Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (http://www.nih.gov)
Components of Participating Organizations
National Cancer Institute (NCI), (http://www.cancer.gov)
Title: Exfoliated Cells and Circulating DNA in Cancer Detection and Diagnosis (R21)
This is a reissue of PA-06-499.
Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-09-238
NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) forms and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.
This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines included with this announcement in Grants.gov/Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).
A registration process is necessary before submission and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least four (4) weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
Release Date: July 22 2009
Opening Date: September 16, 2009 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov).
NOTE: On time submission requires that applications be successfully submitted to Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization).
Application Submission Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
Peer Review Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
Council Review Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
Additional Information To Be Available Date (URL Activation Date): Not applicable.
Expiration Date: September 8, 2012.
Dates for E.O. 12372
Table of Contents
Part I Overview Information
Part II Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
1. Research Objectives
Section II. Award Information
1. Mechanism of Support
2. Funds Available
Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
A. Eligible Institutions
B. Eligible Individuals
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates and Times
A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
1. Letter of Intent
B. Submitting an Application Electronically to the NIH
C. Application Processing
4. Intergovernmental Review
5. Funding Restrictions
6. Other Submission Requirements
Section V. Application Review Information
2. Review and Selection Process
A. Additional Review Criteria
B. Additional Review Considerations
C. Resource Sharing Plan(s)
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
A. Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award
1. Principal Investigator Rights and Responsibilities
2. NIH Responsibilities
3. Collaborative Responsibilities
4. Arbitration Process
Section VII. Agency Contacts
1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)
2. Peer Review Contact(s)
3. Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)
Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), issued by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), invites applications aimed at the development of novel technologies for capturing, enriching, and preserving exfoliated abnormal cells from body fluids or effusions as well as methods for concentrating the tumor-derived sub-cellular material for use in biomarker studies. In body fluids, such as sputum, exfoliated tumor cells are a minor component compared to normal cells. As a result, the detection of exfoliated abnormal cells by routine cytopathology is often limited by the small number of atypical cells present in a given specimen. New enrichment methods are necessary to facilitate the detection of small numbers of exfoliated tumor cells and tumor-derived sub-cellular materials in biological fluids.
This FOA will use the NIH Exploratory/Developmental (R21) grant mechanism.
Molecular Signatures: More than 80 percent of human tumors originate from epithelial cells, often at a mucosal surface, and are clonal in origin (e.g., colon, lung, prostate, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, uterine cervix, bladder). Their development often becomes apparent when tumor cells exfoliate spontaneously into sputum, urine, or even into various effusions. The molecular and genetic abnormalities within these exfoliated cells could be important signatures to identify precancerous or very early stage cancers if technologies were clinically available that possessed the sensitivity to detect the low number of abnormal cells among the millions of normal cells. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-allows for the analysis of DNA from rare neoplastic cells in body fluids. For example, detection of widespread microsatellite instability (MSI), monitored as expansion or elimination of marker elements of repetitive DNA may be applicable to exfoliated cells from a variety of tumors. Mutations in cancer relevant genes have been detected using the stools of patients with colorectal cancer (ras), in the urine of patients with bladder cancer (p53), and in the sputum of patients with lung cancer (p53). As these assays are complex and technically challenging, they depend on the development of novel technologies for isolating and enriching cells or subcellular materials/biomolecules of interest.
Routine cytopathology: Abnormal exfoliated cells can be routinely identified by cytological examination of brushings and fluids, for instance, from bronchi, pancreatic ducts, voided urine, and effusions. The current routine method of processing of these fluids is by centrifugation or membrane filtration. However, the ability to detect abnormal exfoliated cells, including cancer cells, by cytopathological examination is limited by the low number of abnormal cells in a sea of normal cells. In addition, differences between abnormal and normal cells in terms of cellular and nuclear morphology may be minimal. This situation is common of cytological examinations of urine cytology, in which many low-grade papillary lesions are often missed. New PCR-based methods may substantially enhance detection sensitivity, but current technologies for isolating exfoliated cells and their components tend to be too cumbersome and/or specialized for routine use in the clinic.
Tumor progression: The cellular and molecular changes that eventually lead to tumor emergence may be progressing over a number of years in an apparently random manner. The progressive accumulation of genetic and epigenetic aberrations gives rise to precancerous cell populations and, finally, to the clonal selection of subpopulations with the malignant phenotype. The progression of preneoplastic changes to cancer often occurs over time e.g., an average of 15 to 20 years is needed for a small adenomatous polyp to become malignant. Nevertheless, prior to the appearance of a morphologically identifiable precancerous or cancerous lesion, numerous genetic and molecular alterations have occurred. The stochastic nature of molecular events in different cells confers genetic heterogeneity. The resulting abnormalities increase the chances for the selection of aggressive phenotypes but also offer a window of opportunity to detect precancerous and/or early malignant cells based on aberrant status of specific genetic and/or molecular biomarkers associated with the progression of the neoplastic process.
Early Detection: Early identification of the neoplastic lesions should increase the rate of success for a complete eradication of these lesions by allowing an earlier therapeutic intervention. This principle has been well demonstrated in cervical neoplasia, in which early detection of dysplastic exfoliated cells can result in a 70 percent or greater reduction in the cervical cancer mortality. Thus, intensive focus on the identification and characterization of molecular and genetic biomarkers of future malignancy should be made. The small size of precancerous lesions and their cellular and genetic heterogeneity, however, pose significant methodological challenges in the early detection of such abnormalities.
Enrichment and Detection of Cells: Most importantly, cancer-screening assays using biological fluids must be able to detect a low number of abnormal cells/biomolecules among a large number of their normal counterparts. Approaches to detect and analyze precancerous and cancerous cells and their aberrant component in biologic fluids, depend upon: (i) the type of biological fluid (e.g., sputum, bronchial washing cervical brushing, voided urine, etc.); and (ii) the form of analyses performed (e.g., cytopathological, morphometric, detection of molecular signatures, fluorescence in situ hybridization [FISH] or PCR-based analyses). All of these approaches require an enrichment of atypical epithelial cells or their respective biomolecules. The cell enrichment methods currently used rely primarily on various centrifugation techniques (e.g., cytospin, density gradient cell fractionation) and/or on antibody-based selection combined with mechanical separation (flow-assisted cell sorting [FACS], magnetic-assisted cell sorting [MACS], etc.). One type of enrichment operation can be sequentially added to another to improve the yield and degree of enrichment. Nonetheless, one needs enrichment factors of 1 to 10,000 or 1 to million to ensure adequate sensitivity and/or specificity required for detecting precancerous cells in body fluids.
Enrichment and Detection of Biomolecules: Analogous enrichment must be accomplished if abnormal biomolecules derived from preneoplastic and neoplastic cells are to be analyzed. Often, stored plasma or serum samples are the only patient biospecimens available for analysis. Generally, samples from normal/healthy individuals typically contain very small amounts of DNA, but in cancer patients, there may be increased amounts of extracellular DNA in plasma or serum samples. This circulating DNA appears to correspond to chromatin fragments released into plasma from dying tumor cells. Circulating DNA has been shown to reflect the characteristics of the tumor DNA, including molecular changes, such as methylation, point mutations, and microsatellite instability. Hence, circulating DNA offers a valuable source of biomarkers that can be used for early detection of cancer and during the follow-up of the disease. To utilize this potential, however, technologies need to be developed that would be capable of isolating circulating DNA from typical biospecimens in quantities sufficient for the analysis of biomarkers.
Specific Research Objectives
The purpose of this FOA is to develop novel technologies for capturing, enriching, and preserving exfoliated abnormal tumor cells and macromolecules in body fluids or effusions and to develop methods for concentrating the content of such specimens that originated from tumor or a pre-neoplastic lesion for biomarker studies. In the context of this FOA, the term exfoliation denotes not only the whole tumor cells, but also cellular materials, such as DNA and proteins.
Examples of the types of research topics and approaches that would be appropriate for this FOA include, but are not limited to:
The evolution and vitality of the biomedical sciences require a constant infusion of new ideas, techniques, and points of view. These may differ substantially from current thinking or practice and may not yet be supported by substantial preliminary data. By using the R21 mechanism, the NIH seeks to foster the introduction of novel scientific ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies that have the potential to substantially advance biomedical research.
The R21 mechanism is intended to encourage new exploratory and developmental research projects. For example, such projects could assess the feasibility of a novel area of investigation or a new experimental system that has the potential to enhance health-related research. Another example could include the unique and innovative use of an existing methodology to explore a new scientific area. These studies may involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or to the development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or applications that could have a major impact on a field of biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.
Applications for R21 awards should describe projects distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 mechanism. For example, long-term projects, or projects designed to increase knowledge in a well-established area, will not be considered for R21 awards. Applications submitted under this mechanism should be exploratory and novel. These studies should break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications.
See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal
Citations, for policies related to this
Section II. Award Information
Mechanism of Support
This FOA will use the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21) award mechanism. The Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.
This FOA uses Just-in-Time information concepts see SF424 (R&R) Application Guide). It also uses the modular as well as the non-modular budget formats (see the Modular Applications and Awards section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Specifically, if you are submitting an application with direct costs in each year of $250,000 or less (excluding consortium Facilities and Administrative [F&A] costs), use the PHS398 Modular Budget component provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (see specifically Section 3.4, Modular Budget Component, of the Application Guide).
All foreign applicants must complete and submit budget requests using the Research & Related Budget component.
2. Funds Available
Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of the Institutes and Centers (ICs) provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the availability of funds.
The total project period for an application submitted in response to this funding opportunity may not exceed 2
years. Although the size of award may vary with the scope of research proposed,
it is expected that applications will stay within the budgetary guidelines for
an exploratory/developmental project; direct costs
are limited to $275,000 over an R21 two-year period, with no more than $200,000
in direct costs allowed in any single year. Applicants may request direct costs
in $25,000 modules, up to the total direct costs limitation of $275,000 for the
combined two-year award period. NIH grants policies
as described in the NOT-OD-05-004, November 2, 2004.
1.B. Eligible Individuals
Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the PD/PI is (are) invited to work with his/her (their) organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.
More than one PD/PI (i.e., multiple PDs/PIs), may be designated on the application for projects that require a team science approach and therefore clearly do not fit the single-PD/PI model. Additional information on the implementation plans and policies and procedures to formally allow more than one PD/PI on individual research projects is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/multi_pi. All PDs/PIs must be registered in the NIH electronic Research Administration (eRA) Commons prior to the submission of the application (see http://era.nih.gov/ElectronicReceipt/preparing.htm for instructions).
The decision of whether to apply
for a grant with a single PD/PI or multiple PDs/PIs grant is the responsibility
of the investigators and applicant organizations and should be determined by
the scientific goals of the project. Applications for grants with multiple
PDs/PIs will require additional information, as outlined in the instructions
below. When considering the multiple PD/PI option, please be aware that the
structure and governance of the PD/PI leadership team as well as the knowledge,
skills and experience of the individual PDs/PIs will be factored into the
assessment of the overall scientific merit of the application. Multiple PDs/PIs
on a project share the authority and responsibility for leading and directing
the project, intellectually and logistically. Each PD/PI is responsible
and accountable to the grantee organization, or, as appropriate, to a
collaborating organization, for the proper conduct of the project or program,
including the submission of required reports. For further information on multiple
PDs/PIs, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/multi_pi.
Sharing or Matching
This program does not require cost sharing as defined in the current NIH Grants Policy Statement.
3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria
Number of Applications. Applicants may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.
Resubmissions. Applicants may submit a resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing the previous peer review critique (Summary Statement). See new NIH policy on resubmission (amended) applications (NOT-OD-09-003, NOT-OD-09-016). Beginning with applications intended for the January 25, 2009 official submission due date all original new applications (i.e., never submitted) and competing renewal applications will be permitted only a single amendment (A1). Original new and competing renewal applications that were submitted for due dates prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two resubmissions (amendments A1 and A2). For these grandfathered applications, NIH expects that any A2 will be submitted no later than January 7, 2011, and NIH will not accept A2 applications after that date.
Renewals. Renewal applications are not permitted in response to this FOA.
To download a SF424 (R&R)
Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for completing the
SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, use the Apply for Grant Electronically
button in this FOA or link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.
A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:
PDs/PIs should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the NIH eRA Commons.
Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant can submit an electronic application, as follows:
1) Organizational/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Registered.
3) Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Registration in the NIH eRA Commons: Refer to the NIH eRA Commons System (COM) Users Guide.
1. Request Application Information
Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply.
Note: Only the forms package
directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use
any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA),
although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than
For further assistance, contact GrantsInfo -- Telephone 301-710-0267, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.
Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to NIH. There are fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components that, although not marked as mandatory, are required by NIH (e.g., the Credential log-in field of the Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile component must contain the PD/PIs assigned eRA Commons User ID). Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see Frequently Asked Questions Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
The SF424 (R&R) application is comprised of data arranged in separate components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/APPLY will include all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA will include the following components:
SF424 (R&R) (Cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations
Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
PHS398 Research Plan
PHS398 Modular Budgetor Research & Related Budget, as appropriate (See Section IV.6., Special Instructions, regarding appropriate required budget component.)
PHS398 Cover Letter File
Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form
Foreign Organizations (Non-domestic [non-U.S.] Entities)
NIH policies concerning grants to foreign (non-U.S.) organizations can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement at: https://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm#_Toc54600260.
Applications from Foreign organizations must:
Proposed research should provide special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States (U.S.) or that augment existing U.S. resources.
Applications with Multiple PDs/PIs
When multiple PDs/PIs are proposed, NIH requires one PD/PI to be designated as the "Contact PI, who will be responsible for all communication between the PDs/PIs and the NIH, for assembling the application materials outlined below, and for coordinating progress reports for the project. The contact PD/PI must meet all eligibility requirements for PD/PI status in the same way as other PDs/PIs, but has no other special roles or responsibilities within the project team beyond those mentioned above.
Information for the Contact PD/PI should be entered in Item 13 of the SF424 (R&R) Cover component. All other PDs/PIs should be listed in the Research & Related Senior/Key Person component and assigned the project role of PD/PI. Please remember that all PDs/PIs must be registered in the eRA Commons prior to application submission. The Commons ID of each PD/PI must be included in the Credential field of the Research & Related Senior/Key Person component. Failure to include this data field will cause the application to be rejected.
All projects proposing Multiple PDs/PIs will be required to include a new section describing the leadership plan approach for the proposed project.
Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan: For applications designating multiple PDs/PIs, a new section of the research plan, entitled Multiple PD/PI Leadership Plan, must be included. A rationale for choosing a multiple PD/PI approach should be described. The governance and organizational structure of the leadership team and the research project should be described, and should include communication plans, process for making decisions on scientific direction, and procedures for resolving conflicts. The roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project or program should be delineated for the PDs/PIs and other collaborators.
If budget allocation is planned, the distribution of resources to specific components of the project or the individual PDs/PIs should be delineated in the Leadership Plan. In the event of an award, the requested allocations may be reflected in a footnote on the Notice of Award (NoA).
Applications Involving a Single Institution
When all PDs/PIs are within a single institution, follow the instructions contained in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
Applications Involving Multiple Institutions
When multiple institutions are involved, one institution must be designated as the prime institution and funding for the other institution(s) must be requested via a subcontract to be administered by the prime institution. When submitting a detailed budget, the prime institution should submit its budget using the Research & Related Budget component. All other institutions should have their individual budgets attached separately to the Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form. See Section 4.8 of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for further instruction regarding the use of the subaward budget form.
When submitting a modular budget, the prime institution completes the PHS398 Modular Budget component only. Information concerning the consortium/subcontract budget is provided in the budget justification. Separate budgets for each consortium/subcontract grantee are not required when using the Modular budget format. See Section 3.4 of the Application Guide for further instruction regarding the use of the PHS398 Modular Budget component.
3. Submission Dates and Times
See Section IV.3.A for
3.A. Submission, Review and Anticipated Start Dates
Opening Date: September 16, 2009 (Earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Letters of Intent Receipt Date(s): Not applicable.
Application Due Dates: Standard dates apply, please see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm
AIDS Application Due Dates: Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#AIDS
Peer Review Dates: Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward
Council Review Dates: Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward
Earliest Anticipated Start Dates: Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward
3.A.1. Letter of Intent
A letter of intent is not required for the funding opportunity.
3.B. Submitting an Application Electronically to the
To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/Apply and follow Steps 1-4. Note: Applications must only be submitted electronically. PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.
3.C. Application Processing
Applications may be submitted on or after the opening date and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application due date(s). (See Section IV.3.A. for all dates.) If an application is not submitted by the due date(s) and time, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed.
Once an application package has been successfully submitted through Grants.gov, any errors have been addressed, and the assembled application has been created in the eRA Commons, the PD/PI and the Authorized Organization Representative/Signing Official (AOR/SO) have two weekdays (Monday Friday, excluding Federal holidays) to view the application image to determine if any further action is necessary.
Upon receipt, applications will be
evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Incomplete
applications will not be reviewed.
There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons. The submitting AOR/SO receives the Grants.gov acknowledgments. The AOR/SO and the PI receive Commons acknowledgments. Information related to the assignment of an application to a Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons.
Note: Since email can be unreliable, it is the responsibility of the applicant to check periodically on their application status in the Commons.
The NIH will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. However, the NIH will accept a resubmission application, but such application must include an Introduction addressing the critique from the previous review.
This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.
5. Funding Restrictions
All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
Pre-award costs are allowable. A grantee may, at its own
risk and without NIH prior approval, incur obligations and expenditures to
cover costs up to 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget
period of a new award if such costs: are necessary to conduct the project, and
would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without NIH prior approval. If
specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must
obtain NIH approval before incurring the cost. NIH prior approval is required
for any costs to be incurred more than 90 days before the beginning date of the
initial budget period of a new award.
The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on NIH either to make the award or to increase the amount of the approved budget if an award is made for less than the amount anticipated and is inadequate to cover the pre-award costs incurred. NIH expects the grantee to be fully aware that pre-award costs result in borrowing against future support and that such borrowing must not impair the grantee's ability to accomplish the project objectives in the approved time frame or in any way adversely affect the conduct of the project. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
6. Other Submission Requirements
PD/PI Credential (e.g., Agency Login)
The NIH requires the PD/PI to fill in his/her Commons User ID in the PROFILE Project Director/Principal Investigator section, Credential log-in field of the Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile component. The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information, see Registration FAQs Important Tips -- Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information, see Frequently Asked Questions Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
Warning: Please be sure that you observe the direct cost, project period, and page number limitations specified above for this FOA. Application processing may be delayed or the application may be rejected if it does not comply with these requirements.
PHS398 Research Plan Component Sections
While each section of the Research Plan needs to be uploaded separately as a PDF attachment, applicants are encouraged to construct the Research Plan component as a single document, separating sections into distinct PDF attachments just before uploading the files. This approach will enable applicants to better monitor formatting requirements such as page limits. All attachments must be provided to NIH in PDF format, filenames must be included with no spaces or special characters, and a .pdf extension must be used.
All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (MS Word or PDF) are to be followed, incorporating "Just-in-Time" information concepts, and with the following requirements for R21 applications:
Applicants must follow the specific instructions on Appendix materials as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (See https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/424/index.htm). Also see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-07-018.html.
Do not use the Appendix to circumvent the page limitations. An application that does not comply with the required page limitations may be delayed in the review process.
Resource Sharing Plan(s)
NIH considers the sharing of unique research resources developed through NIH-sponsored research an important means to enhance the value and further the advancement of the research. When resources have been developed with NIH funds and the associated research findings published or provided to NIH, it is important that they be made readily available for research purposes to qualified individuals within the scientific community. If the final data/resources are not amenable to sharing, this must be explained in the Resource Sharing section of the application (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_faqs.htm.)
(a) Data Sharing Plan: Regardless of the amount requested, investigators are expected to include a brief 1-paragraph description of how final research data will be shared, or explain why data-sharing is not possible. Applicants are encouraged to discuss data-sharing plans with their NIH program contact (see Data-Sharing Policy or https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-032.html.)
(b) Sharing Model Organisms: Regardless of the amount requested, all applications where the development of model organisms is anticipated are expected to include a description of a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organisms and related resources or state appropriate reasons why such sharing is restricted or not possible (see Sharing Model Organisms Policy, and NOT-OD-04-042.)
(c) Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS): Regardless of the amount requested, applicants seeking funding for a genome-wide association study are expected to provide a plan for submission of GWAS data to the NIH-designated GWAS data repository, or provide an appropriate explanation why submission to the repository is not possible. A genome-wide association study is defined as any study of genetic variation across the entire genome that is designed to identify genetic associations with observable traits (e.g., blood pressure or weight) or the presence or absence of a disease or condition. For further information see Policy for Sharing of Data Obtained in NIH Supported or Conducted Genome-Wide Association Studies (go to, and .)
Foreign Applications (Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entity)
Indicate how the proposed project has specific relevance to the mission and objectives of the NIH/IC and has the potential for significantly advancing the health sciences in the United States.
Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.
2. Review and Selection Process
Applications submitted for this funding opportunity will be assigned to the ICs on the basis of established Public Health Service (PHS) referral guidelines.
Applications that are complete will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate scientific review group(s) in accordance with NIH peer review procedures (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/peer/) using the review criteria stated below.
As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:
Applications submitted in response to this funding opportunity will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:
The NIH R21 exploratory/developmental grant is a mechanism for supporting novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or the status of health-related research.
Because the Research Strategy is limited to 6 pages, an exploratory/developmental grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information as one might normally expect in an R01 application. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Reviewers will place less emphasis on methodological details and certain indicators traditionally used in evaluating the scientific merit of R01 applications, including supportive preliminary data. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.
The mission of the NIH is to support science in pursuit of knowledge about the biology and behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. As part of this mission, applications submitted to the NIH for grants or cooperative agreements to support biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.
Overall Impact. Reviewers will provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following five core review criteria, and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).
Core Review Criteria. Reviewers will consider each of the five review criteria below in the determination of scientific and technical merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.
Significance. Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
Investigator(s). Are the PD/PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?
Innovation. Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?
Approach. Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?
If the project involves clinical research, are the plans for 1) Protections for Human Subjectss, and 2) inclusion of minorities and members of both sexes/genders, as well as the inclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?
Environment. Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?
Additional Review Criteria
Additional Review Criteria
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider the following additional items in the determination of scientific and technical merit, but will not give separate scores for these items.
Protections for Human Subjects. For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.
For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials.
Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children. When the proposed project involves clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for inclusion of minorities and members of both genders, as well as the inclusion of children.
Vertebrate Animals. The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.
Resubmission Applications. When reviewing a Resubmission application (formerly called an amended application), the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.
Renewal Applications. When reviewing a Renewal application (formerly called a competing continuation application), the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period.
Revision Applications. When reviewing a Revision application (formerly called a competing supplement application), the committee will consider the appropriateness of the proposed expansion of the scope of the project. If the Revision application relates to a specific line of investigation presented in the original application that was not recommended for approval by the committee, then the committee will consider whether the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group are adequate and whether substantial changes are clearly evident.
Biohazards. Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.
Additional Review Considerations
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will address each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items and should not consider them in providing an overall impact/priority score.
Budget and Period Support. Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.
Select Agents Research. Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).
Applications from Foreign Organizations. Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.
Resource Sharing Plans. Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_guidance.htm); 2) Sharing Model Organisms (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-042.html); and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-07-088.html).
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his/her Summary Statement (written critique) via the NIH eRA Commons.
If the application is under
consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time"
information from the applicant. For details, applicants may refer to the NIH
Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards,
Subpart A: General.
A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document. Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, the NoA will be generated via email notification from the awarding component to the grantee business official.
Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs. See Section IV.5., Funding Restrictions.
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities.
When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Non-Competing Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
A final progress report, invention statement, and Financial Status Report are required when an award is relinquished when a recipient changes institutions or when an award is terminated.
We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Inquiries may fall into three areas: scientific/research (program), peer review, and financial or grants management issues:
Lynn Sorbara, Ph.D.
Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
6130 Executive Boulevard, EPN, Room 3137, MSC 7362
Bethesda, MD 20892-7362 (for U.S. Postal Service express or regular mail)
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier delivery)
Telephone: (301) 435-0584
2. Peer Review Contacts:
3. Financial or Grants
Romy Mondesir Reis
Office of Grants Administration
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
6120 Executive Boulevard, EPS Suite 243, MSC 7150
Bethesda, MD 20892-7150 (for U.S. Postal Service express or regular mail)
Rockville, MD 20852 (for non-USPS delivery)
Telephone: (301) 496-2834
Fax: (301) 496-8601
Required Federal Citations
Recipients of PHS support for activities involving live, vertebrate animals must comply with PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/PHSPolicyLabAnimals.pdf) as mandated by the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/hrea1985.htm), and the USDA Animal Welfare Regulations (http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/usdaleg1.htm) as applicable.
Human Subjects Protection:
Federal regulations (45 CFR 46) require that applications and proposals involving human subjects must be evaluated with reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm).
Data and Safety Monitoring Plan:
Data and safety monitoring is required for all types of clinical trials, including physiologic toxicity and dose-finding studies (Phase I); efficacy studies (Phase II); efficacy, effectiveness and comparative trials (Phase III). Monitoring should be commensurate with risk. The establishment of data and safety monitoring boards (DSMBs) is required for multi-site clinical trials involving interventions that entail potential risks to the participants (NIH Policy for Data and Safety Monitoring, NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-084.html).
Sharing Research Data:
Investigators submitting an NIH application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any single year are expected to include a plan for data sharing or state why this is not possible (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing). Investigators should seek guidance from their institutions, on issues related to institutional policies and local institutional review board (IRB) rules, as well as local, State and Federal laws and regulations, including the Privacy Rule. Reviewers will consider the data sharing plan but will not factor the plan into the determination of the scientific merit or the impact/priority score.
Policy for Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS):
NIH is interested in advancing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify common genetic factors that influence health and disease through a centralized GWAS data repository. For the purposes of this policy, a genome-wide association study is defined as any study of genetic variation across the entire human genome that is designed to identify genetic associations with observable traits (such as blood pressure or weight), or the presence or absence of a disease or condition. All applications, regardless of the amount requested, proposing a genome-wide association study are expected to provide a plan for submission of GWAS data to the NIH-designated GWAS data repository, or provide an appropriate explanation why submission to the repository is not possible. Data repository management (submission and access) is governed by the Policy for Sharing of Data Obtained in NIH Supported or Conducted Genome-Wide Association Studies, NIH Guide NOT-OD-07-088. For additional information, see
of Model Organisms:
NIH is committed to support efforts that encourage sharing of important research resources including the sharing of model organisms for biomedical research (see https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/model_organism/index.htm). At the same time the NIH recognizes the rights of grantees and contractors to elect and retain title to subject inventions developed with Federal funding pursuant to the Bayh-Dole Act (see the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Beginning October 1, 2004, all investigators submitting an NIH application or contract proposal are expected to include in the application/proposal a description of a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organism research resources generated using NIH funding or state why such sharing is restricted or not possible. This will permit other researchers to benefit from the resources developed with public funding. The inclusion of a model organism sharing plan is not subject to a cost threshold in any year and is expected to be included in all applications where the development of model organisms is anticipated.
to Research Data through the Freedom of Information Act:
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are: (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds; and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. It is important for applicants to understand the basic scope of this amendment. NIH has provided guidance at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm. Applicants may wish to place data collected under this funding opportunity in a public archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the distribution for an indefinite period of time. If so, the application should include a description of the archiving plan in the study design and include information about this in the budget justification section of the application. In addition, applicants should think about how to structure informed consent statements and other human subjects procedures given the potential for wider use of data collected under this award.
Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children:
It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their sub-populations must be included in all NIH-supported clinical research projects unless a clear and compelling justification is provided indicating that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research. This policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43). All investigators proposing clinical research should read the "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-001.html); a complete copy of the updated Guidelines is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_amended_10_2001.htm. The amended policy incorporates: the use of an NIH definition of clinical research; updated racial and ethnic categories in compliance with the new OMB standards; clarification of language governing NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials consistent with the SF424 (R&R) application; and updated roles and responsibilities of NIH staff and the extramural community. The policy continues to require for all NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials that: a) all applications or proposals and/or protocols must provide a description of plans to conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address differences by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic groups, including subgroups if applicable; and b) investigators must report annual accrual and progress in conducting analyses, as appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group differences.
of Children as Participants in Clinical Research:
The NIH maintains a policy that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) must be included in all clinical research, conducted or supported by the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.
All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the "NIH Policy and Guidelines" on the inclusion of children as participants in research involving human subjects (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/children/children.htm).
Education on the Protection of Human Subject Participants:
NIH policy requires education on the protection of human subject participants for all investigators submitting NIH applications for research involving human subjects and individuals designated as key personnel. The policy is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-039.html.
Embryonic Stem Cells (hESC):
Criteria for Federal funding of research on hESCs can be found at http://stemcells.nih.gov/index.asp and at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-116.html. Only research using hESC lines that are registered in the NIH Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry will be eligible for Federal funding (http://escr.nih.gov/). It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide in the project description and elsewhere in the application as appropriate, the official NIH identifier(s) for the hESC line(s) to be used in the proposed research.
NIH Public Access Policy Requirement:
In accordance with the NIH Public Access Policy, investigators funded by the NIH must submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicines PubMed Central (see http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/), an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication. The NIH Public Access Policy is available at (). For more information, see the Public Access webpage at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/.
for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued final modification to the "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", the "Privacy Rule", on August 14, 2002. The Privacy Rule is a federal regulation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 that governs the protection of individually identifiable health information, and is administered and enforced by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside with the researcher and his/her institution. The OCR website (http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools on "Am I a covered entity?" Information on the impact of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on NIH processes involving the review, funding, and progress monitoring of grants, cooperative agreements, and research contracts can be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-025.html.
URLs in NIH Grant
Applications or Appendices:
All applications and proposals for NIH funding must be self-contained within specified page limitations. For publications listed in the appendix and/or Progress report, Internet addresses (URLs) or PubMed Central (PMC) submission identification numbers must be used for publicly accessible on-line journal articles. Publicly accessible on-line journal articles or PMC articles/manuscripts accepted for publication that are directly relevant to the project may be included only as URLs or PMC submission identification numbers accompanying the full reference in either the Bibliography & References Cited section, the Progress Report Publication List section, or the Biographical Sketch section of the NIH grant application. A URL or PMC submission identification number citation may be repeated in each of these sections as appropriate. There is no limit to the number of URLs or PMC submission identification numbers that can be cited.
Healthy People 2010:
The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas. This FOA is related to one or more of the priority areas. Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.
Authority and Regulations:
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372. Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.
Loan Repayment Programs:
NIH encourages applications for educational loan repayment from qualified health professionals who have made a commitment to pursue a research career involving clinical, pediatric, contraception, infertility, and health disparities related areas. The LRP is an important component of NIH's efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of researchers by providing the means for developing a research career unfettered by the burden of student loan debt. Note that an NIH grant is not required for eligibility and concurrent career award and LRP applications are encouraged. The periods of career award and LRP award may overlap providing the LRP recipient with the required commitment of time and effort, as LRP awardees must commit at least 50% of their time (at least 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week) for two years to the research. For further information, please see: http://www.lrp.nih.gov/.
Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices
Office of Extramural
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.