Part I Overview Information


Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (http://www.nih.gov)

Components of Participating Organizations
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), (http://www.nhgri.nih.gov)

Title:  Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies – The $1000 Genome (SBIR  [R43/R44])

Announcement Type
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is a reissue of RFA-HG-09-013.

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Request For Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-HG-10-014

NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov/Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).

IMPORTANT: A registration process in Grants.gov and eRA Commons is necessary before submission. Applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least four (4) weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
93.172

Key Dates
Release/Posted Date: August 27, 2010
Opening Date:  October 1, 2010 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Letters of Intent Receipt Dates: October 1, 2010; September 18, 2011; September 17, 2012
NOTE: On-time submission requires that applications be successfully submitted to Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization). 
Application Due Dates:  November 1, 2010, 2010; October 18, 2011; October 17, 2012
Peer Review Dates: March 2011; March 2012; March 2013
Council Review Dates: May 2011; May 2012; May 2013
Earliest Anticipated Start Dates: July 1, 2011; July 1, 2012; July 1, 2013
Additional Information To Be Available Date (Activation Date): Not Applicable
Expiration Date: October 18, 2012

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

Table of Contents


Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
1. Research Objectives

Section II. Award Information
1. Mechanism(s) of Support
2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
A. Eligible Institutions
B. Eligible Individuals
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates and Times
A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
1. Letter of Intent
B. Submitting an Application Electronically to the NIH
C. Application Processing
4. Intergovernmental Review
5. Funding Restrictions
6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria
2. Review and Selection Process
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
3. Reporting

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)
1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
2. Peer Review Contact(s)
3. Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement


Section I. Funding Opportunity Description


1. Research Objectives

Purpose

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) solicits Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR [R43/R44]) grant applications to demonstrate feasibility and develop novel technologies that will enable extremely low-cost, high quality DNA sequencing.  This FOA continues a program that began in 2004, when the cost to produce a high quality draft mammalian genome sequence was estimated at $5 to $10 million, and the goal was to reduce costs by four orders of magnitude – to approximately $1,000 – in ten years.

While substantial progress toward the $1,000 genome has been made, daunting scientific and technical challenges remain.  This program will continue to support both fundamental scientific investigation underlying the technologies, and their engineering, to achieve this goal.  The program supports development of key system components and of full systems.  In this context, ‘key components’ refers to the method for determining the linear order of nucleotides, in contrast to upstream or downstream steps in sequencing.  Exploration of methods other than those currently being pursued as potential $1,000 genome technologies is encouraged.  High-risk/high-payoff proposals are appropriate to achieve the goals of this FOA by approximately 2014.

Parallel FOAs of identical scientific scope (RFA-HG-10-012 and RFA-HG-10-013) solicit applications under the R01 and R21 grant programs.

Background

The ability to sequence complete genomes and the free dissemination of sequence data have dramatically changed the nature of biological and biomedical research.  Sequence and other genomic data have the potential to lead to remarkable improvement in many facets of human life and society, including the understanding, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease; advances in agriculture, environmental science and remediation; and our understanding of evolution and ecological systems.

The ability to sequence many genomes completely has been made possible by the enormous reduction of the cost of sequencing in the past 30 years, from tens of dollars per base in the 1980s to a fraction of a cent per base today.  We have progressed from the early Human Genome Project goals to sequence the genomes of the human and mouse and a few additional model organisms (E. coli, C. elegans and D. melanogaster), through programs to sequence at varying pre-determined quality levels numerous genomes across the evolutionary tree including multiple species and variants for some of those, to current programs to sequence portions or the entire genomes of increasing numbers of tumors and human individuals.  Technology advances, and in particular the recent emergence of a new generation of sequencing systems, have enabled the launch of several such projects that are producing stunning insights into biology and disease.  Nevertheless, the cost to completely sequence large numbers of entire genomes remains too high to allow complete genome sequencing to be used routinely, and we remain far from achieving the low costs and high quality needed to enable the use of comprehensive genomic sequence information in individual health care.

A few examples of high priority research to which genomic sequencing at high quality and dramatically reduced cost would make vital contributions include:

The broad utility and high importance of dramatically reducing DNA sequencing costs prompted the NHGRI, in 2004, to embark on two parallel technology development programs (Nature Biotech. 26:1113, 2008).  The first had the objective of reducing the cost of producing a high quality sequence of a mammalian-sized genome by two orders of magnitude, to about $100,000.  This goal has been achieved so no additional grant applications are being solicited at this time.  Rather, the NHGRI is focusing its efforts on attaining the goal of the second program, which, as described in this FOA and parallel FOAs for other grant mechanisms, is the development of technologies with which to sequence a human genome for about $1,000 (a four order of magnitude cost reduction).  Implicit in this goal is the quality of the expected sequence product, as sequencing cost targets are meaningless without associated quality standards as described below.

Sequencing Strategy and Quality

The sequencing technology that was used to produce the reference human genome sequence (Nature 431:931, 2004; Nature 409:860, 2001; Science 291:1304, 2001) was fluorescence detection of dideoxynucleotide-terminated DNA extension reactions resolved by capillary array electrophoresis (CAE).  Individual sequence “read” segments can be as long as 1000 nucleotides.  If all of the DNA in a 3 Gb genome were unique, it would be possible to determine the sequence of the entire genome by generating a sufficient number (tens of millions) of randomly-overlapping 1000-base reads and aligning their overlaps.  However, the human and the majority of other interesting genomes contain a substantial amount of repetitive DNA.  To cope with the complexities of repetitive DNA elements and to assemble the thousand-base reads in the correct long-range order across the genome, genomic sequencing methods involve a variety of additional strategies, such as the sequencing of both ends of cloned DNA fragments, use of libraries of cloned fragments of specified lengths, incorporation of map information, achievement of substantial redundancy (multiple reads of each nucleotide from overlapping fragments) and application of sophisticated assembly algorithms to filter and align the reads.  As new sequencing technologies are developed, they must incorporate means to deal with these features of the structure of the genome.

The gold standard for genomic sequencing is based on the above-described methods and remains =99.99% accuracy (not more than one error per 10,000 nucleotides) with essentially no gaps (http://www.genome.gov/10000923).  The “finishing” steps needed to achieve that very high quality have not been automated and thus require substantial hand-crafting.  However, experience shows that much comparative and medically useful sequence information can be obtained from automatically generated sequence assemblies that are known as “high-quality draft” or “comparative grade.”  Therefore, the cost targets for NHGRI’s sequencing technology development programs were originally defined in terms of a mammalian-sized genome with a sequence quality equivalent to or better than that of the mouse draft assembly published in December 2002 (Nature 420:520, 2002).  Producing such a product for $1,000 is still not possible, so this remains a useful and challenging technology target.  However, it is critical to note that the ultimate need, for medical research and individualized medicine, will be for far higher quality sequence of the 3 Gb diploid human genome

Subsequent to dideoxy/CAE sequencing, a second generation of sequencing technologies has been developed and implemented.  These are broadly described as array-based methods in which large numbers of templates are extended one base at a time, the extensions are detected, and that cycle is repeated (reviewed in Nature Biotechnology October 2008).  These technologies enable the sequencing of larger numbers of genomes for under $100,000 dollars each, and even less for targeted sequencing of particular genomic regions.  While challenges remain related to producing and interpreting sequence information using these technologies, they are proving invaluable to the biomedical research enterprise and they validate the impetus toward further substantial decreases in cost with increases in quality, throughput and speed of genomic sequencing.

The eventual goal of these programs is to achieve technologies that can produce assembled sequence of genomes that had not been previously sequenced (i.e., de novo sequencing).  However, an accompanying goal is to obtain highly accurate sequence data at the single base level that can be overlain on a reference sequence of the organism (i.e., re-sequencing).  This could be achieved, for example, with short reads that lack information linking them to other reads.  In spite of shortcomings (some of which are described below), re-sequencing would potentially be available sooner and of considerable value for certain studies on disease etiology and individualized medicine.  Therefore, technology development for re-sequencing will be supported under this FOA.  As the cost goal for the more difficult challenge, de novo assembly sequencing, is $1,000, the goal for re-sequencing is to develop technologies that will provide a genome’s worth of less-well-mapped sequence for well below $1,000.

For re-sequencing, the per-base accuracy must be sufficient to distinguish between sequencing errors and real polymorphism.  Additional challenges include assigning reads to gene families with very similar sequence, the identification of copy number changes and genomic rearrangements, and the identification of haplotypes (i.e., linear juxtapositioning of particular single nucleotide polymorphism [SNP] alleles along a single chromosome) in diploid organisms.  Thus, in proposing the development of re-sequencing technologies, it is essential that the applicant clearly address the extent to which the proposed technology will meet or fall short of these various challenges, and the cost tradeoffs that justify developing the technology to produce data of high value for particular biomedical studies.

Research and Scope

The goal of research supported under this FOA is to develop new or improved technology to enable rapid, efficient DNA sequencing of mammalian-sized genomes.  The target cost for a 3 Gb diploid genome sequence determined at reasonably high quality is about $1,000 because the ability to generate routinely complete genomic sequences at that cost would revolutionize biological research and medicine.

Both fundamental scientific discovery and cutting edge engineering will likely be needed to achieve these goals.  For example, new sensing and detection modalities and fabrication methods may be required, and the physics of systems operating at nm length scales will need to be better understood.  It is therefore anticipated that proposals responding to this FOA will involve fundamental and engineering research conducted by multidisciplinary teams of investigators.  The guidance for budget requests accommodates the formation of groups having investigators at several institutions, in cases where that is needed to assemble a team of the appropriate balance, breadth and experience.

The scientific and technical challenges inherent in achieving the cost goals are significant. Achieving these goals may require research projects that entail substantial risk.  That risk should be balanced by an outstanding scientific and management plan designed to achieve the very high payoff goals of this solicitation.  High-risk/high-payoff projects may fail for legitimate reasons, so applicants proposing such projects should identify them as such, elaborate key quantitative milestones to be achieved, and describe the consequences of not achieving those milestones in a reasonable period of time.

Applicants may propose to develop full-scale sequencing systems or investigate key components of such systems.  For the latter, applicants must describe how the knowledge gained as a result of the proposed project would be incorporated into a full system that they or others might subsequently propose to develop.  Such independent proposals are an important path for pursuing novel, high-risk/high-payoff ideas, short of developing a full system.

While the major focus of this program is on the development of new technologies for detection of nucleotide sequence, any successful technology will have to address matters related to the practical implementation of the technologies so that the technology can form the basis of, or be incorporated into, an efficient, high quality, high-throughput DNA sequencing scheme.  Any new technology will eventually need to be incorporated effectively into a sequencing workflow, starting with a biological sample and ending with sequence data of the desired quality.  Sample preparation requirements can depend upon the detection method which, in turn, can affect the way in which output data are handled.  If a full system development is proposed, these issues should be addressed on an appropriate schedule in the research plan; applicants should focus as early as possible in the research plan on the most critical and highest-risk aspects of the project related to determining the sequence of nucleotides, on which the rest of the project depends.  Projects to address key components must address the fundamental method of determining the base sequence (that is, a proposal addressing only sample prep or only the downstream informatics would not be considered responsive to this FOA).

Most technology developers lack practical experience in high-throughput sequencing and in testing of methods and instruments for robust, routine sequencing operation.  Applicants may therefore wish to include such expertise as they develop their teams.  Academic investigators may wish to consider collaborating with commercial entities that have the experience and capabilities to bring practical systems into the hands of users.

The quality of sequence to be generated by the technology is of paramount importance for this solicitation.  Two major factors contributing to genomic sequence quality are per-base accuracy and contiguity of the assembly.  Much of the utility of comparative sequence information will derive from characterization of sequence variation between species, and between individuals of a species.  Therefore, per-base accuracy must be high enough to discern polymorphism at the single-nucleotide level (substitutions, insertions, deletions) and distinguish polymorphism from sequencing errors.  Experience and resulting policy have established a target accuracy of not more than one error per 10,000 bases.  All applications in response to this FOA, whether to develop re-sequencing or de novo sequencing technologies, must propose to achieve at least this standard.

Assembly information is needed for determining sequence of new genomes and ultimately also for genomes for which a reference sequence exists, to detect rearrangements, insertions, deletions, and copy number changes.  All of these are genomic changes have been shown to be associated with disease, and knowledge of rearrangements can reveal new biological mechanisms.  The phase of single nucleotide polymorphisms to define haplotypes is important in understanding and diagnosing disease.  Achieving a high level of sequence contiguity may be essential to achieve the full benefit from the use of sequencing for individualized medicine, e.g., to evaluate genomic contributions to risk for specific diseases and syndromes, and drug responsiveness.  Nevertheless, it is recognized that perfect sequence assembly from end to end of each chromosome is unlikely to be achievable with most technologies in a fully automated fashion and without adding considerable cost.  Therefore, for the purpose of this solicitation, grant applications proposing technology development for de novo sequencing shall describe how they will achieve, for about $1,000, a draft-quality assembly that is at least comparable to that represented by the mouse draft sequence produced by December 2002:  7.7-fold coverage, 6.5-fold coverage in Q20 bases, assembled into 225,000 sequence contigs connected by at least two read-pair links into supercontigs [total of 7,418 supercontigs at least 2 kb long], with N50 length for contigs equal to 24.8 kb and for supercontigs equal to 16.9 Mb (Nature 420:520, 2002).  Grant applications that propose technology development for re-sequencing should fully describe the qualities and characteristics of the genomic sequence information that the technology would produce, and the projected cost.  That cost should be at least four orders of magnitude lower than was the cost to produce comparable quality data in 2004, when this program was initiated.

Grant applications will be evaluated, and funding decisions made, in such a way as to develop a balanced portfolio that has strong potential to develop both robust de novo and re-sequencing technologies, exploring a variety of technology approaches. If the estimate is correct, that achieving the goal of $1,000 de novo genome sequencing incorporating substantial assembly information will be achieved by about 2014, then low-cost re-sequencing technologies for even lower cost might be expected in a shorter time. Projects with a plan to achieve re-sequencing while on the path to de novo sequencing will receive priority.

Research conducted under this FOA may include development of the computational tools associated with the technology, e.g., to extract sequence information, including image analysis and signal processing, and to evaluate sequence quality and assign confidence scores.  It may also address strategies to assemble the sequence from the information being obtained from the technology or by merging the sequence data with information from parallel technology.  Applications that incorporate effective plans to develop systems that address the bioinformatics challenges in concert with the sequencing wet-ware will receive high priority consideration.  However, this FOA will not support development of sequence assembly or sequence analysis software independent of technology development to obtain the linear nucleotide sequence.

This program is aimed at technology to sequence entire genomes.  Projects are under way to determine sequence from selected important regions (e.g., all of the genes).  Grant applications that propose to meet the cost targets by sequencing only selected regions of a genome will be considered unresponsive to this FOA.  However, applications that propose novel ways to sequence selected genomic regions, cost-effectively, while on a path to whole-genome sequencing, will be considered to be responsive.

NHGRI is interested in supporting diverse approaches to achieving the goals of this FOA.  To assist the research community, investigators who are pursuing one set of technology paths that involve the use of nanopores and nanogaps published an overview of the challenges they face (Nature Biotech. 26:1146, 2008).  Similarly, challenges attending sequencing by synthesis have been described (Nature Biotech. 27:1013, 2009). Proposals to meet these and related challenges, and proposals to pursue alternative technologies, are welcome under this FOA.  Information on projects funded under earlier versions of this and related FOAs and a program bibliography are available at http://www.genome.gov/10000368#6.

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information


1. Mechanism(s) of Support

This funding opportunity will use the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR [R43/R44]) grant mechanisms. Applications may be submitted for support as Phase I, Phase II, or Fast-Track grants as described in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

Small business concerns that have received a Phase I SBIR grant may apply for Phase II funding of that project. The Phase II must be a logical extension of the Phase I research but not necessarily as a Phase I project supported in response to this funding opportunity. SBIR Phase II applications will compete with all SBIR applications and will be reviewed according to the customary peer review procedures.

The Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.  

This funding opportunity uses “Just-in-Time” information concepts. The modular budget format is not accepted for SBIR grant applications. Applicants must complete and submit budget requests using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Budget component found in the application package attached to this FOA in Grants.gov/Apply.

2. Funds Available

The estimated amount of funds available for support of 2-5 projects awarded as a result of this announcement is $2.5 million for fiscal year 2011. Future year amounts will depend on annual appropriations.

For this funding opportunity, budgets up to $250,000 total costs per year and time periods up to three years for Phase I may be requested. Budgets up to $1.5 million total costs per year and up to three years may be requested for Phase II

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

1.A. Eligible Institutions

Only United States small business concerns (SBCs) are eligible to submit SBIR applications. A small business concern is one that, at the time of award of SBIR Phase I and Phase II, meets all of the following criteria:

1.   Is organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the United States economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials or labor;

2.   Is in the legal form of an individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, joint venture, association, trust or cooperative, except that where the form is a joint venture, there can be no more than 49 percent participation by foreign business entities in the joint venture;

3.   Is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, or it must be a for- profit business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by another for-profit business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States, except in the case of a joint venture, where each entity to the venture must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the United States; and;

4.   Has, including its affiliates, not more than 500 employees.

SBCs must also meet the other regulatory requirements found in 13 C.F.R. Part 121. Business concerns, other than investment companies licensed, or state development companies qualifying under the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, 15 U.S.C. 661, et seq., are affiliates of one another when either directly or indirectly, (a) one concern controls or has the power to control the other; or (b) a third-party/parties controls or has the power to control both.

Control can be exercised through common ownership, common management, and contractual relationships. The term "affiliates" is defined in greater detail in 13 C.F.R. 121.3-2(a). The term "number of employees" is defined in 13 C.F.R. 121.3-2(t).

Business concerns include, but are not limited to, any individual (sole proprietorship), partnership, corporation, joint venture, association, or cooperative. Further information may be obtained by contacting the Small Business Administration Office of Size Standards (http://sba.gov/size).

One of the circumstances that would lead to a finding that an organization is controlling or has the power to control another organization involves sharing common office space and/or employees and/or other facilities (e.g., laboratory space). Access to special facilities or equipment in another organization is permitted (as in cases where the awardee organization has entered into a subcontractual agreement with another organization for a specific, limited portion of the research project). However, research space occupied by an SBIR awardee organization must be space that is available to and under the control of the SBIR awardee for the conduct of its portion of the proposed project.

Title 13 CFR 121.3 also states that control or the power to control exists when “key employees of one concern organize a new concern ... and serve as its officers, directors, principal stockholders, and/or key employees, and one concern is furnishing or will furnish the other concern with subcontracts, financial or technical assistance, and/or other facilities, whether for a fee or otherwise.” Where there is indication of sharing of common employees, a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis of whether such sharing constitutes control or the power to control.

For purposes of the SBIR program, personnel obtained through a Professional Employer Organization or other similar personnel leasing company may be considered employees of the awardee. This is consistent with SBA’s size regulations, 13 CFR 121.106 – Small Business Size Regulations.

Note: In determining size, SBA considers stock options, convertible securities, and agreements to merge (including agreements in principle) to have a present effect on the power to control a concern. SBA treats such options, convertible securities, and agreements as though the rights granted have been exercised. See http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2005/janqtr/pdf/13cfr121.103.pdf.

All SBIR grant applications will be examined with the above eligibility considerations in mind. If it appears that an applicant organization does not meet the eligibility requirements, NIH will request a size determination by the SBA. If eligibility is unclear, NIH will not make an SBIR award until the SBA provides a determination.

Note: An applicant organization that has been determined previously by SBA to be “other than small” for a size standard of not more than 500 employees or for purposes of the SBIR/STTR program, must be recertified by the SBA prior to any future SBIR/STTR awards.

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the PD/PI 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.

More than one PD/PI (i.e., multiple PDs/PIs), may be designated on the application for projects that require a “team science” approach and therefore clearly do not fit the single-PD/PI model. Additional information on the implementation plans and policies and procedures to formally allow more than one PD/PI on individual research projects is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/multi_pi. All PDs/PIs must be registered in the NIH electronic Research Administration (eRA) Commons prior to the submission of the application (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm  for instructions).

The decision of whether to apply for a grant with a single PD/PI or multiple PDs/PIs is the responsibility of the investigators and applicant organizations and should be determined by the scientific goals of the project. Applications for grants with multiple PDs/PIs will require additional information, as outlined in the instructions below. Each PD/PI is responsible and accountable to the grantee organization, or, as appropriate, to a collaborating organization, for the proper conduct of the project or program, including the submission of required reports. For further information on multiple PDs/PIs, please see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/multi_pi.

As defined in 42 CFR 52, the PD/PI is the “single individual designated by the grantee in the grant application … who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the project.” When the proposed PD/PI clearly does not have sufficient qualifications to assume this role, the application is not likely to receive a favorable evaluation.

Under the SBIR program, for both Phase I and Phase II, the primary employment of the PD/PI must be with the small business concern at the time of award and during the conduct of the proposed project. For projects with multiple PD/PIs, at least one must meet the primary employment requirement. That individual will serve as the Contact PD/PI. Primary employment means that more than one half of the PD/PI’s time is spent in the employ of the small business concern. Primary employment with a small business concern precludes full-time employment at another organization. Occasionally, deviations from this requirement may occur. Such deviations must be approved in writing by the grants management officer after consultation with the NIH SBIR/STTR Program Coordinator.

If the application has the likelihood for funding, the awarding component will require documentation to verify the eligibility of the Contact PD/PI, if at the time of submission of the application, the Contact PD/PI is a less-than-full-time employee of the small business concern, is concurrently employed by another organization, or gives the appearance of being concurrently employed by another organization, whether for a paid or unpaid position.

If the Contact PD/PI is employed or appears to be employed by an organization other than the applicant organization in a capacity such as Research Fellow, Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Clinical Professor, Clinical Research Professor, or Associate, a letter must be provided by each employing organization confirming that, if an SBIR grant is awarded to the applicant small business concern, the Contact PD/PI is or will become a less-than-half-time employee of such organization and will remain so for the duration of the SBIR project. If the Contact PD/PI is employed by a university, such a letter must be provided by the Dean's office or equivalent; for other organizations, the letter must be signed by a corporate official.

All current employment and all other appointments of the Contact PD/PI must be identified in his or her “Biographical Sketch” required as part of the application. Be certain that correct beginning and ending dates are indicated for each employment record listed.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

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

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Applicants may submit a resubmission application but such application must include an Introduction addressing the previous peer review critique (Summary Statement). All original new applications (i.e., never submitted) and competing renewal applications are permitted only a single amendment (A1).  See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-003.html and NOT-OD-09-016.

In Phase I, normally, a minimum of two-thirds or 67% of the research or analytical effort must be carried out by the small business concern. The total amount of all consultant and contractual arrangements to third parties for portions of the scientific and technical effort generally may not exceed 33% of the total amount requested (direct, F&A/indirect, and fee).

In Phase II, normally, a minimum of one-half or 50% of the research or analytical effort must be carried out by the small business concern. The total amount of consultant and contractual arrangements to third parties for portions of the scientific and technical effort generally may not exceed 50% of the total Phase II amount requested (direct, F&A/indirect, and fee).

The basis for determining the percentage of work to be performed by each of the cooperative parties in Phase I or Phase II will be the total of the requested costs attributable to each party, unless otherwise described and justified in “Consortium/Contractual Arrangements” of the PHS398 Research Plan component of SF424 (R&R) application forms.

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

The NIH will accept as many "different" applications as the applicant organization chooses. However, the NIH will not accept similar grant applications with essentially the same research focus from the same applicant organization. This includes derivative or multiple applications that propose to develop a single product, process, or service that, with non-substantive modifications, can be applied to a variety of purposes. Applicants may not simultaneously submit identical/essentially identical applications under both this SBIR funding opportunity and any other HHS FOA, including the current SBIR and STTR Parent FOAs.

Likewise, identical or essentially identical grant applications submitted by different organizations will not be accepted.  Applicant organizations should ascertain and assure that the materials they are submitting on behalf of the principal investigator are the original work of the principal investigator and have not been used elsewhere in the preparation and submission of a similar grant application. Applications to the NIH are grouped by scientific discipline for review by individual Scientific Review Groups and not by disease or disease state. The reviewers can thus easily identify multiple grant applications for essentially the same project. In these cases, application processing may be delayed or the application(s) may not be reviewed. 

It is unlawful to enter into contracts or grants requiring essentially equivalent work or effort. “Essentially equivalent work or effort” occurs when (1) substantially the same research is proposed for funding in more than one contract proposal or grant application submitted to the same Federal agency; (2) substantially the same research is submitted to two or more different Federal agencies for review and funding consideration; or (3) a specific research objective and the research design for accomplishing an objective are the same or closely related in two or more proposals or awards, regardless of the funding source. If there is any question concerning essentially equivalent work or effort, it must be disclosed to the soliciting agency or agencies before award.

Only one Phase II award may be made for a single SBIR/STTR project.

You may submit a Phase II application either before or after expiration of the Phase I budget period, unless you elect to submit a Phase I and Phase II application concurrently under the Fast-Track procedure. To maintain eligibility to seek Phase II support, a Phase I grantee organization should submit a Phase II application within the first six receipt dates following the expiration of the Phase I budget period.

SBIR Phase II Competing Renewal applications are not permitted under this FOA.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information


To download a SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide for completing the SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, use the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.

Registration:

Appropriate registrations with Grants.gov and eRA Commons must be completed on or before the due date in order to successfully submit an application.  Several of the steps of the registration process could take four weeks or more. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their organization/institution is already registered with both Grants.gov and the Commons. All registrations must be complete by the submission deadline for the application to be considered “on-time” (see 3.C.1 for more information about on-time submission).

A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:

PDs/PIs should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the NIH eRA Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant SBC can submit an electronic application, as follows:  

1) Organizational/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Registered

2) Organizational/Institutional Registration in the eRA Commons

3) Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Registration in the NIH eRA Commons: Refer to the NIH eRA Commons System (COM) Users Guide.

To affiliate the PD/PI with the applicant small business concern:

Both the PD/PI(s) and AOR/SO need separate accounts in the NIH eRA Commons since both are authorized to view the application image.

Note: The registration process is not sequential.  Applicants should begin the registration processes for both Grants.gov and eRA Commons as soon as their organization has obtained a DUNS number.  Only one DUNS number is required and the same DUNS number must be referenced when completing Grants.gov registration, eRA Commons registration and the SF424 (R&R) forms.

1. Request Application Information

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application forms and SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide for this FOA using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or through Grants.gov/Apply.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance contact GrantsInfo -- Telephone 301-435-0714, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all SBIR applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms and in accordance with the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide. 

The SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to NIH. There are fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components that, although not marked as mandatory, are required by NIH (e.g., the “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component must contain the PD/PI’s assigned eRA Commons User ID). Failure to include this data field will cause the application to be rejected.

Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

The SF424 (R&R) application has several components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/APPLY includes all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA includes the data in the following components:

Required Components:
SF424 (R&R) (Cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations

Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
Research & Related Budget
PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
PHS398 Research Plan
PHS398 Checklist
SBIR/STTR Information

Optional Components:
PHS398 Cover Letter File
Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form

SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS  

Applications with Multiple PDs/PIs

When multiple PDs/PIs are proposed, NIH requires one PD/PI to be designated as the "Contact” PI, who will be responsible for all communication between the PDs/PIs and the NIH, for assembling the application materials outlined below, and for coordinating progress reports for the project. The Contact PD/PI must meet all eligibility requirements for PD/PI status but has no other special roles or responsibilities within the project team beyond those mentioned above.

Information for the Contact PD/PI should be entered in item 15 of the SF424 (R&R) Cover component. All other PDs/PIs should be listed in the Research & Related Senior/Key Person component and assigned the project role of “PD/PI.” Please remember that all PDs/PIs must be registered in the eRA Commons prior to application submission. The Commons ID of each PD/PI must be included in the “Credential” field of the Research & Related Senior/Key Person component. Failure to include this data field will cause the application to be rejected.

Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan: For applications designating multiple PDs/PIs, the section of the Research Plan entitled “Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan” must be included. A rationale for choosing a multiple PD/PI approach should be described.  The governance and organizational structure of the leadership team and the research project should be described, and should include communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and procedures for resolving conflicts. The roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project or program should be delineated for the PDs/PIs and other collaborators.

If budget allocation is planned, the distribution of resources to specific components of the project or the individual PDs/PIs should be delineated in the Leadership Plan.  In the event of an award, the requested allocations may be reflected in a footnote on the Notice of Award (NoA).

3. Submission Dates and Times

See Section IV.3.A. for details.

3.A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
Opening Date: October 1, 2010 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Letters of Intent Receipt Dates: October 1, 2010; September 18, 2011; September 17, 2012
Application Due Dates: November 1, 2010; October 18, 2011; October 17, 2012
Peer Review Dates: March 2011; March 2012; March 2013
Council Review Dates: May 2011; May 2012; May 2013
Earliest Anticipated Start Dates: July 1, 2011; July 1, 2012; July 1; 2013

3.A.1. Letter of Intent
 
Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

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.

The letter of intent is to be sent by the date listed in Section IV.3.A.

The letter of intent should be sent to:

Jeffery A. Schloss, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Research
National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH
5635 Fishers Lane, Suite 4076
Bethesda, MD 20892-9305
Telephone: (301) 496-7531
Email: schlossj@exchange.nih.gov- please transmit Letter of Intent by email.

3.B. Submitting an Application Electronically to the NIH

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/applicants/apply_for_grants.jsp  and follow Steps 1-4.

Note:  Applications must only be submitted electronically. PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.  All attachments must be provided to NIH in PDF format, filenames must be included with no spaces or special characters, and a .pdf extension must be used.

In order to expedite the review, applicants are requested to notify the NHGRI Referral Office by email (kn24c@nih.gov) when the application has been submitted.  Please include the FOA number and title, and PD/PI name and title of the application.

3.C. Application Processing

3.C.1 Submitting On-Time

Applications may be submitted on or after the opening date and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application due date(s). (See Section IV.3.A. for all dates.) If an application is not submitted by the due date(s) and time, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed. All applications must meet the following criteria to be considered “on-time”:

Please visit http://grants.nih.gov/grants/ElectronicReceipt/support.htm for detailed information on what to do if Grants.gov or eRA system issues threaten your ability to submit on time.

Submission to Grants.gov is not the last step – applicants must follow their application through to the eRA Commons to check for errors and warnings and view their assembled application!

3.C.2 Two Day Window to Correct eRA Identified Errors/Warnings

IMPORTANT NOTE! NIH has eliminated the error correction window for due dates of January 25, 2011 and beyond. As of January 25, all corrections must be complete by the due date for an application to be considered on-time. See NOT-OD-10-123.

Once an application package has been successfully submitted through Grants.gov, NIH provides applicants a two day error correction window to correct any eRA identified errors or warnings before a final assembled application is created in the eRA Commons.  The standard error correction window is two (2) business days, beginning the day after the submission deadline and excluding weekends and standard federal holidays.  All errors must be corrected to successfully complete the submission process.  Warnings will not prevent the application from completing the submission process.

Please note that the following caveats apply:

3.C.3 Viewing an Application in the eRA Commons

Once any eRA identified errors have been addressed and the assembled application has been created in the eRA Commons, the PD/PI and the Authorized Organization Representative/Signing Official (AOR/SO) have two weekdays (Monday – Friday, excluding Federal holidays) to view the assembled application before it automatically moves forward to NIH for further processing.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) and responsiveness by the NHGRI. Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will not be reviewed.

There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons. The submitting AOR/SO receives the Grants.gov acknowledgments. The AOR/SO and the PD/PI receive Commons acknowledgments. Information related to the assignment of an application to a Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons. 

Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to check periodically on the application status in the Commons.

The NIH will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an “Introduction” addressing the previous critique. Note such an application is considered a resubmission.

4. Intergovernmental Review

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. A grantee may, at its own risk and without NIH prior approval, incur obligations and expenditures to cover costs up to 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new or renewal award if such costs: are necessary to conduct the project, and would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without NIH prior approval. If specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must obtain NIH approval before incurring the cost. NIH prior approval is required for any costs to be incurred more than 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new or renewal award.

The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on NIH either to make the award or to increase the amount of the approved budget if an award is made for less than the amount anticipated and is inadequate to cover the pre-award costs incurred. NIH expects the grantee to be fully aware that pre-award costs result in borrowing against future support and that such borrowing must not impair the grantee's ability to accomplish the project objectives in the approved time frame or in any way adversely affect the conduct of the project. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements

Supplementary Instructions

The following information must be included within the specified page limits.

A detailed research plan must be presented. The application should include a description of the level of risk of key technical challenges, alternative approaches, go/no-go decision points, etc. It should also include a detailed timeline accompanied by quantitative milestones (see below) that address the key scientific and technical challenges central to the approach. The timeline and milestones are essential for use by the grantee and the NHGRI for planning the research project and assessment of progress toward goals, and by the reviewers for evaluating the proposal.

Timelines and quantitative milestones are essential for development of a realistic research plan; they provide a basis for project leaders to make decisions, assess their own progress, set priorities, and redistribute resources when needed. It will be particularly important to establish quantitative milestones in cases where subsequent steps in technology development depend upon threshold performance characteristics of earlier developments. Elaboration of timelines and milestones is primarily the responsibility of the applicant, and the quality and utility of the proposed timelines and milestones will be reviewed as part of the “Approach” review criterion, because they reflect the insights and judgment of the applicant concerning key challenges and how best to conduct the research. The NHGRI appreciates that these projects will require research, not just engineering; progress toward milestones will be evaluated accordingly. If the proposed timeline and milestones are not adequate in the case of an otherwise meritorious proposal, reviewers of the application may make recommendations to NHGRI regarding improved timelines and milestones.

Projects that propose to build sequencing systems (in contrast to developing components) that will be assembled by the end of the project period may wish to present a strong case for that system’s capabilities by proposing to demonstrate the sequencing of a substantial amount of DNA (e.g., mega- to gigabases) at the target cost and quality; other measures may be proposed by the applicant.

To accelerate progress in the field of advanced DNA sequencing technology development, grantees will be required to participate actively and openly in at least one grantee meeting per year. Substantial information sharing will be required and is a condition of the award; failure to openly share information will be grounds for discontinuation of funding. It is understood that some information developed under the grants will be proprietary and cannot be shared immediately without damaging the commercialization potential of the technology. Applicants should describe their plans for participating in the grantee meetings and for managing the intellectual property concerns in the context of those meetings and other opportunities for information sharing. Other investigators in the field (i.e., not supported under this program) may be invited to participate in these workshops; their agreement to share information substantially will be a prerequisite to participation. Applicants should request travel funds in their budgets for the Principal Investigator and two additional lead investigators to attend the annual meetings.

Applicants must describe their plan for providing access to the technology developed under this grant support, and information about that technology. For example, the technology might be made available as a fee-for-service, through sale of instruments and/or reagents, through collaboration, through publication and posting of results, plans and methods, or by other means. If any quantity of sequence data will be collected under grant support, a plan to disseminate those data must be described.

Applicants may include funds for an internally appointed advisory board. However, they should not contact potential advisors, nor should potential advisors be named in the grant application, to avoid conflicts of interest in the review process.

In summary, applicants must incorporate into the Approach section of the Research Strategy:

In addition to the Research Strategy section, applicants must include, in the application fields designated below, the following management plan information:

Include in Item 12, “Multiple PI/PD Leadership Plan” under “Other Research Plan Sections:”

Include in Item 15, “Resource Sharing Plan” under “Other Research Plan Sections:” section of the application:

Post Submission Materials are Permitted According to the Following Instructions: DNA sequencing technology research is advancing at an astounding pace (e.g., http://genomebiology.com/2010/11/5/207). Therefore, NHGRI will accept brief updates incorporating new insights or results directly pertinent to material already submitted in the original application. Updates are limited to 1 page for SBIR Phase I applications and 2 pages for SBIR Phase II applications (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-115.html.

PD/PI Credential (e.g., Agency Login)

The NIH requires each PD/PI to fill in his/her Commons User ID in the “PROFILE – Project Director/Principal Investigator” section, “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component.

Organizational DUNS

The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information,  see “Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

PHS398 Research Plan Component Sections

All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide are to be followed, incorporating "Just-in-Time" information concepts, with the following requirements.

SBIR Phase I applications

SBIR Phase II

SBIR Fast-Track Applications

Warning: Please be sure that you observe the total cost, project period, and page number limitations specified above for this FOA. Application processing may be delayed or the application may be rejected if it does not comply with these requirements.

Appendix Materials

Applicants must follow the specific instructions on Appendix materials as described in the SF424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm).

Do not use the Appendix to circumvent the page limitations. An application that does not observe the required page limitations may be delayed in the review process. Phase I SBIR/STTR Appendix materials are not permitted unless specifically requested by NIH.

Resource Sharing Plan(s)

NIH considers the sharing of unique research resources developed through NIH-sponsored research an important means to enhance the value and further the advancement of the research. When resources have been developed with NIH funds and the associated research findings published or provided to NIH, it is important that they be made readily available for research purposes to qualified individuals within the scientific community. If the final data/resources are not amenable to sharing (for example, human subject concerns, the Small Business Act provisions, etc.), this should be explained in the Resource Sharing section of the application (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_faqs.htm.)

(a) Data Sharing Plan: Regardless of the amount requested, investigators are expected to include a brief 1-paragraph description of how final research data will be shared, or explain why data-sharing is not possible. Applicants are encouraged to discuss data-sharing plans with NIH institute/center (IC) program staff likely to accept assignment of their application (see Data-Sharing Policy or http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-032.html.)

(b) Sharing Model Organisms: Regardless of the amount requested, all applications where the development of model organisms is anticipated are expected to include a description of a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organisms and related resources or state appropriate reasons why such sharing is restricted or not possible (see Sharing Model Organisms Policy, and NOT-OD-04-042.)

(c) Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS): Regardless of the amount requested, applicants seeking funding for a genome-wide association study are expected to provide a plan for submission of GWAS data to the NIH-designated GWAS data repository, or provide an appropriate explanation why submission to the repository is not possible.  A genome-wide association study is defined as any study of genetic variation across the entire genome that is designed to identify genetic associations with observable traits (e.g., blood pressure or weight) or the presence or absence of a disease or condition.  For further information see Policy for Sharing of Data Obtained in NIH Supported or Conducted Genome-Wide Association Studies (go to NOT-OD-07-088, and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/gwas/.)

Describe your commitment to sharing information at grantee meetings, and for providing access to the technology and to information about the technology, as discussed above in Section 6. Other Submission Requirements, Supplementary Instructions.

Section V. Application Review Information


1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

2. Review and Selection Process

Review Process

Applications that are complete and responsive to this FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened by NHGRI and in accordance with NIH peer review procedures (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/peer/), using the review criteria stated below.

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

The mission of the NIH is to support science in pursuit of knowledge about the biology and behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.  As part of this mission, applications submitted to the NIH for grants or cooperative agreements to support 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/priority 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 five scored review criteria, and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed). 

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the five review criteria below in the determination of scientific and technical 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? Does the proposed project have commercial potential to lead to a marketable product, process or service? (In the case of Phase II, Fast-Track, and Phase II Competing Renewals, does the Commercialization Plan demonstrate a high probability of commercialization?)

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

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

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

If the project involves clinical research, are the plans for 1) protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

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

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider the following additional items in the determination of scientific and technical merit, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Phase II Applications. When reviewing Phase II applications, how well did the applicant demonstrate progress toward meeting the Phase I objectives, demonstrating feasibility, and providing a solid foundation for the proposed Phase II activity?

Phase I/Phase II Fast-Track Applications. When reviewing Phase I/Phase II Fast-Track applications, reviewers will consider the following:

1. Does the Phase I application specify clear, appropriate, measurable goals (milestones) that should be achieved prior to initiating Phase II?

2. To what extent was the applicant able to obtain letters of interest, additional funding commitments, and/or resources from the private sector or non-SBIR/STTR funding sources that would enhance the likelihood for commercialization?

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.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children.  When the proposed project involves clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for inclusion of minorities and members of both genders, as well as the inclusion of children.

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, see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/VASchecklist.pdf.

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.

Resubmission Applications.  When reviewing a Resubmission application (formerly called an amended application), 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.

Renewal Applications.  When reviewing a Renewal application (formerly called a competing continuation application), the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period.

Revision Applications.  When reviewing a Revision application (formerly called a competing supplement application), 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 address each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items and should not consider them in providing an overall impact/priority score.

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 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_guidance.htm); 2) Sharing Model Organisms (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-042.html); and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-07-088.html).

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

Selection Process

Applications submitted in response to this FOA will compete for available funds with all other recommended SBIR applications submitted in response to this FOA.  The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Not Applicable.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

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 NIH eRA Commons

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant. For details, applicants may refer to the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General.

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. See Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”    

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document. Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, the NoA will be generated via email notification from the awarding component to the grantee business official.   

For Fast-Track applications, the Phase II portion may not be funded until a Phase I final report and other documents necessary for continuation have been received and assessed by program staff that the Phase I milestones have been successfully achieved. 

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Prior to funding an application, the NHGRI will negotiate the milestones with the applicant, beginning with the applicant’s stated milestones and incorporating recommendations from the review panel, the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, and staff.  The negotiated milestones will become a condition of the award, including appropriate language to recognize that the project includes research whose outcomes are unpredictable. In the case of research programs projected to require longer than the initial grant period, the decision to fund beyond the initial period will be based on a competitive renewal process that will take into account overall progress in the field as well as progress on the individual research effort, as compared to the negotiated milestones.

To accelerate progress in the field of advanced DNA sequencing technology development, grantees will be expected to participate actively and openly in at least one grantee meeting per year. Substantial information sharing will be required and is a condition of the award; failure to openly share information will be grounds for discontinuation of funding. It is understood that some information developed under the grants will be proprietary and cannot be shared immediately without damaging the commercialization potential of the technology. Applicants should describe their plans for participating in the grantee meetings and for managing the intellectual property concerns in the context of those meetings and other opportunities for information sharing. Other investigators in the field (i.e., not supported under this program) may be invited to participate in these workshops; their agreement to share information substantially will be a prerequisite to their participation. The applicant’s participation plan, after negotiation with NHGRI staff, will become the minimum standard for continued funding.

Grantees may be asked to host the annual grantee meetings on a rotating basis. The NHGRI will negotiate a schedule for the grantee meetings and will adjust budgets to accommodate these meetings. Holding these meetings at grantee sites or in association with other meetings will facilitate information sharing and participation of a larger portion of the research staff than would otherwise occur.

The applicant’s plans, as negotiated with staff, for complying with timelines and milestones, participation in grantee meetings, submitting progress reports, and sharing research data will be conditions of the award.

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.

3. Reporting

Applicants should plan to submit two progress reports per year – one at the time of the non-competing continuation and one at a time to be determined by NHGRI staff. The latter may coincide with grantee meetings, meetings of advisors to NHGRI, or site visits. The NHGRI will use information from reports, meetings, site visits, etc. to evaluate each grantee’s progress and the success of the overall program; this information will be used to determine if funding levels should be increased or decreased for future years, for each grant and for the program.

NIH requires that SBIR/STTR grantees submit the following reports within 90 days of the end of the grant budget period unless the grantee is under an extension.

Failure to submit timely final reports may affect future funding to the organization or awards with the same PD/PI.

For details about each specific required report, see the section on “Award Guidelines, Reporting Requirements, and Other Considerations,” in the SF 424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide.

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)


We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Inquiries may fall into three areas: scientific/research, peer review, and financial or grants management issues:

1. Scientific/Research Contact(s):

Jeffery A. Schloss, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Research
National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH
5635 Fishers Lane, Suite 4076
Bethesda, MD 20892-9305
Telephone:  (301) 496-7531
Email:  schlossj@exchange.nih.gov

2. Peer Review Contact(s):

Ken Nakamura, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH
5635 Fishers Lane, Suite 4076
Bethesda, MD 20892-9306 (U.S. Postal Service Express or regular mail)
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service, non-USPS service)
Telephone:  (301) 402-0838
E-mail:  kn24c@nih.gov

3. Financial or Grants Management Contact(s):

Cheryl Chick
Grants Administration Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH
5635 Fishers Lane, Suite 4076
Bethesda, MD  20892-9306
Phone: (301) 435-7858
Fax: (301) 402-1951
E-mail: chickc@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information


Required Federal Citations

Use of Animals in Research:
Recipients of PHS support for activities involving live, vertebrate animals must comply with PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/PHSPolicyLabAnimals.pdf) as mandated by the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/hrea1985.htm), and the USDA Animal Welfare Regulations (http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/usdaleg1.htm) as applicable.

Human Subjects Protection:
Federal regulations (45 CFR 46) require that applications and proposals involving human subjects must be evaluated with reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm).

Data and Safety Monitoring Plan:
Data and safety monitoring is required for all types of clinical trials, including physiologic toxicity and dose-finding studies (Phase I); efficacy studies (Phase II); efficacy, effectiveness and comparative trials (Phase III). Monitoring should be commensurate with risk. The establishment of data and safety monitoring boards (DSMBs) is required for multi-site clinical trials involving interventions that entail potential risks to the participants (“NIH Policy for Data and Safety Monitoring,” NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-084.html).

Sharing Research Data:
Investigators submitting an NIH application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any single year are expected to include a plan for data sharing or state why this is not possible (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing). Investigators should seek guidance from their institutions, on issues related to institutional policies and local institutional review board (IRB) rules, as well as local, State and Federal laws and regulations, including the Privacy Rule.

Access to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are: (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds; and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. It is important for applicants to understand the basic scope of this amendment. NIH has provided guidance at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm. Applicants may wish to place data collected under this funding opportunity in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the distribution for an indefinite period of time. If so, the application should include a description of the archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should think about how to structure informed consent statements and other human subjects procedures given the potential for wider use of data collected under this award.

Inclusion of Women And Minorities in Clinical Research:
It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their sub-populations must be included in all NIH-supported clinical research projects unless a clear and compelling justification is provided indicating that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research. This policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43). All investigators proposing clinical research should read the "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research” (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-001.html); a complete copy of the updated Guidelines is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_amended_10_2001.htm. The amended policy incorporates: the use of an NIH definition of clinical research; updated racial and ethnic categories in compliance with the new OMB standards; clarification of language governing NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials consistent with the SF424 (R&R) application; and updated roles and responsibilities of NIH staff and the extramural community. The policy continues to require for all NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials that: a) all applications or proposals and/or protocols must provide a description of plans to conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address differences by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic groups, including subgroups if applicable; and b) investigators must report annual accrual and progress in conducting analyses, as appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group differences.

Inclusion of Children as Participants in Clinical Research:
The NIH maintains a policy that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) must be included in all clinical research, conducted or supported by the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them. All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the "NIH Policy and Guidelines" on the inclusion of children as participants in research involving human subjects (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/children/children.htm).

Required Education on the Protection of Human Subject Participants:
NIH policy requires education on the protection of human subject participants for all investigators submitting NIH applications for research involving human subjects and individuals designated as key personnel. The policy is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-039.html.

Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESC):
Criteria for Federal funding of research on hESCs can be found at http://stemcells.nih.gov/index.asp and at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-116.html. Only research using hESC lines that are registered in the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry will be eligible for Federal funding (http://escr.nih.gov/). It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide in the project description and elsewhere in the application as appropriate, the official NIH identifier(s) for the hESC line(s) to be used in the proposed research.

NIH Public Access Policy Requirement:
In accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy, investigators funded by the NIH must submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central (see http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/), an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. The NIH Public Access Policy is available at (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-033.html). For more information, see the Public Access webpage at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/.

Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued final modification to the "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", the "Privacy Rule", on August 14, 2002. The Privacy Rule is a federal regulation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 that governs the protection of individually identifiable health information, and is administered and enforced by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with the researcher and his/her institution. The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools on "Am I a covered entity?" Information on the impact of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on NIH processes involving the review, funding, and progress monitoring of grants, cooperative agreements, and research contracts can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-025.html.

URLs in NIH Grant Applications or Appendices:
All applications and proposals for NIH funding must be self-contained within specified page limitations. For publications listed in the appendix and/or Progress report, Internet addresses (URLs) or PubMed Central (PMC) submission identification numbers must be used for publicly accessible on-line journal articles. Publicly accessible on-line journal articles or PMC articles/manuscripts accepted for publication that are directly relevant to the project may be included only as URLs or PMC submission identification numbers accompanying the full reference in either the Bibliography & References Cited section, the Progress Report Publication List section, or the Biographical Sketch section of the NIH grant application. A URL or PMC submission identification number citation may be repeated in each of these sections as appropriate. There is no limit to the number of URLs or PMC submission identification numbers that can be cited.

Healthy People 2010:
The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas. This FOA is related to one or more of the priority areas. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

Authority and Regulations:
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372. Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.

Loan Repayment Programs:
NIH encourages applications for educational loan repayment from qualified health professionals who have made a commitment to pursue a research career involving clinical, pediatric, contraception, infertility, and health disparities related areas. The LRP is an important component of NIH's efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of researchers by providing the means for developing a research career unfettered by the burden of student loan debt. Note that an NIH grant is not required for eligibility and concurrent career award and LRP applications are encouraged. The periods of career award and LRP award may overlap providing the LRP recipient with the required commitment of time and effort, as LRP awardees must commit at least 50% of their time (at least 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week) for two years to the research. For further information, please see: http://www.lrp.nih.gov/.


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