Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Funding Opportunity Title

Gene-Environment Interplay in Substance Use Disorders (R03)

Activity Code

 R03 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type

Reissue of PA-11-237

Related Notices
  • NOT-OD-16-004 - NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-006 - Simplification of the Vertebrate Animals Section of NIH Grant Applications and Contract Proposals (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-011 - Implementing Rigor and Transparency in NIH & AHRQ Research Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PA-15-111

Companion Funding Opportunity

PA-15-110, R01 Research Project Grant  
PA-15-112, R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.279, 93.273

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) seeks to stimulate and expand research on the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in the genesis, course, and outcomes of substance and alcohol use disorders (SUDs). Previous work in genetic epidemiology and molecular genetics has established that SUDs are highly heritable, developmental disorders with important genetic substrates.  Building on these findings, new studies using genetically informative approaches are needed to elucidate the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors in developmental trajectories of SUDs and comorbid conditions, deepen and refine phenotypic definitions of SUDs, and meet the methodologic challenges of the field.  Such studies hold great potential to promote understanding of the true contributions of both genetic and environmental factors to initiation, progression, comorbidity, adverse outcomes, and cessation of SUDs; to elucidate mechanisms of risk; and to enhance opportunities for translation to treatment, prevention, gene-finding and molecular studies.      

Key Dates
Posted Date

February 5, 2015

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

May 16, 2015

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates. The first standard application due date for this FOA is June 16, 2015.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Standard AIDS dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of AIDS and AIDS-related applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates. The first AIDS application due date for this FOA is September 7, 2015.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Scientific Merit Review
Advisory Council Review
Earliest Start Date
Expiration Date

September 8, 2017

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

There are several options to submit your application to the agency through Grants.gov. You can use the ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online. You can download an application package from Grants.gov, complete the forms offline, submit the completed forms to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Or, you can use other institutional system-to-system solutions to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Learn more.

Problems accessing or using ASSIST should be directed to the eRA Service Desk.
Problems downloading forms should be directed to Grants.gov Customer Support.
Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Background

Research applying genetic epidemiologic and molecular genetic approaches have contributed increasingly significant advances to our understanding of the causes of use, abuse, and dependence of addictive substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and nicotine [Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)].  Genetic epidemiologic studies have established that SUDs are complex developmental disorders, with high heritability; shared environmental effects appear to be strong, particularly early in adolescence and at the points of drug use initiation. Genetic epidemiologic approaches have highlighted the roles of gene-environment interactions and gene-environment correlations in understanding SUD risk and trajectories and begun to move beyond descriptive studies to apply methodologies that can explicate etiologic mechanisms, often in combination with molecular approaches.  Building on these findings, new studies using genetically informative approaches continue to be needed to elucidate the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors in developmental trajectories of SUDs and comorbid conditions, deepen and refine phenotypic definitions of SUDs, and meet the methodologic challenges of the field.  Such studies hold great potential to promote understanding of the true contributions of both genetic and environmental risk factors to risk for initiation, progression, comorbidity, adverse outcomes, and cessation of SUDs; to elucidate the mechanisms of risk; to address challenges in data reduction, harmonization and analysis of large, heterogeneous datasets, and to enhance opportunities for translation to treatment, prevention, gene-finding and molecular studies. 

In regard to developmental trajectories, further work is needed on the interplay of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors in transitions among stages of, and alternative pathways into and out of, substance use, abuse, dependence, persistence, cessation, and relapse. Developmental factors include gender differences, premorbid and comorbid conditions, physiological factors such as early puberty, and age of onset of alcohol and drug use; incorporating these into trajectory models carry important implications for developing targeted preventive interventions. Further work is also needed on the developmental and cognitive consequences of SUDs, to define who is at risk for adverse sequellae and who is more resilient, and on the interplay of genetic and environmental risk and protective factors.  Genetic effects of prenatal substance and alcohol exposures and the timing and duration of exposures in humans and animal models from the neonatal period through adulthood remain areas of significant interest.  

Several forms of gene-environment interplay have been described and all play key roles in understanding the mechanisms of risk for SUDs.  Given the complex multifactorial nature of SUDs, studies of gene-environment interaction are needed to understand the contributions of both genetic and environmental risk factors to these developmental trajectories.  Studies of gene-environment interaction can explicate underlying biological mechanisms and pathways to disorder, help identify genes that act through interaction but demonstrate only marginal main effects, explain and address heterogeneous results from prior studies by taking into account differences in exposure, and identify environmental factors that act on genetically susceptible individuals.  Such findings in turn may have translational implications for predicting risk and eventually for tailoring effective interventions based on genotype, gene expression, and exposure. Applications using animal models to study gene-environment interplay in the course of SUDs are welcomed under this announcement, as are studies to develop and test biomarkers of risk.

While a large literature exists that describes correlations between environmental variables and risk for SUDs, studies of gene-environment correlations increasingly highlight the influences that genetic factors can exert over seeming environmental factors.  Emerging evidence indicates that passive and evocative gene-environment correlations play a role in parenting behaviors, and active and evocative processes influence how individuals select their peer groups, drug exposures, and social environments; further studies are encouraged to help understand such gene-environment correlations and in turn help target preventive interventions appropriately.  Studies are also encouraged that elucidate the influence of supportive vs. high-risk environments on outcomes in prevention studies of genetically vulnerable subgroups.   Changes in the regulatory environment, such as increasing restrictions on tobacco products, variable enforcement of alcohol access to underage drinkers, and legalization or decriminalization of marijuana, merit study to evaluate differential response among genetically vulnerable subgroups.

Further studies are needed to address the numerous methodological challenges that affect research on the gene-environment interplay in SUDs. The conditionality of SUDs (that development of drug or alcohol abuse and dependence, unlike other disorders, depends on exposure to drugs or alcohol and on initiation) is a key issue that impacts other aspects of this work, including the definition of an unaffected individual and of control groups (those who have never used vs. those who used without progressing to dependence), or missing data on etiology due to those at risk for dependence who never initiated use. The wide range of environmental factors and various ways of measuring and describing them poses particular challenges to studies of gene-environment interplay; approaches to the typology of environmental factors and temporality and duration of exposures, as well as to reducing the problems of Type 1 errors and multiple testing are needed.  More studies that focus on methodologic issues specific to SUDs (phenotype definitions and nosology, causal modeling, quantitative approaches) continue to be needed.   Effective approaches to data harmonization and data reduction are needed to enhance power through the ability to combine data from multiple studies.  Along with developing these sophisticated methodologic approaches, more biostatisticians and methodologists need to be attracted and retained to apply their skills to existing questions and databases in drug abuse and alcohol research; information on mechanisms of support for training and career awards with NIDA can be found at http://www.drugabuse.gov/funding/research-training/extramural-research-training-career-development  and for NIAAA at http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/ExtramuralResearch, or http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/grant-funding/funding-opportunities.

Research Objectives

The R03 mechanism supports discrete, well-defined projects that can be realistically completed in two years with limited levels of funding, such as pilot or feasibility studies, secondary data analyses, or small methodologic studies. As such, the R03 mechanism is particularly suited to take advantage of the variety of genetic epidemiologic databases that already exist, including some with genotyping data, and studies applying secondary analyses to these data are encouraged. These databases include but are not limited to those listed in the database for genotypes and phenotypes (dbGaP, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap), in the NIDA Genetics Consortium (https://nidagenetics.org), and in the Collaborative Studies on Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA, http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/research/major-initiatives/collaborative-studies-genetics-alcoholism-coga-study). Depending on the aims of the research and the necessary resources, applications for support to conduct secondary analyses may apply under this FOA, or the companion R21 FOA cited above, or the announcements “Accelerating the Pace of Drug Abuse Research Using Existing Epidemiology, Prevention, and Treatment Research Data (R01)” https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-13-080.html or “Secondary Analysis of Existing Alcohol Epidemiology Data (R01)” http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-14-338.html. Applicants are strongly advised to consult with the Scientific/Research contact to help distinguish the appropriateness of each of these funding opportunities. Other approaches suitable for the R03 mechanism include the addition of appropriate measures and data analysis on genetic or environmental factors to ongoing studies which lack these data, gathering retrospective data on established samples, combining data across studies to increase power for research on understudied subsamples and on outcomes characterized by small effects, and innovative forms of data collection such as web-based methods. Each of these approaches poses challenges to the field, and appropriately sophisticated methodology needs to be proposed and developed.

Researchers seeking to augment the collection or harmonization of phenotypic data in their genetic studies can find appropriate measures at https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/.  Collaborations to combine data and enhance power are strongly encouraged.

Applications are expected to focus on the interplay of genetics and environment.  Applicants seeking support for studies that focus primarily on the molecular genetics of drug abuse vulnerability are referred to the FOAs “Discovering Novel Targets: The Molecular Genetics of Drug Addiction and Related Co-Morbidities (R01)” (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-025.html); “Alcohol-Induced Effects on Tissue Injury and Repair (R01)” (http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-123.html); or “Mechanisms of Alcohol and Stimulant Co-Addiction (R01)” (http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-13-339.html) or “Mechanisms of Alcohol and Nicotine Co-Addiction (R01)" http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-13-194.html

Applications seeking support for studies of basic functional genomic and epigenomic research are not appropriate for this FOA and are referred to the NIDA Program Announcement "Functional Genetics, Epigenetics, and Non-coding RNAs in Substance Abuse" (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-14-014.html).

Any molecular genetic or functional genomic element included in the need to be fully developed, with appropriate hypotheses and gene-identifying techniques. A Notice regarding NIDA’s priorities for genetics research can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-DA-12-012.html. Any applications using candidate gene by environment approaches are expected to use specific genes that have been identified, replicated, or validated by prior analyses such as GWAS or animal model studies, and have strong justification. Further guidance, announcements and resources regarding NIDA’s program on the molecular genetics of drug abuse can be found at http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/workgroups-interest-groups-consortia/genetics-workgroup-gwg.

Areas of Interest

The following points represent areas and issues of interest to NIDA and NIAAA; applicants are not limited to these ideas:

Studies of gene-environment interplay to elucidate potential etiologic mechanisms, including:

  • mechanisms contributing to comorbidity among psychiatric disorders and SUDs
  • underlying vulnerability factors and quantitative phenotypes that may mediate risk, including neurophysiological and temperament studies
  • individual differences in propensity and severity of addictions
  • age of onset of substance use in the risk for later SUDs; the salience of initial drug or alcohol exposure (e.g. timing, type, amount, context, subjective and objective responses) for subsequent SUD risk and course; early use as an environmental factor interacting with genetic risk at a particular point in development; and the impact of prolonged exposure to psychoactive substances on the developing brain in adolescence
  • developing potential biomarkers for chronic drug exposures using appropriate biosamples that relate closely to the addiction process such as cerebrospinal fluid, urine, or nervous tissue

Studies of the role of gene-environment interplay in dynamic phenotypes across the lifecourse, including:

  • genetic and environmental factors in vulnerability for onset, progression, persistence, withdrawal, sequellae, cessation, and relapse of SUDs
  • alternative phenotypes including affective or inhibited subtypes
  • genetic and environmental factors in the genesis of SUDs/AUD across racial, ethnic, and gender groups, and cross-cultural comparisons
  • gene-environment correlation, to clarify how individuals select and influence risky and protective environments, and to help identify true gene-environment interactions
  • refined and more systematic environmental measures, to identify salient environmental factors associated specifically with risk for SUDs; particular gaps include the roles of trauma and of horizontal risk transmission among peers and siblings
  • adverse outcomes in offspring exposed to drugs, alcohol or smoking in utero; pre- and postnatal genetic, and environmental factors that may alter susceptibility and natural history of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • sexual and drug use HIV-risk behaviors and in the acquisition of HIV-infection
  • genetic and environmental factors that influence drinking behavior in early, mid- and late adolescence
  • the role of genetic and environmental influences on refining identification and specification of SUD/chronic disease phenotypes

Use of model systems to identify mechanisms of G x E interactions:

  • Use of induced pluripotent stem cells from lymphocytes from well-phenotyped individuals with a history of chronic drug use
  • Use of recombinant inbred strains to better control for genetic, environmental, and/or developmental factors that may better define specific G x E interactions
  • Use of model organisms to examine potential trans-generational implications of G x E interactions
  • Use of post-mortem brain tissue to examine intersections of genomic and epigenomic factors for specific exposures to drugs of abuse
  • Explore the impact of HIV on specific gene x substance use interactions

Studies that explore the interplay of genetic, environmental and developmental factors within substance abuse intervention outcomes studies, addressing issues including:

  • whether and how genetic variability accounts for differential effects of interventions
  • whether effective interventions focusing on social or other environmental elements work through altering gene expression
  • clarifying causal inferences by demonstrating changes in mediators related to outcomes of interest

Studies using gene-environment interplay to clarify the role of environmental factors, including:

  • explicating how familial or neighborhood environmental stressors, particularly child maltreatment and other trauma, interact with genetic risk factors in the trajectories of later SUDS, and how genetic and environmental protective factors might modify this risk
  • distinguishing macro- and micro-environmental factors
  • surveillance research to evaluate the interplay of genetic influences and more restrictive or permissive regulatory environments in the onset and course of substance use behaviors

Methodological studies, including:

  • improved statistical approaches, to combine or compare data from a variety of datasets, test alternative models and hypotheses, and describe the heterogeneity of SUDs
  • developing approaches for data reduction and harmonization to address the challenges of adequate power in GxE studies.
Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New  
Resubmission
Revision

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Direct costs are limited to $50,000 per year in direct costs..

Award Project Period

The maximum project period is 2 years. 

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).

In addition, the NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows.  The NIH will accept submission:

  • To an RFA of an application that was submitted previously as an investigator-initiated application but not paid;
  • Of an investigator-initiated application that was originally submitted to an RFA but not paid; or
  • Of an application with a changed grant activity code.
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

R&R or Modular Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Research Strategy: Applications responding to this FOA may be strengthened by justifying the following:  sample selection; research design; statistical power for main effects, correlations, and interactions; procedures for pooling data when appropriate; generalizability; phenotype selection; choice of instruments for assessing SUDs/AUD and comorbid conditions where appropriate. 

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:

  • All applications submitted for the January 25, 2015 due date or after are expected to comply with the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy as detailed in NOT-OD-14-111, as applicable.

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

No publications or other printed material, with the exception of pre-printed questionnaires or surveys, may be included in the Appendix.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Foreign Institutions

Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow our Post Submission Application Materials policy.

Section V. Application Review Information

Important Update: See NOT-OD-16-006 and NOT-OD-16-011 for updated review language for applications for due dates on or after January 25, 2016.

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below 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 this particular announcement, note the following:

The R03 small grant supports discrete, well-defined projects that realistically can be completed in two years and that require limited levels of funding. Because the research project usually is limited, an R03 grant application may not contain extensive detail or discussion. Accordingly, reviewers should evaluate the conceptual framework and general approach to the problem. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required, particularly in applications proposing pilot or feasibility studies.

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.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?  

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?   

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?   

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? 

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?   

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

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

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

Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.

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

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genomic Wide Association Studies (GWAS) /Genomic Data Sharing Plan.

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.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: https://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone: 301-945-7573
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Naimah Weinberg, M.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Telephone: 301-402-1908
Email: nw46w@nih.gov

Marcia S. Scott, Ph.D.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Telephone: 301-402-6328
Email: mscott@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information (information appears two weeks after the submission due date).

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Jennifer L. Schermerhorn
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Telephone: 240-631-2090
Email: SchermerhornJ@mail.nih.gov

Judy Fox
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Telephone: 301-443-4704
Email: jfox@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.

NIH Office of Extramural Research Logo
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page
Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
USA.gov - Government Made Easy
NIH... Turning Discovery Into Health®


Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.