The purpose of this Notice is to encourage currently funded NCI extramural investigators to apply for administrative supplements to support mentored cancer research career development of early-stage low- and middle-income country (LMIC) investigators (ESLIs). The overarching goal of this supplement opportunity is to strengthen the capacity of LMIC investigators to conduct high-quality research in their LMIC home institutions to generate context-appropriate evidence to address specific cancer control priorities in LMICs.
Cancer poses an increasing health and economic burden globally, but the impact is especially profound in LMICs where more than 65% of all cancer deaths occur. Cancer incidence and mortality are projected to increase over the next several decades, accelerating most rapidly in LMICs where populations are rapidly transitioning and the capacity for cancer control is limited. There is an urgent need to accelerate cancer research in LMICs to generate context-specific evidence to better inform local cancer control efforts. LMIC investigators, working in their LMIC home institutions, are well positioned to lead innovative and impactful research as they best understand the local socio-cultural contexts, needs, and opportunities for cancer research. Global research collaborations, including those in LMICs, are increasingly critical to answer complex cancer research questions. Therefore, concerted and deliberate efforts to strengthen the research capabilities of local LMIC investigators will maximize research impact and foster equity in global research collaborations in LMICs.
Research Mentoring and Career Development
The NCI Global Oncology Mentored Research Supplements provide additional funds to established NCI investigators who hold active NCI grants or cooperative agreements to recruit and mentor ESLIs towards establishing independent cancer research careers at their LMIC home institutions. These administrative supplements will support protected time for intensive, mentored research and career development experiences for ESLIs. The experiences must serve as a means of assisting the ESLIs to develop into independent and productive cancer researchers in basic, clinical, translational or population sciences.
The goal of this initiative is to increase opportunities for ESLIs to access high-quality mentorship to foster their readiness for independent cancer research careers. NCI extramural investigator(s) who wish to mentor an ESLI must be committed to direct supervision and mentoring of the ESLI's research project and career development. The research and career mentoring supported under this NOSI is expected to equip ESLIs with:
- Experience conducting high-quality cancer research using appropriate methods and conceptualizing research problems with increasing independence.
- Professional competencies needed to establish a successful research career including practical experiences in managing a research project, developing effective scientific collaborations, applying for research funding, engaging with local stakeholders, and disseminating research findings to diverse audiences.
To further enrich the ESLI's experience, the sponsoring institution (the institution holding the parent award) is encouraged to provide structured peer-mentoring opportunities for the ESLI to engage with other early career investigators on the NCI parent award. Peer mentoring offers a platform to further strengthen and foster long-term relationships that might potentially lead to new equitable and impactful collaborations.
Supplemental Research Projects
To accomplish the stated objectives, this award requires supported ESLIs to conduct well-defined supplemental research projects at their LMIC home institutions under the supervision and mentorship of one or more mentors from the NCI parent award. The proposed supplemental research project is anticipated to generate data and/or evidence towards addressing a locally relevant cancer problem. To support this objective, the primary mentor is expected to work with the ESLI to design a contextualized research project and mentoring plan. The award will support the primary mentor to travel to the ESLI’s LMIC home institution to understand the local research needs, culture and environment. It is expected that the supplemental research project, including data analysis and collection,will be based at the ESLI’s LMIC home institution. The ESLI may travel to the sponsoring institution to learn and/or develop specific skills/techniques, but the ESLI’s stay at the sponsoring institution should be limited and efforts made to ensure that the skills/techniques acquired at the sponsoring institution are relevant and applicable to ESLI’s own local research contexts/settings.
Appropriate topics for supplemental research projects supported under this opportunity may span the entire breadth of the NCI supported research portfolio. However, the proposed supplemental research project must be within (contribute to, expand or extend) the scope of the aims of the parent project. If the parent grant has multiple research projects, the supplement project must not only be within the general scope of the parent grant, but also be relevant to a specific project listed within the parent grant. To meet the expectations of this award, a parent award may wish to add a LMIC foreign component. Adding a foreign component under a grant or cooperative agreement to a domestic or foreign organization requires NCI prior approval. The sponsoring institution should request this approval prior to submitting the application.
Eligible Parent Awards and Number of Applications
- This is a reissuance of NOT-CA-22-036 . Grants that received supplemental funding under NOT-CA-22-036 are eligible to apply again under the same parent grant, but not to support a previously funded ESLI.
- For the purpose of this NOSI, eligible activity codes for applications are limited to the following: R01, R35, R37, P01, P20, P50, U01, U19, U54, UH2, UH3, UG1, UG3 or UM1. No other grant or cooperative agreement mechanisms are eligible for this program.
- ESLI candidates may receive support from only one administrative supplement at a time but may be supported by more than one supplement during the development of their research careers. Support under the supplement is not transferable to another individual or transportable to another institution.
- PI is strongly encouraged to check the eligibility with the designated program official of the parent grant.
Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI)
- The PD/PI must hold an active eligible grant or cooperative agreement supported by NCI, and the research proposed in the supplement must be accomplished within the competitive segment of the active award.
- The primary mentor will be an active investigator in the area of the proposed supplemental research project and be committed to the direct supervision of the supplemental research project and the ESLI's career development. The primary mentor is not required to be the PI of the parent grant. However, the PI of the parent grant must be in concurrence with the supplement application.
- The primary mentor is expected to work with the ESLI to design a context-appropriate supplemental research project and mentoring plan.
- More than one mentor may be involved (as a mentoring team) if deemed necessary to provide adequate expertise and guidance for the research career development. In such cases, one individual must be identified as the primary mentor who will coordinate the ESLI’s research project and career development. The role of each mentor and relationship to the ESLI must be clearly defined in the application.
- This administrative supplement encourages mid-level career investigators (assistant/associate professor level) to serve as primary mentors. The PI may serve as a co-mentor if the primary mentor is relatively junior.
- The primary mentor and/or the mentoring team must demonstrate a strong mentoring track record and experience conducting research in LMICs.
- The PI is strongly encouraged to provide peer-mentoring opportunities by assigning an early-stage investigator in his/her team to work with the ESLI.
For the purpose of this NOSI, institutions are encouraged to identify LMIC-based investigators who are in the early stages of establishing their independent research careers, and who demonstrate potential to succeed. Eligible candidates must meet all the criteria below:
- This is a reissuance of NOT-CA-22-036 . ESLIs who received support under NOT-CA-22-036 are not eligible for support under this NOSI.
- Research or clinician scientist who is a citizen or permanent resident of an eligible LMIC and who, at the time of the award, may not be a citizen nor non-citizen national of the United States nor have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. LMICs are defined by the World Bank classification system, according to Gross National Income per capita as "low-income," "lower-middle-income," and "upper-middle-income". In this program, "eligible LMICs" do not include G20 Countries in the "upper-middle-income country" category (UMIC) for funding (except for Sub-Saharan Africa).
- Hold a doctoral degree or its equivalent such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a certified equivalent degree. In many LMICs, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree (e.g. MB ChB, MB BS, BM MCh) is considered the highest degree of study and equivalent to a doctoral degree.
- Hold academic junior faculty position or research scientist appointment at an LMIC institution (including but not limited to instructors, lecturers, assistant professors).
- Have not received previous funding from NIH as an independent PD/PI on a research grant or as the project leader on a component of a program project or center grant or as PD/PI on an individual research career development award.
Application Due Date: Applications can be submitted on a rolling basis between April 22, 2023 - May 22, 2023, at 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization for FY 2023 funding. The NOSI will expire May 23, 2023.
Applications for this initiative must be submitted using the following opportunity or its subsequent reissued equivalent.
- PA-20-272 - Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional).
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:
- For funding consideration, applicants must include “ NOT-CA-23-038" (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
- Applicants should begin the supplement application abstract by stating “This application is being submitted in response to the Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) identified as NOT-CA-23-038.”
Budget and Period of Support:
- The budget should not exceed $125,000 in total costs. The application budget is limited to 1 year only.
- The project and budget periods must be within the currently approved project period for the existing parent award.
- For the ESLI, allowed costs include salary and fringe benefits consistent with institutional policy, research supplies, travel to the sponsoring institution or to workshops and conferences, and publication costs. Additional funds of up to $5000 may be requested towards equipment and internet access.
- For the Mentors, allowed costs include support to travel to the ELSI’s LMIC institution consistent with activities proposed in the application, and limited support for mentoring-related activities including travel to ESLI's LMIC home institution. Limited support towards salary and fringe benefits for the mentor(s) is allowed.
NCI staff will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research and mentoring activities.
The research strategy section is limited to no more than six (6) pages and should include the following:
- Research project: Include a summary of the funded parent award or project and a description of the supplemental research project that will be conducted by the ESLI candidate, including the supplemental research aims and study design, methods and techniques, how the proposed project relates to one or more aims of the parent project, additional value provided to the underlying funded research, and the relevance to ESLI’s local context/settings.
- Research Mentoring plan: The application must clearly indicate the assigned primary mentor and provide a detailed description of the role of the mentor(s) in supervising and mentoring the ESLI, including how mentorship will occur across multiple institutions. The strategy should describe how the ESLI candidate will contribute intellectually to the research and enhance her/his research skills and knowledge in the selected area of cancer research. It should be clear how the proposed activities will lead to the enhancement of the research capability of the ESLI.
- Career Development plan: The application should include an ESLI candidate-specific career development plan that is consistent with the goals laid out in the candidate’s personal statement. The plan should provide a description of research and professional career skills to be gained during the supplement experience and local career stage-appropriate benchmarks to be sought for both research progress and career development of the ESLI, which may include abstract and publication submissions, oral presentations, and grant submissions. The plan should also address peer-mentoring opportunities and describe how the ESLI candidate will interact with other individuals on the parent grant to enhance the candidate’s research potential and broaden their research network.
In addition, the application should also include the following:
- Primary Mentor Statement: Application must include a statement from the primary mentor of up to one page, demonstrating primary mentor’s experience conducting research in LMICs, mentoring track record and commitment to the scientific and professional development of the ESLI towards research independence. The letter should also provide an assessment of the candidate’s qualifications and potential for a research career.
- Personal Statement of the ESLI Candidate: Application must include a personal statement of up to one page, describing the ESLI candidate’s career goals, both immediate and long term, and evidence of scientific achievement or interest. The Statement should include a description of current research and plans to develop an independent scientific research career and articulate how the mentorship will contribute to the candidate's career advancement.
- ESLI Candidate’s LMIC Home Institution Statement: Application must include a letter from the ESLI candidate’s home institution describing the candidate’s citizenship status and position at that institution, including title and duration of the position. The letter must demonstrate commitment to the ESLI candidate's development into a productive, independent investigator by providing assurances that the ESLI candidate will be able to devote the required effort to activities under this award, have access to appropriate office and laboratory space, equipment, and that appropriate time and support will be available for any proposed mentor(s) and/or other staff consistent with the career development plan. In addition, the statement should include a description of the institutional research environment and whether the environment is particularly suited for the development of the ESLI candidate's research career. The statement must be signed by the appropriate institutional business official at the candidate’s home institution.
Administrative Review Process
NCI will conduct administrative reviews and will support the most meritorious applications submitted for consideration, based upon the programmatic priorities and availability of funds.
- Reviewers will provide their assessment of the likelihood that the proposed research, mentoring and career development plan will enhance the ESLI’s potential for a productive, independent cancer research career, taking into consideration the criteria below in determining the overall impact score.
Scored Review Criteria
- Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have a major impact.
- Does the ESLI have the potential and demonstrate commitment to develop as an independent and productive researcher?
- Is the ESLI's prior academic, clinical (if relevant), and research experience appropriate for this award?
- Do the documents provided address the above review criteria, and do they provide evidence that the ESLI has a high potential for becoming an independent investigator?
Primary Mentor and Co-Mentor(s)
- Are the qualifications of the primary mentor and/or co-mentors in the proposed research area appropriate? Is there evidence of the appropriate expertise, experience, and ability on the part of the mentor(s) in fostering the development of independent investigators?
- Does the primary mentor adequately demonstrate commitment to mentoring the ESLI candidate? Is there an adequate description of the quality and extent of the mentor’s proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate? Are specific roles for co-mentors adequately described if applicable?
- Is there evidence of the mentor's current research productivity and peer-reviewed support?
- Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the career development and ESLI candidate’s progress toward research independence?
- Is the proposed supplemental research question, design, and methodology of significant scientific and technical merit considering specific aims, study design, novelty, creativity and approach, significance, and relevance to both the aims of the parent award and the cancer control priorities of the LMIC?
- Is the research plan relevant to the candidate’s research career objectives? Is the research plan appropriate to the candidate's stage of research development and would the plan help develop the research skills described in the career development plan?
- Are the allotted resources and facilities adequate to accomplish the specific objectives of the supplemental research project?
Mentoring and Career Development Plan/Career Goals and Objectives
- What is the likelihood that the plan will contribute substantially to the scientific and professional development of the candidate and lead to research independence?
- Are the content, scope, phasing, and duration of the mentoring and career development plan appropriate when considered in the context of prior training/research experience and the stated objectives for achieving research independence?
- Are there adequate plans for monitoring and evaluating the candidate’s research and career development progress?
Environment & Institutional Commitment to the Candidate
- Sponsoring Institution: Is there clear commitment of the sponsoring institution to ensure that the PI, primary mentor or co-mentors devote sufficient professional effort to mentor the ESLI’s research and career development activities described in the application? Are the research facilities, resources and training opportunities sufficient to support the ESLI? Is there assurance that the institution intends the candidate to be an integral part of its research program as an independent investigator?
- ESLI’s LMIC Home Institution: Has the institution demonstrated adequate commitment and support towards ESLI’s research and career development? Is the research environment strong enough to support the ESLI and the proposed supplemental research project? Are the resources and facilities available to the ESLI candidate adequately described?
Post Award Reporting
Supplement progress reports: The PI is required to submit a final progress report for the supplement award to the program director listed on this NOSI.