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 Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Funding Opportunity Title

Mechanistic Ancillary Studies to Ongoing Interventional Clinical Trials (R21)

Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type

Reissue of RFA-AR-13-011

Related Notices

  • NOT-OD-16-004 - NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-AR-17-004

Companion Funding Opportunity

RFA-AR-17-003, R01 Research Project Grant

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

93.846 

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) solicits applications that propose to conduct time-sensitive mechanistic ancillary studies related to the NIAMS mission in conjunction with privately or publicly funded, ongoing interventional clinical trials. The ongoing “parent” project has to be an interventional clinical trial that can provide a cohort of well-characterized patients, infrastructure, data, and biological samples. Applications submitted in response to this FOA will undergo an accelerated review and award process. Each application must include a clear description of the ancillary study’s mechanistic rationale and premise, and a timeline to demonstrate that the parent project has adequate time left to accommodate the proposed ancillary study. In addition, applicants must justify the time-sensitive nature of the ancillary study and the need for an expedited review and award process. Applicants must also document permission from the parent project to use the patient cohorts, data, and biological materials. The objective of this FOA is to provide a flexible mechanism to leverage established resources and maximize the return on existing investments in parent projects. Successful ancillary studies will enhance the scientific content and value of the parent projects, improve the research community’s understanding of a disease or organ system in the NIAMS portfolio, and thus may identify novel targets for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.    

Key Dates
Posted Date

February 5, 2016

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 8, 2016

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date(s)

August 9, 2016; December 5, 2016; April 3, 2017, 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.

No late applications will be accepted for this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

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

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

October/November 2016; February/March 2017; June/July 2017

Advisory Council Review

January 2017; May 2017; August 2017

Earliest Start Date

April 1, 2017; July 1, 2017; September 1, 2017

Expiration Date

April 4, 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

Interventional clinical trials (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-015.html)

often represent a substantial financial commitment from the sponsors and enormous effort from the investigators who establish an infrastructure for patient recruitment, examination, and follow-up. These interventional clinical trials, offer unique experimental windows to study human disease that are often not fully exploited. Mechanistic studies that go beyond the core activities of the original clinical project can explore novel research opportunities offered in the established cohorts and generate new information to enhance the scientific content of the original project. Such studies that are not part of the original parent project are referred to as ancillary studies

This FOA uses the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21) award mechanism. Applications in response to this announcement should support innovative, ground breaking projects with potential for significant impact. Projects not suitable for this program are ones specifically to develop preliminary data for longer-term projects in a well-established research area, or pilot projects that are less than highly innovative. Projects that do not meet these characteristics of innovative, ground breaking research should consider applying for a Research Project Grant (R01) instead, through the accompanying FOA for NIAMS R01 grants for ancillary studies (RFA-AR-17-003). The R21 is not a starter grant for new investigators, and such investigators may be better served by applying for an R01 (for the definition of new investigators and additional information on this point, please see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-013.html). Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate NIAMS Scientific/Research Contact prior to application to determine the suitability of the project for the R21 mechanism. Preference in funding decisions will be given to projects within NIAMS mission areas that are especially innovative, ground breaking, and have a high potential impact in the relevant fields of research.

Objectives

This FOA solicits grant applications that propose to conduct time-sensitive, innovative or high risk/high reward, mechanistic studies ancillary to privately or publicly funded, ongoing interventional clinical trials. These parent projects have to be interventional clinical trials that can provide sufficient cohorts of well-characterized patients, infrastructure, data, and biological samples. The parent projects must be independently funded by the NIAMS, other NIH institutes or government agencies, or private sponsors; they will not receive support from this FOA. Unlike those of the ancillary studies, the objectives of the parent study need not relate to the NIAMS mission, so long as the parent study provides an appropriate venue for the proposed mechanistic ancillary study. Information about clinical trials currently supported by a variety of public and private entities can be obtained from http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/.

The mechanistic ancillary studies supported under this FOA should focus on areas that are not studied in the parent project and address new research questions that are related to the mission of NIAMS (http://www.niams.nih.gov/About_Us/Mission_and_Purpose/mission.asp) in the venue of a parent project. The parent project can provide existing resources to facilitate the research and make it more efficient than initiating the same research de novo.

The following are examples of research that might be proposed under this FOA. These are only examples and are not meant to be inclusive:

  • Novel cellular, molecular, genetic and/or epigenetic mechanisms of disease.
  • Novel cellular and/or molecular fingerprints of disease onset and/or progression.
  • Novel pathogenic signaling pathways.
  • Novel cellular and molecular disease/drug target identification.
  • Underlying mechanism of action of a drug or intervention.
  • Underlying environmental, behavior or other risk factors that are responsible for differences in disease onset and progression.
  • Mechanisms that explain disease comorbidity or functional impairment and pathophysiology of the disease.
  • Underlying etiology of subsets of a disease.
  • Biomarkers and outcome measure studies that relate to the mechanism of action, toxicity, and activity of the therapeutic agent and its effects.
  • Biomarkers that reflect disease activity or structural/functional tissue changes.
  • Mechanism of sex differences in disease onset and progression.
  • Mechanisms of pain or pain perception in diseases.

Ancillary studies must not interfere with the parent project or unduly burden participants. Ancillary studies may involve the entire cohort of participants in a parent study or selected subsets, depending on the scientific questions posed and the sample size required to answer them. The ancillary studies may also draw patients from two or more parent projects if they are able to obtain approval from these parent projects and if their research plan is feasible. In general, this FOA will not support the recruitment of patients who are not already enrolled in the parent study or studies; however, recruitment of a small number of normal controls is acceptable provided that the cost is minimal (e.g., no more than one budget module).

Once a parent project clinical protocol is finalized, its investigators often are ready to begin recruiting patients as soon as they obtain Institutional Review Board approval. This time-sensitive feature demands a robust administrative system within NIAMS that is compatible with the timeline of the parent project to avoid any missed research opportunities; an accelerated review and award process would allow the initiation of ancillary studies in a timely fashion to take advantage of the unique resources and well-characterized cohorts being established in the parent project. Applications submitted to this FOA will be subject to an accelerated peer review and award process.

Examples of characteristics that would support the case for time-sensitivity include (1) the need for support to collect samples or data prior to end of recruitment, (2) the need to perform analysis on soon-to-be-collected fresh specimens, or (3) the need for collecting post-intervention data from research participants in a trial that will end. If the proposed research does not need to be concurrent with the parent project (e.g., secondary analysis of existing datasets); or is a sample collection that is already part of the parent study; or a data collection by the parent study is completed before the beginning of the ancillary study, then the application will be considered non-responsive to this FOA, unless the existing data set has to be analyzed at the same time with soon-to-be-collected samples.

Applications that do not demonstrate the need for accelerated review and award are encouraged to submit through the regular NIH submission process. (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-13-303.html)

An ancillary study may begin any time during the course of the parent project, but ideally should begin in the early stages of the parent project, and before recruitment is completed.

This FOA encourages collaboration between basic and clinical investigators and partnership with private entities. In addition, this FOA encourages junior investigators to take a leading role in clinical research with the support and collaboration of senior investigators. The prospective applicants are not necessarily investigators in the parent study. However, collaborations in which a senior investigator from the parent study mentors a junior investigator on an ancillary study are encouraged.

Applicants are invited to visit the NIAMS Ancillary Studies website for answers to commonly asked questions: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Funding/Funding_Opportunities/Supported_Scientific_Areas/Ancillary_Studies_FAQs.asp.   

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.
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 NIAMS intends to commit approximately $1.5 million in FY2017 to support up to 4-5 new awards combined from the companion FOAs for R01s (RFA-AR-17-003) and R21s (this FOA). Awards issued under this FOA are contingent upon the availability of funds and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Direct costs are limited to $400,000 over a two-year period, with no more than $250,000 in direct costs in any single year.  

Award Project Period

A duration for up to two years may be requested.

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
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not 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 obtain 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:

Chao Jiang, Ph.D.
Telephone: 301-594-5055
Fax: 301-480-1284
Email: chao.jiang@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 Significance, the applicant should also include an explanation of why the proposed ancillary studies need the cohorts recruited in the identified parent project, as opposed to similar subjects not participating in the parent project. The applicant should also address the ancillary study’s mechanistic rationale and premise, as well as the new mechanistic insight to be gained from the proposed study.

The intent of this FOA is to fund scientifically meritorious applications that demonstrate the need for expedited review and award in order to complete the proposed work.  Each application must include a timeline to demonstrate that the parent project has adequate time left to carry out the proposed ancillary study. Each application must justify the time-sensitive nature of the ancillary study and clearly explain on a separate and clearly identifiable paragraph titled "Time-Sensitivity Justification" why an expedited review and award process is essential to its feasibility. This information should be in the Approach of the Research Strategy section of the application. Applications missing the "Time-Sensitivity Justification" documentation and the approval letter from the parent study (See Letters of Support) will be considered incomplete.

In Approach, the applicant should include methods of data analysis and power calculations, as well as a justification for the required sample size. A restatement of the sample size calculations from the parent clinical trial is insufficient. The plan must also include a discussion of the statistical procedures that will be used to analyze the data. It is strongly recommended that a statistician be part of the research team and active in preparation of the application.

Protection of Human Subjects: In Protection of Human Subjects all procedures to protect the subjects' privacy rights must be clearly described. In addition, documentation of the burden to the patients enrolled in the ancillary application must be provided. IRB approval is not required at the time of submission for the ancillary study protocol and related documents. Successful applicants will be required to submit this information at the time of award..

Letters of Support: All ancillary study applications MUST include a letter or statement from one of the parent study leadership committees (i.e., Steering Committee, Scientific Advisory Board, Data and Safety Monitoring Board, or other equivalent oversight committees) documenting its approval of the proposed ancillary study. This letter of approval must explicitly indicate that the required patients, samples, data, and materials from the parent project are accessible to the ancillary study. The letter should also provide the details of any agreement reached between the parent and ancillary study if there are requirements for limited data access and distribution. It must provide assurance that there is adequate time left in the parent study to carry out the ancillary study. Applications missing the "Time-Sensitivity Justification" documentation (see Research Strategy) and the approval letter from the parent study will be considered incomplete.

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.

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.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. 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. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

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 and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

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.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. 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.

7. 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. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

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 and responsiveness by NIAMS, NIH. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIAMS Referral Office by email at linh1@mail.nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Post Submission Materials

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

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

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

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? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? 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?

Specific to this FOA:

What is the significance of the new mechanistic insight to be gained from the proposed study?  Does the proposed ancillary study enhance the scientific content and value of the parent project(s)?    

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?

Specific to this FOA:

Does the application describe how the PD(s)/PI(s) of the ancillary study and the parent project interact on a regular basis and work cooperatively to ensure the successful completion of the ancillary study while maintaining the integrity of the parent project?  

Innovation

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

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? 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? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects? 

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.

Time Sensitivity Justification

The committee will evaluate the adequacy of the justification for time-sensitivity of the proposed project. 

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 criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. 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

Not Applicable

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 Data Sharing Plan (GDS).

Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.

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 NIAMS, 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.

Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council. 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. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

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.

Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency.  HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.

For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/laws/revisedlep.html. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/section1557/index.html; and http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/index.html. Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/index.html. Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/office/about/rgn-hqaddresses.html or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697. Also note it is an HHS Departmental goal to ensure access to quality, culturally competent care, including long-term services and supports, for vulnerable populations. For further guidance on providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, recipients should review the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=53.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

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

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

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

Section VII. Agency Contacts

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

Application Submission Contacts

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

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)

Ricardo Cibotti, Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone: 301-451-5888
Email: ricardo.cibotti@nih.gov

Faye H. Chen, Ph.D.National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) 
Telephone: 301-594-5055
Email: chenf1@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Kathy Salaita, Sc.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone: 301-594-5033
Email: salaitak@mail.nih.gov  

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Gail B. Hamilton
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Telephone: 301-594-3506
Email: Gail.Hamilton@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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