COVID-19 Updates

Visit UC San Diego's Coronavirus portal for the latest information for the campus community.

ACTRI Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Project Grants

The application period for 2021 grants has been extended to November 9, 2020

The UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Project Grants support the development and expansion of community-university research partnerships  by funding collaborative research projects  designed and conducted by  UC San Diego, San Diego State University (SDSU) and other partner institution faculty and local communities and their leaders. The ACTRI Community Engagement Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Grant Program is part of a multilevel effort to expand UC San Diego Health Sciences and SDSU research endeavors to engage local communities. These funds are to be used for the development of new projects, and to provide a basis for future grant proposals and community partnerships – the funds are not intended to fund extensions of prior work. Awards of up to $20,000 are to be spent within the designated 12-month period. The funding period for the next cycle, 2021 grants will be May 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022.


ACTRI Mission: The mission of ACTRI is to create an environment that advances health care through interactions between basic scientists, clinical investigators, community physicians, and patients. We intend to address the barriers that inhibit productivity and rapid translation of research progress into new therapies, and the dissemination of these new therapies to patients served by UC San Diego Health, as well as those served by community providers.

The ACTRI Community Engagement Unit: The Community Engagement Unit of ACTRI promotes relationships between the university and community partners, practitioners and the general public to foster mutually-beneficial research endeavors. A broad and diverse group of agencies form partnerships with ACTRI, including: community clinics, community-based organizations that represent different cultural and ethnic groups, local governments, neighborhood collaborations, and agencies that represent people who share a common disease or disorder (e.g., Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego, American Lung Association, etc.).

The Mission of the Community Engagement Unit is to:

  • Build effective interactions between ACTRI and the general public
  • Promote the participation of community-based clinicians in clinical and translational research
  • Educate and encourage community-based health professionals in the use of evidence-based practices for disease prevention, diagnosis and intervention
  • Promote community-based research on health disparities
  • Promote participant recruitment and retention in clinical, biomedical and behavioral research, especially with communities who are often underrepresented in research, and underserved.

Purpose of the ACTRI Academic-Community Partnership Pilot Grant Program: Academic-Community grants are intended to develop and expand academic relationships with community-based agencies in order to foster a mutually-beneficial research agenda, developed in full collaboration with community-based agencies/individuals -- competitive applications should strengthen investigators' capacity to conduct community-based research. "Community Agencies" include, but are not limited to, community health centers, schools, county health departments, agencies which offer resources and support for disease-specific groups, and local nonprofit community-based organizations. The Academic-Community Partnership Pilot grant program is intended to fund promising new Academic-Community Partnerships and support investigator research in San Diego and Imperial Counties including rural regions. 

ACTRI Academic-Community Partnership Pilot grants should support the priorities of local communities, health care and health service stakeholders, and government and public health agencies. For the 2021 funding cycle, these priorities include COVID-19 related projects, and projects that address risk factors and/or resulting diseases or conditions identified as priority focus areas in the most recent County of San Diego, Community Health Assessment.  (CHA). Across regions, current CHA priorities include social determinants of health, and the specific risk factors, diseases and health indicators listed below. The ACTRI Community Engagement Unit anticipates funding two pilot project during the 2021 cycle, at least one of which will address COVID-19 or a CHA priority area listed.

Risk Factors

Diseases/Other Health Indicators

Lack of physical activity

Lack of or poor medical care

Tobacco use

Poor nutrition

Limited access to fresh foods



Alcohol/drug abuse

Stress and depression

Poor medication/treatment adherence

Lack of empowerment

Limited access to green space

Limited employer resources

Avoidance of immunizations/vaccines

Limited access to healthcare


High cholesterol

Heart disease




Pulmonary disease


Intentional injury

Infectious diseases

Unintentional injury

Mental illness

The ACTRI Community Engagement team, which includes the Institute for Public Health at SDSU, actively supports the development of new Academic-Community Partnerships and potential projects by helping both researchers and communities identify and build partnerships, and by providing on-going consulting services for joint projects and grant applications – from planning through implementation, to analyses and dissemination of findings.

Faculty at UC San Diego and other ACTRI partner institutions (SDSU, Salk Institute, Sanford Burnham,Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, and J. Craig Venter Institute) who are eligible to become ACTRI members are encouraged to apply. Research Scientists and all Professor Series Faculty, including Adjuncts, are PI eligible. Although Project Scientists, Post-Doctoral Fellows and other Academics are not PI eligible, they are encouraged to participate as Co-Investigators. Become a member of ACTRI, and learn about the many benefits of ACTRI membership. Previous awardees are not eligible to reapply for one year within each funding category.

Deadline for 2021 Applications: Monday, November 9, 2020  

Preliminary Notice of Award & Scheduling of Meetings with ACTRI: Early January, 2021

Final Funding Contingent on Successful Completion of IRB and NCATS requirements.

Funding Period: May  1, 2021 – April 30, 2022

Academic-Community Partnership Application Guidelines

  • Eligibility – ACTRI members with PI eligibility (described above). Become a member
  • Funding must be used to form new academic-community partnerships and support the development, implementation, and evaluation of a community-based research project in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
  • Existing Academic-Community partnerships may be considered, but only if the proposed research is clearly very different from prior work and/or the previously established relationship.
  • Preference is given to junior investigators, however, senior investigators whose application represents a clear departure from their previous work, are also encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants will be required to identify two co-investigators; one who is an ACTRI member, and another who is a member of a community agency outside of ACTRI and academia. Community agency co-investigators who also hold academic appointments can be members of the research team. However, they do not fulfill the non-academic co-investigator requirement. Applications without a non-academic co-investigator will not be considered. A letter identifying the role of the community-based co-investigator that is on the stationary of the proposed community-based agency partner is required.
  • Proposals with the greatest potential to lead to additional external support and to be developed into sustainable collaborative research projects will be given priority.
  • Funded Applicants – the UC San Diego/SDSU/other Academic PIs and the community partners will be required to meet with ACTRI Community Engagement faculty prior to final award notice, and during the funding period at the request of the ACTRI Standing Pilot Committee.
  • Funded Applicants must agree to submit all required reports (fiscal and programmatic) and other requests for information at the request of the Pilot Standing Committee and/or ACTRI Administrative Leadership.
  • Funded Applicants (academic and community co-investigators) must agree to present their projects at ACTRI-hosted forums and to advise ACTRI on other community-academic endeavors.
  • Awardees are expected to publish their findings in a scholarly peer‐reviewed journal and present this research at professional research and clinical meetings.
  • All publications, grants, and presentations resulting from research funded by the ACTRI or using ACTRI resources must cite the ACTRI as a contributing source of support and indicate the NIH CTSA grant title and number: University of California, San Diego, NIH CTSA grant # UL1TR001442.
  • Investigators are responsible for submitting any peer‐reviewed journal articles resulting from research funded by this award to PubMed Central, the NIH digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature. See
  • It is not expected that findings from these awards will be ready for presentation during the funding period.
  • Previous awardees are not eligible to reapply for one year within each funding category.

How to Apply

ACTRI uses "WebGrants" as an on-line application tool for Pilot grants.  Visit to register for Web Grants. 

Once you register as an applicant you will be sent an e-mail notifying you of your username and password.

Application Materials

Research Proposal - maximum of 6 pages, single-spaced, which includes the following sections:

  • Research aims/purpose and project goals; if applicable, describe the specific social determinant of health and/or County CHA priority area (risk factor, disease or health indicator) your project will address.  
  • Methodology (include description of methods for obtaining both process and outcome data) and anticipated outcomes
  • Impact: Include a brief paragraph that describes the potential impact of project on the community to be served. Include an explanation of how the project will impact health status, healthcare and/or health-related policies and/or practices in the short and/or long term for the communities involved.
  • Capacity of PI (and Co-PI) to successfully implement community-based project
  • Description of project's potential to lead to additional external support
  • Description of activities to ensure sustainability of the collaboration
  • Description of strategies to disseminate resulting information and "lessons learned."
  • Note: References should be included and do not count in the 6 page limit; Budget page and budget justification are required (see below) and do not count in the 6 page limit.

Proposals should provide a level of detail that will allow review committee members to judge the merit and feasibility of the project. Applicants must clearly define the purpose of the research and describe how proposed methods will lead to the proposed outcome. Applicants should explain how the information gained will be used to build the foundation for subsequent research. Proposals are reviewed by clinicians, scientists, and non-scientists from local communities. Therefore, descriptions of benefits, impact, and outcomes should be described in a straightforward manner, with clear practical implications.

Budget — All applications must be accompanied by an NIH standard budget page (Budget Form "page 4" only) and budget narrative (justification) describing how funding will be used to successfully carry out the project. Funds for one year cannot exceed $20,000. Applicants are expected to have a budget whereby funds are shared between the academic applicant and the community agency/partner; project expenses that will go to support the community partner's role in the proposed project must be described. While community partners must receive part of the grant funding, the agencies cannot claim overhead or indirect costs as represented on the proposed budget. Depending on the home institution of the ACTRI member, there will be restrictions on allowable indirect costs (maximum 10 percent of the budget); UC San Diego Faculty applicants' home departments will not receive the indirect costs covered by ACTRI. Rules governing federal awards (OMB circular A-21) apply to these funds. No funding will be provided for travel, clerical help, office supplies, books and subscriptions, graduate student support, tuition remission, or publication expenses. However, mileage reimbursement requests will be allowed for projects whose community partners are located in distant counties. Funds must be spent within 12 months — cost extensions are not permitted.

Letter of Commitment — Provide a letter from the Community Partner Organization. This letter must be on their letterhead, signed by the leadership of the organization, addressed to Director, UC San Diego ACTRI Community Engagement unit. The letter must: (a) describe the agency's support of the proposed project, (b) their role in the project, (c) identify the agency representative with primary responsibility for the project, and (d) briefly describe the anticipated benefits to the agency and community that will result from the collaboration during this project.

Biosketch — Provide a current NIH bio-sketch for the PI, Co-PI and any Co-Is (including postdoctoral fellows and graduate or medical students), and a CV or Resume for the Community Agency Representative.

Take Note of UC San Diego's IRB Policy — UC San Diego Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval must be secured by May 1, 2021 in order to receive funds on that date. As all funds must be spent by April 30, 2022 and cannot be extended, applicants should submit an IRB application at the same time their pilot proposal is submitted to ACTRI.

Take Note of UC San Diego's Conflict of Interest Policy — Before UC San Diego can issue a sub-award or subcontract to your community agency partner, compliance with PHS Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) requirements must be demonstrated. Community agencies receiving funds are required to either certify that it has its own PHS FCOI compliant policy or that it follows the UC San Diego HS FCOI policy by meeting all of our requirements. This can be demonstrated by submitting the FCOI Sub-recipient Commitment Form to the Business Contracts Office and COI Office. Feel free to contact the UC San Diego Conflict of Interest Office for detailed information.

Submit an application Once you register as an applicant you will be sent an e-mail notifying you of your username and password. Please refer procedural questions to Kathy Kennedy (Administrative Assistant) at (858) 822-0268. All other questions can be directed to both Kathy Kennedy and Dr. Shelia L. Broyles at or (858) 822-4117.