New NIAID Policy: Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials

Notice Number: NOT-AI-10-024

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date: May 5, 2010

Issued by
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/)

This notice informs potential applicants of changes in NIAID policies and procedures for the acceptance, peer review, and funding of investigator-initiated clinical trials. It supersedes the policies described in NOT-AI-05-021. Detailed information may be found at the NIAID Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials website (see http://funding.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/clinical/iict.htm), as well as in each of the related Funding Opportunity Announcements (see below).

NIAID will support implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials through milestone driven research project grants (R01) and cooperative agreements (U01).  Determination of the appropriate instrument is based on the assessment of risk as delineated in the NIAID-specific criteria stated below. Clinical trial planning grants (R34) are no longer always required, but are available as an option to investigators proposing all investigator-initiated clinical trials. If it can be demonstrated that sufficient planning has occurred such that the trial is ready to move forward to implementation, as defined by NIAID-specific criteria, direct submission of the implementation R01 or U01 is permitted.
Pre-approval from NIAID is required for submission of an application for the R34 planning grant, the U01 implementation cooperative agreement or the R01 implementation grant; this requirement applies to both new and resubmission applications.   NIAID staff will consider whether the proposed clinical trial meets the goals and mission of the Institute and whether it is appropriate to conduct it as an investigator-initiated clinical trial, but will not evaluate the technical and scientific merit of the proposed trial.  Technical and scientific merit will be determined during peer review. Applicants whose projects do not meet NIAID’s programmatic needs or are not appropriate as investigator-initiated clinical trials, will not be granted permission to submit an application.

All institutions eligible for NIH support are eligible to submit applications for investigator-initiated planning or implementation awards, provided pre-approval has been granted by NIAID, as described above. Eligible institutions include, but are not limited to, the following broad categories: foreign and domestic institutions of higher education, for-profit institutions, not-for-profit institutions and governmental entities.

For those trials or studies that are coupled to other projects or research objectives, for example, by inclusion in a multi-project application or inclusion as a mechanistic study associated with a trial, the above considerations apply, and the determination of their eligibility for support under the policy set forth in this notice will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Grant applications that propose clinical trials submitted in response to a Request for Applications (RFA) and contract proposals that propose clinical trials submitted in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) will follow the guidelines and instructions in the RFA or RFP, respectively.

Clinical Trial Implementation (R01, U01)

Beginning in July 2010, NIAID will accept, peer review, and consider for funding R01 and U01 applications for implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials. However, pre-approval from NIAID will be required for submission of either the U01 or R01 application. Applicants may request up to 5 years of support and there is no budget limit, provided the budget request is fully justified. All clinical trial implementation U01 and R01 applications will undergo peer review by special emphasis panels convened by NIAID. All clinical trial implementation applications must include both NIAID-determined general milestones and investigator-determined, protocol-specific milestones which will be incorporated into the clinical terms of award; successful attainment of milestones will be considered during assessment of progress under the U01 or R01 award. In the case of U01 implementation awards, review of milestone attainment will be conducted upon receipt of each interim progress report, the frequency of which will be determined for each trial and incorporated into the corresponding clinical terms of award. In the case of R01 implementation awards, review of milestone attainment will coincide with the annual progress review. At the discretion of NIAID, external peer reviewers may be called upon to assist with periodic review of progress.

Cooperative Agreements (U01)

If the application proposes a clinical trial determined to be high-risk, it must be submitted, peer reviewed, and awarded as a cooperative agreement. For the purposes of this policy, NIAID defines high-risk clinical trials as those that have one or more of the following attributes:

If planning activities related to the trial have been completed, the investigator may request approval to submit a U01 application. The following documents, which will indicate that planning is completed, must be available at the time pre-approval is requested:

If the materials listed above will not be available at the time pre-approval is requested, the investigator should consider seeking permission to submit an application for the R34 planning grant.

Research Project Grants (R01)

Clinical trials that are not deemed high-risk as defined above may be submitted as milestone-driven R01 research project grant applications.
If planning activities related to the trial have been completed, the investigator may request approval to submit an R01 application.  
The following documents, which will indicate that planning is completed, must be available at the time pre-approval is requested:

If the materials listed above will not be available at the time pre-approval is requested, the investigator should consider seeking permission to submit an application for the R34 planning grant.

Clinical Trial Planning Grants (R34)

NIAID will continue to support clinical trial planning (R34) grants for complete planning and design of, and preparation of documentation for all investigator-initiated clinical trials. The R34 grant will provide up to one year of support. Pre-approval from NIAID will be required for submission of an R34 application. R34 applications will undergo peer review by special emphasis panels convened by NIAID. For R34 awardees who, based on the results of the planning effort, propose to implement the trial, the product of the R34 will be all of the information and documents required for submission of an application for a clinical trial implementation research project grant (R01) or cooperative agreement (U01). However, the R34 is not a pre-requisite for submission of either the R01 or U01 implementation application.
The R34 grant will provide support for a number of planning activities, including, but not limited to:

The R34 Clinical Trial Planning Grant is not designed for the collection of preliminary or prospective data or for the conduct of pilot studies to support the rationale for a clinical trial.

NIAID reserves the right to specify whether an application for an IND/IDE should be submitted to the FDA (or relevant regulatory agency outside the US), as well as the right to hold the IND/IDE.

In most cases, it is expected that receipt of an R34 grant will lead to the timely submission of an application for support of the full-scale trial, incorporating the elements developed under the planning grant. Nevertheless, pre-approval is required for subsequent submission of a U01 cooperative agreement application or an R01 research project application.  Prospective applicants should note that funding of a Clinical Trial Planning Grant does not imply or guarantee pre-approval for submission of an application for implementation or funding for such an application if submission is approved. 

In this issue of the NIH Guide, NIAID is publishing three related Program Announcements:

PAR-10-185, NIAID Clinical Trial Planning Grants (R34), provides guidance on the submission, peer review, and award of the Clinical Trial Planning Grant.

PAR-10-184, NIAID Clinical Trial Implementation Research Project Grants (R01), provides guidance on the submission, peer review, and award of the Clinical Trial Implementation Research Project Grant.

PAR-10-186, NIAID Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreements (U01), provides guidance on the submission, peer review, and award of the Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreement.

Inquiries

Inquiries concerning the overall NIAID policy for investigator-initiated clinical trials should be sent to:

Anna Ramsey-Ewing, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Extramural Science Policy
Office of the Director
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
6700-B Rockledge Drive, MSC 7610
Bethesda, MD 20892-7610
Phone: (301) 435-8536
FAX: (301) 402-0369
E-mail:  ar15o@nih.gov

Inquiries regarding programmatic, peer review and grants management issues should be sent to the staff contacts listed in the appropriate FOAs.


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