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 Infrastructure Resource Access (X01)

Activity Code

X01 Resource Access Award  

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-11-344

Related Notices
  • April 14, 2016 - Updated Application Forms (FORMS-D) Available for PAR-15-195. See Notice NOT-NS-16-014.
  • NOT-OD-16-004 - NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-006 - Simplification of the Vertebrate Animals Section of NIH Grant Applications and Contract Proposals (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-011 - Implementing Rigor and Transparency in NIH & AHRQ Research Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-15-195

Companion Funding Opportunity

PAR-15-194, U44 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Cooperative Agreement  

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

April 29, 2015

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 3, 2015

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable  

Application Due Date(s)

Applications are accepted by continuous receipt, 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:

Council Round: May

Receipt Window: November 13 - March 12

Council Round: October
Receipt Window: March 13 - July 12

Council Round: January
Receipt Window: July 13 - November 12 .

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

Advisory Council Review
Earliest Start Date

December 1, 2015; May 1, 2016; July 1, 2016; December 1, 2016; May 1, 2017; July 1, 2017; December 1,  2017

Expiration Date

November 13, 2017

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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). Multi-site studies in stroke prevention, treatment and/or recovery are not considered responsive to this FOA; those applications should go to NIH StrokeNET: http://www.nihstrokenet.org/.

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.

For medical devices, in addition to providing initial clinical safety data, appropriate studies are those

  • that inform the next phase of development, usually by finalizing the device design, establishing
  • operator technique, and/or finalizing the choice of study endpoints for the design of a pivotal clinical trial.

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.

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

  • Evaluate and optimize the dose, formulation, safety, tolerability or pharmacokinetics of an intervention in the target population.
  • Evaluate whether an intervention produces sufficient evidence of short-term activity (e.g., biomarker activity, pharmacodynamic response, target engagement, dose-response trends) in a human “proof of concept” trial.
  • Select or rank the best of two or more potential interventions or dosing regimens to be evaluated in a subsequent trial, based on tolerability, safety data, biological activity, or preliminary clinical efficacy (e.g., futility trials).
  • Evaluate biological activity relative to clinical endpoints.
  • 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.
Implementation

Applicants should make note of the following:

  • The applicant is expected to hold intellectual property rights (IP) to the investigational agent/device proposed for study.  Holding a license to use the agent/device is not sufficient.
  • Access will be contingent on the issuance of an appropriate technology transfer agreement, possibly a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), between NINDS and the applicant.
  • The applicant will be expected to make a financial contribution to clinical trial costs above the NINDS-covered infrastructure costs.

(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) 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 to address an unmet medical need or to improve current standards of care must anchor their rationale in (a) a plausible biological mechanism; (b) non-clinical (in vitro and/or in vivo) data; and/or (c) early clinical data. The individual weight should be carefully assessed in the specific context of the application at hand; there is no requirement to provide support from all three areas. 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.

(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:

  • Determining the optimal measure (endpoint), its variability, and/or the optimal timing of outcome evaluations in the context of the intervention
  • Collecting information on the utility of questionnaires, rating scales, or biomarkers
  • 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:
  • Identifying appropriate modifications to the procedure or device to enable a subsequent Pivotal study on a finalized system;
  • Refining the intended use population;
  • Developing and refining data collection procedures;
  • Refining the non-clinical test plans or methodologies; and
  • Developing subsequent clinical study protocols.

(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 Scientific/Research 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) 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).

(6) 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 the applicant, NINDS, and the NeuroNEXT network. 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 for trials under this FOA will be constructed after peer review and then reviewed by NINDS.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Other: A mechanism that is not a grant or cooperative agreement. Examples include access to research resources or pre-applications.

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

Not applicable, funds are not awarded via this X01.  

Award Project Period

The maximum project period is 5 years.  

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

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

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

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

For-Profit Organizations

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

Governments

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

Other

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

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

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

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

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

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

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

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

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

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

2. Cost Sharing

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

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

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

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

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

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

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

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

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

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed, with the following exceptions or additional requirements:

  • For this specific FOA, the Research Strategy section is limited to 12 pages.
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.

Total Federal Funds Requested:  Enter $0.

Total Federal & Non-Federal Funds:  $0.

Estimated Program Income:  Enter $0.

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.  Please note the following additional instructions:

Other Attachments:

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

  • A letter (or copy of an email) from the FDA documenting an active IND/IDE for any investigational agent proposed for use. If the FDA has granted an IND/IDE exemption, that letter should be included in this section.
  • Information on drug/biologic/device supply.

Provide a discussion of expected enrollment timelines including an estimate of the expected patient enrollment per month as a single PDF file with the name “ENROLLMENT TIMELINES.pdf”.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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: 

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 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 to address an unmet medical need or to improve current standards of care must anchor their rationale in (1) a plausible biological mechanism; (2) non-clinical (in vitro and/or in vivo) data; and/or (3) early clinical data. The individual weight should be carefully assessed in the specific context of the application at hand; there is no requirement to provide support from all three areas. 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. 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 NINDS rigor guidelines, then applicants should consider not using them as primary support of the study rationale. 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. 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 warrants 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.

Milestones

Applications must include proposed yearly go/no-go milestones. While final milestones will be determined at the time of access, 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.

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

  • All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan.
  • It is expected that the that the network-developed research resources such as Manual of Operations, study manuals, case-report forms, phenotype ascertainment instruments, and newly developed common data elements will be made available to the public 18 months after publication of study findings.

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.

Please include a synopsis of the clinical protocol.

At the applicant’s discretion, the following optional elements may also be provided in the appendix:

  • Non-referenced or non-published, non-standardized clinical assessments and data collection tools.
  • Investigator Brochures, see 21 CFR 312.23 (a)(5) for format
  • Clinical pharmacology justifying the proposed dosing regimen.
Foreign Institutions

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

3. Submission Dates and Times

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

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

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

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

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

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

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

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

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

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

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

Important reminders:

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

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

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

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

Post Submission Materials

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

Section V. Application Review Information

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

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following:

The X01 Resource Access Program invites eligible institutions to seek access to NIH research resources, which are specified in each X01 FOA.  This includes programs where institutions will request access to submit to the resource (e.g., high throughput screening assays) as well as programs where access to a specific NIH research resource is needed to conduct certain research.  Important factors in the peer review of X01 applications are the need for, and potential benefit of, gaining access to the resource, specifications for any assays proposed, timelines for completion and plans for follow-on studies.

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.

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

Environment

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

Additional Review Criteria

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

Protections for Human Subjects

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

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

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

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

Vertebrate Animals

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

Biohazards

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

Resubmissions

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

Renewals

For Renewals, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period.

Revisions

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

Additional Review Considerations

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

Applications from Foreign Organizations

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

Select Agent Research

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

Resource Sharing Plans

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

Budget and Period of Support

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

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the 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:

  • 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

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

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

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

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

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

Section VII. Agency Contacts

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

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: 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)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-435-0714

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 (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9223
Email: nindsreview.nih.gov@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tijuanna DeCoster, MPA, Ph. D. 
National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke (NINDS)
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 Part 75.

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