Catalyst Awards

As a primary focus of CTSI’s efforts to support early translational research, the Catalyst Award is designed to help translate early-stage research ideas—therapeutics, diagnostics, devices and digital health—into marketable products. To achieve this goal, CTSI connects researchers with industry executives, business leaders, and funding resources, and provides pilot funds and customized support to move ideas forward. View Catalyst Award Advisors (including by area of expertise)

Catalyst Awards match investigators with industry experts who help them take key steps toward seeing their discoveries improve health.
June H. Lee, MD, FACCP; Director, Early Translational Research

Even the most promising discoveries often require substantial early development work, which can be difficult and expensive in the setting of an academic institution. The traditional funding mechanisms, including the National Institutes of Health, have generally not funded this type of research. Finding a partner in industry that can either fund the next steps or provide key reagents or techniques can bridge this funding and capability gap.

Launched in 2010, the Catalyst Award has supported numerous innovative researchers and promising science, resulting in new intellectual property, additional funding and strategic industry partnerships.

Learn more about the award process, eligibility, frequently asked questions, and whether or not the Catalyst Award is right for you.

Experiences with the Catalyst Awards also sparked the creation of LaunchPad, an online resource designed to highlight the experiences and accomplishments of UCSF’s translational researchers and to support them in their efforts to develop beneficial medical products. LaunchPad features videos of investigators, administrators and industry experts sharing their experiences working through five keys to successful translational research—unmet needs, target product profile, collaboration, development plan and organizational support—as well as other resources for researchers.

See Full InfographicCatalyst Awards Process

Steering Scientists Toward Inventions

Among the past awardees of the Catalyst Award is tropical parasite expert and pathologist Conor Caffrey, PhD, who dreams of making the testing for the debilitating schistosomiasis infection, epidemic in many poor nations, as easy as using an over-the-counter pregnancy test—a little urine, and in minutes, a result.

Caffrey, who received the top level award of one-to-one consultation and $100,000 in funding, is using CTSI’s support to bioengineer a dipstick-type urine or blood test that changes color when it detects a protein unique to schistosomiasis.

In addition to funding, the award matched Caffrey with a business consultant who has a background in innovative medical technologies and provides guidance with financing and marketing issues. The consultatnt is also helping to connect Caffrey with experts to help navigate the formidable challenges of developing products for consumers who lack the means to pay for them.

“The consultant’s advice was incredibly helpful in terms of taking academics into a different direction,” Caffrey said. The funding is also helping to keep the project momentum moving in a time of strained budgets, he added, with part of the funds used to secure intellectual property control.