Department of Health and Human Services


Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

NOTE:  The policies, guidelines, terms, and conditions stated in this announcement may differ from those used by the NIH.  Where this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) provides specific written guidance that may differ from the general guidance provided in the grant application form, please follow the instructions given in this FOA. Also note that AHRQ may have different page limits than NIH for the application Research Strategy, which can be found within each individual FOA (see Section IV below). AHRQ Grants Policy and Information to applicants regarding Funding Opportunity Announcement procedures can be found at Funding Opportunity Announcement Guidance.

Components of Participating Organizations

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Funding Opportunity Title

Addressing Methodological Challenges in Research for Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions (R21)

Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices

  • August 21, 2013: Removed reference to ASSIST in section IV.3, since ASSIST is currently only available for multi-project applications.

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-HS-14-002

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Number of Applications

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

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

93.226 

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) solicits Exploratory Research (R21) grant applications from organizations that propose to test and validate new methods involving research on patients with multiple chronic conditions (MCC). 

Key Dates
Posted Date

June 14, 2013

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

July 28, 2013

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

July 19, 2013

Application Due Date(s)

August 28, 2013), by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

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

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable  

Scientific Merit Review

Generally, four months after due date

Advisory Council Review

Not Applicable

Earliest Start Date

Generally, four months after peer review date

Expiration Date

August 29, 2013

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.

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

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) solicits Exploratory Research (R21) grant applications from organizations that propose to conceptualize, test, and validate new methods involving research on patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Background

More than a quarter of all Americans -- and two out of three older Americans – are estimated to have at least two chronic physical or behavioral health problems. Treatment for people living with these multiple chronic conditions (MCC) currently accounts for an estimated 66% of the Nation’s health care costs. As the U.S. population ages, the number of patients with MCC continues to grow. This mounting problem has become a major public health issue that may be linked to suboptimal health outcomes and rising health care expenditures.

With the urgent need to improve the health and health care of patients with multiple chronic conditions, there is a parallel need to develop new methods for studying this population.  Most health care research and methods focus primarily on single conditions and healthier populations.  Disease-specific outcomes fail to address the complexity of concurrent chronic conditions, and general health outcomes such as patient reported health status, functional status and quality of life may apply differently to the MCC population.  A simple count of chronic conditions does not consider the severity of the conditions or potential interactions.  The extreme heterogeneity of people with multiple chronic conditions presents a challenge for both controlled trials and quasi-experimental study designs.   In order to develop clinical guidelines for patients with MCC, rigorous methods need to be adapted, refined or developed.  This need is multifaceted, ranging from issues related to defining MCC and identifying patients with MCC to measuring relevant health outcomes for this population. 

This FOA will use the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) framework related to populations with MCC, which can be found in the website:  http://www.hhs.gov/ash/initiatives/mcc/#_edn3.  For the purposes of this FOA, chronic conditions are defined as conditions that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention and/or limit activities of daily living. They include both physical conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and HIV infections, as well as mental and cognitive disorders, such as ongoing depression, substance addiction, and dementia. MCC are concurrent chronic conditions.  In other words, multiple chronic conditions are two or more chronic conditions that affect a person at the same time.  For example, either a person with arthritis and hypertension or a person with heart disease and depression, both have multiple chronic conditions.

Knowledge to be Achieved

With this FOA, AHRQ is investing in the adaptation, refinement or development of research methods that will enhance our understanding of how to provide high-quality health care for patients with MCC.   Applicants must:

1.  Propose an adaptation or refinement to existing methodology or propose the development of a new methodology for studying people with MCC

2.  Validate and assess the proposed methodology 

Examples of potential methodological projects include, but are not limited to:

For more detailed instructions, please see the Research Strategy Section below.

Specific Objectives of this FOA

The objective of this FOA is to be able to provide stakeholders, including researchers, clinicians, and policy experts, with information about innovative methods for studying and developing evidence on the patient population with MCC.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Grant

Application Types Allowed

New

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

AHRQ intends to fund approximately 5 awards, for a total of up to $900,000, for fiscal year 2014. The number of awards is contingent upon AHRQ appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

The total costs (direct and indirect) for a project awarded under this FOA will not exceed $180,000 per year or for the entire project period.

Award Project Period

The project period may not exceed 18 months.    

These projects are being funded pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 299a, which provides that AHRQ shall conduct and support research, support demonstration projects, and disseminate information on health care and on systems for the delivery of such care, including activities with respect to the quality, effectiveness, efficiency, appropriateness, and value of health care services.

All applications submitted and AHRQ grants made in response to this FOA are subject to AHRQ's grant regulations at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A, the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://dhhs.gov/asfr/ogapa/aboutog/grantsnet.html and  http://dhhs.gov/asfr/ogapa/grantinformation/hhsgps107.pdf), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of Award.

Section III. Eligibility Information


1. Eligible Applicants


Eligible Organizations

You may submit an application(s) if your institution/organization is a (an): 

AHRQ’s authorizing legislation does not allow for-profit organizations to be eligible to lead applications under this research mechanism.  For-profit organizations may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Because the purpose of this program is to improve healthcare in the United States, foreign institutions may participate in projects as members of consortia or as subcontractors only.  Applications submitted by for-profit organizations or foreign institutions will not be reviewed.  Organizations described in section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying are not eligible.

HHS grants policy requires that the grant recipient perform a substantive role in the conduct of the planned project or program activity and not merely serve as a conduit of funds to another party or parties. If consortium/contractual activities represent a significant portion of the overall project, the applicant must justify why the applicant organization, rather than the party(s) performing this portion of the overall project, should be the grantee and what substantive role the applicant organization will play. Justification can be provided in the Specific Aims or Research Strategy section of the PHS398 Research Plan Component sections of the SF424 (R&R) application.  There is no budget allocation guideline for determining substantial involvement; determination of substantial involvement is based on a review of the primary project activities for which grant support is provided and the organization(s) that will be performing those activities.

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

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

Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)

The PD/PI must have an eRA Commons account and should work with his/her organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate an existing account with the applicant organization’s eRA Commons account. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, he/she 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/Principal Investigator (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 AHRQ support.

Only one PD/PI may be designated on the application.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing.

While there is no cost sharing requirement included in this FOA, AHRQ welcomes applicant institutions, including any collaborating institutions, to devote resources to this effort.  An indication of institutional support from the applicant and its collaborators indicates a greater potential of success and sustainability of the project.  Examples of institutional support would include: donated equipment and space, institutional funded staff time and effort, or other resource investments.  Applicant institutions should indicate institutional support by outlining the specific contributions to the project and providing assurances that their organization and any collaborators are committed to providing these funds and resources to the project. This information can be included at the end of the budget justification section of the application, but institutional support dollars are not to be shown/included in the detailed budget request. 

3. Additional Information on Eligibility


Number of Applications

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

AHRQ will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed within the past thirty-seven months, except for submission:

Section IV. Application and Submission Information


1. Requesting an Application Package

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

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

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

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

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 AHRQ 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:

The letter of intent can be sent electronically, and should be sent to:

Nikon Hill-Coston
Email: Nikon.Hill-Coston@ahrq.hhs.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and must be followed, with the following exception:

PHS 398 Research Plan Component

All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide that are not otherwise specified within this Funding Opportunity Announcement must be followed, incorporating "Just-in-Time" information concepts, and with the following additional requirements:

Required and Optional Components

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

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 Budget

Budget Component:  Special Instructions for AHRQ applications

AHRQ is not using the Modular Grant Application and Award Process.   Applicants for funding from AHRQ should ignore application instructions concerning the Modular Grant Application and Award Process, and prepare applications using instructions for the Research and Related Budget Components of the SF 424 (R&R).  Applications submitted in the Modular format will not be reviewed.

PHS 398 Cover Letter

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 application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide that are not otherwise specified within this Funding Opportunity Announcement must be followed, incorporating "Just-in-Time" information concepts, and with the following additional requirements:

Research Strategy Section

Section I. Overview of Methodological Challenges in MCC Research: Areas needing Improvement

This section must be no more than 2 pages. The section must start with an overview of methods that are currently used in research for the population with MCC. The section should address the strengths and weaknesses of current methods and improvements that could be made to generate better research evidence. The section may include (but is not limited to) one or more of the following key challenges in methodological development: 1) design issues related to studies using clinical trials and/or observational data. The section may highlight the issues associated with quasi-experimental design in large sample databases, particularly as it relates to internal validity of these models as well as heterogeneity of treatment effects and how these can be addressed using different measurement techniques from well-developed conceptual models; 2) disease-specific and non-disease specific outcomes that could be appropriate for the MCC population, given that disease-specific outcomes do not address the spectrum of issues faced by these patients and non-disease specific outcomes may apply differently to the MCC population; 3) a rigorous definition of the MCC population that encompasses accurate measurement and grouping of co-morbidities as well as stratification by stages of illness; 4) developing conceptual models that clearly identify causal relationships between interventions and outcomes and their relationships.

Section II. The Proposed Approach

This section must be no more than 2 pages. This section must propose a plan to address one or more of the areas outlined in Section I, describing how to solve the methodological challenges in those areas. The proposed approach must be novel and should highlight areas where a methodological innovation will be made, explaining how it will be implemented in the proposed study. Content of this section must include a conceptual framework that could be tested and validated with existing data to generate evidence based findings.

Section III. Strategy for methods validation with data

This section must be no more than 2 pages. This section must identify the data set that will be used to validate the proposed method and indicate the details of sample size, power issues, data confidentiality, and source of data. Given the short turnaround time for the project, the data to be used could be secondary, although primary data collection is not precluded, provided it can be accomplished rapidly.  AHRQ expects that any project proposing to do primary data collection would complete that phase within the first nine months of the project. The section must also include study limitations and usefulness of the study results to stakeholders. A detailed timeline of the proposed work must also be included. A comparative analysis between state-of the art methods and the proposed method in a pilot sample is preferred but not required.

Section IV. Research Team

This section must be no more than 1 page.  This section of the research strategy must describe the capabilities and experience of the research team.  In addition to clinical experts, the study team must include experts in methodology, and statistics and/or econometrics.

Section V. Dissemination

This section must be no more than 1 page.  This section of the research strategy must describe a dissemination plan.  The applicant should ensure that all project findings are shared with AHRQ and must describe plans for development and submission of at least one peer-reviewed manuscript or other appropriate vehicle for sharing results with key stakeholders.

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.

3. Submission Dates and Times

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

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

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

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

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

For efficient grant administration, AHRQ grant administration procedures will be used and conducted in accordance with the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm

Pre-award costs are allowable. A grantee may, at its own risk and without AHRQ 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 award if such costs are necessary to conduct the project and would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without AHRQ prior approval. If specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must obtain AHRQ approval before incurring the cost. AHRQ 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 award.

The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on AHRQ 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. AHRQ 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.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

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

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

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically.

Important reminders:
The PD/PI 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 AHRQ. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

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

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH, and for responsiveness by AHRQ.  Applications that are incomplete and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite the review, applicants are requested to notify the AHRQ Referral Office by email Gerald.Calderone@ahrq.hhs.gov when the application has been submitted.  Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of human subjects is not required prior to peer review of an application (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-00-003.html). However, initiation of IRB review, if necessary or applicable, is strongly encouraged to assure timely commencement of research.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding assignment within eight (8) weeks.

Priority Populations

AHRQ supports research, evaluations, and demonstration projects concerning the delivery of health care in inner-city and rural areas (including frontier areas), and health care for priority populations.  Priority populations include low income groups; minority groups; women; children; the elderly; and individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities and individuals who need chronic care or end-of-life health care.  42 USC 299(c).  Women and members of minority groups are included in all AHRQ-supported research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate, e.g. because of the lack of connection between the study and the health of women or particular minorities.  Investigators should review the document entitled, “AHRQ Policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations,” which is available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-HS-03-010.html.  Applicants under this FOA should consider and discuss including priority populations in the research design as specified in this Notice.

NOTE: In general, AHRQ uses the paragraph below.  Maintain this paragraph if it describes the approach to the data sharing plan. If not, substitute your own guidance here.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data should describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing; the format of the final dataset; the documentation to be provided; whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided; whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use); and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under its own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on its institutional or personal website or through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.

The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data will be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Data Confidentiality

The AHRQ confidentiality statute, 42 USC 299c-3(c), requires that information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ supported activities and that identifies individuals or establishments be used only for the purpose for which it was supplied.  Information that is obtained in the course of AHRQ-supported activities and that identifies an individual may be published or released only with the consent of the individual who supplied the information or is described in it.  There are civil monetary penalties for violation of the confidentiality provision of the AHRQ statute. 42 USC 299c-3(d).  In the Human Subjects section of the application, applicants must describe procedures for ensuring the confidentiality of the identifying information to be collected.  The description of the procedures should include a discussion of who will be permitted access to this information, both raw data and machine readable files, and how personal identifiers and other identifying or identifiable data will be restricted and safeguarded.  Identifiable patient health information collected by grantees under this FOA will also be obtained and managed in accordance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule, 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164. 

The grantee should ensure that computer systems containing confidential data have a level and scope of security that equals or exceeds that established by the HIPAA Security Rules if applicable (see HIPAA website in prior paragraph) and that established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in OMB Circular No. A-130, Appendix III - Security of Federal Automated Information Systems. The applicability and intended means of applying these confidentiality and security standards to subcontractors and vendors, if any, should be addressed in the application.

Sharing Research Resources:  Rights in Data

Unless otherwise provided in grant awards, AHRQ grantees may copyright, or seek patents for, as appropriate, final and interim products and materials developed in whole or in part with AHRQ support, including, but not limited to, methodological tools, measures, software with documentation, literature searches, and analyses.  Such copyrights and patents are subject to a royalty-free, non-exclusive, and irrevocable AHRQ license to reproduce, publish, use or disseminate for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities and to authorize others to do so for any purpose consistent with AHRQ’s statutory responsibilities. In accordance with its legislative dissemination mandate, AHRQ purposes may include, subject to statutory confidentiality protections, making project materials, databases, results, and algorithms available for verification or replication by other researchers.  In addition, subject to AHRQ budget constraints, final products may be made available to the health care community and the public by AHRQ or its agents if such distribution would significantly increase access to a product and thereby produce substantial or valuable public health benefits.  Ordinarily, to accomplish distribution, AHRQ publicizes research findings but relies on grantees to publish research results in peer-reviewed journals and to market grant-supported products.  AHRQ's Office of Communications and Knowledge Transfer (OCKT) wishes to be consulted in advance of publication in order to coordinate announcements of new AHRQ-supported research results with other AHRQ dissemination activities.  Important legal rights and requirements applicable to AHRQ grantees are set out or referenced in AHRQ's grants regulation at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A (available in libraries and from the GPO's website at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html) which incorporates additional applicable provisions on Rights in Data, including 45 CFR Part 74 and 37 CFR Part 401. 

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-10-115.

Section V. Application Review Information


1. Criteria

The mission of AHRQ is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. As part of this mission, applications submitted to AHRQ to support health services research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the AHRQ peer review system. 

The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on health services research. An R21 grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.

Applications that are complete and responsive to the FOA will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened in accordance with standard AHRQ peer review procedures that are described in 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications or applications not following instructions given in this FOA will not be reviewed. 

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

Administrative Criteria:  Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH, and for responsiveness by AHRQ.

Merit Review Criteria:  Merit Review Criteria, as described below, will be considered in the review process.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or technical capability be improved? What will be the effect of the methodological innovation on future research in this field? 

Investigator(s)    

Are the PD/PI, collaborators, and other researchers appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the PD/PI  and other researchers? Do the PD/PI and investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)? Does the team have necessary skills and experience in research methodologies  and evaluation designs appropriate for conducting research on population with multiple chronic illness?

Innovation

Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge current research methodologies on the MCC population and address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches or methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?

Approach

Are the conceptual or clinical framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, well-reasoned, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative strategies? Are benchmarks for success presented? If the methodological innovation is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?

Environment

Do(es) the scientific environment(s) in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment(s), or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?

Additional Review Criteria

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

Protections for Human Subjects

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

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

Degree of Responsiveness

Reviewers will assess how well the application addresses the purpose and objectives of this FOA.  How responsive is the application to the special eligibility criteria, including the project requirements, noted in the FOA?

Inclusion of Priority Populations 

Adequacy of plans to address the needs of both genders, racial and ethnic minorities (and subgroups).  Adequacy of attention to AHRQ priority populations (see above discussion on Priority Populations in section IV.6 “Other Submission Requirements”).

Budget and Period of Support

The committee will evaluate whether the proposed budget is reasonable and whether the requested period of support is appropriate in relation to the proposed research.

Privacy and Security Protections for Patients

Reviewers will assess the resources and processes to be used to address privacy and security issues in the development and implementation of the project.

Additional Review Considerations

Not Applicable 

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group in accordance with AHRQ review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate AHRQ Office or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA.  The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Generally, applicants should anticipate eight months between the application submission date and the earliest possible start date.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, AHRQ will request "Just-In-Time" information from the applicant.  Just-In-Time information generally consists of information on other support, any additional information necessary to address administrative and budgetary issues, and certification of IRB approval of the project's proposed use of human subjects.  For details regarding IRB approval, applicants may refer to the "AHRQ Revised Policy for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Human Subjects Protocols in Grant Applications" (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-hs-00-003.html). 

Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, 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 AHRQ 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.  See also Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to the DUNS, SAM Registration, and Transparency Act requirements as noted on the AHRQ web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/postawrd.htm#terms.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All AHRQ grant and cooperative agreement awards are subject to AHRQ’s grants regulations at 42 CFR Part 67, Subpart A, the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm), and the terms and conditions set forth in the Notice of  Award.  

As necessary, additional Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the NoA.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, grantees will be required to submit the Non-Competing Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590) annually.

The annual progress reports must include Sections 2.2.6 A through F as described in the general PHS form 2590 instructions.  For details regarding progress report submission, refer to http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/noncomp.htm.  If instructions on the AHRQ website are different from the PHS form 2590 instructions, follow the instructions on the AHRQ website.

The Progress Report is to include descriptive and evaluative comments on both completed activities and plans for the remainder of that year, including any changes foreseen in the future.  At a minimum, the reports will include descriptive comments on:  progress to date measured against project aims; methodological changes implemented; key preliminary findings; significant problems and resolutions; inclusion of priority populations; and project related publications, presentations, and dissemination activities.  AHRQ does not currently limit the length of the progress report to 2 pages. AHRQ will provide the due date for submitting annual progress reports.  In addition to the annual progress report, recipients may be required to submit quarterly progress reports to AHRQ. Detailed instructions on reporting requirements will be provided with the grant award.

Expenditure data is to be reported on the Federal Financial Report (FFR; SF 425). AHRQ requires annual financial expenditure reports for ALL grant programs as described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement (see http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm).  AHRQ implementation of the FFR retains a financial reporting period that coincides with the budget period of a particular project.  However, the due date for annual FFRs will be 90 days after the end of the calendar quarter in which the budget period ends.  Note that this is a change in due dates of annual FFRs and may provide up to 60 additional days to report, depending upon when the budget period end date falls within a calendar quarter.  For example, if the budget period ends 4/30/2013, the annual FFR is due 9/30/2013 (90 days after the end of the calendar quarter of 6/30/2013).

A final Progress Report, final Federal Financial Report, and Final Invention Statement are required when an award ends.  All final reports are due within 90 days of the project period end date.  For further details regarding grant closeout requirements, refer to http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/closeout.htm.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

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

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)

Phone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

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

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

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

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

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Direct your questions about general FOA issues, including information on the inclusion of priority populations to:

Jayasree Basu, PhD
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for primary care, prevention, and Clinical Partnerships
Telephone: (301) 427-1500
Fax: (301) 427-1595
E-mail address:  jayasree.basu@ahrq.hhs.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Direct your questions about peer review issues of grant application made in response to this FOA to:

Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, MD
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Office of Extramural Research, Education and Priority Populations
Division of Scientific Review
Telephone: (301) 427-1769
Fax: (301) 427-1562
E-mail address:  Ileana.PonceGonzalez@ahrq.hhs.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Direct your questions regarding fiscal matters to:

Brian Campbell
Office of Performance Accountability, Resources and Technology
Grants Management
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Telephone: (301) 427-1266
Fax: (301) 427-1462
E-mail address:  brian.campbell@ahrq.hhs.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued AHRQ policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by AHRQ is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Notices can also be found at AHRQ Grants Policy Notices..  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.

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 or Health Systems Agency review. Awards are made under the authority of 42 USC 299 et seq. and, 42 CFR Part 67 and in accordance with 45 CFR Parts 74 or 92 and other referenced applicable statutes and regulations.  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the HHS Grants Policy Statement. The HHS Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/hhspolicy.htm.


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