Building a cross-disciplinary, inspiring scientific community and supporting early-stage, risky research.
How often is the CZ Biohub investigator competition held?
CZ Biohub’s current schedule is to hold an investigator competition every five years. The last one was in 2016.
Is CZ Biohub targeting certain disciplines for applications?
We welcome applications from faculty members representing diverse disciplines such as engineering, computer science, mathematics and statistics, the physical sciences, chemistry, clinical and biomedical sciences, public health, and the biological sciences. The scope of Investigator research is open to all areas of biology, biomedical research, and technology development, including areas that are well outside the scope of CZ Biohub’s intramural research programs.
What types of proposals is CZ Biohub looking for?
We want applicants to pursue the high-risk, innovative ideas that excite them most and to address the questions or opportunities that they consider to be fundamentally important based on their unique insights, expertise, and vision. We seek to support early-stage, bold, innovative, high-risk research unlikely to be funded by traditional federal grants and other sources.
I have three project ideas – can you provide guidance on which may be best-suited for the call for applications?
We encourage you to draw on your own intuition, judgment, and taste for what you consider to be truly exciting, bold, and visionary. The five-year Investigator awards are intended to be vision-enabling awards, not project-focused awards. External reviewers will be instructed to identify the most exciting, high-risk, visionary, and innovative proposals, while also placing a strong emphasis on an applicant’s track record and potential for future contributions. (Please note that applications from junior faculty members will be reviewed separately from those of senior faculty members and that we strongly encourage applications from both groups).
Who is eligible to apply?
Applications for CZ Biohub Investigator Awards are open to faculty members from Stanford University, UCSF, and UC Berkeley who are eligible to serve as a principal investigator for federal and other grants.
Eligibility to act as a principal investigator on externally funded projects is a privilege limited to individuals with specific academic appointments based on criteria set by each university. Please note that each university has mechanisms for designating other individuals as a PI on an exceptional case-by-case basis; these individuals are not eligible to apply for a CZ Biohub Investigator Award.
I will be starting as a new faculty member after the application deadline at one of the partner universities. Am I eligible to apply?
If your faculty appointment is in process, the start date must be no later than October 1, 2021 for regular eligibility. If your start date will be later due to extenuating circumstances, you will be allowed to submit an application but you will need to explain the circumstances for special review of your application.
Can current CZ Biohub Investigators apply?
Yes, current CZ Biohub Investigators are welcome to apply.
I am currently an HHMI Investigator. Am I eligible to apply?
Howard Hughes Medical Institute policy is that an HHMI Investigator cannot also serve as a CZ Biohub Investigator. We would be happy to accept applications from HHMI Investigators if HHMI revises its policy before the application deadline.
Are faculty not affiliated with Stanford University, UCSF, or UC Berkeley eligible to apply?
If you are not affiliated with Stanford University, UCSF, or UC Berkeley as a faculty member who is eligible to serve as a principal investigator for federal and other grants, you are not eligible to apply.
May I transfer my CZ Biohub Investigator Award to another institution if I leave my faculty position at Stanford, UCSF, or UC Berkeley?
No. Your appointment as a CZ Biohub Investigator is conditioned on your being employed and remaining employed at one of the three partner universities, and on retaining your academic appointments and labs at one of the three partner universities.
How many awards will be made?
We have not set a target for how many awards will be made this year.
What is the amount, start date, and duration of the award?
Successful applicants will receive $1 million in unrestricted gift funds over a non-renewable 5-year term ($200,000 per year). We plan to start new awards on March 1, 2022.
(Note: For any CZ Biohub Investigator who will be mid-award on March 1, 2022, and who is a successful applicant in the current competition, the new award based on the current competition will start immediately following the end of the previous award.)
Does CZ Biohub have an indirect cost rate for this gift award?
Your university will deduct an infrastructure fee from each annual allocation of $200,000.
Does the amount of the award vary by factors such as faculty rank, years of service, or research area?
Will unspent award funds carry forward from year to year?
Yes, and a no-cost extension is included at the end of the award period.
Can CZ Biohub Investigators be renewed for a second term?
CZ Biohub Investigator awards are non-renewable.
However, current CZ Biohub Investigators are welcome to apply and, if successful, they will receive the new award after completion of their current award.
Do CZ Biohub Investigators become CZ Biohub employees?
No, CZ Biohub Investigators retain their academic appointments and labs at their home institution and remain employed by or affiliated with their home institution.
What type of budget is required and what is the format?
A budget is not required as part of the application and should not be included.
Are there strict rules about fonts and margins for the research proposal?
There are no specific rules about fonts and margins, but our preference is that the 3-page research proposal be at least 11-point font size.
Do I need endorsement or approval from my institution to apply for this competition?
If you are a member of the Academic Senate (UCSF or UC Berkeley) or Academic Council (Stanford), institutional approval or endorsement of your application is not part of the application process.
However, faculty who are not members of the Academic Senate (UCSF and UC Berkeley) or Academic Council (Stanford) are asked to submit a statement of support from their department or division chair confirming that the applicant has the space, resources, and support necessary for the proposed research program. You will find the necessary form and instructions when you begin the application process at https://czbh.smapply.org.
Will it be possible to submit an application after the May 14, 2021 deadline?
No, the application deadline is May 14, 2021 with no exceptions.
I would prefer to email my application. Is that an option?
No, applications may only be submitted via the application portal at: https://czbh.smapply.org.
Can I submit a CV longer than one page?
No, CVs may not exceed one page.
What should be included in the one-page CV?
We recommend that the one-page CV include the following information: name, current position, employment history / positions held / professional experience, education / training, selected awards and fellowships; please note that there is no need to include selected publications on the CV, since a one-page bibliography of major papers is requested as a separate item in the application materials.
May the papers submitted with the application include one or more deposited in a preprint server but not yet published or accepted for publication?
Yes, preprints will be considered. Manuscripts included with the application must be publicly available, so already deposited as preprints or published.
The application asks me to submit a summary and PDFs of my three most significant papers, but I would like to include more than three to show the full range of my research. Is that allowed?
No, only three papers may be submitted.
Will I be asked to provide reference letters?
No, reference letters are not required.
Can I send updates to my application once submitted?
Yes, but only to correct significant errors or if there is a change in your institutional affiliation or faculty status.
May I include proprietary information in my research proposal?
We ask reviewers to maintain confidentiality and to recuse themselves when they may have a conflict of interest. However, we do not ask the reviewers to sign a legally binding confidentiality agreement.
Is it likely that applications may not be competitive this year because of disruptions to research over the past year?
We will be including explicit guidance in our instructions to reviewers to not penalize faculty for recent gaps in research productivity, and to rely instead on the trajectory of an applicant’s work from earlier years, as well as the scientific excellence and vision of their research proposal.
Is it possible that it may not be worth applying because of a perception that the CZ Biohub only targets particular areas of research?
We anticipate and welcome that the 2022 cohort of CZ Biohub Investigators will include new fields of research beyond those from the first cohort selected in 2016 or the collaborative teams of Investigators selected in 2018.
I collaborate extensively with another eligible faculty member at my university. Can we submit a joint application and, if selected, share an award?
No, only individual applications may be submitted. However, if your work is highly collaborative, it is fine to describe in your proposal how you plan to work with collaborators and build on your accomplishments from past and current collaborations. If successful, you may use your award funds as you wish to advance your proposed research, including providing funds to collaborators using mechanisms available through your university and consistent with your university’s policies on the use of unrestricted gift funds.
Although the competition is only open to faculty at UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford, if selected would I be allowed to work with collaborators from other academic institutions?
Yes, the fact that you collaborate with faculty at other institutions as part of your science is expected and encouraged.
I see that CZ Biohub has funded collaborative team awards. May we submit a proposal as a collaborative team?
CZ Biohub held a competition in 2018 for team-based collaborative awards that brought together researchers from UCSF, Berkeley, and Stanford to address a well-defined challenge. The current competition, however, is to provide support for individual investigators to pursue their exciting, high-risk, and innovative ideas. We welcome applications from investigators whose research is highly collaborative, and it is fine to describe in your proposal how you plan to work with collaborators and build on your accomplishments from past and current collaborations. Collaborators may be based at your home institution, other partner universities, or elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas.
My proposed research is highly collaborative; may I (or should I) include CVs or publications for my collaborators? May I provide funding to my collaborators from my award?
We welcome applications from investigators whose research is highly collaborative, and it is fine to describe in your 3-page research proposal how you plan to work with collaborators and build on your accomplishments from past and current collaborations. Collaborators may be based at your home institution, other partner universities, or elsewhere in the U.S. or overseas. Please do not submit CVs for collaborators or publications from collaborators on which you are not a co-author as part of your application. If successful, you may use your award funds as you wish to advance your proposed research, including providing funds to collaborators using mechanisms available through your university and consistent with your university’s policies on the use of unrestricted gift funds.
When will final decisions be made?
We expect to announce award recipients by January 15, 2022.
I will be on sabbatical and returning to campus Fall 2022. Am I eligible to apply and, if accepted, defer the start of my award until then?
Will it be possible to delay starting an award until a later time?
That may be possible under specific reasonable circumstances.
Will applications all be reviewed in the same pool?
Applications from assistant professors will be considered separately from those of associate and full professors.
Who will review applications?
In the first review phase, applications from faculty who are members of the Academic Senate (UCSF and UC Berkeley) or Academic Council (Stanford) will be reviewed by teams of scientists at institutions outside the Bay Area; applications from faculty who are not members of the Academic Senate or Academic Council will be reviewed by faculty committees at the respective campuses. Applications considered in the second review phase will be reviewed by teams of scientists at institutions outside the Bay Area.
The Biohub has strived to assemble a highly diverse group of external reviewers to support the review process.
Can I get a list of reviewers who will be assigned to my application?
The identity of reviewers will not be made known to each other or to applicants.
Will applicants be provided with reviews, scores, or reasons for award decisions?
We will inform all applicants of final decisions to award or not award funding, but we will not provide additional information.
How are investigators chosen?
We evaluate applications on a level playing field, and we have broadened eligibility criteria this year to expand opportunities for faculty engaged in clinical and public health research. We rely on the assessments of external reviewers to identify the most exciting, risky, visionary, and innovative proposals, while also asking the reviewers to place a strong emphasis on an applicant’s track record and potential for future contributions. The final selection of award recipients is made in close consultation with an external advisory committee, where a principal criterion is to achieve both diversity and balanced representation of faculty from all three campuses and across disciplines.
What are the obligations that I must agree to in order to accept a CZ Biohub Investigator award?
1) A foundational goal of the CZ Biohub Investigator program is to build and sustain an engaged, interactive, and collaborative community of researchers that spans across disciplines as well as the three campuses. The backbone of our community and a primary engine of collaboration is found in the CZ Biohub Investigator meetings. CZ Biohub Investigators are required to attend at least half of the CZ Biohub Investigator meetings scheduled each year, which are held every two weeks (there are generally 22-24 scheduled meetings per year, so the requirement is to attend 11-12 meetings). During the pandemic period, meetings are being held virtually. When it becomes possible to meet in person again, the requirement will be to attend in person. You will be expected to give a research-in-progress talk to the group approximately once per year.
2) With the goal of accelerating the pace of scientific discovery, CZ Biohub Investigators are required to upload all manuscripts on which they are a corresponding author to a preprint server such as bioRxiv.org or arXiv.org upon submission to a peer-reviewed journal.
3) CZ Biohub Investigators are required to provide a brief annual report describing your recent research progress and plans for the coming year, focusing on the work that you are most excited by and the riskiest, most out-of-the-box project you have undertaken that have benefitted from CZ Biohub funding and resources.
What are the policies regarding intellectual property?
Intellectual property generated with material support from CZ Biohub funding or resources will be jointly owned with the universities; inventor royalty sharing will not be affected and licensing will be led by CZ Biohub with university approval and in direct consultation with CZ Biohub Investigators.
CZ Biohub is committed to facilitating the swift, efficient, and strategic development and commercialization of intellectual property in order to make new technologies and treatments available to patients and the research community as expeditiously as possible.