Department of Health and Human Services


Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Funding Opportunity Title

NeuroNEXT Clinical Trials (U01)

Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-11-343

Related Notices

NOT-NS-13-036

  • September 23, 2013 - See Notice NOT-NS-13-041. Notice of a Webinar to Discuss Changes to this FOA.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-13-343

Companion Funding Opportunity

PAR-11-344, X01 Resource Access Award
PAR-11-345, U44 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Cooperative Agreement

Number of Applications

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

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

93.853

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This FOA encourages applications for exploratory clinical trials of investigational agents (drugs, biologics, surgical therapies or devices) that may contribute to the justification for and provide the data required for designing a future trial, for biomarker validation studies, or for proof of mechanism clinical studies.  Diseases chosen for study should be based on the NINDS' strategic plan and clinical research interests (www.ninds.nih.gov/funding/areas/index.htm).  Successful applicants will be given access to the NeuroNEXT infrastructure. Following peer review, NINDS will prioritize and order trials that are given access to the NeuroNEXT infrastructure.  The NeuroNEXT Clinical Coordinating Center (CCC) will work with the successful applicant to efficiently implement the proposed study.  The NeuroNEXT Data Coordinating Center (DCC) will provide statistical and data management support.  The NeuroNEXT clinical sites will provide recruitment/retention support as well as on-site implementation of the clinical protocol.

Applicants do not need to be part of the existing NeuroNEXT infrastructure.   

Key Dates
Posted Date

August 30, 2013

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

November 2, 2013

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

December 2, 2013; April 2, 2014; August 1, 2014; December 2, 2014; April 3, 2015; August 3, 2015; December 3, 2015, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

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)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

February 2014; June 2014; October 2014; February 2015; June 2015; October 2015; February 2016; June 2016

Advisory Council Review

May 2014; October 2014; January 2015; May 2015, October 2015; January 2016; May 2016

Earliest Start Date

July 1, 2014; December 1, 2014; May 1, 2015; July 1, 2015; December 1, 2015; May 1, 2016; July 1, 2016

Expiration Date

December 4, 2015

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.


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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


Purpose

To facilitate the cooperation and partnering of public and private funding organizations, universities, academic medical centers, research institutes, contract research organizations, biotechnology companies, and pharmaceutical companies, NINDS has formed the Neurology Network of Excellence in Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT, www.NeuroNEXT.org). NeuroNEXT has a Clinical Coordinating Center (CCC), a Data Coordinating Center (DCC) and a group of 25 geographically distributed clinical sites.

This FOA provides one of a set of three different means by which teams of investigators can gain access to the NeuroNEXT infrastructure.  This FOA uses the U01 cooperative agreement mechanism and is open to all eligible applicants, as defined in Section III.  Small businesses may wish to consider applying through PAR-11-345 "NeuroNEXT Small Business Innovation in Clinical Trials (U44)". For-profit organizations and Non-profits other than Institutions of Higher Education may wish to consider applying through PAR-11-344 "NeuroNEXT Infrastructure Resource Access (X01)".

To foster the development of clinical trialists, the NeuroNEXT investigators who have been selected for their experience and training in neurological clinical research will provide a source of strong mentorship and support to investigators who are early in their careers as approved studies are implemented within the infrastructure.

Scope of the Program

This FOA encourages applications for exploratory clinical trials of investigational agents (drugs, biologics, surgical therapies or devices) that may contribute to the justification for and provide the data required for designing a future trial, for biomarker validation studies, or for proof of mechanism clinical studies.  Applications for drugs or biologics should provide compelling scientific evidence that the investigational agent proposed for study will reach/act upon the designated target or that its mechanism of action is such that it is expected to be of benefit in ameliorating a specific aspect of the disease. Neurologic diseases chosen for study must fall within the primary responsibility of NINDS (www.ninds.nih.gov/funding/areas/index.htm).

Examples of appropriate studies under this FOA include, but are not limited to, those designed to:

Studies in stroke prevention, treatment and/or recovery are not considered by NeuroNEXT. All multi-site stroke studies will be conducted in the NINDS-funded stroke trials network (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/clinical_research/NINDS_stroke_trials_network.htm).

Implementation

Applicants should make note of the following:

(1) Applicants to this FOA will be required to incorporate the NeuroNEXT infrastructure (www.neuronext.org) into their proposed study.  Additional (ad-hoc) sites may be proposed to fulfill specific study requirements.  All applicants will be required to use the master clinical trial agreements and central IRB that have been established for NeuroNEXT.

(2) Efficacy:  This FOA is not intended to support the conduct of a clinical trial where the primary aim is to confirm efficacy of a drug or biologic.

(3) Secondary Aims: 

For drugs and biologics, issues of study feasibility and refinement of study procedures may be addressed as secondary aims in an exploratory clinical trial, but not as the primary aim.  Examples of such secondary aims include, but are not limited to, the following:

For medical device Early Feasibility or Traditional Feasibility studies, issues of study feasibility and refinement of study procedures are expected to be addressed as primary aims in addition to providing initial clinical safety data at this stage.  These may include:

(4) The NIH recognizes that devices can vary greatly in terms of basic form and function, physiological bases for therapy, degree of invasiveness, etc.  Consequently, the appropriate pathway to market may require a traditional Feasibility and Pivotal study in support of an eventual Pre-Market Approval submission, or may require a more limited study to address specific issues in support of an FDA 510(k) or 510(k) De Novo submission.  Clinical studies involving devices may utilize the entire NeuroNEXT Network, or a more limited subset of centers selected based on appropriate expertise for the given device.  Investigators are encouraged to contact NINDS Program Staff as early as possible to discuss how the NeuroNEXT network may best be utilized in support of their specific device project.  NINDS anticipates that the majority of device projects utilizing NeuroNEXT will be traditional Feasibility Studies in order to best leverage the advantages of the network.  An Early Feasibility Study should be designed [in accordance with FDA’s draft guidance, “Investigational Device Exemptions (IDE) for Early Feasibility Medical Device Clinical Studies, Including Certain First in Human (FIH) Studies”, see http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm277670.htm to allow for early clinical evaluation of devices to provide proof of principle and initial clinical safety data while device design and operations are still in development.  A Traditional Feasibility Study is a clinical investigation that is commonly used to capture preliminary safety and effectiveness information on a near-final or final device design to adequately plan a Pivotal Study.

Early Feasibility and Traditional Feasibility study designs may include single-arm case series, on-off interventions (patients as own controls), device-device comparisons, comparisons to historic controls, comparisons to performance controls, or adaptive/Bayesian designs.

(5) Rare Diseases:  Applications in rare diseases are encouraged while recognizing that available patient pools may not be adequate to meet the sample size requirements normally required to establish the efficacy of an intervention.  NINDS acknowledges that innovative, non-traditional trial designs including adaptive designs may be appropriate in rare disease studies.  While NeuroNEXT is primarily intended for exploratory trials, the network will consider Phase2/3 trials in diseases with a US prevalence of under 5,000 persons.

(6) Rationale: Exploratory trials primarily test hypotheses in relatively small programs so that the acceptable risk and uncertainty are higher than in later stage programs. Exploratory clinical trials must anchor their rationale in (1) an unmet medical need; (2) a plausible biological mechanism; (3) non-clinical (in vitro and/or in vivo) data; and/or (4) early clinical data.  Their individual weight should be carefully assessed in the specific context of the application at hand; there is no requirement to provide support from all four areas.  Applicants should specifically discuss the limitations of those studies with regards to the scientific rigor guidelines published by NINDS (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-023.html).  If the animal model and efficacy read-out are not sufficiently associated with the human condition, and/or if pre-clinical data (such as for example animal studies) do not sufficiently meet the rigor guidelines, then applicants should consider not using them as primary support of the study rationale.

(7) Pharmacometrics: Applications seeking to obtain data needed for pharmacometric modeling are encouraged, with the ultimate aim of enabling the optimal design of a future efficacy trial of an intervention. 

(8) The award and continuation of funding are subject to milestones to be specified in the notice of grant award according to NINDS policies.

(9) NIH Resources:  As appropriate, applicants are encouraged to make use of the following resources for clinical research including:

(a) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program (https://www.ctsacentral.org);

(b) NeuroQOL (http://www.neuroqol.org);

(c) NIH Toolbox (http://www.nihtoolbox.org);

(d) PROMIS (http://www.nihpromis.org); and

(e) NINDS Common Data Elements (http://www.commondataelements.ninds.nih.gov).

(10) Mobile Technologies: Applicants are encouraged to consider utilizing (at least experimentally) mobile technologies to facilitate data collection and protocol adherence on the part of research participants and study site staff.

Working with NeuroNEXT is a cooperative venture between NINDS, the NeuroNEXT network and the applicant.  NINDS will provide guidance to potential applicants with input from NINDS Program Staff and the NeuroNEXT Executive Committee.  Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NINDS Scientific/Research Contacts  (see Agency Contacts, Section VII) in order to discuss the feasibility of conducting the proposed trial through the NeuroNEXT infrastructure before submitting an application.  Pre-application consultation may include an introductory teleconference (at least 3 months prior to submission), followed by a conference call or in-person meeting with NINDS staff, if needed. 

The operational clinical protocol and actual budget for trials under this FOA will be constructed after peer review and then reviewed by NINDS for funding consideration.  Funding decisions will also be based on a study's fit for the network relative to other proposed and ongoing trials.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, NIH scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities.

Application Types Allowed

New
Renewal
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

Application budgets are not limited, but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Award Project Period

The maximum request cannot exceed 5 years but the actual funded project period is dependent on reaching specific milestones as described in this FOA. 

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

For-Profit Organizations

Governments

Other

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Organizations) and foreign components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply, but will have to work with the U.S.-based NeuroNEXT infrastructure.

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.

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

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account and should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate an existing account with the applicant organization’s eRA Commons account. 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.

NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed within the past thirty-seven months (as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement), except for submission:

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, 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.

Required and Optional Components

The forms package associated with this FOA includes all applicable components, required and optional. Please note that some components marked optional in the application package are required for submission of applications for this FOA. Follow all instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide to ensure you complete all appropriate “optional” components.

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.

Other Attachments:

Provide the following information as a single PDF file with the name “REGULATORY.pdf”:

Provide a discussion of expected enrollment timelines including an estimate of the expected patient enrollment per month.

Provide a statement as to whether this project involves a partnership with the private sector (e.g. patient groups and/or industry).

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, with the following additional instructions:

U.S. applicants submitting an application with direct costs in each year of $250,000 or less (excluding consortium Facilities and Administrative [F&A] costs) must use the PHS398 Modular Budget component.

The budget should be largely planned on a fee-for-service basis with detailed per-patient costs. That budget may include clinical trial costs such as:

The budget will not include costs which are already covered by the NINDS infrastructure:

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:

Specific Aims: Applicants should describe the potential impact of the proposed research.  The hypotheses and specific aims of the trial must be clearly and concisely stated.

Research Strategy:

Significance and Biological Relevance 

Applicants are encouraged to state concisely the need, rationale, and scientific relevance of the proposed research.  It is particularly important that there be a discussion of how the trial will test the hypothesis proposed and how results of the trial (positive or negative) may be explained based on the biological action of the proposed intervention.  The application must present an overview of the state of the science, current status of therapeutics for the disease, and relevance of the trial for treatment of the disease. 

Prior Studies and Rationale for Development

Exploratory clinical trials must anchor their rationale in (1) an unmet medical need; (2) a plausible biological mechanism; (3) non-clinical (in vitro and/or in vivo) data; and/or (4) early clinical data. Their individual weight should be carefully assessed in the specific context of the application at hand; the applicant is not required to provide support from all four areas. The major findings of the studies, whether pre-clinical or clinical, that led to the proposed clinical trial should provide a compelling rationale for the belief that the proposed intervention may be effective.  Data from pre-clinical and pilot studies demonstrating the need for and the feasibility of the trial should be presented when available. While the NINDS recognizes that informative animal models are not available for many neurological disorders, the applicant should specifically address the rigor of any animal studies being used as support (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-NS-11-023.html). Applicants should describe the full body of evidence being used to support the proposed study and comment on the justification for moving forward with the proposed clinical study.

Approach

Applicants should provide a brief description of their proposed study, including a discussion of the potential biases in the study and how they will be addressed.  A detailed protocol is not required for submission.  Following peer review, applicants who are granted network access will work with the NeuroNEXT team and the NINDS to develop a detailed protocol. The NeuroNEXT team was established by NINDS based on peer- and Council review to form a group of outstanding clinical trial experts from the field of neurology and statistics with a proven record of developing high quality protocols.

A discussion of expected enrollment timelines should be included in the facilities section of the application.

Milestones

Applications must include proposed yearly go/no-go milestones. While final milestones will be determined at the time of grant award, the applicant should propose clear milestones that provide objective, quantitative outcomes that will justify continuing the project. Milestones are not equivalent to aims but rather are determinants of whether a study continues or stops. The applicant should endeavor to present a) the goals and timeline for completion while setting milestones at the end of each funding year, (b) the criteria for success defined as justification for continuation of the project, and (c) the rationale for the choice of parameters tested and quantitative values as decision points, where possible. During the execution of the project, NINDS staff will assess progress toward and achievement of milestones. Achievement of these milestones will be evaluated by NINDS prior to releasing funding for each year of the award.

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:

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, with the following modification:

Appendix 1 should be the protocol synopsis:

At the applicant’s discretion, the following optional elements may also be provided 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.

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 by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NINDS Referral Office by email at nindsreview.nih.gov@mail.nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Requests of $500,000 or more for direct costs in any year

Applicants requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs in any year (excluding consortium F&A) must contact NIH program staff at least 3 months before submitting the application prior to the planned submission deadline for new grant applications, in order to provide adequate time for internal review of the application.

Post-Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.

Section V. Application Review Information


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:

1. Approved projects will be implemented through the NeuroNEXT infrastructure.  The applicant will work closely with the NeuroNEXT investigators who have been selected for their experience and training in neurological clinical research. While some applicants will be relatively junior in their careers, NeuroNEXT provides a cadre of experienced clinical trial experts who can ensure high quality implementation and oversight of studies.  The PD(s)/PI(s) therefore do not need to bring as much clinical research experience as they would have to bring to a non-NeuroNEXT project.

2. Applications selected for a full discussion by the review committee will be evaluated from two separate perspectives with an initial focus on the scientific rationale/premise of the study. Exploratory clinical trials must anchor their rationale in (1) an unmet medical need; (2) a plausible biological mechanism; (3) non-clinical (in vitro and/or in vivo) data; and/or (4) early clinical data. Their individual weight should be carefully assessed in the specific context of the application at hand; the applicant is not required to provide support from all four areas.  The second stage of the discussion will focus on the overall impact of the study which will also include the evaluation of the experimental design and all of the review criteria described below.

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?

Is there compelling justification for the development of the proposed intervention in terms of potential advances in clinical practice, public health, unmet medical need, and/or patient quality of life? How would the intervention, if it were ultimately successful, affect patients with the disease? How would the project advance the field regardless of its outcome? Is the proposed project likely to yield the answers needed to proceed to the next step in developing the intervention? Is it clear why the proposed exploratory trial is essential to inform the design and implementation of a subsequent efficacy trial, or enable a “go/no-go” decision regarding further clinical development of the intervention? 

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? 

Does the proposed trial have the potential to advance the field (e.g., by evaluating a new target mechanism, or by advancing the validation of a biological or clinical outcome) even if (a) the proposed study design, methods, and intervention are not innovative, and/or (b) the results of the trial indicate that further clinical development of the intervention is unwarranted?

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 clinical research, are the plans for 1) protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion 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? 

Have the sites provided adequate or reasonable estimates of the number of patients that they expect to be able to enroll? Does this project include a partnership with the private sector (e.g. patient groups and/or industry)? Have any Foreign Organizations documented the compatibility of their data collection methods with U.S. data collection methods?

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 clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for inclusion of minorities and members of both genders, as well as the inclusion of children. 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

Renewals will only be considered for certain long-term projects.  For renewals, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period to determine whether continued funding is appropriate.

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) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS).

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 NINDS, 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:

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 National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

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 the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants 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

The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable OMB administrative guidelines, HHS grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.

The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the cooperative agreement, an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the NIH purpose is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined below.

The PD(s)/PI(s) will have the primary responsibility for:

NINDS staff will have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:

NINDS staff involvement will include oversight of the IRB approved protocol by the NINDS Program Official, documentation of adequate serious adverse event management and reporting, and regular communications with the principal investigator and staff; additional involvement generally includes participation in meetings of the steering committee and other leadership committees. Specifically:

As with any award, even during the period recommended for support, continuation is conditional upon satisfactory progress.  If, at any time, recruitment falls significantly below the projected milestones for recruitment, the NINDS will consider ending support and negotiating a phase-out of the award. The NINDS retains the option to obtain periodic external peer review of progress. Milestones will be established by the NINDS prior to the award of the grant based on recommendations from the primary review group.  NINDs will make an award for 2 to 3 years in order to start-up the trial and establish performance feasibility.  Continuation of the award past this feasibility period will be contingent upon a demonstrated ability to meet milestones indicating that the trial can be implemented as planned.  Feasibility milestones will be defined at the start of each trial and will be monitored closely by the Institute-appointed Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) and NINDS Program Official. Achievement of these milestones will be evaluated by NINDS prior to releasing funding for each year of the award and failure to achieve these milestones may lead to study termination.

Areas of Joint Responsibility include:

None; all responsibilities are divided between awardees and NIH staff as described above.

Dispute Resolution:

Any disagreements that may arise in scientific or programmatic matters (within the scope of the award) between award recipients and the NIH may be brought to dispute resolution.  A Dispute Resolution Panel composed of three members will be convened.  It will have three members: a designee of the Steering Committee chosen without NIH staff voting, one NIH designee, and a third designee with expertise in the relevant area who is chosen by the other two; in the case of individual disagreement, the first member may be chosen by the individual awardee.  This special dispute resolution procedure in no way affects the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulations 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and HHS regulations 45 CFR Part 16.

3. Reporting

A report of the milestones, as described in the Research Plan form of the Application and Submission section achieved during the prior project period must be included in the non-competing application. When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the annual Non-Competing Progress Report (PHS 2590 or RPPR) 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 Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding 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)

Web ticketing system: https://public.era.nih.gov/commonshelp
TTY: 301-451-5939
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726

Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone: 301-435-0714
TTY: 301-451-5936
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Elizabeth McNeil, MD MSc
National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9135
Email: mcneilde@ninds.nih.gov 

Peer Review Contact(s)

Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Telephone: 301-496-9223
Email: nindsreview.nih.gov@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tijuanna E. DeCoster, MPA
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Telephone: 301-496-9231
Email: decostert@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.


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