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 Mental Health (NIMH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Funding Opportunity Title

High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R21)

Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-12-059

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-14-283

Companion Funding Opportunity

PAR-13-134, X01 Resource Access Award

PAR-13-135, R03 Small Grant Program
PAR-14-284, R01 Research Project Grant

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

93.242, 93.865, 93.273, 93.173, 93.279, 93.867, 93.395, 93.394, 93.866, 93.846    

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages investigators to form collaborations with an established academic, nonprofit, or commercial high throughput screening (HTS) facility that has the requisite expertise and experience to implement HTS-ready assays for the discovery and development of small molecule chemical probes.

Through this FOA, NIH wishes to stimulate research in 1) discovery and development of novel, small molecules for their potential use in studying disease treatments relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes, and 2) discovery and/or validation of novel, biological targets that will inform studies of disease mechanisms.  Emphasis will be placed on projects that provide new insight into important disease targets and processes.   

Key Dates

 

Posted Date

July 17, 2014

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

September 16, 2014  

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date  

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.

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.

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

Standard dates apply  

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.



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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

Technological innovations in high throughput screening (HTS), chemical synthesis, and cheminformatics have allowed rapid discovery of novel, small-molecule probes for the study of disease related biological processes and mechanisms in academic environments (see Academic Screening Facilities Directory, http://www.slas.org/screeningFacilities/facilityList.cfm). This provides an unprecedented opportunity for investigators to translate knowledge about diseases into tangible tools for translational research.  This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) aims to support investigators to form collaborations with an academic, nonprofit, or commercial HTS screening facility that has the requisite expertise and experience to implement an HTS-ready assay for the discovery and development of small molecule chemical probes. Through this FOA, NIH wishes to stimulate research in 1) discovery and development of novel, small molecules for their potential use in studying disease treatments relevant to the missions of the participating NIH Institutes, and 2) discovery and/or validation of novel, biological targets that will inform studies of disease mechanisms.  Emphasis will be placed on projects that provide new insight into important disease targets and processes. For example, applications may involve emerging therapeutic targets and mechanisms for the discovery of chemical probes that may lead to further development of therapeutics or provide insight into the biology of relevant diseases and health.

This program intends to support mainly the following two stages of discovery research:

1.  HTS implementation. The screening facility should have the capability to optimize and automate biochemical-, cellular-, or whole organism-based assays to screen a library of compounds with adequate diversity and representation of chemical space. The projects submitted to this FOA are expected to already have an implementable HTS assay and an adequate collection of compounds to be screened.  Some assay adaptation may be performed with the aim of optimizing parameters such as reagent preparation/consumption, assay readout, and automation in parallel or multiplex screening format.  Such adaptation work will be accomplished through a joint effort between the assay submitting investigator and the screening facility responsible for implementing the assays.

The HTS may include the following several primary assay configurations:  (1) a biochemical or cell based assay against a large collection of compounds; (2) a whole animal (e.g., zebrafish, mouse, etc.), organoid, or 3-D culture based primary assay against a focused collection of compounds; (3) a high-value primary cell or tissue sample based primary assay against a focused collection of compounds; (4) an array of biochemical or cell based primary assays against a focused collection of compounds; (5) an affinity based primary assay of multiple protein targets against a very large library of compounds (e.g., DNA encoded compound library, etc.).

Complementary research including virtual screening may also be conducted to improve the screening success likelihood and cost effectiveness.

HTS assay development is beyond the scope of the FOA. Investigators who are interested in the development of HTS assays are encouraged to apply under PAR-13-364 "Development of Assays for High-Throughput screening for use in Probe and Pre-therapeutic Discovery (R01)". The screening facility may provide advice such as identification and selection of commercial HTS assay reagents, and suitable HTS assay format and readout. In addition, the screening facility may be able to provide assistance in adapting assays to an HTS format (e.g., 1536-well or 384-well microplate) and performing a pilot screen of a small library of compounds (e.g., the Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds (LOPAC) collection, the NIH Clinical Collection, etc.) to generate sufficient preliminary assay data to support a grant application submission. Further, the researchers might seek advice from the screening laboratory about orthogonal assays to validate the screening hits, and advice on chemical improvement of the initial hits via a structure-activity relationship (SAR) study.

Other technical resources about HTS assay development include the online comprehensive guidebook Assay Guidance Manual (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53196/), HTS assay protocols deposited on PubChem BioAssay data base (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pcassay), ASSAY and Drug Development Technologies, a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal, and the Journal of Biomolecular Screening.

2.  Hit validation. When HTS is complete, fresh compound samples of initial hits will be selected (cherry-picked) for further confirmation. The investigators will implement secondary assays that are orthogonal to the primary assay to remove false positives. This provides additional verification that the hits are acting on the target/pathway of interest. In addition, the investigators will conduct advanced cheminformatics analysis and medicinal chemistry inspection to prioritize the hit set. It is expected that the investigators will test powder samples of hit compounds and commercially available analog compounds during the hit validation stage. Investigators should verify the structure of hits using a combination of analytical methods and, if possible, re-synthesis of select hits. Additional follow-up assays may also be conducted to characterize mode and mechanism of action of the validated hits.

A substantial amount of screening campaigns may yield validated hits that can be further optimized via medicinal chemistry work. However, extensive medicinal chemistry optimization is beyond the scope of the FOA.  Investigators of a successful screening project are encouraged to consider further funding opportunities that would support medicinal chemistry optimization of the validated hits, i.e., PAR-14-279 (Discovery of in vivo Chemical Probes) or other funding opportunities as listed below in the section "Institute Interests."

Data Sharing

A goal of the program is to further research advancements across the scientific community as rapidly as possible.  This will require synergies that can be achieved through broad sharing of research efforts in a collaborative and cooperative research environment.  It will take the combined resources of researchers in the public and private sectors many years to use small molecule probes to characterize the biology of genes and proteins of interest, cellular processes, and disease processes, and then to use that information to develop products and other approaches that will improve public health. The open sharing of data, research tools, and resources will not only encourage scientific rigor in probe discovery process, but also lead more rapidly to the identification and validation of novel targets for drug discovery, and will facilitate more rapid development of therapeutics by both the private and public sectors, with resulting benefits to public health, especially for rare and neglected disorders. In order to reap the maximum benefit from this program, assay data, assay protocols, and chemical structures of compounds tested are expected to be made publicly available, consistent with achieving the goals of this program.

For the purpose of this FOA, the following data generated or developed under this FOA are expected to be released to PubChem, consistent with achieving the goals of this program: (1) primary assay data from high throughput screening (HTS), (2) data generated in the follow-up assays, (3) protocols for assays implemented, and (4) the chemical structure of compounds tested.

Institute Interests

NIMH:  The NIMH is especially interested in applications for novel, clinically-relevant targets with the goal of transforming target discovery into therapeutic treatment of mental disorders such as depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, panic disorder, autism, etc. Proposed projects should be relevant to NIMH's mission of supporting basic science discoveries and translating these discoveries into new therapeutic interventions that will relieve the suffering of people with mental disorders. Investigators who are interested in developing novel and robust analytical platforms using in vitro assays to reveal changes in neuronal and/or glial function may apply to the following funding opportunity: Scalable Assays for Unbiased In Vitro Analysis of Neurobiological Function (R21/R33) PAR-11-319 and future reissues of this FOA. In case a screening campaign yields promising bioactive hits, investigators are encouraged to consider the following funding opportunities: Drug Discovery for Nervous System Disorders PAR-13-048 (R01) , PAR-13-049 (R21). High-quality and reproducible studies that are reported to the scientific community in a transparent manner are an essential cornerstone of the research enterprise. Attention to principles of study design and transparency are essential to enable reviewers, the scientific community, and NIH to assess the quality of scientific findings. In support of this important goal, investigators are strongly encouraged to implement rigorous study designs and reporting.  Examples of the critical elements of a well-designed study are summarized at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/policies/enhancing-the-reliability-of-nimh-supported-research-through-rigorous-study-design-and-reporting.shtml. 

NCI:  High throughput screens that are pertinent to the mission of NCI should be justified in the application as relevant to cancer.  The NCI is interested in high throughput screens intended to identify small molecules for use in elucidating molecular, cellular, or in vivo mechanisms or processes of probable or known importance to cancer biology, and for use in developing strategies for cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment or clinical monitoring of treatment.  Screens may be biochemical, cellular or model organism-based.  High throughput screens for targets that address unmet needs in cancer prevention, treatment or diagnosis are encouraged.  Validated hits identified by HTS may be appropriate for entry in the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT) for further development to clinical candidate status and testing in clinical trial.  See http://next.cancer.gov/ for the NExT application process.  Applicants may also find the NCI Developmental Therapeutics Program (http://dtp.nci.nih.gov) resources to be helpful. 

NEI:  The NEI is especially interested in applications to develop novel, clinically-relevant targets, which can be transformed into therapeutics for treatment of visual diseases and disorders.  Appropriate research areas include, but are not limited to, inflammatory, vascular, and degenerative diseases of the eye, such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma, ocular infections, corneal wound healing, and dry eye syndrome.  Proposed projects should be relevant to NEI’s mission of supporting basic science discoveries and translating these discoveries into new therapeutic interventions that will lead to sight-saving treatments, reduce visual impairment and blindness, and improve the quality of life for people of all ages.

NIA: NIA is interested in HTS assays and chemical probes that are relevant to the process of normal aging (including normal cognitive aging) and age-related diseases and conditions in a variety of tissues. Examples include  Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias of aging, progeroid syndromes, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and other age–related changes that occur during the human lifespan. NIA is particularly interested in assays and chemical probes that will be useful in identifying new therapeutic targets and, novel therapeutic and imaging agents. NIA is also interested in assays to screen for compounds that affect protective factors or processes that may contribute to slowing or reversing the progression of age-related adverse molecular, biochemical, genetic, cellular, or physiological changes that contribute to multiple age-related diseases, and which hence could contribute to longer health span.

NIAAA:  NIAAA is interested in applications for novel clinically-relevant targets with the goal of transforming target discovery into treatment of alcohol dependence. NIAAA is also interested in the development of novel ligands to be used as tools for investigating biological processes contributing to alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is a complex disorder involving many neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, ion channels, neuromodulators, hormones, and intracellular signaling networks. This provides a number of potential target sites for which new pharmaceutical agents may be developed.  Examples of interest include:  effectors of opioid, glutamate, GABA, cannabinoid, and adenosine receptors, modulators of neuropeptide systems (e.g., NPY, CRF, substance P, orexin), agents that alter signal transduction pathways (such as protein kinase effectors, protein phosphatase inhibitors, G-protein regulators and calcium signaling disruptors), and modulators of neuroimmune and neuroinflammatory pathways. In case a screening campaign yields promising bioactive hits, investigators are encouraged to consider the following funding opportunities: Drug Discovery for Nervous System Disorders Drug Discovery for Nervous System Disorders PAR-13-048 (R01) , PAR-13-049 (R21).

NIAMS:  NIAMS is interested in discovery and development of novel small molecules that can be used to treat diseases or understand disease mechanisms in the areas of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases.  Potential applicants are encouraged to review the NIAMS mission (http://www.niams.nih.gov/About_Us/Mission_and_Purpose/mission.asp) and the NIAMS long-range plan (http://www.niams.nih.gov/About_Us/Mission_and_Purpose/long_range.asp) for more information.

NICHD:  NICHD is interested in high throughput screening that will lead to discovery of chemical probes of developmental targets relevant to pregnancy and pediatric-related conditions. Potential applicants are encouraged to review the NICHD mission http://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/overview/mission/ and vision http://www.nichd.nih.gov/vision/ and to contact NICHD Scientific/Research staff listed on this FOA prior to submitting an application.

NIDA:  NIDA is particularly interested in assays for novel targets that may lead to the development of pharmacotherapeutics for drug addiction and/or chronic pain.  NIDA is also interested in assays to identify compounds that are selective for or against reported human genetic or epigenetic variants of known targets for drug addiction, where the variant is associated with risk for or protection against dependence or addiction.  In case a screening campaign yields promising bioactive hits, investigators are encouraged to consider the following funding opportunities: Drug Discovery for Nervous System Disorders PAR-13-048 (R01) , PAR-13-049 (R21).  

NIDCD:  The NIDCD is interested in the development of high throughput screens to assess and identify putative analogs that might have potential therapeutic value in the treatment, protection or prevention of communication disorders, including hearing, balance, smell/taste, voice, speech and language.  Applications could include, but are not limited to, identification of clinically-relevant targets that might lead to translatable therapeutics in hearing/balance areas of otoprotection, regeneration, otitis media, tinnitus, and normal/abonormal development; chemosensory abnormalities such as they relate to serious diseases of obesity, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis; disorders involving voice speech, language, including swallowing,  aphasia or dysarthria, and laryngeal replacement.  Potential applicants are encouraged to review the NIDCD mission http://www.nidcd.nih.gov prior to submitting an application.

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

The total project period for an application submitted in response to this funding opportunity may not exceed two years. Total direct costs are limited to $275,000 over an R21 two-year period for each award, with no more than $200,000 in direct costs allowed in any single year.   

Award Project Period

The total project period for an application submitted in response to this funding opportunity may not exceed 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.
  • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM. 
  • 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.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

 

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Yong Yao, Ph.D.
Telephone:  301-443-6102
Email: yyao@mail.nih.gov

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:  In the Research Strategy applicants should address the following topics as they pertain to the research project proposed:

1.  Compound collection. Applicants are expected to provide a rationale for the size and selection of the library of compounds.  In certain cases, it may be advantageous to utilize focused libraries of compounds with specific considerations for the assay targets, known bioactivities, privileged scaffolds, representative diversity sets, drug repurposing, and/or the ease of follow-up synthetic chemistry for SAR expansion. The compounds for HTS are expected to be maintained under strict storage conditions and meet a set of quality control restrictions on solubility, a number of reactive groups, and compound size.

2.  Primary HTS assay. Assays developed for HTS may be target-, pathway-, and phenotype-based assays. Some examples include: a) target-based biochemical or cellular assays that measure activities of enzymes, receptor-ligand bindings, protein-protein interactions, ion channels, transporters, nuclear receptors and other transcription factors, and other new targets emerging from genetic and proteomic research in model systems and in human diseases; b) cell- or organism-based assays that detect phenotypic changes that may involve unidentified molecular targets; and c) non-traditional targets of interest such as nucleic acids, protein folding, polymorphic gene products, post-transcriptional editing or splicing of gene products, and protein or RNA stabilization. The assay detection methods may include fluorescence, luminescence, absorbance, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), time-resolved fluorescence resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET), fluorescence polarization, flow cytometric measurements, fluorescence imaging, bioluminescence resonance energy transfer (BRET), AlphaScreen, scintillation proximity assay (SPA), electrophysiological assay, biophysical assay, etc. In general, the proposed HTS assay should adopt an adequate detection principle that results in a sensitive detection of even weak binders with expected low rates of false positives and false negatives.

The application is expected to include preliminary data on the primary assay performance most often in microtiter plate format (96-, 384- and 1536-well plates).   A scatter plot obtained from a pilot screen of a small collection of structurally diverse small molecules (e.g., NIH Clinical Collection at http://www.nihclinicalcollection.com/, LOPAC1280 at http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/chemistry/drug-discovery/validation-libraries.html, etc.) may provide an overview of the assay performance. In general, an acceptable lower limit of Z’ factor is 0.5 for a robust single-concentration HTS that corresponds to a combination of Signal-to-Basal Ratio (S/B) of 4 with a Coefficient of Variation (CV) of 10%.  The assay robustness will improve in case multiple compound test concentrations or kinetic recordings are used in HTS.

3.  Follow-up assay.  The application is expected to include a plan for a cascade of follow-up assays to efficiently and effectively remove false positives because the primary HTS assay may typically generate hundreds to thousands of hits, of which most may be false positives or chemically intractable.  The post-HTS follow-up assays include: a) an assay that is essentially an HTS assay with orthogonal detection scheme (e.g., switching light detection mode or wavelength to avoid intrinsic compound interference); b) a target-minus assay (e.g., coupling enzymes in the absence of the assay target enzyme, parental cell line without the assay target protein, etc.); c) an assay that is different in biological context and process (e.g., protein functional assay vs. protein binding assay, RT-PCR and Western assay vs. reporter gene assay, cell-based assay vs. biochemical assay, etc.); d) cytotoxicity assay; (e) target selectivity assays; (f) specificity assays to distinguish biological activities of chemical entities among orthologous targets across organism species through kingdoms (e.g., yeast vs. mammalian cell targets, parasite vs. host targets); (g) mode of action assays (e.g., allosteric vs. orthosteric, competitive vs. noncompetitive or uncompetitive); and (h) target identification assays. The assays farther downstream may also include cellular and tissue models pertaining to the relevant physiology or pathophysiology.

4.  Probe criteria.  The application should (1) define the specific criteria that a compound must meet to be considered a probe for the project, and (2) provide a thorough literature and informatic analysis about prior art of chemical probes.

5.  Critical path.  The application should include a flow diagram to outline all critical steps in sequential and/or parallel manners with appropriate benchmarks and timelines, including but not limited to the primary HTS assay to be implemented, alternative assay or approach (e.g., computational docking) to ensure success of the screening, hit selection criteria, cheminformatic analysis, chemical tractability assessment, all follow-up assays to validate screening hits, study of structure-activity relationships, assay responsibilities of each party involved, etc.

6.  Future plan.  The application should also include a succinct plan to briefly describe existing and potential follow-up assays to develop chemical probes in the future.

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:

  • For the purpose of this FOA, the following data generated or developed under this FOA are expected to be released to PubChem: (1) primary assay data from high throughput screening (HTS), (2) data generated in all post-HTS follow-up assays, (3) protocols for assays implemented, and (4) the chemical structure of compounds tested.
  • Applications should include a statement of willingness to deposit the aforementioned data to PubChem within the Data Sharing section of the application.

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.

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.

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:

The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research. Preliminary data on follow-up assays are not required for R21 applications.

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?  Are there important and well-defined goals for the use of chemical probes identified with the proposed assays, either as research tools or for therapeutics development?

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? Are the investigators reasonably knowledgeable and experienced about the biological target area of science? Are the investigators reasonably knowledgeable and experienced about assay implementation and the process of screening compound libraries? Are the investigators reasonably knowledgeable and experienced to conduct follow-up assays to validate screening hits? Are the investigators reasonably knowledgeable to examine non-specific chemical reactivity and interference of compounds?    

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? Is this assay project for a novel biological target or cellular process? Does the application address whether or not there are known small molecule modulators available for this biological target? Is there a need for better small molecule modulators against the target or cellular process? Will the innovation in assay design and compound assembly enhance the success rate of the screening?  

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? Is the compound library adequate for screening? Is the HTS assay well designed to minimize false positives and false negatives? Is there sufficient preliminary data to support assay readiness for HTS? Is the assay performance adequate, such as Z'-factor? Is the assay reproducible? Are non-commercial reagents required for this assay? If so, how are they characterized for purity and activity, and are they readily available? Is there adequate plan for follow-up assays to evaluate active compounds identified in the primary assays?  

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) 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 Center of 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 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)

Finding Help Online: http://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

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
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Yong Yao, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone:  301-443-6102
Email:  yyao@mail.nih.gov

Suzanne Forry, Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone:  240-276-5922
Email:  forryscs@mail.nih.gov

Jerome Wujek, Ph.D.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone:  301-451-2020
Email:  wujekjer@nei.nih.gov

Larry Refolo, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone:  301-496-9350
Email:  refolol@mail.nih.gov

Max Guo, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone:  301-401-7747
Email:  qmguo@mail.nih.gov

Changhai Cui, PhD
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Telephone: 301-443-1678
Email:changhai.cui@nih.gov

Amanda Boyce, Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone:  301-594-5585
Email:  boycea@mail.nih.gov

Katerina Tsilou, MD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Telephone:  301-496-6287
Email:  tsiloue@mail.nih.gov

Nancy L. Freeman, Ph.D.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Telephone:  301-402-3458
Email:  Freemann@mail.nih.gov

Kristopher Bough, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Telephone:  301-443-9800
Email:  boughk@nida.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Kee Pyon, Ph.D.
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone:  301-272-4865 
Email:  kee.pyon2@nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Rebecca Claycamp, M.S., CRA
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone:  301-443-2811
Email:  rclaycam@mail.nih.gov

Shane Woodward
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 301-846-1017
E-mail: woodwars@mail.nih.gov

William Darby
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone:  301-451-2020
Email:  wwd@nei.nih.gov

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

Melinda Nelson
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone:  301-435-5278
Email:  nelsonm@mail.nih.gov

Bryan S. Clark, M.B.A
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Telephone: 301-435-6975
Email: clarkb1@mail.nih.gov

Christopher Myers
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Telephone:  301-435-0713
Email:  myersc@mail.nih.gov

Yinka Abu
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Telephone:  202-526-0108
Email:  abuy@nida.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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