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Center Launch: Seed Funds for Large Proposal Development

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.

The Center Launch application for 2017-2018 will be available starting September 22, 2017.

Deadline: October 19, 2017, 11:59 p.m. PDT

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, 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 2017-18 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 FY2017–2018. 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.)


Center Launch awardees are required to submit 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 submission 

A link to the online proposal portal will be available on this webpage starting September 21st, 2017.

The application will require:

  1. Project 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); Any references, figures, tables and images are included in the 3-page limit. 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
  5. 2-year timeline of proposed scientific and fund-raising activities (~1 paragraph).
  6. 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 (~1 paragraph).
  7. Proposed organizational structure, including the names and institutional affiliations of proposed non-UC San Diego investigators, if any (~1 paragraph).
  8. Rough seed funding budget (~1 paragraph, see Use of funds, below) Any references, figures, tables and images are included in the 3-page limit.
  9. Biographies of up to 5 participating investigators, including the proposed lead PI. Each biography may be up to 2 pages in length. Any biography format is acceptable.

Commitment letters from department chairs, deans, or ORU directors are optional.

Selection process and criteria

A committee appointed jointly by the Office of Research and the Academic Senate Committee on Committees will evaluate applications. 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.


Proposed lead PIs must hold a UC San Diego appointment that confers PI eligibility.

Use of funds

Allowable use of seed funding includes meetings with non-UC San Diego partners, consultants, travel to meet with sponsors, student/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 19, 2017, 11:59 p.m. PDT, with funding to be available in December 2017. 

The Center Launch Applications open on September 22, 2017.