Request for Information: Shared Instrumentation Grant Program (S10)

Notice Number: NOT-OD-14-104

Key Dates
Release Date: July 16, 2014
Response Date: August 24, 2014

Related Announcements
None

Issued by
Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)

Purpose

The Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) is soliciting comments from the community on the Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) Program (S10), to better achieve its goals, and in particular:

  • To widen the Program’s outreach to address the needs of various groups of NIH-supported investigators for access to advanced instruments across a broad spectrum of technologies and diverse areas of science;
  • To ensure optimal instrument operation for the benefit of the NIH-supported investigators;
     
  • To enhance program cost-effectiveness in awarding and maintaining shared instruments. 

Background

The objective of the SIG S10 Program is to make expensive research instruments available to NIH-supported investigators. Awards of such costly sophisticated instruments can only be justified on a shared-use basis for NIH-supported projects in basic, translational, or clinical areas of biomedical/behavioral research.  This unique NIH Program is administered by ORIP for the benefit of grantees supported by all of the NIH institutes. The SIG Program annually supports the purchase of approximately 100 instruments that cost between $100,000 and $600,000 each.

S10 Program guidelines, such as page limits or reporting requirements, have changed over time; however, the basic principle, to provide funds to purchase instruments which are to be used on shared basis, remains the same.  The most recent Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the SIG Program can be found at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-14-073.html.

The SIG FOA describes the objectives of the Program, and defines eligibility and other submission requirements. Funding is restricted to purchase of instruments only; maintenance and operational costs are not allowed. Eligibility is limited to non-profit, non-Federal institutions. To ensure that the instrument is to be used on shared basis, a Major User Group comprising a minimum of three investigators, each of which has at least one NIH grant with the following activity codes: P01, R01, U01, R35, R37, DP1 or DP2, is required. The NIH-supported investigators (with any activity code) must use 75% of the instrument time and the Major User Group must use at least 35% of the instrument time. Users supported by other agencies are allowed, provided biomedical research is conducted with the instrument.

The SIG FOA dictates that awards are given to purchase commercially available, state-of-the-art instruments to enhance NIH-supported research. The restrictions imposed by the Program preclude the following: development of new instrumentation, a general purpose equipment to furnish a research facility, a series of complementary related instruments, purely instructional equipment, administrative and clinical management systems, and instruments used for clinical (billable) care.

The SIG FOA instructs that applicants provide specific information about the requested instrument in the context of research projects; this requirement includes comparing similar instruments from different manufacturers, describing specific benefits of the novel technology to research projects, and providing preliminary data in support of the request, when feasible.

The SIG FOA asks the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) to name an Advisory Committee and work together with it to plan for management of the instrument, priority setting and time allocation, outreach to new users, training of users, and conflict resolution. In addition, the PD/PI is required to present a detailed financial plan, balancing user fees and operational costs, to ensure smooth and efficient operation of the instrument.

An award is given to the PD/PI’s Institution. While the PD/PI takes on the responsibility for administrative and scientific oversight of the instrument, the Institution has to financially back the operation and provide financial support towards extended warranty, service contract, supplies, technical personnel, and facilities.

Information Requested

This Request for Information (RFI) gives an opportunity to S10 applicants, users of instruments, and others who have interest in the Program to comment on the Program requirements and suggest modifications to improve the service of the Program to the NIH research community.

Specifically, ORIP solicits information on the SIG Program’s outreach, how the Program benefits diverse areas of science, and whether the Program facilitates access to current technologies and promotes optimal operation and sharing of instruments, in a cost-effective way. Responders are asked to comment on topics listed below and are free to address any or all of them. Examples of possible considerations are included but responses should not be limited to these examples:

1) Budget: Current budget for an S10 award is $100,000 to $600,000. Changes in budget may affect the total number of S10 awards as the total appropriation for the S10 Program is expected to remain unchanged. Considering this issue, comment on the budget limits and the allowable budget allocation. Comment whether the budget limits restrict access to some technologies or disadvantage some research fields. Address any related issues.

2) Eligibility Requirements: Comment on whether any current eligibility requirements for Major and Minor user groups should be changed to better achieve the objectives of the Program. Comment on any other S10-specific rules for applying to the Program.

3) Instrumentation: Comment on whether a sufficiently broad spectrum of technologies is currently supported by the Program.  Comment whether restrictions imposed by the FOA on non-allowable instruments are limiting.  Comment on any other issues regarding instruments.

4) Research Projects: Comment on whether the currently required content of the narrative about the justification of need and the relevance of the requested instrument to research projects is appropriate or whether it should be amended. If so, give suggestions.  Comment on whether sufficient technical expertise in various emerging technologies is adequately present to benefit projects. Comment on your experiences with using shared instruments and on whether science is served well in such cases.

5) Instrument Administration and Institutional Support:  Comment on long-term plans for management of the instrument and support of its operation, as required by the FOA. Comment on any other issues related to the administration of instrument and its usage on shared basis.

6) Any Other Comments related to the Shared Instrumentation Program. 

Response to this RFI is voluntary. All interested parties are invited to respond. The responder should identify themselves in the following categories (the responder can choose more than one category):

a. an S10 awardee;

b. a user of an S10 awarded instrument;

c. an S10 applicant but not an S10 awardee;

d. an S10 reviewer;

e. a manager of Core facility;

g. an NIH-funded investigator;

h. an employee of an instrumentation company;

f. none of the above, a member of a wider research community.

How to Submit a Response

To ensure consideration all comments must be submitted electronically at http://dpcpsi.nih.gov/orip/S10RFI by August 24, 2014.

Responding to this request is voluntary. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. Responses will be compiled and shared with ORIP staff and NIH working groups, as appropriate. In all cases when responses are compiled or shared, any personal identifiers, such as Institutions or url addresses, will be removed. ORIP will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. However, responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements. The information provided will be analyzed and may appear in reports.

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only is for shall not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Government.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Abraham Levy, Ph.D.
Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
Email: Abraham.Levy@nih.gov
Telephone: 301-435-0777

 

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