Request for Information: The Need for and Support of Research Resources for the Biomedical Research Community

Notice Number: NOT-GM-16-103

Key Dates
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Response Date: June 3, 2016

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)


The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) seeks input on the need for research resources and the manner in which they should be supported. This Request for Information (RFI) will assist NIGMS in considering needs and opportunities for biomedical research resources at the investigator, institutional, regional and national level. Comments are invited from any interested party.


NIGMS is in the process of considering how best to support two important activities: the development of biomedical technologies and providing access to those technologies as they become important research resources. These activities are closely related, but there are important aspects of each that are best explored independently. This RFI focuses on research resources. A previous RFI on technology development prompted very thoughtful and useful comments which informed the development of a new program in that area.

For purposes of this discussion, consider a broad definition of research resources as something that enables biomedical research, and is made available to a community of scientists. That community could be completely open or restricted in some way. Resources of interest include instruments or other devices, algorithms, software, chemical reagents and processes with which biomedically related molecules are produced and modified, and finally, the manipulation of biological systems to produce or become research tools.

The Support of Biomedical Research Resources

Research resources involve several related and overlapping areas of infrastructure. These include: (1) core facilities developed by individual investigators or collaborating investigators and supported by R01, P01 and other NIH grant mechanisms, (2) institutional core facilities for the benefit of institutional investigators and their collaborators that provide access to commonly used technologies such as light microscopy, peptide or polynucleotide synthesis, sequencing, or mass spectrometry, (3) national resources that develop, provide access to, and disseminate emerging (and therefore less available) technologies, and (4) regional or national resources that provide access to relatively mature technologies, such as synchrotron-based crystallography.
NIGMS is interested in how research resources are currently supported at all levels and in determining what levels may or may not require federal support. Aspects under discussion include not just support of this range of activities but also the review of applications and the evaluation of short and long-term impact. Support for research resources requires the allocation of financial resources from limited institutional, state and federal funds. There is a tension between support for broadly available resources required by many investigators versus emerging or otherwise less available but powerful resources. There is strong interest in understanding this tension in connection with questions of the role of all interested parties and how best to allocate limited funds for resource support.

Technology Development and Research Resources

NIGMS is also exploring the relationship between support for technology development and access to research resources. We are particularly interested in: (1) the appropriateness of coupling technology development and research resources, and (2) how resources can remain valuable and viable without active technology development.

Information Requested

NIGMS invites input on topics related to the support of research resources and the relationship of technology development to the value of these resources. Comments on the need to access emerging technologies at research resources are welcome. Areas of possible comment include but are not limited to:

  • The appropriateness and usefulness of existing research resources to the biomedical research community
  • Examples of unmet needs for research resources
  • The relative value of resources that serve many investigators versus powerful but less available resources
  • The value of and manner of coupling technology development to research resources
  • Important factors to consider in peer review of research resource applications
  • Important factors to consider in evaluation of research resource projects and programs
  • The role of industrial or other partnerships in developing and providing technologies as research resources to meet future research needs
  • The role of academic and other biomedical institutions in supporting research resources and access to them for their investigators, trainees and collaborators
  • The role of investigators and user fees in supporting, sustaining and advancing institutional, regional and national research resources and access to these resources
  • The role of NIGMS in supporting research resources and technology development at various levels: investigator, institutional, regional and national.

How to Submit a Response

Responses to this RFI will be accepted through June 3, 2016. All comments must be submitted via email as text or as an attached electronic document. Microsoft Word documents are preferred. Your responses should be addressed to:

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. The Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information provided and respondents will not receive individualized feedback. This RFI is for planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the United States Government. NIGMS will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion. NIGMS does not intend to make any type of award based on responses to this RFI or to pay for either the preparation of information submitted or the United States Government’s use of such information.

The information submitted will be analyzed and may be shared internally, appear in reports or be reflected in future solicitations, as appropriate and at the Government’s discretion. Proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should not be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s) or other activities. No basis for claims against the U.S. Government shall arise as a result of a response to this request for information or from the Government's use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Douglas M. Sheeley, Sc.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Telephone: 301-451-6446