March 7, 2023
PA-20-272- Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)
Reissue of NOT-OD-22-068 -Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Administrative Supplements to Support Enhancement of Software Tools for Open Science
Office of Data Science Strategy (ODSS)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
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 of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
All applications to this funding opportunity announcement should fall within the mission of the Institutes/Centers. The following NIH Offices may co-fund applications assigned to those Institutes/Centers.
Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
This Notice announces the continuing availability of administrative supplements to active awards that have a significant software development component or key role in maintaining software tools of recognized value in biomedical and behavioral research. The goal of these supplements is to enhance the sustainability and impact of research software tools by enabling the use of best practices and design principles in software development and leverage advances in computing in a modern data ecosystem. The supplements are intended to support and encourage collaborations between scientists and software engineers to update, refactor and enhance the design, implementation, and cloud-readiness of research software and build new communities for open science. Through these awards, the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy (ODSS) intends to help researchers who have developed scientifically valuable software to make their tools robust and sustainable, take advantage of new data science, software engineering, and computing paradigms, reach a broader community and contribute to open science. This initiative is aligned with the NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science, which describes actions aimed at building a better data infrastructure and a modernized data ecosystem.
As part of their research projects, investigators often produce innovative, scientifically valuable software tools that are essential for scientists to use and interpret biomedical and behavioral research data. However, much of this valuable software has been built and supported under conditions that are no longer optimal in a rapidly changing technical and scientific landscape. Additionally, investigators often lack the resources to adapt and revise the software to take advantage of new technologies and computing paradigms.
The traditional grant funding process has emphasized innovation for research progress over the use of robust software engineering practices that have become essential for generating reliable software tools in an era of large-scale data and integrated data analytics. There have been few practical ways to support joint efforts between researchers and software engineers to develop and revise research tools according to well-recognized software engineering best practices and design principles. To transition to operational efficiency and sustainability that is envisioned by ODSS, new ways to support input from software engineers or industry professionals are needed to improve the valuable software tools that have been developed in academic settings for biomedical research to process, manage, mine, analyze, visualize, and interpret biomedical data.
Three previous rounds of NIH ODSS software supplements (NOT-OD-22-068, NOT-OD-21-091, and NOT-OD-20-073) have encompassed a wide range of research and translational projects reaching across NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) and spanning many scientific domains. Building a robust software foundation is essential to the NIHs vision to establish a modernized and integrated biomedical and behavioral data and compute ecosystem. Such an ecosystem will foster adoption of new data science technologies, cloud and hybrid computing, artificial intelligence, and best practice guidelines for open science arising from community consensus, such as FAIR principles and open-source development.
The goal of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to encourage and enable researchers to engage in new types of collaborations that focus on improving the quality and sustainability of research software from a software engineering perspective. Supplements will support efforts that address robustness, sustainability, reusability, portability, and scalability of existing biomedical research software tools and workflows of recognized scientific value. The goal of the opportunity is to improve software engineering fundamentals, going beyond software hardening or high-level user interfaces. These projects are expected to adhere to software best practices and design principles and take significant steps toward open science and sustainability in modern computing environments. Projects to improve design and implementation of significant research tools are sought regardless of the scientific area of emphasis but should not direct effort towards new research functions and must be within scope of the funded parent grant for which the supplement is being sought.
The supplements are primarily intended to provide support for software engineering staff with some allowance for other infrastructure costs that may be required to improve tools with significant user base or demonstrate potential for community adoption. New collaborations either within or across institutions are expected which may include industry or academic partners. The notion of a research software engineer" has been offered as an important enabler of sustainable research software in academic settings, both in the United States Research Software Engineer Association (US-RSE) and in similar organizations internationally. Developing skills, enhancing team science, and building a supporting ecosystem, are understood to be other potential benefits of these collaborations, along with extending reach across boundaries to engage new diverse, multidisciplinary participants.
Delivering reliable, sustainable, and reusable software across multiple platforms is a whole-lifecycle effort, as illustrated with a few instances. Software development can be improved by enhancing the development process, including addition of resources for building, testing, and managing change in an open-source community. Robustness and reliability can be improved through active community engagement to contribute to codes that are made available with appropriate open-source licensing. Reusability can be enhanced by improving dissemination channels for important algorithms and tools (e.g., inclusion in package distribution channels), by publication of tools in shared container registries, and with well-crafted operating manuals. Interoperability can be enhanced by incorporating open interfaces and data formats, especially through engagement in relevant communities and standards efforts. Refactoring can enhance portability and take advantage of new hardware or compute environments (e.g., parallelizing a process or using a standard workflow language that can run in cloud or hybrid environments).
Making software cloud ready can encompass a range of activities that allow it to be successfully adapted to modern computing environments (container, cloud/hybrid environments, distributed workflow systems) in a sustainable, secure, and scalable manner. Projects may propose to refactor software for the cloud or improve software that is already on the cloud as long as the main focus is to enhance software engineering of existing scientific tools for sustainability and open science.
The emphasis is on how software tools are built according to best practices engineering principles as opposed to developing new tools. Projects with a primary focus to develop new scientific functions as opposed to improving software engineering should seek other opportunities. The supplement application must provide details of how the best software engineering practices and design principles will be employed in the supplement project, including a plan for how the software will be shared (see https://datascience.nih.gov/tools-and-analytics/best-practices-for-sharing-research-software-faq). The plan should also describe how the software will be improved for open science and innovative community engagement.
Examples that address one or more challenges toward building robust software suitable for open science and modern computing include, but are not limited to:
Supplement applications must (1) demonstrate that the selected software is currently being used by the scientific community by describing its user base or demonstrate its clear potential for increased adoption by the user community in an open science paradigm and (2) discuss how the proposed improvements will increase the usage, and impact of the software for open science.
Projects involving significant new scientific features or developing new tools as opposed to software engineering are NOT appropriate for this NOSI.
Projects with no active software development components that would like to add one are NOT eligible for this NOSI.
Awardees should be willing to participate in virtual meetings organized by NIH.
Application and Submission Information
To be eligible, the parent award must be able to receive funds in FY2023 (Oct 1, 2022 - Sep 30, 2023) and not be in the final year or in a no-cost extension period as of Sep 30, 2023.The proposed project period cannot extend beyond the parent award.
Funds must be used to meet increased costs that are within the scope of the approved award, but were unforeseen when the new or renewal application or grant progress report for non-competing continuation support was submitted.
Funds can be used to cover cost increases that are associated with achieving certain new research objectives, as long as the research objectives are within the original scope of the peer reviewed and approved project, or the cost increases are for unanticipated expenses within the original scope of the project.
Grants that have already received awards under NOT-OD-22-068, NOT-OD-21-091, or NOT-OD-20-073 are NOT eligible for this NOSI.
One-year supplement budget requests cannot exceed $150,000 direct costs. The total number of awards will be contingent on availability of funds and receipt of meritorious applications. It is currently anticipated that 20 or more awards will be made.
Eligible Activity Codes:
Additional funds may be awarded as supplements to parent awards using any Activity Code, with the following exceptions: Small business activity codes (e.g., R41, R42, R43, R44, U44, and Fast Track), as well as G20, PS1, P60, R13, U13, U42, UG1, and S10 are NOT ELIGIBLE. Note that not all participating NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) support all the activity codes that may otherwise be allowed. Applicants are therefore strongly encouraged to consult the program officer and the grant management specialist of the parent grant to confirm eligibility.
Centers and multi-project grant mechanisms are eligible but must provide a strong justification for why existing funds cannot be reallocated toward the proposed project and clearly demonstrate benefit of the project to open science and a broader community outside the original focus.
For awards that are already primarily funded to deliver software resources to the community (e.g., R24, U24, P41), applicants should provide strong justification for why additional funds are needed to support software enhancement and to adopt best practices, given that these activities could already be supported through the parent award.
Applications for this initiative must be submitted using the following opportunity or its subsequent reissued equivalent.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and PA-20-272 must be followed, with the following additions:
Administrative Evaluation Process
Submitted applications must follow the guidelines of the IC(s) that funds the parent grant. Administrative Supplements do not undergo peer review. Each IC will conduct administrative reviews of applications submitted to their IC for scientific scope and relevance to their mission. The most meritorious applications will be evaluated by a trans-NIH data science panel. The criteria described below will be considered in the administrative evaluation process:
It is strongly recommended that the applicants contact their respective program officers (or their designees) at the ICs supporting the parent award in advance to:
Investigators planning to submit an application in response to this NOSI are also strongly encouraged to contact and discuss their proposed research/aims with the Office of Data Science Strategy listed on this NOSI in advance of the application receipt date.
Following submission, applicants are strongly encouraged to notify the program contact at the IC supporting the parent award that a request has been submitted in response to this NOSI in order to facilitate efficient processing of the request.
Please direct all inquiries to:
Office of Data Science Strategy (ODSS)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives
Office of the Director