CENTERS OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH EXCELLENCE (COBRE)

Release Date:  December 11, 2001

RFA:  RFA-RR-02-003

National Center for Research Resources

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  January 18, 2002
Application Receipt Date:       February 25, 2002

PURPOSE

The purpose of the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program is to 
foster health-related research and increase the competitiveness of 
investigators at institutions located in states with historically low 
aggregate success rates for grant awards from the National Institutes 
of Health (NIH).  To provide flexible support to build research 
capacity, the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) of the 
National Institutes of Health invites applications for Centers of 
Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) from investigators at 
independent biomedical research institutions or biomedical research 
institutions that award doctoral degrees in the health sciences or 
sciences related to health within IDeA eligible states. Collaboration 
with other non-doctoral degree granting and research performing 
institutes or institutions is encouraged.

The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to augment and 
strengthen the institutional biomedical research capacity through 
flexible support to expand and develop biomedical faculty research 
capability and enhance research infrastructure through support of a 
multi-disciplinary center, led by a peer-reviewed, funded investigator 
with expertise central to the research theme of the proposal. The 
application must have a thematic science focus in one research area – 
such as neuroscience, cancer, structural biology, immunology, or 
bioengineering – and may use basic, clinical or both research 
approaches to attain the goals of the proposed center.  The scientific 
leadership provided by one or more established biomedical research 
faculty is critical to the success of this initiative, especially for 
the mentoring of promising junior investigators.  The center is 
intended to support investigators from several complementary 
disciplines.  It will enable the institution to develop a critical mass 
of investigators and enhance their competitiveness in a specific 
research area that accelerates the rate at which those investigators 
compete for other complementary NIH research grant support.  It is also 
anticipated that, in some instances, the support through this 
initiative will facilitate the development of new disease specific 
research centers or augment the capability of existing centers. 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

In making its assessment for eligibility, NCRR included all 
states/commonwealths with a success rate for obtaining NIH grant awards 
(number of applications awarded vs. number of applications approved) of 
less than 20 percent over the period of 1996-2000.  Also included are 
those states that had higher success rates, but received less than $70 
million average NIH funding over the five-year period.  Under these 
criteria, the following states/commonwealth 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

A maximum of three applications may be submitted from IDeA-eligible 
states that have no COBRE awards.  Two applications may be submitted 
from a state that has one currently active COBRE award and those states 
that currently have 2 active COBRE awards may submit only one 
application.  The applicant organization must be a domestic, public or 
private, or non-profit research institution.  Institutions in states 
that do not currently hold a COBRE award are encouraged to apply.  
States are encouraged to give priority to institutions within their 
state that are not participants in the COBRE or Biomedical Research 
Infrastructure Network (BRIN) programs.  A coordinating committee must 
be established by the eligible institutions to determine the lead 
applicant. Those states with Experimental Program to Stimulate 
Competitive Research (EPSCoR) committees may use them. However, the 
membership of the EPSCoR committees must be representative of the 
eligible institutions and include the appropriate biomedical research 
expertise needed to review the applications.  The committee should have 
the responsibility to screen and rank-order applications and make final 
and binding recommendations for submission of applications to NIH.  If 
an EPSCoR Committee is not available in an IDeA-eligible state, a 
comparable Committee must determine priorities for selection of 
proposals to be submitted. Collaboration between the eligible 
institutions is encouraged.  Applications are encouraged from 
veterinary and dental schools in the IDeA states.  Applications 
received from veterinary and dental schools will not count against the 
maximum of three COBRE awards held by an eligible state.

The Principal Investigator (PI) of the COBRE application must be an 
established biomedical or behavioral research scientist who will ensure 
high quality research and who has the experience to administer 
effectively and integrate all components of the program.  The PI must 
have an active biomedical or behavioral research program receiving NIH, 
NSF or other peer-reviewed support in the scientific area of the center 
and have the requisite administrative experience to direct the program.  
A minimum time commitment of 25 percent is required for this 
individual; however, up to 50 percent effort will be supported for 
mentoring and administrative oversight of the COBRE.  If the PI is not 
in place at the institution at the time of review or award, a plan to 
recruit such an individual must be included in the application.  An 
award pursuant to this RFA will not be made until and unless the 
institution has appointed a permanent COBRE PI.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

This RFA will use the exploratory grant award mechanism (P20).  
Responsibility for planning, directing and executing the proposed 
project will be solely that of the applicant.  All current policies and 
requirements that govern the research grant programs of the NIH will 
apply to grants awarded under this RFA.  The anticipated award date is 
August 2002.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The NCRR plans to make up to 15 awards in fiscal year 2002.  An 
applicant must request a project period of five years and a budget for 
direct costs of up to $1,500,000 per year, excluding facilities and 
administrative (F&A) costs on consortium arrangements. The budget for 
year one may include additional direct costs of up to $500,000 as a 
one-time expenditure for alteration and renovation of laboratory or 
animal facilities.  Funds may be used to develop Offices of Sponsored 
Programs and for faculty expansion (i.e. recruitment of additional 
faculty who complement the scope of the proposed program) up to $100 
thousand per year for each position.  These funds may be used for 
salary, supplies and equipment costs.  Because the nature and scope of 
the research proposed may vary, it is anticipated that the size of each 
award will also vary. Although the NCRR financial plans provide support 
for this program, awards pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the 
availability of funds and the receipt of applications of outstanding 
scientific and technical merit.  At this time, it is not known if 
competing renewal applications will be accepted and/or if this RFA will 
be reissued. 

Consortium Arrangements

When a grant application includes research activities that involve 
institutions other than the grantee institution, it is considered a 
consortium effort.  Such activities may be included in the COBRE grant 
application, but it is imperative that a consortium application be 
prepared so that the programmatic, fiscal, and administrative 
considerations are explained fully.  In addition, the COBRE thematic 
science focus must be evident in the application, which includes 
consortia arrangements.  Applicants for COBRE grants should exercise 
great diligence in preserving the interactions of the participants and 
the integration of the consortium project(s) with those of the parent 
institution, because synergism and cohesiveness can be diminished when 
projects are located outside of the group at the parent institution.  
For the purposes of this RFA, F&A costs for the consortium 
organization(s) are excluded from the limit on the amount of direct 
costs that can be requested for the entire application.  Applicants are 
encouraged to review the NIH policy and procedures applicable to 
consortium agreements, which are published as part of the NIH Grants 
Policy Statement, Part III, available on the NIH homepage at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2001/index.htm.  Questions may be 
directed to the fiscal contact identified below under Inquiries.  

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This program seeks to promote the initiation and development or 
expansion of unique, innovative state-of-the-art biomedical and 
behavioral research at institutions in IDeA-eligible states.  The 
research focus of this program encompasses the full spectrum of the 
basic and clinical sciences and also includes cellular and molecular 
biology, biophysics and biotechnology, genetics and developmental 
biology, pharmacology and others. The NIH recognizes that the 
contributions from the institutions in IDeA-eligible states are 
important and essential in fulfilling the promise of the NIH research 
agenda.  The intent of this RFA is to assist these institutions to 
implement and use the technologies and other resources needed to 
conduct state-of-the-art biomedical research.  The goal of this RFA is 
to enhance the ability of investigators to compete independently for 
NIH research grants. 

The objectives of this program will be accomplished by providing 
support to a principal investigator to serve as mentor to the junior 
investigators and to enhance the ability of the institution to compete 
for complementary NIH individual research grant support.  This program 
will support three to five research projects with a thematic science 
focus.  This initiative is not intended to replace the support for 
ongoing investigator-initiated research programs of established 
investigators. Established investigators should serve as mentors to the 
junior investigators to advance their careers.  This initiative is 
intended to provide support for research projects led by junior 
investigators.  A junior investigator is a faculty member without 
external, peer-reviewed funding, who has the institutional support and 
position to facilitate their submitting independent investigator-
initiated research grant applications.
  
RESEARCH PLAN

Describe an overall research plan to justify support of a multi-
disciplinary COBRE program for five years.  The research plan of an 
application must contain the description of at least three and up to 
five multidisciplinary, collaborative research projects.

Describe the Specific Aims in the selected area of research and the 
goals for the first year and for the long term.  Delineate the design 
principles supporting the research or the hypotheses to be tested.  
Preliminary studies are not required for COBRE applications, but 
applicants with preliminary results should describe them.  In the 
absence of preliminary results, applicants should describe the 
rationale and scientific basis for the proposed research.

Describe the area of multi-disciplinary research that is the focus of 
the COBRE.  Critically assess existing knowledge and approaches that 
have been or are being directed in the area, and specifically describe 
how the multi-disciplinary COBRE approach will advance the field.  
State concisely the importance and health relevance of the proposed 
research to the Specific Aims.

Clearly indicate what unique research opportunities will be provided by 
the proposed COBRE.  If the proposed COBRE research is closely related 
to ongoing research or an existing center, explain how the research 
activities of the COBRE will complement but not overlap with existing 
research.  Describe the efforts of each member of the multi-
disciplinary research team and how they will be integrated and 
organized to accomplish the specific aims of the project.  Provide a 
tentative sequence or timetable for the project.  Include how the data 
will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted.  Describe how the data 
and technological advances will be disseminated to other investigators.

Clearly describe the qualifications of the COBRE PI selected for this 
effort.  If that individual is not a member of the faculty at the time 
of review of the application, include a detailed plan that will result 
in having that individual on the full-time faculty within one year from 
the date of peer-review of the institution's application.  

Although no non-federal matching funds are required for these 
applications, clear evidence of institutional 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.  At a minimum, a letter of 
support from a senior institutional official (e.g., President or Dean) 
should outline the commitment of resources and facilities to sustain 
and support the COBRE throughout the period of funding. 

The institutional environment and resources that are available to 
investigators must be briefly described.  Available resources (e.g., 
laboratory facilities, patient populations, geographic distributions of 
space and personnel) and collaborative resources should be described.  
If core facilities are included for support, the relationship of each 
component project to the core should be described. 

A plan should be presented detailing the long-term goals as to how the 
institution intends to make the transition from the research support of 
the multi-disciplinary COBRE to competitive NIH grant support through 
applications submitted by its faculty members to relevant NIH 
institutes and centers.  This must include both formative and summative 
evaluation strategies with specific milestones.  

ALTERATION AND RENOVATION

Alteration and Renovation Costs to improve existing research 
laboratories or animal facilities are allowed.  Alteration and 
renovation projects must be relevant to the scope of the proposed 
research and at the institution.  Proposed renovations in successful 
applications will subsequently require the submission of design 
documents for review and approval before the renovation project may 
commence.  As indicated earlier, this RFA will provide up to $500,000 
in direct costs in year one of the award as a one-time cost 
expenditure.  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).

Research equipment/instrumentation for laboratories may be requested 
and must be justified by the proposed scientific projects.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 

For the Principal Investigator, co-investigator(s), and mentors, 
provide a brief biographical sketch or curriculum vitae, which includes 
a list of the five most recent or significant publications. This 
section must not exceed four pages per person.

OTHER SUPPORT 

The application must provide a complete listing of current and pending 
support for the Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator(s), and non Co-
Investigator Senior Personnel using only the format provided in the PHS 
398 (revised 5/01).

RESOURCES

The application must describe the equipment and facilities available to 
the proposed COBRE.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The COBRE PI should budget for an annual two-day meeting in Bethesda, 
Maryland with NCRR staff.  

Each COBRE application must include an External Advisory Committee 
(EAC), comprised of at least three to five scientists, with national 
scientific reputations in their field; their expertise must be directly 
relevant to the scientific theme of the COBRE.  The EAC critiques 
scientific progress of the COBRE and also offers advice on scientific 
matters to the COBRE PI.  The EAC activities include concept 
development, program planning, encouraging faculty development and 
mentoring, identifying resources, and evaluating progress toward stated 
goals.  The PI will share the advice and critiques provided by the EAC 
with other investigators at the center.  The EAC will also review and 
approve candidates for replacement/substitute projects and 
investigators as required, before such requests are forwarded to NCRR.  
The EAC must meet at least twice per year on average.  Minutes are to 
be recorded and made available for review by NCRR program staff 
responsible for the COBRE.

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 
clinical research projects unless a clear and compelling justification 
is provided indicating that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to 
the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research. This policy 
results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public 
Law 103-43).

All investigators proposing clinical research should read the AMENDMENT 
"NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in 
Clinical Research - Amended, October, 2001," published in the NIH Guide 
for Grants and Contracts on October 9, 2001 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-001.html); 
a complete copy of the updated Guidelines are available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_amended_10_2001.htm.  
The amended policy incorporates: the use of an NIH 
definition of clinical research; updated racial and ethnic categories 
in compliance with the new OMB standards; clarification of language 
governing NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials consistent with the new 
PHS Form 398; and updated roles and responsibilities of NIH staff and 
the extramural community.  The policy continues to require for all NIH-
defined Phase III clinical trials that: a) all applications or 
proposals and/or protocols must provide a description of plans to 
conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address differences by sex/gender 
and/or racial/ethnic groups, including subgroups if applicable; and b) 
investigators must report annual accrual and progress in conducting 
analyses, as appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group 
differences.

REQUIRED EDUCATION ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN SUBJECT PARTICIPANTS

NIH policy requires education on the protection of human subject 
participants for all investigators submitting NIH proposals for 
research involving human subjects.  This policy announcement is found 
in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts Announcement (updated 
September 5, 2001), at the following website: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-01-061.html.

NIH POLICY AND GUIDELINES ON THE 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) must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or 
supported by the NIH, unless there are scientific or ethical reasons 
not to include them.  This 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.

PUBLIC ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been 
revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom 
of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances.  Data that are (1) 
first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with 
Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency 
in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a 
regulation) may be accessed through FOIA.  It is important for 
applicants to understand the basic scope of this amendment.  NIH has 
provided guidance at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm.

Applicants may wish to place data collected under this RFA in a public 
archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the 
distribution for an indefinite period of time.  If so, the application 
should include a description of the archiving plan in the study design 
and include information about this in the budget justification section 
of the application. In addition, applicants should think about how to 
structure informed consent statements and other human subjects 
procedures given the potential for wider use of data collected under 
this award.

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 Request for 
Applications (RFA), entitled CENTERS OF BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH EXCELLENCE 
(COBRE), is related to many priority areas.  Potential applicants may 
obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/.

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.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that 
includes a descriptive title of the proposed research, 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 in response to which the application 
may be submitted.  

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 NCRR staff to estimate the potential review 
workload and plan the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Dr. Sheryl K. Brining
Office of Review
National Center for Research Resources
National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 6018
Bethesda, MD  20892-7965
Telephone:  (301) 435-0809
FAX:  (301) 480-3660
E-mail:  Sb44K@nih.gov

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The PHS 398 research grant application instructions and forms (rev. 
5/2001) available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html must be used in 
applying for these grants. This version of the PHS 398 is available in 
an interactive, searchable format.  For further assistance contact 
GrantsInfo, Telephone 301/435-0714, Email:  GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

An application for a COBRE award must include the following:

o  A clear definition of the nature and extent of research 
collaboration, including a full explanation of the necessary 
administrative, fiscal, and scientific aspects of the proposed COBRE.

o  A research plan for five years that includes the proposed 
organization and component functions of the COBRE.  The plan should 
demonstrate the applicant's knowledge, ingenuity, practicality, and 
commitment to developing a significant, productive, research program.

o  A description of and justification for the proposed individual 
research projects (a ten-page limitation for the Research Plan Section 
for each project) and core service facilities that collectively will 
contribute to the center.  Applicants are required to propose at least 
three and up to five meritorious research projects and must describe 
the nature and scope of any scientific research collaborations.

o  A description of the research and research training or career 
development goals and capabilities of the proposed COBRE.  The PI must 
establish a time line for supported applicant investigators to prepare 
and submit proposals for traditional research grant review during the 
performance period of the COBRE award.

o  A description of the infrastructure for conducting studies aimed at 
developing a nationally-competitive biomedical research program.

o  Line drawings (8.5 by 11 inches) of any proposed alteration and 
renovation and an itemized budget.  Justification of this alteration 
and renovation relative to the impact on the COBRE activities must be 
provided.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001) application form 
must be affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  
Type the RFA number on the label.  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 
title and number must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the 
application form and the YES box must be marked. The RFA label is also 
available at:  http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the 
Checklist, and three 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, two additional copies of the application and 
five copies of any appendices must be sent to:

Dr. Sheryl K. Brining
Director, Office of Review
National Center for Research Resources
6705 Rockledge Drive, Room 6018
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 435-0809
FAX:  (301) 480-3660
E-mail:  Sb44L@nih.gov

Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  January 18, 2002
Application Receipt Date:       February 25, 2002
Council Review:                 May 2002
Earliest Award Date:            August 2002

Applications must be received by February 25, 2002.  If an application 
is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant 
without review.  The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will not accept 
an application in response to this RFA that is essentially the same as 
one currently pending initial review, unless the applicant withdraws 
the pending application.  The CSR will not accept any application that 
is essentially the same as one already reviewed.  This does not 
preclude the submission of substantial revisions of applications 
already reviewed.  This does not preclude the submission of substantial 
revisions of applications already reviewed, but such applications must 
include an introduction addressing the previous critique.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

o Extent to which the objectives of the program are likely to be met: 
1. to augment and strengthen the institutional biomedical 
research capability.
2. to provide support for the development of a multidisciplinary 
center.
3. to encourage basic or clinical research.
4. to focus on a scientific theme such as (but not limited to) 
neuroscience, structural biology, immunology, cancer or 
bioengineering.

o Qualifications of the Principal Investigator:
1. as an established biomedical research scientist.
2. as the head of an active research laboratory.
3. as the recipient of relevant, peer-reviewed, funded 
research  (NIH, NSF or other peer-reviewed research).

o Quality of the individual research projects:
1. in terms of their individual scientific merit.
2. in terms of their contribution to the goals of the center 
program.
3. in terms of the planned collaborations among the projects 
within the center or with outside institutions.
4. in terms of the mentorship available to the junior 
investigators of these projects.

o Quality of the research training, career development and mentoring 
plan for junior investigators of the center.

o Suitability of the plan for recruiting new faculty.

o Appropriateness of available infrastructure that supports the 
center.

o Suitability of the plan to establish core laboratory(s).

o Evidence of institutional commitment.

o Suitability of the External Advisory Committee. 

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by CSR and 
responsiveness by NCRR staff.  Applications that are incomplete and/or 
non-responsive to this RFA, or exceed the maximum allowable first year 
direct cost limit of  $2,000,000, excluding F&A costs for consortium 
budgets, will be returned to the applicant without further 
consideration. 

Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be 
evaluated for scientific and 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.

The review of the COBRE application is based not only on the 
traditional review criteria for research projects, but also considers 
the qualification and stature of the Principal Investigator to provide 
leadership, both scientific and administrative, and the feasibility and 
potential for investigators to become competitive for independent 
funding.  The following criteria will be used to evaluate the 1) 
administration and the overall potential for enriching the intellectual 
milieu for doing research, 2) scientific merit of the individual 
biomedical research projects, and 3) effectiveness in training and 
promoting junior investigators.  Senior, funded investigators must not 
be proposed as project leaders.

Administration of the center

o  The qualifications of the Principal Investigator to provide 
scientific and administrative leadership in developing and directing 
the COBRE, and establishing thematic collaborative research efforts;

o  The significance, approach, and innovation of the proposed research 
projects and of the COBRE as a whole;

o  The nature, scope, and effectiveness of the plans for coordination 
and cooperation among research project investigators;

o  The strengths of the applicant investigators and the collaborating 
researchers, if involved,  particularly the academic qualifications,  
biomedical expertise and research productivity;

o  The level of institutional commitment with regard to commitment of 
resources and facilities to sustain the COBRE program, including, but 
not restricted to existing relevant equipment, animal, and/or computer 
resources, and departmental or interdepartmental cooperation;

o  The need for the proposed core facilities and the effectiveness of 
these facilities to enhance the research effort.

Scientific Merit of the individual proposals will be evaluated using 
the following review criteria:

(1) Significance:  Does this project address an important biomedical 
research question?  If the aims of the application are achieved, how 
will scientific knowledge be advanced?  What will be the effect of 
these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this field?

(2) Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and 
analyses adequately developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to the 
aims of the research project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential 
problem areas and consider alternative tactics?

(3) Innovation:  Does the research project employ novel concepts, 
approaches or methods?  Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the 
project challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or 
technologies?

(4) Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well 
suited to carry out this research project?  Is the work proposed 
appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator and 
other researchers (if any)?

(5) Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the research 
project will be performed contribute to the probability of success?  Do 
the proposed experiments take advantage of unique features of the 
scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements?  Is 
there evidence of institutional support?

Overall Evaluation:  A research project does not need to be strong in 
all categories to be judged likely to have a major scientific impact 
and thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an investigator 
may propose to carry out important work that by its nature is not 
innovative, but is essential to move a field forward.  An assessment of 
the merit of the COBRE's evaluation plans, including formative and 
summary evaluation strategies, will be taken into account in the 
overall evaluation of the proposal.

In addition to the above criteria:
 
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.

AWARD CRITERIA

Funding decisions will be based on scientific and technical merit as 
determined by the Initial Review Group, the National Advisory Research 
Resources Council, geographic distribution, program balance, the 
enhancement of the research competitiveness of the institution, and the 
availability of funds.

INQUIRIES

Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The opportunity to 
clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Dr. W. Fred Taylor, Ph.D.
Division of Research Infrastructure
National Center for Research Resources
National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD  20892-7965
Telephone:  (301) 435-0760 
FAX:  (301) 480-3770
E-mail:  taylorf@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

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance 
No. 93.389.  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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