Microbiome Research Program - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Who is eligible to apply for the Trainee/Staff Pilot award?
All trainees (students, residents, postdocs, fellows, etc.) and staff can submit applications to the Trainee/Staff Pilot award. All applicants should include a letter of support signed by the applicant’s PI/supervisor confirming the applicant’s appointment extends through the award timeline.
Who is eligible to apply for a faculty pilot and project award?
All individuals with appointments in a Faculty or Professional Research series are eligible to serve as PI on a Faculty Pilot or Faculty Project proposal.
I am a researcher at Gladestone/VA. Am I able to apply for these awards?
Any lab where the PI has at least a 50% FTE faculty appointment in a UCSF department is eligible to apply for these awards. The trainees/staff in the lab can apply for Trainee/Staff pilots, and the PI can apply for the faculty pilots. All awards will be administered by PI's primary UCSF department.
Is there a limit on the number of proposals an individual or lab can submit?
There is no limit of the number of proposals an individual or lab can submit. However, a maximum of one proposal per lab will be funded through the trainee/staff category in each award cycle.
Are BCMM Executive Committee members allowed to participate in faculty pilot awards?

EC members who are already receiving funding via the BCMM collaborative research initiatives are not allowed to formally participate in any faculty pilot study. However, EC members can offer advice to proposals/projects and are permitted to guide and co-author publications related to funded studies.

Are researchers currently funded for a 2020 or 2021 BCMM pilot able to apply this cycle?
Researchers currently leading a BCMM-funded study are ineligible to apply for more pilot funds this year. This means that a funded trainee/staff cannot apply for another trainee/staff pilot, and funded faculty cannot apply for another faculty pilot (or be a named collaborator).

Here are allowable scenarios:

  • Trainees/staff in labs with a BCMM faculty award are able to apply via the trainee/staff pilot mechanism
  • Faculty of labs with a trainee/staff award are able to apply via the faculty pilot mechanism
  • Labmates of a trainee/staff awardee are able to apply via the trainee/staff pilot mechanism
  • Trainee/staff awardees that have been promoted to a faculty appointment before the end of their trainee/staff award project period can apply for a faculty pilot (or be a named collaborator)


Are subcontracts or non-UCSF partnerships allowed?
Yes, applications may propose a partnership or subcontract outside of UCSF.
Are indirect costs allowed?
No indirect costs may be budgeted for UCSF costs. International and domestic subcontracts can request indirect costs up to 8%.
Is there a salary cap?
No, you can request your full salary support as appropriate.
Should I include UCSF's CCDSS and Data Network costs?
You should include UCSF's CCDSS and Data Network costs if you are requesting salary coverage. Since these fees are per FTE, they should be proportional to the amount of salary/effort requested.
I have never prepared a proposal budget before. Are there examples I can reference?
Some trainee awardees of our 2020 cycle have generously agreed to share their budget and justification as an example. View example budgets and justifications. (UCSF email required to access).
Do I have a propose a project for the full budget ($10,000 for trainee/staff pilots, $50,000 for faculty pilots, and $150,000 for faculty projects)?
No, you can propose whatever budget aligns to the scope of your project, up to the allowed limit.

Efforts to Enhance Diversity

What definitions of diversity are you referencing when you are determining which proposals to prioritize for funding?
We are prioritizing the funding of researchers that enhance the diversity of our community. For this competition, we are using the same categories that NIH uses to award their Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research. Here is a list of those categories:

  • Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis.
    • Blacks or African Americans
    • Hispanics or Latinos
    • American Indians or Alaska Natives
    • Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders
  • Individuals from additional racial and ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented at UCSF​
    • Filipino
    • Hmong
    • Vietnamese
  • Individuals with disabilities, which are defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as meeting at least two of the following criteria:
    1. Were or currently are homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
    2. Were or currently are in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families;
    3. Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years;
    4. Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree (see the U.S. Department of Education);
    5. Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants;
    6. Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children as a parent or child;
    7. Grew up in one of the following areas: a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas  (qualifying zip codes are included in the file). Only one of the two possibilities in #7 can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background

How are you combating potential biases that can negatively influence the review process?
Below are the steps we have implemented for the 2022 cycle. We would welcome other suggestions of how to ensure an equitable process.

  • Instructions to reviewers include a charge to acknowledge and actively combat any bias during the review process.
  • Proposals should be scored by reviewers at multiple career stages (trainee, faculty, EC member) and expertise.
  • Members of the BCMM community will be invited to serve as reviewers. Faculty covering specific areas of expertise will also be recruited.
  • We require applicants, reviewers, and executive committee members to disclose conflicts of interest.

Review and Selection Process

What do you define as a conflict of interest (COI)?
A situation in which a reviewer cannot be objective due to a recent (within the past 5 years) close collaboration (co-authorship, joint funding, or a joint funding application – pending review or planned). Being a research mentor constitutes a COI. However, being a career mentor does not constitute a COI. Being a spouse/partner and/or labmate also constitutes a COI.

How are proposals reviewed?
Each proposal is reviewed by at least three reviewers; at least one reviewer is a member of the BCMM Executive Committee. Proposals will not be assigned to reviewers with a disclosed conflict of interest (see definition above).

Which proposals will be selected for funding?
The following proposals will be prioritized for funding:

  • The highest scored proposals, based on reviewer scores
  • Proposals led by researchers that self-identify to belong to groups under-represented in health-related sciences. See above for a list of these groups.
  • Proposals that expand the breadth of microbiome research supported by BCMM funds
  • A maximum of one proposal per lab will be funded through the trainee/staff category

How many proposals do you intend to fund this?
We expect to fund approximately 10 trainee/staff pilots, 3-4 faculty pilots, and 2-3 faculty projects for the 2022 cycle.