Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information

 

Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Funding Opportunity Title

Non-healing Ulcerative Wounds in Aging (R21)

Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices
  • September 20, 2017 - Updates to Active Funding Opportunity Announcements to Prepare for Policy Changes Impacting Due Dates On or After January 25, 2018. See NOT-OD-17-114.
  • May 10, 2017 - New NIH "FORMS-E" Grant Application Forms and Instructions Coming for Due Dates On or After January 25, 2018. See NOT-OD-17-062.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PA-16-231

Companion Funding Opportunity

PA-16-230, R01 Research Project Grant

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.866

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) invites applications that propose basic, clinical, or translational research on non-healing ulcerative wounds and their consequences in aging and in older persons. Applications are solicited which focus on the 1) biology, etiology and pathophysiology of non-healing ulcerative wounds in animal models and/or older adults; 2) translation of basic/clinical research into clinical practice and health decision-making; 3) diagnosis, prevention, management and clinical outcomes of non-healing wounds in older adults.

The R21 mechanism is intended to encourage exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects. Research supported by this initiative should enhance knowledge of non-healing wounds and their consequences in older adults and provide evidence-based guidance in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of non-healing wounds in older persons.

Key Dates

 

Posted Date

May 6, 2016

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

September 16, 2016

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

Standard dates apply, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

The first standard application due date for this FOA is October 16, 2016.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Standard AIDS dates apply by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of AIDS and AIDS-related applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

The first AIDS application due date for this FOA is January 7, 2017.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Scientific Merit Review
Advisory Council Review
Earliest Start Date
Expiration Date

September 8, 2019

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.


There are several options available to submit your application through Grants.gov to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services partners. You must use one of these submission options to access the application forms for this opportunity.

  1. Use the NIH ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online.
  2. Use an institutional system-to-system (S2S) solution to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and eRA Commons to track your application. Check with your institutional officials regarding availability.

  3. Go to Grants.gov to download an application package to complete the application forms offline or create a Workspace to complete the forms online; submit your application to Grants.gov; and track your application in eRA Commons.
Learn more about the various submission options.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information


Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Ulcerative wounds, including venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and pressure ulcers, occur more commonly in older adults and their impaired healing is associated with underlying and comorbid diseases of aging, and defects of wound repair. The incidence of chronic wounds increases with age from the sixth to the ninth decades.  Delayed wound healing increases the risk of recurrent infection and tissue necrosis.  This results in substantial morbidity, disability, hospitalization, and even mortality among older adults.  

Recently, care improvements have been observed for diabetic foot ulcers, with a resulting decline in the rates of lower-extremity amputation among persons with diabetes, but there are significant lags among persons age 75+ years, blacks and men.  However, amputation rates among the non-diabetics did not change, indicating a lack of improvement in the management of other types of foot ulcers.  Research into the basic science of wound healing, translational research and development and evaluation of novel clinical approaches may be beneficial to develop understanding and improve the health outcomes of chronic wounds among persons who are aging.

Wound healing and restoration of an intact skin barrier is a complex process involving the coordinated response of several cell types including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, macrophages, platelets and keratinocytes. Although understanding of the processes that lead to resolution of a wound has improved, few studies have explored how aging impacts these processes and this gap in our understanding may limit the applicability of novel therapies for wound resolution in older persons. Migration, infiltration and differentiation of these cells are regulated by a signaling network involving many different growth factors and cytokines. Aging processes appear to be associated with dysfunctional cellular responses leading to impaired tissue remodeling and delayed wound resolution.  Also, pathologic tissue fibrosis may result from dysregulation of normal wound healing processes. Therefore, tissue aging appears to contribute to the formation of a wound site that is unable to heal properly. 

Recent advances in the understanding of the wound-healing process have led to innovative clinical approaches to wound care including the use of stem cells, growth factors and bioactive materials to support the body’s own regenerative capacity. However, the relevant specialty societies that have developed ulcerative wound treatment guidelines lack a strong consensus on the optimal multicomponent treatment approach, with the exception of using dressings and compressions. The guidelines have been largely based on expert opinion, so better evidence is needed.

Though several efficacy endpoints are discussed in an active Food and Drug Administration guidance, complete wound closure of a chronic, non-healing wound is singled out as one of the most objective and clinically meaningful endpoints.

Improved care of chronic ulcerative wounds could reduce morbidity and mortality.  Translational studies may be developed for novel cellular products, immune modulation, microbiome-modifying therapy, human tissue, animal-derived tissue, biosynthetic products, other strategies including exercise/physical therapy, and nutritional interventions.  Certain wound therapies might be applied consistently to all patients, including dressings, compression, off-loading, and debridement. 

A 2014 NIA-sponsored U13 workshop on chronic wound repair and healing recommended the development of evidence-based therapy in the clinic, adopting improved trial design, defining standard wound care, and choosing appropriate trial endpoints for evaluating wound therapies. Transdisciplinary approaches to collaboration were recommended to improve the translation of the basic science findings into improved wound care approaches. The workshop summary was published in two journals, J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Mar;63(3):427-38 and Wound Repair Regen. 2015 Jan-Feb;23(1):1-13.  A 2012 NIA workshop had made consistent recommendations about studying wound biology and about the relevance of various aged animal models as experimental systems to address key gaps in our understanding of factors that contribute to delayed wound healing in aged tissues. In addition, recent Cochrane reviews and technology assessments have identified the characteristics of ideal studies that might be employed to evaluate the multi-component strategies for treating chronic wounds.  Important features include standardizing treatment protocols, including patients with a specific type of wound, defining and using an objective measure for complete wound healing, and adequate follow-up of patients. 

Specific Areas of Research Interest

This FOA will support basic and translational clinical research to identify the critical defects in the wound healing process in aged tissues and persons and test clinical interventions for safety and effectiveness.

This FOA particularly invites research applications in animal models and/or in humans, addressing the etiology, pathophysiology, risk factors, consequences, prevention, or treatment of non-healing ulcerative wounds including venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers and pressure ulcers.

The R21 mechanism is intended to encourage exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects. Areas of interest and potential research questions include, but are not limited to those listed below:

Biology, Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Basic and late-stage translational research conducted in aged animal models using model systems that have been validated previously to further elucidate the essential mechanisms in the wound healing processes that are dysregulated with aging and which might lead to new therapeutic approaches to combat delayed wound healing in the elderly. 
  • What causes acute injuries to become chronic wounds?
  • What factors regulate or activate macrophage phenotypes in wound repair?
  • What are the roles of proliferation and apoptosis in acute versus chronic wounds?
  • What are the contributions of aging and comorbidities to the development of chronic wounds?
  • What is the optimal inflammatory response that will support rapid repair yet effectively reduce infection?
  • Which microbiota are beneficial, and which are problematic for wound healing?
  • How does microbial bioburden in the wound influence systemic and local immune responses?
  • How does age influence microbial burden in wounds and subsequent wound healing?

Translation into Clinical Research

  • Translational strategies may include but are not limited to:  cellular products, immune modulation, microbiome-modifying therapy, human tissue, animal-derived tissue, biosynthetic products, and other strategies including exercise/physical therapy, nutritional interventions and multicomponent approaches.  Certain wound therapies might be applied consistently to all patients, including dressings, compression, off-loading, type and timing of debridement.
  • What interventions effectively improve microcirculation and wound healing with aging?
  • How do various wound treatments affect microbial burden?
  • What new therapeutics can be developed based on the microbiome?
  • How should cellular therapy be positioned in wound care?
  • What potency assays are available to regulate cellular therapies?
  • What is the effectiveness of physical modalities such as electrical stimulation and ultrasound in older adults?
  • Design and conduct of clinical trials of multi-component strategies for treating chronic non-healing ulcerative wounds among predominantly older adults using a primary outcome of complete wound healing. 

Diagnosis, Prevention and Management

  • What interventions effectively prevent chronic wounds in older adults?
  • What is the effect of wound therapies on universal outcomes, such as functional status, pain, physical impairment, mobility, and cognitive impairment, as opposed to wound-specific outcomes?
  • What is the effect of multicomponent interventions on individual- and wound-specific outcomes?
  • Are there special considerations related to older adults with chronic wounds and dementia?
  • During surgery, what steps can anesthesiologists take to mitigate risk for chronic or nonhealing wounds?
  • Can individuals be better categorized on the spectrum from cachexia to starvation, and can this categorization aid in determining the most-effective nutritional treatment strategies?
  • What is the optimal protein and energy intake for older adults with chronic wounds, especially at weight extremes?
  • Is there a role for complete and various modular nutritional supplements, vitamin and mineral supplementation above the U.S. recommended daily intake, or appetite stimulants and anabolic steroids in the care of individuals with chronic wounds?
  • What is the effect of wound-associated pain on quality of life and function?
  • What are the effects of other comorbidities in conjunction with chronic wounds, with respect to quality of life?
  • What are the effects of socioeconomic status, living status, and other social factors on chronic wounds and quality of life?

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.

Additional Guidance and Resources

Specific age ranges for older patients or aged animals are not specified for this FOA; rather, age ranges and groups should be selected to address the study hypotheses and effectively utilize the demographic composition of available patient groups, study cohorts, or data sets. Applications may address changes across a span of ages as appropriate for the study questions, and younger age groups may be included for comparison purposes. Applicants are encouraged to enroll subjects who represent accurately the broad range of age, gender, race, ethnicity, health, and functional level in the geriatric population. Applicants are discouraged from excluding subjects with cognitive impairment, frailty, or other age-related complicating conditions without reasonable scientific justification.

Applicants studying human subjects are encouraged to use standard assessment instruments and techniques that have been developed and validated in older populations when possible, or may propose to test and validate such new instruments. Applicants proposing studies on treatment outcomes are encouraged to consider including measures of overall health status, functional status, and quality of life, as well as specific measures related to study hypotheses. A multidisciplinary research approach, including expertise in surgery, rehabilitation medicine, immunology, infectious disease, physiology, biology of aging, pharmacology, nursing and/or geriatrics is strongly encouraged.

Animal models may be used to address questions that cannot be easily addressed in humans. Applicants proposing basic research projects are encouraged to use aging and/or diabetic models most comparable to human physiology, where possible. NIA's Scientific Resources, including the Nonhuman Primate Tissue Bank and Rodent Resources, are described at http://www.nia.nih.gov/research/scientific-resources.

See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.

Section II. Award Information

 

Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New

Resubmission
Revision

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Clinical Trial?

Clinical Trials Not Allowed for due dates on or after January 25, 2018: Only accepting applications that do not propose clinical trials

Need help determining whether you are doing a clinical trial?

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

The combined budget for direct costs for the two year project period may not exceed $275,000. No more than $200,000 may be requested in any single year.

Award Project Period

The maximum project period is 2 years.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

o    Hispanic-serving Institutions

o    Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

o    Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)

o    Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions

o    Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM. 
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her 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.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must obtain the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

Modular or R&R Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:

  • All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan.

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

Form only available in FORMS-E application packages for use with due dates on or after January 25, 2018.

When involving NIH-defined human subjects research, clinical research, and/or clinical trials follow all instructions for the PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following additional instructions:

If you answered "Yes" to the question "Are Human Subjects Involved?" on the R&R Other Project Information form, you must include at least one human subjects study record using the Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form or a Delayed Onset Study record.

Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

Delayed Onset Study: All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS Assignment Request Form

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

Foreign Institutions

Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. 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 only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow our Post Submission Application Materials policy.

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following:

The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research. An R21 grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. 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.

 
Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact 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 review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific 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? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? 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(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or those in the early stages of independent careers, 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? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? 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? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects? 

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion 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

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, 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. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

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.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, 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.

Renewals

Not Applicable 

Revisions

For Revisions, 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.

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

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.

Select Agent 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).

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; (2) Sharing Model Organisms; and (3)  Genomic Data Sharing Plan (GDS).

Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications . Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. 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.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

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. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency.  HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.

For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/laws/revisedlep.html. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/section1557/index.html; and http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/index.html. Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/index.html. Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/office/about/rgn-hqaddresses.html or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697. Also note it is an HHS Departmental goal to ensure access to quality, culturally competent care, including long-term services and supports, for vulnerable populations. For further guidance on providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, recipients should review the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=53.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Finding Help Online: https://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-945-7573

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Marcel E. Salive, MD
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone: 301-496-6761
Email: saliveme@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information (information appears two weeks after the submission due date).

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Lesa McQueen
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone: 301-496-1472
Email: mcqueenl@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

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 Part 75.

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