the research resources necessary to carry out this research and agree to provide fiscal management support for this project, if funded.
      Signed ___________________.
    2. Proposal Research Area: Choose and state in which category your research project best fits, for review purposes: 1) Clinical research, 2) Translational research, or 3) Basic research.
  2. Project Description (2 page limit):
    1. Rationale/background; proposed research; innovation; impact; current stage of project; and current funding, if any. Preliminary data not required.
    2. Figures and tables must be included within these 2 pages.
  3. Bibliography follows the 2 pages of proposal (not part of page limitations).
  4. Budget and Budget Justification (together on 1 page limit). Note funds may be used for faculty salary for up to 50% of the total budget.
  5. NIH-style biosketch (not part of page limitations), for each PI.
  6. Current & Pending Support (not part of page limitations): All current and pending intramural and extramural research support information for each PI, following the NIH format.


Submit as a single PDF, via email to [email protected] no later than 5:00 pm PST, June 16th, 2017. Contact Gretchen Kiser at [email protected] for any questions.

Selection Process for Trailblazer Awards

There will be a two-part selection process.

  • In Part 1, the applications will be reviewed by a UCSF Weill Program Review Committee, comprising no fewer than seven researchers of appropriate expertise, and chaired by a member of the UCSF Weill Institute Steering Committee or a designee. Each proposal will be read by several reviewers and each reviewer will score the proposals on a scale of 1-9 (1 being best). The score for each proposal will be averaged to inform an overall list to be used in an active discussion meeting of the Review Committee. During this meeting, the committee Chair will lead the discussion of the proposals, resulting in the selection of finalists for the awards.
  • During the Part 2 selection process, the Steering Committee will select the awardees in a process that may involve the finalists presenting a quick research summary plus a Q&A session to the entire Committee.
  • The Steering Committee has ultimate authority and may address budget modifications, as they see fit.
  • Due to a large volume of submissions, individualized feedback will not be provided.

Selection Criteria

  1. Projects should address problems with high impact to human health;
  2. Projects should employ an innovative neuroscience approach;
  3. Projects should lead to and describe tangible benefit to patients, including the likelihood that the study will have an immediate impact;
  4. Projects should employ convergent neuroscience concepts; bridging different disciplines of enquiry is encouraged;
  5. Projects should address the challenges of interoperability, health disparities, privacy, participant engagement, consent, security, ethical and/or regulatory issues, are also encouraged;
  6. Where applicable, projects should describe the potential downstream use of tools, measurements, approaches, and data, including open public accessibility of generated data and publications;
  7. Projects that leverage the electronic health record data from across the UC Health centers are encouraged.
  8. Other support will be considered in decision regarding awards.

Progress Reporting

Written Progress Reports: A final report is required at the project funding end. Reports will be collected as part of an annual overall program report. Guidelines for the preparation of this final report will be provided near the end of the project period.

UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences Background

The UCSF Weill Institute leverages UCSF’s unrivaled bench-to-bedside excellence in the neurosciences. It unites three UCSF departments - Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurological Surgery - that are highly esteemed for both patient care and research as well as the Neuroscience Graduate Program, a cross-disciplinary alliance of nearly 100 UCSF faculty members from 15 basic-science departments, which awards doctoral degrees in a variety of research areas. Also included is the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, a multidisciplinary research center focused on finding effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. By integrating these areas, UCSF strengthens an already stellar record across the neurosciences.