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2022 Testing Molecular Hypotheses in Human Subjects

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The mission of Sarafan ChEM-H is to understand human biology at a molecular level and to engineer molecules, materials and tools that will impact human health. A key limiting factor for testing molecular hypotheses or evaluating promising new tools in humans is the establishment of productive connections between molecular scientists/engineers who have access to innovative tools and practicing clinicians with access to sick or healthy cohorts of human subjects. To facilitate such collaborations, Sarafan ChEM-H is soliciting brief proposals from small teams of clinicians and scientists/engineers who seek to undertake exploratory studies involving human subjects.

Apply Here

Through this funding mechanism, Sarafan ChEM-H seeks to support collaborative projects that will test a molecular hypothesis in human subjects or validate the utility of a new tool in the diagnosis or management of a disease.

Proposals in any disease area will be considered, but research that leverages the Project BIG biorepository, focuses on EGFR-driven lung cancer, or relates to stem cell biology is especially welcome.


All application materials must be received by 11:59 pm, Friday, October 7, 2022. Seed grant recipients will be notified by November 18, 2022. 


Each application must identify at least one clinical and at least one laboratory-based co-investigator. Stanford faculty with UTL, MCL, NTLR and CE faculty appointments are eligible. CEs should provide a note from their Chair or Division Chief with their application stating that the Department/Division will cover salary support for time devoted to the project. Investigators who received funding in the previous cycle of the Sarafan ChEM-H Testing Molecular Hypotheses in Human Subjects seed grants are ineligible for the current award. 

Support Provided:

Support will be provided in the form of up to $50,000 in direct costs for study-related expenses. Applications should clearly justify supplies, consumables, biobanking costs, etc. Faculty and clinician time cannot be supported on this award. Support requested beyond $50,000 must be extensively justified and cannot be used to support personnel expenses. 

About Project BIG:

Project BIG aims to unlock the cause and cure for MS and other neurological and autoimmune diseases through a unique clinician-scientist collaboration across disciplines. Project BIG physicians and researchers in the clinic collect samples from consenting patients during acute MS exacerbations and from those same patients in remission. Stanford researchers can gain access to this highly annotated biorepository to identify differences between active and remitted disease to find potential biomarkers of disease status, windows into the mechanism of disease modulation, or targets for improved therapies and personalized treatments.
More information can be found at: 

Questions about Project BIG, including more information about accessing patient samples, should be addressed to Anna Tomczak (; 650-796-8420).

Application Instructions:

Submit one PDF file containing the following in the order indicated below. All documents should be single-spaced, Arial 11 point font with 0.5” margins.

  • Title page (1 page)
    • “Testing Molecular Hypotheses in Human Subjects – 2022 Request for Proposals”
    • Project Title
    • For each clinician and basic science co-investigator:
      • Name, department, address, phone number, email address
  • Proposal (5 pages max total)
    • Project narrative and figures that explain the background and aims of the clinical research project. Aims must be achievable within 6-12 months. Describe the significance and innovation of the hypothesis and aims as well as pitfalls and alternative strategies (4 pages max)
    • A statement on the roles and expertise of each co-applicant and how they combine to further the project goal (1 page max)
    • References
  • Budget 
    • Requested funding amount (up to $50,000) 
  • Budget Justification
    • Describe how the proposed research justifies the requested budget. Include consumables. 
  • NIH Format Biosketch for each investigator

You will also be asked to include a lay audience summary (200 words) with a description of proposed research, aimed at a general audience. If your proposal is successful, this summary will appear in print and digital communications, including on the Sarafan ChEM-H website. Please ensure that no confidential information is included.

Applications should be submitted directly to Sarafan ChEM-H. You do not need to submit your applications to your Research Process Manager (RPM) in RMG or through your Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Contract and Grant officer (CGO) for their approval at this time. Selected projects will be required to submit PDRFs via the SERA system to set up University Research Awards.

All application materials must be submitted to Sarafan ChEM-H through the SlideRoom portal.

Apply Here

Selection Process, Review Criteria & Timeline:

Proposals will be reviewed by a faculty panel knowledgeable in clinical research. Review criteria:

  • Proposal’s potential to advance the molecular understanding, diagnosis, or management of a disease in human subjects
  • Use of human subjects or samples
  • Achievable aims within 6-12 months 
  • Clear description of anticipated pitfalls and alternative approaches

Finalists will be selected by November 18, 2022.


For questions related to this RFP, please contact:
Rebecca McClellan, PhD
Scientific Program Manager, Research Development and Communications
Sarafan ChEM-H

For questions about Project BIG, please contact:
Anna Tomczak
Lead Clinical Research Coordinator  
Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery 
Stanford University School of Medicine