New Review Criteria for NIH Construction (C06 and UC6) and Modernization (G20) Grant Applications


Notice Number: NOT-OD-13-038


Key Dates

Release Date:  February 8, 2013

Issued by

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Purpose

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) maintains several grant programs that support the construction, repair, renovation, and/or modernization of research facilities.  These programs are implemented through the following activity codes:

This Notice provides notification that the NIH will be using new review criteria for the evaluation of C06, G20, and UC6 grant applications, in compliance with Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52b.5., beginning with applications submitted for due dates after May 1, 2013.

Policy

Only the review criteria described in the NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.  For construction (C06 and UC6) and modernization (G20) grant applications, the following criteria will be used in initial peer review.  If additional review questions or criteria are added for special initiatives such as Requests for Applications (RFAs), those additional review questions or criteria must be presented in the FOA when it is published.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Scientific Merit and Organization of the Total Program and Its Component Parts to be Carried Out in the Facility

Does the applicant provide sufficient evidence of meritorious research program(s) that will benefit from completion of the project? How well are the component parts of the research program (that will be carried out in the facility) coordinated and managed?  How will the proposed repair, renovation, or modernization activity facilitate the applicant institution’s ability to conduct, expand, improve, or maintain biomedical or behavioral research? 

Is there sufficient justification for improving this facility?  To what extent will the proposed change in the research environment facilitate the applicant institution’s ability to conduct, expand, improve, or maintain biomedical or behavioral research?  How will the proposed repair, renovation, or modernization activity increase efficiency in the use of energy, water, and/or materials to reduce adverse effects on the environment? 

Administrative and Leadership Capabilities of the Applicant’s Officers and Staff

How effective is the facility manager likely to be, based on 1) the administrative approach to managing the facility, 2) the ability to interact with appropriate institutional officials to see that the ongoing needs of the facility are satisfied, and 3) the skills necessary to complete the project on time and within budget?

How effective is the PD/PI likely to be, based on 1) leadership qualities and experience, 2) institutional commitment and support, and 3) the appropriate scientific and fiscal administration skills necessary to complete this project on time and within budget?  Does the applicant provide evidence of future commitment in maintaining this facility?   

Anticipated Effect of the Project on Other Relevant Research Programs and Facilities in the Geographic Area and Nationwide

How likely is the proposed activity to benefit research at other institutions in the local geographic area, given the availability or absence of similar or related facilities?  In which ways is the proposed activity likely to affect similar or related national facilities or benefit research nationwide?   

Need for the Project or Additional Space

How compelling are: 1) the identified need(s) in the research capabilities in the applicant organization and elsewhere that the proposed repair, renovation, or modernization activity is intended to address; 2) tangible benefits to the institutional research capability of the proposed activity; and 3) state-of-the-art research capabilities or efficiencies that would otherwise not be available?

Are requests for equipment justified and of direct benefit to the facility?  Will the requested equipment remedy identified deficiencies or fill gaps in the animal facility?  

Project Design

Design Plan: How likely is the design plan to meet the identified need(s), based on: 1) proposed demolition areas and/or renovation areas, including associated room adjacencies, traffic patterns for the movement of people, animals, and materials (clean and dirty) through the facility, and relative location of needed ancillary areas (e.g., changing rooms for animal facilities); 2) total net and gross square feet of space to be renovated; 3) proposed timeline and sequence of construction; 4) potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented; and 5) implementation of sustainable design principles?

Engineering Criteria: How likely are the engineering systems to meet the identified need(s), based on: 1) the engineering criteria, including information about the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and utilities in the renovation; 2) descriptions of changes or additions to existing mechanical and electrical systems; and 3) the number of air changes per hour, electrical power, light levels, hot and cold water, and steam?

Architectural Criteria: How likely are the architectural criteria and finishes to meet the identified need(s), based on: 1) the size dimensions, function, and net and gross square feet for each component; 2) architectural criteria such as the width of corridors and doors and surface finishes for the project; and 3) quality of life issues (e.g., natural lighting, noise, vibration)?

Line Drawings:  How likely are the line drawings to meet the identified need(s), based on: 1) the indicated function of the space; 2) the scale of the line drawings, and indication of adjacencies and operational relationships of equipment; 3) changes to be made to the space; and 4) location of major equipment, fume hoods, sinks, showers, and other major items indicated in the drawings?   

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Vertebrate Animals

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Renewals

Not Applicable

Revisions

For Revisions, the committee will consider the appropriateness of the proposed expansion of the scope of the project. If the Revision application relates to a specific line of investigation presented in the original application that was not recommended for approval by the committee, then the committee will consider whether the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group are adequate and whether substantial changes are clearly evident.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not Applicable

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Generally not applicable. Reviewers should bring any concerns to the attention of the Scientific Review Officer.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Sally A. Amero, Ph.D.
NIH Review Policy Officer
ReviewPolicyOfficer@mail.nih.gov


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