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<Apply Today: Applications for the 2023-2024 GEMSTONES program open. Thank you for your interest.> 

The Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM) is committed to partnering with the broader San Diego community to help develop approaches that address unmet health-related needs, particularly for those communities that are marginalized or underserved. The GEMSTONES Community Engagement Award is intended to provide funding support for faculty co-investigators from engineering, health or social sciences to mentor and supervise teams of undergraduate or graduate students in developing projects aiming to generate solutions to community-defined needs or planning new research projects that better address community-identified needs. We understand that community-based participatory research requires considerable time and effort to engage the community and define relevant and research questions or publishable research solutions. 

Annual awards of up to $10,000 will support  the community outreach, networking, engagement research, mentoring and outreach activities of faculty co-investigators working with undergraduate or graduate students on defining, establishing and advancing research projects that  address unmet health-related needs in cooperation with diverse communities. This program particularly encourages applications for projects that will connect students to community members and organizations. Examples of possible proposals include, but are not limited to: 

  • Creating a tool that tracks data of interest to a community organization that would better define unmet community-specific healthcare needs or risks. 
  • Support and mentorship for a student team to work with a community organization to design effective strategies to track health goals such as increased physical activity in school-aged children. 
  • Working with communities to help them map exposure to environmental hazards in a neighborhood. 
  • Developing plans with community members for strategies that help prevent adverse healthcare outcomes such as improving nutrition, mental health or access to primary care in a neighborhood. 


Review considerations will include: 

  • Does the project engage a community organization or group that has an interest or concern about a healthcare related problem? 
  • Is the community group historically marginalized or underserved? 
  • Will the project include students and/or bring together investigators from different disciplines? 
  • Do the investigators have a plan for how community needs will be identified? 
  • If the investigators are proposing to address specific community needs, to what extent has the community already been involved in identifying and conveying those needs? 
  • Does the project have potential to lead to longer-term funding in collaboration with community partners? 
  • Are best practices for social science research and community engagement being proposed? 


Awards are funded by the IEM endowment, which is funded by unrestricted gifts to the UC San Diego Foundation. 

Applications for GEMSTONES projects are reviewed on a rolling basis and awarded according to the availability of funds. 



Applications are invited from interdisciplinary ladder rank and research faculty at UC San Diego conducting mentored student research training in biomedical science, public health, engineering or social sciences. 


Application Instructions  

Please compile your application documents into a single PDF document and email complete applications to Applications will only be considered received if you receive an email confirming receipt. 

  • Submit a 1-5 page biosketch for each key faculty applicant 


Include a one- to two-page research proposal describing: 

  • For potential/new community-academic partnerships, plans to develop new partnerships and the general nature of the unmet community health-related need; 
  • For established community-academic partnerships, describe your existing partnership and the unmet community health-related need;  
  • Applicants are encouraged to use regional evidence-based resources such as HealthDAT ( to establish and define unmet health needs and priorities; 
  • How students are expected to be involved and, if necessary, recruited to the project including the anticipated number, degree aim(s), major(s), and role(s) of the students; 
  • How success of the project will be defined, evaluated and sustained, including plans for any longer term funding proposals. 


A one-page budget and justification: Budgets can be used for student, faculty, instructor, or researcher support, as well as supplies or expenses. IEM will provide up to $10,000 to support research expenses including academic and student salary support, community meetings and surveys, research supplies and equipment, outreach events. Any balance remaining will be retained by IEM. Successful applicants can also request that funds be used for other approved activities that support community engagement. Awarded funds should be expended within 24 months of the award date.  


Review and Selection 

An independent review committee of up to three faculty from Engineering, Health and Social Sciences will review applications and recommend awardees. 

The committee will prioritize applications based on: (a) whether the research is is likely to better identify and serve an unmet health-related community need; (b) the potential impact of the proposed project to improve community health outcomes, especially among underserved and marginalized groups; (c) the potential for the project to be sustained by future funding; and (d) the potential of the project to engage students meaningfully with community members and organizations.


Any questions or clarification, please contact