National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences intends to publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to support Biomedical Technology Development and Dissemination (BTDD) Centers in any of the basic or clinical biomedical research areas within the mission of NIGMS. The BTDD program will support development of technologies once their feasibility has been established, as well as the dissemination of these technologies to the wider biomedical research community.
This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and appropriate projects.
The FOA is expected to be published in the early spring of 2020 with an expected application due date in late spring of 2020.
This FOA will utilize the RM1 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.
This Notice encourages investigators with expertise and insights into technology development within the NIGMS mission to begin to consider applying for this new FOA.
The BTDD program replaces the long-standing Biomedical Technology Research Resources (BTRR) program. The activity code has been changed from P41 to RM1 to simplify grant application and administration processes. Like the BTRR program, the BTDD program will continue to focus on two goals: the development and dissemination of enabling technologies, and access to those technologies by the research community. A major change is that the BTDD program focuses on later stage technology development. The program goals are still addressed through three types of activities: Technology Development Projects (TDP), Driving Biomedical Projects (DBPs), and Community Engagement (CE).
NIGMS has established a technology research and development grant pipeline for early stage proof of concept and prototype development projects that provide support through R21 and R01 funding opportunities in the Technology Development Programs. These funding opportunities provide support to develop validated prototypes for early stage technologies before they are ready to be used for biological research. The BTDD Centers will support prototype optimization and later stage development, focusing on demonstrating utility in biomedical research and dissemination of technologies that have been established through R21 and/or R01 technology research grants or other sources of support. Technologies developed through all three of these activities (R21, R01 and RM1) that are ready for product development may be eligible for SBIR/STTR support to facilitate commercialization.
Within the BTDD Center, the DBPs will act as test beds for the TDPs. For a TDP to address the needs of basic biomedical research it must be developed sufficiently such that DBPs can act as beta testers for further technology development and refinement. The TDPs interact with the DBPs in iterative cycles of refinement, improving the research tools until they are ready for broad dissemination to the biomedical research community.
Centers refine and disseminate tools that can substantially improve present approaches to a wide variety of problems in the biomedical sciences. This is accomplished through a synergistic interaction of technical and biomedical expertise, both within the Centers and through intensive collaborations with other leading laboratories. Ideally, these Centers should be uniquely positioned to recognize biomedical research problems that will benefit from access to and training in better tools derived from emerging, proven technologies. This intense synergy between technology development and community-driven biomedical problem-solving defines the Centers as fundamentally different in character from laboratories engaged in research projects that may have more narrowly defined, inwardly-focused goals.
TDPs are the central activity of a BTDD. Research teams bring critical, often unique technologies at the forefront of their respective fields from a point of development in which they have been proven and used in their own laboratories to a stage where they are robust tools ready to be disseminated to the research community. In support of that mission, the Centers are structured to cultivate two kinds of collaborations: Technology Partnership Projects (Partnerships) and DBPs.
Partnerships are dynamic, short-term collaborations with other technology developers that will enable the Center to adopt and incorporate emerging capabilities in rapidly evolving fields. BTDD investigators must be able to recognize significant parallel contributions by other technology developers, determine whether collaboration is appropriate, and if so, establish mutually beneficial partnerships. While a BTDD is expected to operate at the leading edge of a technology area, it is important to recognize, leverage and foster advances emerging from other research groups.
DBPs are biomedical research test beds that allow BTDD investigators to test technologies in the context of challenging problems in basic, translational, and clinical research, while providing biomedical researchers with the earliest possible access to these emerging tools. A deep understanding of needs and opportunities in the relevant areas of biomedical research is an essential prerequisite for all technology development. In a BTDD, this understanding is most clearly expressed through successful engagement of those researchers best positioned to benefit from early access to emerging tools.
BTDD investigators are expected to actively engage scientists in the community whose research may benefit from these technologies. Active engagement of the relevant biomedical research community is essential for development of an informed, competent user base that can subsequently adopt the technology as it moves out of the Center. This is done through Community Engagement (CE) activities, which include training the user community in data acquisition and interpretation, access to mature forms of the technology at the Center, and to the extent possible, dissemination of available technology outside the Center. Technologies are moved out of the Center quickly to promote the broadest and most sustainable availability possible.
The success of BTDD-supported technology development is ultimately measured by adoption of tools with strong potential for continued impact by the broader biomedical research community. Achieving sustainable community access to the technologies developed by a Center is the goal of the BTDD program. A BTDD Center will be funded for no more than 15 years. Therefore, an objective of the BTDD program is for the resources they provide, rather than the Centers themselves, to become self-sustaining.
Dissemination of technologies can be achieved in a number of ways, and investigators are encouraged to develop plans best suited for the sustained access to valuable tools by the relevant research community. In some cases, this will entail commercializing the tools through licensing to existing businesses or through creation of new businesses with the assistance of small business (SBIR/STTR) grants, or other means. Dissemination might also occur through established providers of tools such as open-source software, reagents, plasmids, and protocols.
The BTDD program is investigator-initiated. NIGMS encourages applications in all areas within its mission and will give priority to areas not already supported in its current Centers. NIGMS encourages applications from institutions in Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states and partnerships between non-IDeA institutions and investigators in IDeA state institutions. Details concerning current BTRR and BTDD Centers can be found at https://publications.nigms.nih.gov/btrrs/.
Prior Consultation with Institutes and Centers (IC) Staff: Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIGMS staff at least 10 weeks prior to the application due date to ascertain whether the proposed research strategy meets the goals and mission of the Institute, whether it addresses one or more high priority NIGMS research areas, and whether it is appropriate for a BTDD Center. Institute staff will not evaluate the technical and scientific merit of the proposed program in advance; technical and scientific merit will be determined during peer review using the review criteria indicated in this FOA. During the consultation phase, if the proposed research strategy does not include the necessary subcomponents, meet NIGMS' programmatic needs, or is not appropriate as a BTDD Center for other reasons, applicants will be advised to consider other funding opportunities.
The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (http://www.nibib.nih.gov, NIBIB) has a similar program that supports Biomedical Technology Resource Centers (BTRCs). Details about that program can be found at https://www.nibib.nih.gov/research-funding/biomedical-technology-resource-centers. Applicants who are interested in submitting an application to the NIBIB program need to follow the NIBIB application procedures rather than those in this announcement. Applicants are encouraged to investigate both the NIGMS and NIBIB programs, and contact Institute staff for help determining which program is a better fit for their proposed Center.
Haluk Resat, Ph.D.
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)