Catalyst Awards for the Development of Diagnostics, Devices, Therapeutics and Digital Health
The Catalyst Award combines customized expert feedback and advice, with funding to help drive promising early-stage research through the lengthy and complex process of translating ideas into patient benefit. Previous awardees include UCSF investigators whose works span a broad range of innovative concepts in therapeutics, diagnostics and devices. The expert consultation and funding they received enabled them to advance promising early research findings along the most effective path toward safe and effective medical treatment and health outcomes.
The Early Translational Research (ETR) Program, which manages the award, is supported by an exclusive panel of over 60 expert advisors from academia, industry and venture capital. There are two award cycles a year. Applications are submitted through RAP and are initially placed into three categories: therapeutics, diagnostics and devices. Successful applicants negotiate through three distinct stages to receive critical feedback, expert consulting and funding for their projects:
|The first stage involves a thorough review of the applications by panel members with specific expertise in each category. All applicants receive thoughtful feedback that highlights the promising aspects of their research as well as key gaps that need to be addressed to strengthen their likelihood for progress toward commercial implementation and clinical practice.|
|A select number of applicants are granted consultation awards and advance into the second stage. Over the following two months, these applicants are matched with expert panel members who can best help them address the gaps that were identified by the review panels. The awardee and their assigned consultant(s) work together to prepare for the final review meeting.|
|In the final stage, the consultation awardees are invited to present their research, their progress in addressing the reviewer’s concerns, and their proposed research plan. The review panel then decides on one or more applicants who will receive a Catalyst Award of up to $100,000 (up to $30,000 for Digital Health).|
Applicants: Principal investigators at UCSF and affiliate institutions qualify for this program including faculty in all series and at all ranks. Postdoctoral scholars are eligible to submit applications as PI with a faculty member as Co-PI.
Projects: Research projects with early target validation and a clear clinical indication will be eligible for consideration. The therapeutic area can cover any disease where there is an unmet medical need or the potential for significant improvement over current treatments, diagnostics or services. If patents or patent applications have not been filed, there should be a strong potential for obtaining defensible intellectual property.
Frequently Asked Questions
- 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.
- 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 the Catalyst award is tiered and not all awardees will receive the final funding award. The majority of awardees will receive in-depth analysis of their proposed projects and consultation from members of the business community.
- Is the amount requested (up to $100,000) 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 (this budget is for direct costs only. CTSI will pay the indirect costs at the rate on the parent award on top of the direct costs).
- Is a program already being funded by NIH suitable for this award or should the proposed work be new and unfunded?
Previously funded programs are absolutely acceptable. The key is the desire to commercialize.
- Is filing intellectual property a requirement?
Not necessarily at the outset. The team will help judge whether or 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 Office of Technology Management.
- Is activating a clinical trial a requirement?
Absolutely not. Most of these will be for development steps prior to clinical trials. The costs of trials that would be submitted to FDA for new indications are tremendous and one would expect a licensing of IP prior to that step in most (but not all) cases.
- Are these applications strictly for human subjects research or can one apply for testing a drug in a preclinical (mouse) model?
Proposed projects can be at any stage of research development, though typically they will have acquired some significant validation of the approach in preclinical models even if the follow up experiments will still be in preclinical models.
- Can the proposed project be testing an already existing drug 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.