BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE NETWORK

Release Date:  September 28, 2000

RFA:  RR-01-005

National Center for Research Resources

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  December 1, 2000
Application Receipt Date:       January 23, 2001

Purpose

This Request for Applications (RFA) is to establish Biomedical Research 
Infrastructure Networks to further enhance the research capacity of 
institutions through collaborative partnerships to allow them to more fully 
participate in the competition for NIH awards.

Background

The Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program was established within the 
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Institutes of Health 
(NIH), in 1993.  The purpose of the NIH IDeA program is to provide funding for 
capacity building assistance for biomedical research in those states which 
have not previously participated fully in the research programs of the NIH.  
Funds provided through the IDeA program are intended to help those states 
build their biomedical research capacities.  The current cohort of 23 IDeA-
eligible states and Puerto Rico receives about five percent of NIH grant funds 
annually. 

Eligibility Requirements

Those states that attained either success rates for NIH grant awards lower 
than 20 percent or received less than $70 million in NIH grant funds over the 
five year (1995-1999) period constitute the cohort of eligibles for the RFA.  
Under the two criteria, the following 23 states and Puerto Rico are eligible:

Alaska            Kentucky          Nevada                Rhode Island
Arkansas          Louisiana         New Hampshire         South Carolina
Delaware          Maine             New Mexico            South Dakota 
Hawaii            Mississippi       North Dakota          Vermont 
Idaho             Montana           Oklahoma              West Virginia
Kansas            Nebraska          Puerto Rico           Wyoming

In order to develop a Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN), a 
state-wide IDeA Coordinating Committee, representing all eligible IDeA state 
institutions of higher education (or their equivalents), will be responsible 
for selection and inclusion of the institutions within its state and possibly 
those from other IDeA states.  The IDeA Coordinating Committee (ICC) will 
determine priorities for state proposal submissions as well as provide advice 
relating to the planning and preparation of applications.  The ICC will also 
be responsible for approving collaborative arrangements with other IDeA states 
for those cases which require a pro rata commitment of funds to the 
collaborative arrangement (see below-Funds Available).  Institutions in states 
with Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitiveness in Research (EPSCoR) 
Committees may choose to use them as their IDeA Coordinating Committee.  If an 
EPSCoR Committee is not available or does not hold the requisite expertise for 
health-related research in an IDeA-eligible state, a comparable IDeA 
Coordinating Committee is to be established and to determine priorities for 
proposal submission.  Applications may build the research capacity to address 
any of the biomedical and behavioral scientific areas relevant to the mission 
of National Institutes of Health. 

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact NIH staff listed under 
INQUIRIES. A technical assistance workshop will be offered on Friday, October 
20, 2000, at the Lister Hill Center Auditorium on the main campus of the NIH 
in Bethesda, MD.  Additional information may be obtained and registration may 
be completed electronically at the NCRR Website, 
(http://www.ncrr.nih.gov/).   A summary of that workshop 
will be posted on the NCRR Website to assist administrators or investigators 
who could not attend the workshop.

Mechanism of Support

The administrative and funding instrument for this RFA is an exploratory grant 
award mechanism (P20). The total project period for an application submitted 
in response to this RFA may not exceed three years.  BRIN awards will provide 
the opportunity for planning and implementing a network to significantly 
enhance the biomedical research capacities of participating institutions.  Up 
to the first six to eight months of funding is to be used in a planning phase 
to organize the network and to test the feasibility of the organizational 
structure and operations.  The estimated costs for staff, supplies and 
services related to the establishment for the initial planning phase are to be 
specifically identified in the application.  As a condition of the award, the 
plan must be approved by NCRR staff before additional funding will be released 
for implementation of the plan to develop the BRIN (See below: Special 
Requirements).

Funds Available

The estimated total funds available in FY2001 for the first year of support 
for awards under this RFA will be approximately $45,000,000. THE TOTAL AMOUNT 
OF SUPPORT REQUESTED PER STATE IN RESPONSE TO THIS RFA MAY NOT EXCEED 
$2,000,000 PER YEAR. Each IDeA state may submit no more than two applications 
in response to this RFA. Alternatively, a state may elect to submit one 
application that includes a budget request up to $2,000,000 in total annual 
costs (Direct, and Facilities and Administrative costs) for each of the three 
years of funding. If a proposed network includes institutions from another 
IDeA state, the activity for the out-of-state institution(s) will be adjusted 
pro rata and assigned to the other IDeA state’s ceiling of funding that may be 
requested from this program.

The number of awards and the level of support will depend upon receipt of 
applications that meet the goals of the RFA and the level of funds available. 
Although this RFA is included in the financial plan of NIH, awards are 
contingent upon the availability of funds. States may receive up to two BRIN 
awards, assuming two separate applications were submitted in response to this 
RFA.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss their anticipated request, 
including budgets, with program staff listed under INQUIRIES prior to 
submission.  At this time, it is not known if competing renewal applications 
will be accepted and/or if this RFA will be reissued.

Although no non-federal matching funds are required for the submission of 
these applications, clear evidence of institutional and state commitment 
should be included with the application.  The level of institutional 
commitment will differ among applicant institutions because of the variability 
of resources available among institutions and states.  At a minimum, a letter 
of support from a senior institutional official (e.g., President or Dean) 
outlining the commitment for resources and facilities to sustain and support 
the BRIN throughout the period of funding should be submitted. 

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

For many years, the NIH has made a special effort to stimulate research at 
educational institutions that traditionally have not received significant 
levels of competitive research funding through the NIH.  The IDeA program was 
established for the purpose of broadening the geographic distribution of NIH 
funding for biomedical and behavioral research by enhancing the 
competitiveness for research funding of institutions located in states in 
which the aggregate success rate for applications to the NIH historically has 
been low.  A major factor which may contribute disparately to the funding 
distribution is that there are too few investigators in the IDeA states 
trained to conduct biomedical and behavioral research. The Networks will 
develop the research resources and modern laboratories needed to attract 
established investigators, and develop the research skills of talented 
investigators and gifted students. 

Objectives and Scope

The purpose of each IDeA Network is to promote the development, coordination 
and sharing of research resources and expertise that will expand the research 
opportunities and increase the number of competitive investigators.  No one 
approach for developing a BRIN will fit the needs of every state.  The size, 
structure, and operational principles will be determined by factors such as 
the state of institutional research facilities, access to modern research 
tools, technical and scientific expertise and critical mass of investigators. 
Up to the initial six to eight months of a BRIN award may be used for planning 
the feasibility of the network.  The plan for the BRIN must be approved by 
NCRR staff before funding is approved for implementation. During the 
implementation phase, the networks are to recruit and integrate scientists 
from many complementary scientific backgrounds to assure that a competitive 
multidisciplinary research team is assembled to address important health-
related research problems.  Other infrastructure research-related needs, 
including renovation of research facilities, developing shared research cores, 
purchasing modern research equipment, are to be included during the 
implementation phase.

As an example, a BRIN network may include a doctoral degree granting 
institution or research institute as the applicant institution along with 3-5 
baccalaureate or masters level degree granting institutions.  Some networks 
may choose to include more institutions but the feasibility of the network 
organizational structure and operation must be established at the end of the 
6-8 month planning phase.  The inclusion of minority serving institutions is 
encouraged.  The BRIN is also intended to strengthen the basic science 
departments of undergraduate institutions.  This program provides 
opportunities for undergraduate institutions to recruit outstanding faculty 
who can pique the interest of their promising students in health-related 
science through both the classroom and the research laboratory in which 
students may choose to participate in their professors’ research.  As a 
consequence, more students---well trained in science and technology---may 
enhance the quality of the workforce and help attract biotechnology industries 
that may enhance the economies within the IDeA states in the future. With 
better employment opportunities, more students may choose to stay within the 
state.  The undergraduate institutions also serve an important “feeder” role 
to the science departments of graduate schools within IDeA states and Puerto 
Rico. With access to more gifted, well educated students, the graduate schools 
in the IDeA states can more readily build a critical mass of investigators by 
recruiting competitive investigators from other institutions as well as 
recruiting their own graduates.

Network Characteristics:

A network within a state should have a research institute or doctoral granting 
institution serve as the network’s lead institution and also serve as the 
applicant institution on behalf of the BRIN. The Principal Investigator (PI) 
is to be selected from the lead institution and need not be an established 
research scientist, but must have the administrative and leadership skills to 
direct this multifaceted and highly diverse program. The PI of the lead 
institution will serve as the director of the BRIN and will coordinate its 
activities.  This person should devote a minimum of 30-50 percent effort to 
this activity.  S/he will also serve as the director of the Administrative 
Core (additional 10 per cent effort) and will establish an administrative 
structure that will ensure efficient utilization of the scientific facilities 
and investigators within the network.  S/he is responsible for management, 
staffing and resource allocation, and for administering the award in 
accordance with NIH policies.  The director must have demonstrated ability to 
organize, administer, and stimulate collaborative initiatives in the planned 
network.  The director will, in consultation with the Steering Committees, 
select the directors for the mandatory and other cores; the director may seek 
advice from the External Advisory Committee for the selection of directors for 
the other cores.

The research capacity building may focus on clinical, basic or both types of 
research in a creative, integrated approach. Collaborative and cooperative 
programs between or among IDeA eligible states as well as collaborations with 
institutions in other states is allowable, but no IDeA grant funds awarded to 
an IDeA state may be used for activities in an non-IDeA state.
 
The number of other participating institutions in a proposed network will vary 
since varying numbers of investigators may participate from some institutions. 
It is the responsibility of the leadership of the BRIN to define an effective 
partnership.  The network is to include undergraduate and graduate students as 
well as undergraduate and graduate science department faculty. Special 
programs may be designed to enhance the recruitment and career development of 
participating students and faculty.  Collaborations with investigators from 
outside the IDeA state are permissible but must be agreed upon by the BRIN 
Steering Committee.   

Some applicant institutions may have faculty who hold significant peer 
reviewed funding from either federal or private sector sources to conduct 
research.  Those faculty members may be included as mentors and scientific 
members of a multidisciplinary research team for the next phase of network 
development. The nature of the planned network will determine the need for 
core research facilities and modern instrumentation.  The research plan for 
the BRIN may be in basic or clinical or both areas of research.  There are 
unique populations within the IDeA states and investigators are strongly 
encouraged to include representations of those populations for valid analysis 
of differences that may affect health disparities.  The NIH is committed to 
working toward elimination of health disparities among racial ethnic minority 
populations.  Since the NIH is concerned about the under representation of 
minorities in biomedical and behavioral research, the inclusion of 
institutions that serve these populations is encouraged.

Each network must have at least three cores; two are mandatory and the third 
core is to be chosen to meet investigator needs.  The two mandatory cores are 
the Administrative and the Bioinformatics Cores. In addition, a network must 
select at least one other core---for example, Training and Mentoring Core,  
Research Development Core, Centralized Research Facility Core.  Applications 
may include more than three cores and may include cores not described here as 
examples.  All applications must include an evaluation component, described 
later in this document. 

At the request of a BRIN awardee, the NCRR will identify one or more program 
staff from an NIH Institute or Center with a research mission directly 
relevant to the thematic research area(s) to be developed within the BRIN.  
This arrangement will provide additional advice by NIH staff in areas directly 
relevant to the research focus under development.

Mandatory Cores:

The Administrative Core will be directed by the Principal Investigator of the 
BRIN and will provide the logistical support for the network.  Systematic 
communication among investigators within the network is essential.  Outreach 
activities to other institutions through mechanisms such as (but not limited 
to) seminars, lectures, workshops or short courses are encouraged.  The 
Administrative Core will also serve as a clearinghouse for ongoing research 
activities, any clinical studies, analysis of research results, other funding 
sources, and other information relevant to the scientific focus that is being 
developed within the Network.  The Administrative Core may also provide 
electronic networking to inform investigators both within and outside the 
network of the availability and access to modern technologies at research core 
facilities both within the network and located at other NIH-supported sites 
around the country.  

Some institutions may need to develop and administer an Office of Sponsored 
Programs. (Note that the existing NIH Extramural Associates (EA) program can 
be an adjunct for training institutional officials who may serve as EA 
management fellows at the NIH for 4 to 5 months and become proficient in pre 
and post NIH grant award management.  Applications to participate in the EA 
Program are solicited annually by NIH.  The next RFA is expected to be 
published shortly.) Such development of local institutional staff may be an 
adjunct to network development, but applications for the EA program are 
reviewed under separate guidelines. Additionally, regional grantsmanship 
workshops can be organized as a part of the Administrative Core’s scope of 
activities.  Those workshops can provide a forum for Federal and private 
sector agencies to present their missions and goals and provide updates on 
research funding opportunities for investigators within the BRIN.

The Bioinformatics Core is essential to provide investigators access to the 
technical expertise and data management and analysis tools required for 
competitive, multidisciplinary biomedical research. Careful consideration must 
be given to optimizing access to bioinformatics and other related tools for 
investigators in the network. This core will have a substantial impact on 
enabling the pursuit of research areas by the  multidisciplinary research team 
to be developed.  This core will promote informatics training and education as 
well as understanding of approaches and methods for data management, develop 
methods for multi-center research and resource sharing and provide methods for 
secure and confidential data sharing.
  
Other Cores to be considered:
 
A Training and Mentoring Core provides special programs to develop the 
research skills of promising investigators through the training and mentoring 
by an experienced, independent investigator. Special courses may be designed 
for students and junior faculty to hone their investigative skills. Support 
may also be provided for attending national scientific meetings and workshops 
to interact with the scientific leaders in the field and learn about the most 
current research advances in the field. Salary support will be provided for 
mentors, based on their level of effort for mentoring students and promising 
investigators.

A Science Research Core will support research, if reasonable projects are 
proposed and preliminary research studies of junior faculty and some students. 
The Core can assist both students and faculty in becoming familiar with 
technologies that will facilitate their research.   The preliminary research 
may relate to the feasibility of studies to be included in the next stage of 
BRIN development.  The scientific leadership, in conjunction with the 
principal investigator, will determine the site(s) of the core(s) and whether 
more than preliminary research is to be hosted in the cores for the more 
advanced BRINs.

The Centralized Research Core Facility will facilitate research among the  
investigators in the BRIN.  Several research projects may need access to one 
or more technologies included in the Centralized Research Core Facility.  The 
Core Facility is to include professional technical expertise for investigators 
to optimize use of the Core Facility.  These cores may also focus on service 
functions-for example, mutagenesis, cell culture, gene sequencing, cell 
sorting and so on.  The Steering Committee will determine the focus and scope 
of one or more Centralized Research Core Facilities to be included in the 
BRIN.

BRIN Committees: 

Steering Committee

The PI will serve as Chairperson of the Network’s Steering Committee, one of 
two required BRIN committees.  The PI and network institutional 
representatives must form and agree to participate as members of the Network’s 
Steering Committee.  The members of the Steering Committee will establish the 
policies and operating procedures of both itself and the BRIN. The Steering 
Committee will meet at least three times during the first year of the award 
and at least semi-annually thereafter.  The Steering Committee will also 
develop strategies as to how it will interact with the External Advisory 
Committee, described below.  The Administrative Core will provide logistical 
support to the Steering Committee.

External Advisory Committee

Each BRIN will include an External Advisory Committee (EAC).  Rules governing 
the composition of the EAC and the tenure of the Chairperson will be 
established by the Steering Committee.  The composition of the EAC is to 
include at least three permanent members as well as ad hoc members who can 
provide advice to the Steering Committee for scientific, administrative and 
other matters. The permanent members can monitor the longitudinal progress of 
BRIN development. The Administrative Core will provide logistical support. 
Expenses for the EAC, including honoraria, are to be included in the budget 
request.  The EAC must meet at least twice annually and minutes are to be kept 
and be available for review by NIH program staff who are responsible for 
working with the leadership of the BRIN. In the application, include a 
description of the types of individuals to be included along with a budget 
estimate to support the EAC. Do not include names of individuals.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The award mechanism for this RFA is an exploratory grant award mechanism 
(P20).  The following terms and conditions will be incorporated into the award 
statement and provided to the BRIN Director as well as to the appropriate 
institutional official(s) at the time of award.

The Special Requirements are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise 
applicable OMB administrative guidelines, HHS Grant Administration Regulations 
at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92, and other HHS, PHS, and NIH Grant policy 
statements.

There will be national meetings of the leadership of the BRIN networks, 
initially at 6 month intervals, and at least yearly thereafter.   These 
meetings will provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, information and 
address problems that arise.  In addition, NIH staff will provide updates on 
policies and regulations that relate to the conduct of research, including 
discussions of conflicts of interests, NIH Electronic Research Administration, 
ethics, and protection of human subjects to strengthen the Program overall and 
the networks individually.  Applicants are to include the cost of attending 
these two-day meetings in the Bethesda, Maryland, area within their requested 
budgets. 

In addition, regional meetings of networks may be held to address 
administrative or discipline-specific topics. Separately, the BRIN leadershp 
may wish to confer with NIH program staff at least once or more anually to 
seek logistical advice as well as to discuss the progress of developing the 
BRIN.  Include the costs of up to two regional meetings in the requested 
budget as well as the estimated costs of administrative visits with NIH 
program staff.

Up to the first six to eight months of funding is to be used in a planning 
phase to organize the network and to test the feasibility of the 
organizational structure and operations.   As a condition of the award, the 
plan must be approved by NCRR staff before additional funding will be released 
for implementation of the plan to develop the BRIN.  Criteria for approval 
include: 1) likelihood of implementation of the Plan over the reminder of the 
grant period; 2) evidence of institutional commitment to the BRIN; 3) 
reasonable recruitment plans for both established and promising researchers; 
4) reasonableness of elective cores to complement proposed thematic research 
area(s); 5) if appropriate, plans for research facilities renovations and 
adequacy of research space across the BRIN; 6) adequacy of plan for defining 
needed research tools and instrumentation; 7) reasonableness of plan for 
identifying an adequate pool of established investigators to mentor junior 
faculty and students; 8) adequacy of plans for undergraduate institutions;  
and 9) adequacy of administrative principles and proposed committees to 
develop an effective BRIN.

Letter of Intent 

Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by December 1, 2000, a letter of 
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed network, the name, 
address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator, the identities of 
other key personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title 
of the RFA.  Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, does 
not commit the sender to submit an application, and does not enter into the 
review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows 
NCRR staff to estimate the potential review workload and avoid conflicts of 
interest in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to: 

Dr. Charles Hollingsworth
Director, Office of Review
National Center for Research Resources
National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 6100
Bethesda, MD  20892-7965
Telephone: (301) 435-0807
FAX:   (301) 480-3660
E-mail:  CharlesH@ncrr.nih.gov

Instructions for Preparation of an Application

Applications in response to this RFA will be expected to compete for an BRIN 
award (see below) that will be competitively reviewed, in part, on the 
effectiveness of the approach for research capacity building along with the 
organizational and scientific progress to be made during the planning and 
impementation stages.  Preliminary scientific data are not required for the 
proposals.

Research Plan

INTRODUCTORY OVERVIEW

Discuss the philosophy, priorities and objectives of the network. Address the 
importance of the funds to develop the several components, including support 
for promising but not yet established investigators.  Describe the potential 
impact of the proposed plan on the research capacities of participating 
institutions, faculty and students within the host state.  Describe the roles 
of the BRIN Committees---Steering Committee and External Advisory Committee---
and the approaches to be used to set priorities for future research efforts.  
Prioritize the needs within the proposed network and how those needs will be 
met. Describe how the plan will build an effective research base that will 
eventually lead to competitive research applications from a critical mass of 
investigators who will form an effective multidisciplinary research team 
within the BRIN. Finally, describe the anticipated impact on student and 
faculty from undergraduate institutions on the workforce and as a “feeder” 
into the graduate science programs within the state.

Infrastructure Needs: 

Describe 1) the quality of existing institutional research space as well as 
research facilities needed across the Network to conduct biomedical research 
for investigators within the BRIN.  Describe and justify upgrading of existing 
laboratories as part of this effort to be undertaken with support through this 
RFA.  Similarly, 2) describe what research equipment is available and can be 
used by BRIN investigators and students; describe and justify additional 
research instrumentation needs of the BRIN and how those needs can be 
addressed through this program. Summarize 3) how a critical mass of 
investigators is to be developed to build a multidisciplinary research team. 
4) Describe the foregoing needs for both graduate school and undergraduate 
institutions and 5) provide a time line for how the BRIN will address 
infrastructure needs as well as how the BRIN will prioritize those 
infrastructure needs. 6) Describe any other sources of support that will 
contribute to the development of the proposed BRIN.

CORE DESCRIPTIONS  

Mandatory:

Administrative Core:

Describe the qualifications and role of the Principal Investigator of the lead 
institution selected collegially from among the participating institutions in 
the proposed network.  Describe the administrative arrangements among the 
participants and the mechanisms to be used to resolve differences of opinion. 

Bioinformatics Core:

Describe the approach to be undertaken within the proposed network to provide 
access to bioinformatics tools for data mining and model development, database 
management of heterogeneous objects of varying size and the need for training 
investigators in the effective use of those tools.  Describe how the network 
will create an infrastructure for bioinformatics and other related tools for 
investigators in the network and the impact of the Core on multidisciplinary 
research efforts and the environment in which to develop a new generation of 
researchers. If access to high end computational power is required, describe 
how and where investigators can access this capability.

Other Cores to be considered:

Training and Mentoring Core

Describe the network’s plan to develop the research skills of both graduate 
and undergraduate students and junior faculty. Describe the role of 
undergraduate faculty.  Describe how mentors are to be selected and how they 
will interact with the junior scientists and students.  Provide an estimate of 
the ratio of funded, established investigators to trainees on the 
multidisciplinary research team.

In parallel, describe how faculty will be recruited for undergraduate 
institutions and their relative contribution to thematic research planned 
within the network.  Describe plans to attract more gifted students into 
science majors and their opportunities for exposure to cutting edge research 
technologies.  Describe how approaches can contribute to the research 
experience to launch an independent research career.

Mentors must have research expertise relevant to the scientific area(s) to be 
developed within the BRIN.  Mentors will help oversee the proposed training 
and career development of promising investigators.  The scientific leadership, 
including mentors, will ensure that participants are coached in state-of-the-
art scientific methods, including testing hypotheses, designing valid studies 
and analyzing data.  The application should also describe how junior faculty 
will be protected for research time. The mentor may be a collaborator on the 
junior investigator’s research project. Where feasible, women, minorities and 
individuals with disabilities should be involved as role models, students, or 
junior investigators. Finally, describe how mentoring will be evaluated to 
assure students and junior investigators receive effective “coaching.” 

Centralized Research Core Facility will facilitate research for investigators 
not only in the network but also for investigators within the state but at 
institutions outside the network.  Several research projects may need access 
to one or more technologies included in the Centralized Research Laboratory 
Core.  The Core Laboratory is to include professional technical expertise to 
optimize use of the Core Laboratory’s technology. Provide the rationale for 
the Research Core Laboratory/(ies) included in the application, its impact on 
research, and how the Core Laboratory/(ies) will be professionally staffed. 
Include justification for the level of funds requested to support the Core 
Facility(ies).

The Science Research Core can support preliminary research studies of 
promising faculty and selected students. The Core can assist both students and 
faculty in becoming familiar with technologies that will facilitate their 
research.   Describe how this core may relate to research studies to be 
included in the next stage of development (beyond the three years’ support 
provided by a BRIN award). Describe the rationale for the scope of the Science 
Research Core requested and the rationale for the site(s) of the core(s). 
Provide justification for staffing and operational costs and the potential 
over all impact on the research direction(s) of the BRIN.

Evaluation Plan

An evaluation component is to be included in the application to assess whether 
the effectiveness of the approach taken will meet the goals or benchmarks for 
building an effective institutional research network.  The application is to 
describe the development and implementation of the plan for formative and 
summative evaluations of the network along with strategies for revisions, if 
deemed necessary.  In addition, the evaluation plan is to set benchmarks for 
the network’s impact on recruitment of outstanding faculty and students at 
participating undergraduate institutions.  There may be other novel elements 
that the applicant may choose to include in the evaluation.

REVIEW CRITERIA

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of 
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  The 
reviewers will comment on the following aspects of the application in their 
written critiques in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed network 
will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these 
criteria will be addressed and considered by the reviewers in assigning the 
overall score weighting them as appropriate for each application.

The five criteria to be used in the evaluation of grant applications are 
listed below.

1. Significance.

o  Will the network provide an integrated approach among the institutions and 
enhance their research capacity building, including collaborations among the 
institutions?

o  Does the proposal include a systematic approach for new ideas, recruitment 
and support for students, junior and established, funded senior investigators 

o How will capacity building at participating institutions be undertaken?

2. Approach.

o  Is the conceptual organizational and operational framework reasonable and 
appropriate to develop an effective network?  Is the time line realistic?

o  Does the proposal effectively integrate the goals of the participating 
institutions with that of the proposed network? 

o  Is there a viable strategy for developing a menu of undergraduate and 
graduate educational opportunities, ranging from formal programs to courses 
and seminars, visiting scientist programs and other similar activities?  Are 
provisions made for familiarizing investigators and students with 
bioinformatics tools?

3. Innovation

o  Does the network incorporate attainable approaches or methods for 
developing and facilitating interactions among faculty across all 
institutional levels?  Will there be an adequate pool of established, funded  
investigators to effectively mentor junior colleagues?

o  Does the proposed network effectively include development of appropriate 
state-of-the-art core facilities to enable health-related research? 

o  Does the application address the need and key role of bioinformatics to 
enable research across the network?

o What creative plans does the network propose to strengthen the participating 
institutions?

4. Administration

o  Does the Principal Investigator have the administrative experience and 
skills to effectively lead this effort? Are other key personnel in other 
areas, for example, bioinformatics, well qualified to work in developing the 
cores and network?
 
o  Is the Steering Committee appropriately constituted and empowered to 
effectively provide advice and recommendations to the participating 
institutions?  

o  Is there a clear plan for defining sharing and discharging the  
responsibilities of investigators and operational procedures among 
institutions?

o  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and possible 
resolutions?

o  Is there a formalized agreement---for example, memorandum of understanding 
(MOU)---among institutions that are to constitute the network?  In the event 
that disputes arise and cannot be resolved collegially, what recourse is 
available to arbitrate those differences?

o  How and who sets final priorities for the BRIN?  What are the priorities 
and goals of the network?  Are proposed time lines appropriate to meet the 
goals of the BRIN?
 
o  If there are plans to recruit investigator(s), are those plans reasonable 
and necessary and can those efforts be completed in a timely manner, such that 
the recruited investigator(s) can make meaningful contributions to building 
the network?  Are the time lines for building the network’s biomedical 
research capacity realistic and attainable with the level of support provided 
through this program?  Will the BRIN Award contribute to salaries and start up 
funds for promising investigators; are there other sources of support for 
salaries and start-up funds?

5. Environment.

o  Does the plan increase the likelihood that the network will effectively 
enhance quality research and research competitiveness for research funds among 
participating institutions? 

o  Will the network effectively promote research and facilitate interactions 
across disciplines and institutions?  Are there appropriate research cores 
incorporated into their planned network? 

o  Is there evidence that the institutions or departments that make up the 
network can work together and develop an effective network?  Is the need for 
upgrading research facilities and instrumentation justified? Is the approach 
to select sites for renovating laboratories and purchasing research equipment 
well thought out? Are the needs of the undergraduate BRIN components 
adequately addressed?


o  If the network includes electronic communication, what advantages does it 
provide?  Is there adequate technical support to oversee the electronic 
network?  Is it cost effective? What is the primary goal or goals of 
electronic communication?

o  Is there evidence of significant administrative and scientific commitment 
of  the participating institutions to fulfill the objectives of the BRIN?  Is 
there evidence of institutional support?

o Is there an effective plan to develop a competitive scientific environment, 
including protected time for faculty participants, and recruitment of 
competitive promising and established investigators to enhance the probability 
of meeting the goals of the RFA?

Overall Evaluation: 

The review of the BRIN applications will be based on the review criteria 
described herein, the administrative qualifications of the principal 
investigator and the quality of the plan to develop an effective research 
network that will contribute significantly to the state’s research base.  
Innovation is a primary consideration in the review of these applications.

The initial review group will also examine: the appropriateness of the 
proposed project budget and the duration, adequacy of clinical research plans 
to include both genders and minorities and their subgroups as appropriate for 
the scientific goals of the research and plans for the recruitment and 
retention of subjects; the adequacy of plans for including children as 
appropriate for the scientific goals of the research, or justification for 
exclusion; the provisions for the protection of human and animal subjects; and 
the safety of the research environment.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the Center for 
Scientific Review and responsiveness by NCRR staff.  Applications that are 
incomplete and/or non-responsive to this RFA, will be returned.  Applications 
that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be evaluated for technical 
merit by a Special Emphasis Panel convened by NCRR in accordance with the 
review criteria.  As part of the initial review, all applications will receive 
a written critique and may undergo a process in which only those applications 
deemed to have the highest scientific merit, generally the top one half of 
applications under review, will be discussed, assigned a priority score, and 
receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Research Resources 
Council.  Applications determined to be of low scientific merit will be 
withdrawn from further competition and the principal investigator and the 
official signing for the applicant organization will be notified.

In addition to the above criteria:
 
o  Applications will be reviewed for potential effectiveness of their 
organizational structure and operations of the network, merits of proposed 
capacity building and the proposed evaluation plan.

o  For research projects involving human subjects, the adequacy of plans to 
include both genders and minorities and their subgroups as appropriate for the 
scientific goals of the research.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of 
subjects will also be evaluated.  The age-appropriate inclusion or exclusion 
of children in the research project and evaluate the plans for conducting the 
research in accord with the NIH guidelines on the inclusion of children as 
participants in research involving human subjects will be evaluated;

o  For research projects that use animals, the adequacy of the proposed plan 
for animal welfare and biohazard safety in the research environment; and

o  The appropriateness of the proposed budget and duration, including the 
justification for requested items in terms of the aims and methods of the 
proposed research studies will be evaluated.

ALLOWABLE COSTS 

Awardee's Salary. Up to the legislative maximum for full-time professional 
effort salary support may be requested. The total salary requested must be 
based on a full-time 12 month staff appointment. It must be consistent both 
with the established salary structure at the institution and with the salaries 
actually provided by the institution from its own funds to other staff members 
of equivalent qualifications, rank, and responsibilities in the department 
concerned. If full-time 12-month salaries are not currently paid to comparable 
staff members, the salary proposed must be appropriately related to the 
existing salary. 

The institution may supplement the NIH contribution up to a level that is 
consistent with the institution's salary scale; however, supplementation may 
not be from Federal funds unless specifically authorized by the Federal 
program from which such funds are derived. In no case, may HHS funds be used 
for salary supplementation. Institutional supplementation of salary must not 
require extra duties or responsibilities that would interfere with the purpose 
of the award. 

It is expected that the junior investigators will devote at least 75 per cent 
of their professional effort to career development and research activities. 
Bi-annual Meeting Costs and Regional Meetings:

There will be a meeting of the leadership of the grantee networks at 6 month 
intervals.  The costs to support and attend these meetings should be included 
in the application.  Estimate costs for key staff to attend at lease two 
regional meetings annually.

Tuition. If essential to the awardee's individual development program, funds 
for tuition for training courses may be requested on a course-by-course basis. 

Ancillary Personnel Support. Salary for mentors is not allowed unless the 
mentors are members of the established investigator pool which is to directly 
interact and mentor junior investigators.  May request up to 25 percent effort 
for mentors who are extensively involved in this BRIN activity. 

Facilities and Administrative Cost will be reimbursed at the negotiated rate.

Allowable Renovation Costs to improve existing research laboratories or animal 
facilities, and allowable fees associated with the A&R project.  A network may 
request up to 20 percent of the direct costs awarded over the three years.  
Proposed renovations that will cost more than $100,000 require special 
approval from the NCRR Office of Grants Management.
 
Research equipment/instrumentation for laboratories

Supplies for research

Office supplies

Salaries for support and technical staff as well as professional staff who 
will direct Cores

Other costs not specifically excluded 

This RFA will not provide support for new construction, including the 
completion of shell space, or for equipment intended for teaching or other 
non-research related purposes.  There is another NCRR program, entitled the  
Research Facilities Improvement Program, that accepts applications for 
construction and for extensive renovation.  Refer to the NCRR Website: 
(http://www.ncrr.nih.gov)

AWARD CRITERIA

BRIN awards will be based on the quality of the proposed network, development 
of an effective biomedical research base, availability of funds, geographic 
distribution and program priorities.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The RFA label, available in the PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) application kit, must be 
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use 
this label could result in delayed processing of the application such that it 
may not reach the review committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA 
number and title must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application 
form and the "YES" box must be marked.

The sample RFA label available at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf has been modified 
to allow for this change.  Please note this is in pdf format.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the 
Checklist, and two signed photocopies, in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040, MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD  20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, three additional copies of the application and five 
copies of any appendices must be sent to:

Dr. Charles Hollingsworth
Director, Office of Review
National Center for Research Resources
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 6100
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone: (301) 435-0807
FAX: (301) 480-3660
E-mail: CharlesH@ncrr.nih.gov

Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  December 1, 2000 
Application Receipt Date:       January 23, 2001
Council Review:                 September 15, 2001
Earliest Award Date:            September 30, 2001

Applications must be received by January 23, 2001.  If an application is 
received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.

INQUIRIES

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Dr. Sidney A. McNairy, Jr.
Associate Director, Research Infrastructure
National Center for Research Resources
National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD  20892-7965
Telephone:  (301) 435-0788 
FAX:  (301) 480-3770
E-mail: sidneym@ncrr.nih.gov
For information on budget and fiscal matters, contact:

Ms. Irene Grissom 
Office of Grants Management 
National Center for Research Resources 
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 435-0844
FAX: (301) 480-3777
E-mail: grissomi@ncrr.nih.gov

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS 

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 biomedical and 
behavioral research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and 
compelling rationale and justification are 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 research involving human subjects should read the 
UPDATED "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in 
Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on 
August 2, 2000 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-048.html); 
a complete copy of the updated Guidelines are available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_update.htm:  The 
revisions relate to NIH defined Phase III clinical trials and require: a) all 
applications or proposals and/or protocols to 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) all 
investigators to report accrual, and to conduct and report analyses, as 
appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group differences.

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) 
be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by the NIH, 
unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  This 
policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for receipt 
dates after October 1, 1998.

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” that was published in the NIH Guide for 
Grants and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL 
address: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-024.html

URLS IN NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS OR APPENDICES

All applications and proposals for NIH funding must be self-contained within 
specified page limitations.  Unless otherwise specified in an NIH 
solicitation, internet addresses (URLs) should not be used to provide 
information necessary to the review because reviewers are under no obligation 
to view the Internet sites.  Reviewers are cautioned that their anonymity may 
be compromised when they directly access an Internet site.

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 RFA, Institutional Development 
Award (IDeA) Network Program, 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 No. 
93.854.  Awards are made under authorization of the Public Health Service Act, 
Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 
241 and 285) and administered under NIH grants policies and Federal 
Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74 and 92.  This program is not subject 
to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or 
Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a 
smoke-free workplace and promote the non-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.


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