National Institutes of Health (NIH)
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is developed as a Common Fund Initiative through the NIH Office of the NIH Director, Office of Strategic Coordination. The FOA will be administered by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) on behalf of the NIH.
Pre-application: Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs (OT1)
OT1 Pre-application for an Other Transaction Award
RFA-RM-15-020, OT2 Research Project -- Other Transaction Award
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite pre-applications from applicants who have an interest in ultimately submitting an application to "Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs (OT2)" (RFA-RM-15-020).
The OT1 SPARC OT pre-application is the required first step in the application process for the companion OT2 FOA (RFA-RM-15-020). Potential applicants should read both FOAs.
Applicants whose OT1 pre-applications are found to be meritorious and programmatically relevant will be invited to submit a full application to the OT2 "Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs" FOA (RFA-RM-15-020). There will be substantial interaction with NIH Program Staff leading to the development of programmatic and budget elements for an acceptable OT2 application. OT2 applications must include a copy of the Invitation to Submit from the SPARC program as a requirement for submission. The Invitation to Submit an OT2 application is not an indication of any award.
No Other Transaction awards will be made under this FOA.
November 16, 2015
December 15, 2015
January 15, 2016, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. No late applications will be accepted for this Funding Opportunity Announcement.
Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.
Review will be conducted approximately six weeks following the applicable due date.
January 16, 2016
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.
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
The purpose of this FOA is to invite innovative research pre-applications from applicants who have an interest in submitting an application to "Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs (OT2)", companion announcement RFA-RM-15-020. These projects are to gather critical data and answer critical questions on functional neuroanatomy of major organs and organ function controlled by neural circuits, in order to enable subsequent comprehensive mapping of neural circuits for the organs. These projects must overcome key roadblocks to comprehensive mapping of the innervation of the target organ through investigation of neuroanatomy and neurobiology of the organ. Target organs proposed for these projects must present significant potential opportunities for developing neuromodulation therapies.
The SPARC program (http://commonfund.nih.gov/sparc/index) is supported by the NIH Common Fund, which supports cross-cutting programs that are expected to have exceptionally high impact. All Common Fund initiatives invite investigators to develop bold, innovative, and often risky approaches to address problems that may seem intractable or to seize new opportunities that offer the potential for rapid progress. The overall goal of the SPARC program is to provide the scientific foundation necessary to pilot new and/or improved closed-loop neuromodulation devices and stimulation protocols to treat diseases and conditions through precise neural control of end-organ system function. Significant advances in neuromodulation therapies to treat disease have led to industry-supported large, randomized and blinded, controlled trials. While the degree of efficacy of the neuromodulation devices has varied depending on the trial and condition under investigation, the data and approach show great promise for scientific and therapeutic development. In many cases, however, the detailed underlying physiology and mechanisms of action of these neuromodulation therapies are poorly understood. This poor understanding, in turn, limits improvement in neuromodulation therapy designs. Examples of areas where our understanding is incomplete include: what specific and diverse neural signals are carried by nerve fibers at different end organs; what are the functional relationships between neural signals and end-organ responses; whether there is altered peripheral nerve function in some conditions in which neuromodulators are currently utilized; what is the functional relationship between neural stimulation and unwanted side effects; what variability exists in expression/anatomical representation of the neural cell-types at each potential point of implantation; what are the optimal points of surgical intervention relative to the end-organ; what differences exist between animal models and humans with regard to neuroanatomy and control of organ activity by the nervous system; and the extent of variance in these functional mechanisms from subject to subject as they pertain to effects and side effects.
Through the SPARC program, the NIH plans to support multidisciplinary teams of investigators to deliver: foundational understanding of the physiological mechanisms of neural control of several major organs, novel electrode designs, minimally invasive surgical procedures, and stimulation protocols. Driven by end goals of improving existing, and developing new, neuromodulation therapies to relieve conditions, the program will be iterative and dynamic, with the technologies informing neural mapping efforts, and the mapping results defining new technology requirements.
The SPARC program will use recent advances in technology – as well as anticipated new technological developments facilitated by the program – to produce detailed, predictive, functional and anatomical neural circuitry maps of the autonomic and sensory innervation of multiple major organs in humans. These maps will provide a foundation for the development and testing of novel electrodes, stimulation protocols, and minimally invasive surgical procedures to improve existing, or develop new, neuromodulation therapies, and to test existing approved neuromodulation devices in new applications.
The SPARC program is envisioned as four components to be managed in an interactive manner as a consortium in order to achieve the overall SPARC program goals. To maximize progress, the NIH will actively manage needed expertise, technologies and shared information within the SPARC consortium by adding or subtracting research components as necessary.
The SPARC program will be supported through a combination of Cooperative Agreement and Other Transaction mechanisms. The projects to be submitted under the companion announcement (RFA-RM-15-020) to this OT1 announcement will use the Other Transaction (OT) mechanism (see SPARC Program Other Transaction Management, below).
The four components of the SPARC program are: 1) Anatomical and Functional Mapping of the Innervation of Major Organs, 2) Next Generation Tools and Technologies, 3) Use of Existing Market-Approved Technology for New Market Indications, and 4) SPARC Data Coordination.
Component 1, Anatomical and Functional Mapping of the Innervation of Major Organs, will consist of two phases. The first phase will be addressed by four FOAs (RFA-RM-15-003, RFA-RM-15-018, RFA-RM-15-019 and RFA-RM-15-020) and will focus on anatomical and functional mapping using current state-of-the-art technologies. The second phase of the Anatomical and Functional Mapping component is planned to include application of next generation technology to enhance and refine the functional mapping, and to design and pilot new therapies. The studies under this component are expected to develop the scientific foundation for more effective use of existing neuromodulation therapies and for development of additional neuromodulation therapies.
Two types of projects are envisioned during the first phase of the Anatomical and Functional Mapping component. This announcement applies only to Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs. Support for Comprehensive Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs will be through RFA-RM-15-003 and RFA-RM-15-018.
In addition to mapping and characterizing components of the nervous system involved in control of organ function, the SPARC Anatomical and Functional Mapping projects include development of methods to assess the related organ function.
The Anatomical and Functional Mapping projects will be integrated with other SPARC initiatives described below in order to maximize progress and provide data for development of maps. The descriptions of the other SPARC components, below, are for information only. These components will be the focus of separate FOAs.
Component 2, Next Generation Tools and Technologies, started with the issuance of RFA-RM-15-002 on Exploratory Technologies to Understand the Control of Organ Function by the Peripheral Nervous System for SPARC (U18). This FOA was focused on developing exploratory tools and technologies needed to study function and establishing a quantitative scientific foundation for this overall program. The exploratory technologies solicited through this FOA were intended to address the gaps in understanding detailed underlying physiology and targeted mechanisms of action of future neuromodulation therapies.
Additional phases of the Next Generation Tools and Technologies component will include further technology developments to assist in mapping and future development of neuromodulation therapies. The next generation technologies developed will be responsive to, and freely shared with, other SPARC projects.
The third component, Use of Existing Market-Approved Technology for New Market Indications, will encourage development of partnerships between industry and NIH-supported investigators to explore the utility of existing devices to address new indications. Future iterations of this component will make extensive use of information generated by the Anatomical and Functional Mapping component and the Next Generation Tools and Technologies component to determine possible new therapeutic opportunities and methodologies.
The fourth component, SPARC Data Coordination, will support assembly of data from all projects into a SPARC data coordination center resource, including the detailed, integrated, predictive functional and anatomical neural circuit maps. Standardized methods, standard operating procedures, and other aspects of consortium coordination will be a part of this component.
Although the description above pertains to the entire SPARC program, and is included so potential applicants can consider formulation of their project with an overview of the entire program, THIS ANNOUNCEMENT APPLIES ONLY TO PRE-APPLICATIONS (OT1) for "Stimulating Peripheral Activity to Relieve Conditions (SPARC): Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs", described here and in companion announcement RFA-RM-15-020 (OT2).
Data from research supported by the Anatomical and Functional Mapping component of the SPARC program will be used to develop comprehensive maps of the neural circuitry controlling function of major organs. In cases where current understanding of this neural control of organ function is sufficient to develop a comprehensive approach to this mapping, the SPARC program will support Comprehensive Mapping Projects. However, in many cases, comparatively little is understood of the neural control of organ function, either from the perspective of the circuits involved or the ability to assess the nerve involvement in control of organ function, or both. For example, although the innervation of the human pancreas is understood at some levels, controversy exists as to what organ functions are affected by nervous input and what mechanisms are involved. Further, in some organs, there are differences between animal and human data and this contributes to uncertainties surrounding nerve control of organ function. In some organs, although innervation is present, the nature of the nerve fibers, the information transmitted, and the cells in the organ that are affecting or being affected by the nerves are unclear. These limitations in the foundational knowledge may inhibit full development of well-founded Comprehensive Mapping Projects.
The Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs projects under this FOA are to gather critical data and answer critical questions on functional neuroanatomy of organs, and organ function controlled by neural circuits, in order to begin mapping the neuroanatomy and enable development of Comprehensive Mapping Projects. A project focused only on characterization of organ biology is not acceptable without a functional neuroanatomy mapping component. These projects must overcome key roadblocks to comprehensive mapping of the innervation of the target organ and gather data to begin neuroanatomical and functional mapping. The research proposed must be justified in the context of what is known, and what is needed to design and carry out comprehensive mapping of innervation of the organ and understand the organ responses to innervation. The project must clearly fulfill the need for the described foundational knowledge. Prospective applicants may find it helpful to refer to RFA-RM-15-018 for information on Comprehensive Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs.
Data generated by these projects will be made available to the SPARC data coordination center for development of functional anatomical neural circuitry maps, and to the research community to assist the SPARC program and the community in developing next stage Comprehensive Mapping Projects for the target organs. Projects will closely coordinate with the data coordination center in order to integrate data into the neural circuit maps.
Examples of target organs that would be considered appropriate for these mapping projects include the major internal organs (major viscera) such as the heart, lungs, liver, stomach, pancreas, duodenum, colon, bladder, adrenal gland, spleen or kidneys; and the skin. Examples of structures that would not be appropriate as the primary target for these projects include the sensory structures of the head and the named voluntary muscles, except as allowed below.
While it is expected that most projects will focus on innervation of a single major organ, consideration will be given to incorporation of connections across organs if these investigations will provide data that are critical to planning and enabling comprehensive mapping projects. Examples include: cutaneous and subcutaneous afferent innervation which indirectly affect efferent input to internal organs, particularly where such novel inputs pose potentially minimally-invasive targets for eventual neuromodulation therapies; or circuits by which conditions of the duodenum may affect pancreatic function.
Depending on the knowledge gaps associated with innervation of the target organ, projects may consider both the afferent and efferent innervation of a single organ and its functionally, closely associated structures, as well as related organ function. The exact scope and types of data proposed for each project will likely depend on the base of knowledge already available and the specific organ of focus.
Multiple areas of expertise will be needed for these Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organ projects. Thus, projects should be developed to include investigators who have outstanding, committed expertise in the areas required by the research that is to be proposed. A necessary consideration is that these projects will be conducted as part of a consortium of projects under SPARC, and this consortium will be expected to develop common standards, formats, and means of communicating data between projects and to the data center. Thus, each project must include expertise to develop and adhere to these data handling and communication processes.
The focus of the SPARC program is on peripheral neural control circuits for organ function in humans (excluding the brain and sensory organs of the head and the named voluntary muscles). However, there is interest in understanding the basic connections within the brain and spinal cord to the extent necessary to understand the peripheral nervous system circuits for specific organs. Research on neuromodulation through central brain stimulation is not the appropriate focus of SPARC.
Where organ function is dependent on a mixture of autonomic, sensory and voluntary innervation, investigation of any of these circuits is considered to be within the scope of the project. The specific project should be justified in the context of the critical data it will supply to enable a well-planned comprehensive mapping of the nerves and the resulting function of the organ of focus. For example, if the sympathetic innervation is comparatively well understood but the parasympathetic innervation and the cellular targets of innervation are essentially unexplored, a project could be proposed to fill this gap in fundamental data.
Significant steps in the understanding of peripheral nervous system control of organ function will require the use of animals. The animals planned for use must be justified in terms of the technologies to be employed, the information to be gained, and eventual applicability of the information to humans. Accordingly, the research plan must include validation of results in humans to the maximum, feasible extent.
The Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs projects also may include development of technology that is specific and necessary to the proposed project. Such technology development, where justified, may be proposed for support as part of these projects but should not be the main focus of the project. The SPARC program, as explained above, includes a formal effort for Next Generation Tools and Technologies and these technologies will be exchanged and available for use among all projects in the program. Studies with a major focus on technology development related to SPARC should seek funding support through the appropriate SPARC component.
A main focus on healthy organs is anticipated for studies in this initial phase of SPARC. In some cases data collection on disease states may be necessary to further understand innervation or effects of innervation on normal organ function. Inclusion of such studies in a project will need to be justified in the application.
The SPARC program will be a consortium of research projects managed by a SPARC Program Manager and an Agreement Officer, and will incorporate significant programmatic input into projects beginning with the OT1 pre-application process, before an OT2 application can be accepted, and throughout the life of the program.
The SPARC program will develop high resolution functional and anatomic neural circuit maps of the innervation of organs by integrating ideas and expertise from several disciplines, including anatomy, surgery, neuroscience, engineering, biotechnology, neuromodulation, physiology, data management and device design. In cases where additional or new expertise or approaches are required beyond those already included in the project, the SPARC program staff will aggregate the necessary expertise by adding or subtracting specific expertise, tools, technologies, and approaches to the problem of mapping peripheral neural circuits in relevant animal models and humans. A significantly different baseline of knowledge is expected in various organs/organ systems and expertise gained on one organ could be flexibly combined with projects focused on less-advanced areas to accelerate gains in knowledge across organs. Similarly, within the SPARC consortium, information, models, expertise, data and technologies will be shared in order to maximize progress.
The SPARC program will involve substantial risk, since entirely new technologies need to be developed and used to create an exceptionally complex data set. The specifications of the functional neural circuit map of the innervation of organs will be defined over time, as new data and technologies are established.
No award will be made in response to this announcement. Awards under the companion OT2 announcement (RFA-RM-15-020), specifically, will be made as OTs, which are not grants, contracts or cooperative agreements (as described in the NIH Other Transaction Award Policy Guide for the SPARC Program). For SPARC OT awards, NIH will use an active management structure to accommodate the need for flexibility in soliciting new collaborators as needed, for combining projects, for modified review processes, for rapid cessation of the high risk components that fail, and for adjusting the vision for the deliverables as new data are required. The planned review and management strategy will allow the addition or subtraction of aims and expertise to or from the research activities throughout the award period. Furthermore, NIH plans to develop hybrid projects, as needed, from multiple, independent applications to solve research problems for the SPARC program.
The funded projects in SPARC will be integrated across approaches to accelerate the research as a whole. Projects within SPARC must propose information sharing and include expertise for data exchange among research projects and with the SPARC data coordination center. It is anticipated that there will be two face-to-face meetings of the SPARC investigators per year, in addition to more frequent programmatic web-assisted meetings as deemed necessary by the SPARC Program Manager.
Investigators must propose preliminary project benchmarks that are quantitative, and with clear go-no-go criteria. Project goals, deliverables and benchmarks should be included in the Research Plan.
Other: A mechanism that is not a grant or cooperative agreement. Examples include access to research resources or pre-applications
The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.
No awards will be made under this OT1 FOA. Awards will be made through the companion FOA RFA-RM-15-020.
NIH policies as described in the NIH Other Transaction Award Policy Guide for the SPARC Programwill apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.
Higher Education Institutions
The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:
Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined here, are allowed:
The performance of any significant scientific element or segment of a project outside of the United States, either by the awardee or by a researcher employed by a foreign organization, whether or not funds are expended, is considered a foreign component. Activities that would meet this definition include, but are not limited to, (1) the involvement of human subjects or animals, (2) extensive foreign travel by project staff for the purpose of data collection, surveying, sampling, and similar activities, or (3) any activity of the awardee that may have an impact on U.S. foreign policy through involvement in the affairs of environment of a foreign country. Examples of other award-related activities that may be significant are:
Foreign travel for consultation is not considered a foreign component.
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. Failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.
Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))
All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account. PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.
Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.
For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.
The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that the NIH will not accept:
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. SPARC OT applications will use the same electronic infrastructure as grant applications.
It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.
For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed, with the following exceptions or additional requirements:
The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed along with the following additional instructions:
Type of Submission: Select "Pre-application"
Total Federal Funds Request: Enter “0”
Total Federal and Non-Federal Funds: Enter "0"
Estimated Program Income: Enter "0"
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed along with the following additional instructions:
Are Human Subjects Involved: Answer "No". Note: no award will be made, or human subjects work performed, as a result of this OT1 FOA.
Are Vertebrate Animals Used: Answer "No".
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:
Specific Aims: Briefly state the specific aims of the project, indicating how the project will contribute to advancing neuromodulation science related to the organ of focus. Briefly describe the relevant major knowledge gaps and/or barriers this project will overcome. Highlight any conceptual, technical, and/or methodological innovations for the proposed project.
Research Strategy: This section must include:
Letters of Support: Letters of support are NOT required for the OT1 pre-application.
Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:
All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, must include a Resource Sharing Plan. This plan must include timely data release to the SPARC data coordination center, as well as to other projects within SPARC as determined by the SPARC Program Manager, and more broadly to the research community in general.
Appendix: Not Allowed. Appendix material is NOT allowed for the OT-1 pre-application.
Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Other Transaction Award Policy Guide for the SPARC Program, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
See Part I. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirements for obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number and for completing and maintaining an active System for Award Management (SAM) registration. 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 and SPARC OT 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.
This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.
No awards will be made under this OT1 FOA.
Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Paper applications will not be accepted.
Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.
For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.
All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.
The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
See more tips for avoiding common errors.
Only the criteria described below will be considered in the review process.
For this particular announcement, OT1 applications for the SPARC Foundational Functional Mapping of Neuroanatomy and Neurobiology of Organs will be reviewed according to the following criteria. The criteria below are not listed in order of relative importance and no weights are assigned.
Relevance and Justification
Will this research fill a needed gap in our understanding of innervation of organs and nervous system modulation of organ function? Will the goals and outcomes significantly advance development of neuromodulation therapies by providing critical foundational knowledge that will be required to inform neuromodulation of one or more organs or through increased specificity, increased effectiveness, and decreased unwanted side effects compared to existing therapies?
Benchmarks and Deliverables
Are the proposed benchmarks and deliverables feasible and congruent with the goals outlined in the FOA? Will the anatomical and functional data enable the development of a detailed, predictive functional and anatomical neural circuit map of the organ of focus? Will the data enable evaluation of organ function that results from the innervation and are assays of organ function to be developed? Do the plans include the most innovative applicable methodology to yield the highest resolution possible? Will data be relevant to human physiology and enable higher resolution data with further technology development?
Is the necessary expertise enlisted and the environment and facilities appropriate for a multi-disciplinary approach to the proposed research? Is expertise for data processing and communication to the SPARC data coordination center included? Is there evidence of sufficient commitment on the part of the key investigators for the project?
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall score.
Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.
Applications will be evaluated by an appropriate review group convened by the Office of the Director, NIH, using the criteria described in Section V.1., above. Investigators on OT1 SPARC OTA pre-applications that are judged to be meritorious and align with the SPARC research mission will be invited to submit an OT2, SPARC Research Project--Other Transaction Award application under RFA-RM-15-020.
As part of the objective review, all applications:
Appeals of the objective review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.
The following will be considered in making selections for OT2 applications:
After the review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will receive the written summary of the review. No awards will be made under this FOA. The SPARC Program Manager will communicate the results of the review, including any potential Invitation to Submit an OT2 application. OT2 applications will ONLY be accepted if the applicant has received, and includes, an Invitation to Submit an OT2 application.
We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity
and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.
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National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, and other considerations described in the NIH Other Transaction Award Policy Guide for the SPARC Program.
Other Transaction awards are made pursuant to Section 480 (e)(3)(C) of the PHS Act, 42 U.S.C 287 a(e)(3)(C).
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