Microbiome Research Program - 2021 Call for Proposals

View Frequently Asked Questions


The Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine (BCMM) seeks to advance the field of microbiome research at UCSF by funding proposals that develop novel tools, promote understanding of microbial-host interactions, and foster translational research.

Applications will be funded by two independent mechanisms:

Trainee/Staff Pilot Award

1-page Project Description plus supporting documentation

Award level: Up to $10,000 for one year

Faculty Pilot Award

2-page Project Description plus supporting documentation

Award level: Up to $150,000 total over two years

Funds will be awarded to innovative proposals intended to:

  • Explore novel concepts or hypotheses
  • Expand or integrate microbiota data into a pre-existing study
  • Analyze publicly available data to address a critical hypothesis
  • Develop a new tool (analytical/computational)
  • Development or expansion of center resources (e.g., molecular characterization of strain collection/protocol development)
  • Support analyses of microbial strains/cellular interactions of interest to the field

Computational and bench-based proposals from all areas of interest are encouraged to apply. Studies proposing microbial genomic, metabolomic, or gnotobiotic mouse data generation are encouraged to leverage the BCMM CoLab Incubators as part of their proposal. View CoLab Incubators.

Proposals specifically related to prostate cancer will be considered for co-funding by the UCSF Benioff Initiative for Prostate Cancer Research.


  • All applicants must submit an application for BCMM membership before submitting their proposal. Become a BCMM member.
  • Applicants for Trainee/Staff Pilot Awards must provide a signed statement of eligibility from their PI/mentor confirming the applicant’s appointment extends through the award timeline
  • Applicants for Faculty Pilot Awards must have a faculty or professional reasearcher appointment at UCSF

Submission Process

Only proposals submitted online by 11:59pm PDT on September 28, 2021 will be reviewed.

Proposal Instructions

All documents should use Arial 11 font; 0.5-inch margins:

  • Online application form: Required information includes name of award mechanism, title of proposal, amount of funding requested, and contact information. View application form.
  • Supporting contributions to diversity. We are prioritizing the funding of researchers that enhance the diversity of our community and have significant past and planned contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Provide the following in the application form:
    • Disclose if the primary applicant (all applications) or any faculty collaborators (faculty pilot only) self-identify as belonging to groups shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences. See the FAQ page for a list of groups we are prioritizing for support.
    • Primary applicant (all applications) or Co-PI (faculty pilot only) should describe past and planned experience, activities and future plans to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (200-word limit). See guidance on types of activities.
  • Quotes from each BCMM CoLab Incubator to be used in the project: To request a quote, follow these instructions.
  • Budget form: All applications should use the provided budget forms. Start date should be January 1, 2022. View and download budget forms.
  • Budget justification (2-page limit): A budget justification is required. View the FAQ page for examples.
  • Biosketch (5-page limit): Include for each applicant. View and download biosketch form, sample, and instructions.
  • Statement confirming eligibility from applicant’s mentor (only required for Trainee/Staff Pilot): All applications for Trainee/Staff Pilot Awards should include a short statement signed by the applicant’s PI/supervisor confirming the applicant’s appointment extends through the award period.
  • Project Description (1 page for Trainee/Staff Pilot, 2 pages for Faculty Pilot): The Project Description should include the following sections: Background/Rationale; Specific Aim(s); Approach (including planned use of CoLab Incubators, if applicable); and Impact and Sustainability. Preliminary data may be included but is not required. Articulate if samples/data required for the project are already available, in process, or would will be prospectively collected during the course of the study. Figures must be included within the page limit. Bibliography does not count towards the page limit. Applications for a Trainee/Staff Pilot should describe how the project will further their career goals.
  • Uploading Project Description: Once you submit your online application form, which includes all other documents, you will be automatically redirected to a secure Box link to upload your Project Description. Include the primary applicant’s last name in the document’s file name. View Box link.

Review Criteria

A review panel of faculty and trainees will score proposals based on the review criteria outlined below. Additional ad hoc reviewers with specific expertise may also review applications as necessary. View rubric reviewers will use to score proposals.

  • Intellectual Merit: Contribution to advancing knowledge and understanding within the field of study or across fields. Qualifications of the applicant/team and how well conceived and well organized the proposed work is.
  • Innovation & Interdisciplinarity: The extent to which the project will contribute to novel thinking and/or new technology in its field; does the proposal include contributors from multiple disciplines? Do they present a novel approach to the research question?
  • Impact: The contribution to realizing important goals and its potential to provide useful outcomes to society locally and globally.
  • Sustainability: The likelihood that the project will lead to sustainable results: develops new tools or resources, establishes new research directions, initiates new collaborations or generates extramural funding. Extramural funding that may be targeted should be specifically identified in the proposal.
  • Contributions to Diversity: Contribution to enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through demonstration of past activities or experience and articulation of planned efforts.

Selection Process

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 the FAQ page 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 per award cycle.

Key Dates

  • Proposal Submission Deadline: September 28
  • Announcement of Awards: mid-November
  • Approximate Funding Start Date: January 1 (flexible)

Program Contact

For questions, please contact Kristin Dolan, PhD: [email protected].