Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Availability of Administrative Supplements for BRAIN Initiative Awardees to Support Resource Dissemination
Notice Number:
NOT-NS-21-014

Key Dates

Release Date:

February 9, 2021

First Available Due Date:
March 15, 2021
Expiration Date:
March 01, 2022

Related Announcements

PA-20-272 - Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)

Issued by

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

National Eye Institute (NEI)

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

Purpose

Background

This Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) announces the availability of administrative supplements to support the dissemination of promising technologies and resources generated from active Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative awards, to foster collaborations between innovators and new end-user laboratories, and ultimately integrate such innovations into neuroscience research practice.

The BRAIN Initiative is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies and resources, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, shows how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new technologies and resources will ultimately lead to new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders.

The NIH is one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN Initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, "BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision," which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years and "The BRAIN Initiative 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures," which was released in 2019 and provides an assessment of achievements as well as details for new priority areas for investment. This NOSI and other Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) issued in Fiscal Year 2020 and beyond are based on careful considerations of the recommendations of the BRAIN 2025 and BRAIN 2.0 reports and input from the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group. Videocasts of the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group meetings are available at http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/about/mcwg.htm. This NOSI specifically responds to the BRAIN 2.0 report’s call for strategic investment to facilitate rapid, effective, and collaborative dissemination of resources to unlock the full impact of the BRAIN Initiative.

The NIH encourages BRAIN Initiative applications from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). Such individuals include those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Additionally, the BRAIN Initiative encourages researchers to partner with and consider dissemination to investigators from institutions eligible for NIH Research Enhancement Awards such as the Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP), Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA), or Institute Development Awards (IDeA), where the aggregate amount of NIH funding has historically been low.

 

Objective

The goal of this NOSI is to accelerate the scientific impact of the BRAIN Initiative through rapid dissemination of promising technologies and resources to the neuroscience research community. This NOSI will support small dissemination efforts for which a clear value to the identified user group is demonstrated in the application. The proposed work must be within the scope of the original project of the eligible parent award but beyond the original dissemination plans included in the parent application.

Projects may accomplish this goal by engaging in one or more of the following types of activities. This list is representative, but not exhaustive:

  • Production and distribution of reagents (e.g., viral vectors or transgenic animal lines)
  • Services supporting the deployment of customized instrumentation based on end user need
  • Provision of state-of-art components, devices, or integrated systems (e.g., for assaying neural activity and/or connectivity) distributed to end users
  • Maintenance, minor enhancements, and distribution of open source computational tools and software packages
  • Facilities that enable scientists from outside institutions access to specialized tools, equipment, or techniques
  • Training and/or technical support to advance usage of BRAIN supported resources
  • Refinements to tools or resources necessary to customize them to the experimental needs of the end users
  • Funding to support beta testing by end-user laboratories
  • Projects focused on gathering information on and assessing end user needs

Proposed techniques, resources, or approaches must be at a stage wherein the potential for a broader impact on research has been identified. To that end, applicants must include information about the laboratories/users to whom they plan to disseminate the resource, including the protocols that users are expected to execute. The number of users identified should be appropriate for the type of resource being disseminated and the stage of development but should be greater than one person/laboratory.

The below list are examples of activities that are NOT responsive to this NOSI. Applicants considering such efforts are encouraged to explore alternative funding mechanisms. This list is representative, but not exhaustive:

  • Projects focused solely on development of an unproven technology, software, or resource.
  • Use of existing technologies to develop novel reagents, such as genetic lines or constructs.
  • Projects that support clinical trials or provide patient services.
  • Projects proposing repositories of brain and related bio-specimens.

Proposals may include dissemination to users beyond the current BRAIN community, as well as other BRAIN awardees. Applicants are encouraged to consider the importance of diversity in the context of their dissemination efforts such as collaborating with investigators/institutions that are eligible for REAP or AREA grants or are located in IDeA-eligible states.

Projects proposing the dissemination of technologies/resources with commercial potential (i.e., SBIR/STTR grants) are allowed but the projects funded under this supplement should provide the end users with the technology or resource at no cost.  Marketing, advertising, and sales costs are not allowed.  For all submissions, a clear value to the intended user group must be demonstrated in the application. 

 

Research Strategy

The Research Strategy section must not exceed 6 pages. The Research Strategy should include the following information:

  • In the first sentence of the Research Strategy, please state that the parent grant was awarded under the BRAIN Initiative and identify the specific FOA of the parent grant (e.g., RFA-NS-18-023) to facilitate processing and tracking of the supplement application.
  • A brief (one paragraph) description of the parent award.
  • An overview of the current state of the art and what advancement or benefit the technology/resource being disseminated provides, and how such an advancement addresses an important need in the user community.
  • The stage of development and testing of the technology/resource.
  • A list of users to whom the technology/resource will be disseminated, the type of work performed by the end users, and why they were selected.
  • A formal evaluation plan is required for all applications in order to obtain feedback directly from end-user laboratories/consumers. Applicants should propose an evaluation plan that is relevant to the specific technology/resource being disseminated and that will provide useful feedback to inform next steps in optimization, scale-up, or dissemination of the technology/resource. The following are example components applicants might consider including in the evaluation plan:
    • Description of skills/knowledge acquired by the end user(s)
    • Description of use-case and needs of the end user(s)
    • If training provided was clear, organized effectively, and met the needs of the end user(s)
    • If the technology/resource addressed all the needs of the end user
    • Benefits of the technology/resource over other options
    • Issues/hurdles encountered when integrating the technology/resource
    • Suggestions from end users about how to improve technology/resource
    • Pre- and post-training confidence level of skills/knowledge regarding use of the resource
    • Likelihood of continuing to use newly acquired resources
    • End-user information (e.g. skill level, scientific expertise, career stage, department affiliation, etc.)

Awardees should receive feedback directly from end users yearly, at a minimum, and include this feedback as an attachment in their Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) of the parent award to the NIH.

 

Award Budget

  • The requested budget must be well justified and reflect the actual needs of the dissemination activities proposed.
  • Application budget requests should rarely exceed $100,000 in direct costs per year.
    • Requests greater than $100,000 direct costs per year should be discussed with the program officer listed on the most recent Notice of Award of the parent award and Dr. Kari Ashmont (kari.ashmont@nih.gov) prior to submission. These requests must represent a promising or special opportunity and be well justified, and will be subject to additional levels of review, including the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group.
  • Regardless of budget level, the supplement project period must not exceed two years.
  • The following are examples of allowable expenses:
    • Materials needed to build additional products
    • Equipment to automate or scale-up a process
    • Salary/tuition of additional support staff to facilitate dissemination of technologies or resources
    • Travel support for the applicant to conduct training on the tools, technologies, products, etc. being disseminated
    • Travel/training support for the applicant to attend a course or conference during the supplemental project period to learn best practices around dissemination or commercialization
    • Travel support for end users to attend workshops or other training events hosted by the applicant
    • Tuition/salary support of the end user(s) via a subaward is acceptable, but must be well justified (see review criteria)

Application and Submission Information

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 PA-20-272 must be followed, with the following additions:

  • Submission acceptance is continuous but will be reviewed in cohorts based on time of submission:
    • Application Acceptance Periods
      March 15, 2021 to May 31, 2021
      June 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021
      September 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021
      December 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022
    • Submissions are due by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization.

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-NS-21-014” (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.
  • Eligibility criteria
    • Only existing awardees of the BRAIN Initiative (including SBIR/STTR) are eligible to apply.
    • BRAIN Initiative: Research Resource Grants for Technology Integration and Dissemination (U24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) awardees are NOT eligible.
    • In the first sentence of the Research Strategy, please state that the parent grant was awarded under the BRAIN Initiative and identify the specific FOA of the parent grant (e.g., RFA-NS-18-023) to facilitate process and tracking of the supplement application.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the program officer listed on the most recent Notice of Award of the parent award to confirm eligibility.
  • Administrative supplements must support work within the scope of the original project of the eligible parent award but beyond original dissemination plans included in parent application.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to notify the program officer listed on the most recent Notice of Award of the parent award as well as Dr. Kari Ashmont (kari.ashmont@nih.gov) that a request has been submitted in response to this FOA in order to facilitate efficient processing of the request.
  • Awards made under this NOSI are limited to one per parent award.
  • This supplement is for a small dissemination experience of promising technologies or resources. Broader dissemination efforts of well-proven technologies or resources may be more appropriate for RFA-NS-19-006.
  • The process for Streamlined Submissions using the eRA Commons cannot be used for this initiative.
  • Including a needs assessment of the end user community is highly encouraged.
  • Letters of support from proposed end users are strongly encouraged, but not required. Letters of support should be included as an attachment and will not count toward the 6-page limit of the Research Strategy.

Review Process

Proposals submitted in response to this NOSI will be reviewed by the BRAIN Initiative Dissemination Team. Preference will be given to applications that address support of training or dissemination to diverse collaborators (For example, REAP, AREA, or IDeA grant eligible institutions).

In addition to the general criteria listed in PA-20-272, supplement applications responding to this NOSI will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Is the proposed work within the scope of the parent award, but beyond the original dissemination plans?
  • Is the technology/resource ready to be disseminated as described?
  • Is the level of dissemination appropriate for the technology/resource and proposed timeline?
  • Are/Is the end user(s) identified appropriate?
  • Will the proposed Evaluation Plan provide useful information to inform next steps?

Inquiries

For any scientific, research-related, or eligibility questions on this administrative supplement notice, please contact the program officer listed on the most recent Notice of Award of the parent award.

For all other questions, please contact: 

Dr. Kari Ashmont
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS
Telephone: (301) 496-1779
Email: (Kari.Ashmont@nih.gov)


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