Request for Information (RFI): To Solicit Ideas for Common Fund / Roadmap Trans-NIH Strategic Initiatives

Notice Number: NOT-RM-08-014

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date: April 22, 2008
Response Date: June 2, 2008

Issued by
National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director, Office of Portfolio Analysis and Strategic Initiatives (OPASI),

The NIH is seeking input from the scientific community, health professionals, patient advocates, and the general public about innovative and cross - cutting initiatives to be funded through the NIH Common Fund.   The NIH Common Fund / Roadmap was created by the NIH in 2004 and enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act to support cross-cutting, trans-NIH programs. Because NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) regularly collaborate in areas of shared interest, the IC Directors and the NIH Leadership developed specific criteria for Common Fund / Roadmap programs. Primary among these criteria is that Common Fund programs are expected to have exceptionally high impact and to transform the way research is conducted.  All Common Fund / Roadmap programs are relevant to multiple diseases.  They address common challenges that are faced by investigators working in multiple disease areas.

The Common Fund / Roadmap supports programs that address fundamental knowledge gaps, develop transformative tools and technologies, and/or foster innovative approaches to complex problems. These programs are supported for a limited duration of 5–10 years. Long-term support is not consistent with the intent of the Common Fund / Roadmap. A limited duration keeps the fund nimble and able to respond to new opportunities and emerging challenges. It also allows the NIH to regularly test new ways of fostering innovative science. Common Fund / Roadmap programs use these 5–10 years of support to develop tools and technologies and establish new scientific paradigms which can then be adopted by the community through IC-funded awards.

Collecting these ideas is an initial step in the process of identifying a new cohort of Common Fund / Roadmap programs for Fiscal Year 2011. This RFI provides an opportunity for respondents to submit their own ideas. The NIH expects to spend $30 - 50 million per year from within the currently projected Roadmap budget for new 5-year initiatives.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the world leader in funding of biomedical research. It consists of 27 Institutes and Centers (ICs) and the Office of the Director which includes four scientific programmatic offices that coordinate research across the NIH in specific areas (AIDS, Women's Health, Disease Prevention, and Behavioral/Social Sciences, and a fifth program office which coordinates programs in a revolving set of scientific areas via the Common Fund -- OPASI). The ICs and Offices differ in their mandated health missions and the areas of scientific research that they support, but certain types of research and research infrastructure span many of their missions.

The NIH Common Fund / Roadmap is now in its fifth year of implementation. Three types of programs have been funded:

  1. Cross - cutting, critical infrastructure, resources, tools, methodologies, and training programs to enable basic, translational, and/or clinical research.
  2. Fundamental research that addresses knowledge gaps which, when filled, will create new paradigms in our understanding of a broad spectrum of human biology, behavior, or disease.
  3. Initiatives designed to transform biomedical and behavioral research culture, including programs that encourage team approaches to complex problems as well as policy initiatives that have changed NIH practices.

 (For descriptive information on the Roadmap initiatives go to: and for Roadmap funded research please visit: )

Request for Information

This RFI invites ideas from the scientific community, health professionals, patient advocates, and the general public on ways to:

We invite you to submit individual ideas. All ideas should meet the following criteria for new trans-NIH strategic initiatives:

•  Is the proposed initiative truly transforming –could it dramatically affect how biomedical and/or behavioral research is conducted over the next decade?
•  Will the outcomes from the proposed initiatives synergistically promote and advance the individual missions of the Institutes and Centers to benefit health?
•  Does the proposed initiative require participation from NIH as a whole and/or does it address an area (s) of science that does not clearly fall within the mission of any one IC or OD program office?
•  Is the proposed initiative something that no other entity is likely or able to do, and is there a public health benefit to having the results of the research in the public domain ?

In addition to these general criteria, selection of initiatives will be based on whether the goals of the proposed programs can be achieved within a 5-10 year time frame. The selection will also take into consideration current research funding, with the intent of stimulating research in new or fledgling research areas that also meet all of the criteria stated above. The ideas should not be disease specific but should instead be relevant to multiple diseases.  Ideas should not address problems or opportunities that fall under the purview of one NIH Institute or Center.

Information Requested

Persons, groups, and organizations interested in submitting ideas are invited to submit ideas in which a health research problem is identified along with a proposal to resolve it.  Your response should address the following elements:

Provide a Short Project Title

Problem/Opportunity:  What are the specific barriers to basic, translational, or clinical research that need to be addressed, or what is the specific knowledge gap that needs to be addressed?  How would addressing these challenges transform the way research is conducted on human health and disease (Response should be approximately 300 words)?

Approach:  What type of program do you propose to address the barrier/knowledge gap (Response should be approximately 300 words)?

Please include 2-3 terms that you would use to classify your proposal.


Responses will be accepted through Friday, June 2, 2008. Responses to any individual elements of the RFI are optional.  Please limit your response to 1 page.  We look forward to your suggestions and comments, and hope you will share this RFI with your colleagues. 

This RFI shall not be construed as a solicitation for applications or as an obligation on the part of the government. The government will not pay for the preparation of any information submitted. Responders should be aware that the information provided will be analyzed and may be used to develop future funding opportunity announcements.  The government cannot guarantee the confidentiality of the information provided

To submit a response, please e-mail

Proposed Implementation Plan

All ideas submitted will be reviewed to ensure they meet the criteria for Roadmap trans-NIH strategic initiatives outlined above and will be examined in light of existing or planned research. They will then be distributed to the Program Staff of all NIH ICs who will use these ideas to begin crafting proposals for future Roadmap programs.  The concepts being proposed will be cleared by the Council of Councils at their Fall 2008 meeting.  Those proposals will then be reviewed and prioritized by NIH IC Directors and the NIH Director in February 2009 for a new cohort of initiatives to begin in Fiscal Year 2011.

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