Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Funding Opportunity Title

Clinical Trial Readiness for Rare Neurological and Neuromuscular Diseases (U01 Clinical Trial Optional)

Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-16-020

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-18-534

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

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

 93.853 

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to support clinical studies that will fill gaps in the design of upcoming clinical trials in rare neurological or neuromuscular diseases by validating clinical outcome measures or biomarkers, or by characterizing cohorts of relevant patients.  Through the support of trial readiness studies, NINDS expects to accelerate the initiation of clinical trials for rare diseases and to increase the likelihood of success in those trials.  

Key Dates
Posted Date

December 20, 2017

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

January 15, 2018

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date(s)

February 15, 2018; August 17, 2018, 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.

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.

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

June 2018, November 2018

Advisory Council Review

October 2018, January 2019

Earliest Start Date

December 2018, April 2019

Expiration Date

August 18, 2018

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the Research (R) 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. Use Grants.gov Workspace to prepare and submit your application and eRA Commons to track your application.
  4. 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

    Purpose

    This FOA invites researchers to submit applications for support of clinical projects that address critical needs for clinical trial readiness in rare neurological or neuromuscular diseases/conditions.  Components of trial readiness may include knowledge of the course of disease necessary for selecting cohorts of patients with defined characteristics, and validation of clinical outcome measures or biomarkers appropriate for assessing response to the intervention.  By supporting studies aimed at clinical trial readiness, the NINDS intends to accelerate the testing of candidate therapeutics and increase the likelihood of successful trials. 

    Background

    The NINDS supports basic, translational and clinical research on a broad range of diseases that are defined as rare (fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S.).  To optimize the design of clinical trials for these diseases, there needs to be sufficient understanding of the presentation and course of the disease.  Furthermore, tools to select appropriate participants for the trial and to measure the effects of interventions must be sensitive, reliable, valid and responsive.  These tools include clinical outcome assessment (COA) measures (including clinical scales and composite measures) and biomarkers (diagnostic, prognostic, predictive, pharmacodynamic or others).  COA measures include clinician-, observer- and patient-reported outcome measures, and quantitative performance outcome measures.  A biomarker can be a laboratory measurement of the concentration of biomolecule in a patient’s tissue or fluids, or it can be a measurable feature of the patient’s tissues or organs that is informative of structure, composition or physiological functioning.  Prior to launching clinical efficacy studies, however, sufficient testing is required to demonstrate that the assays and the biomarkers themselves are sensitive, reliable, and appropriate for use in future clinical trials.  Without sufficient knowledge of the disease and suitable measurement tools, clinical trials may be inconclusive or misleading.  For some of the rare diseases within the mission of NINDS, preclinical translational research has advanced and candidate therapeutics are currently being developed, but clinical trial readiness may be lagging.  For these diseases, additional studies are needed to collect data essential for the design of clinical trials or to prepare research tools for use in trials.

    The FDA has recently published Draft Guidance on common issues in drug development for rare diseases.  This FOA is intended to support studies that address some of the issues in this guidance document including the needs for adequate understanding of the course of the disease, and reliable endpoints and outcome measures. 

    Scope

    This FOA is intended to support clinical studies that address current obstacles to the design of upcoming clinical trials in rare neurological and neuromuscular diseases and conditions.  The studies supported through this FOA should be clinical observational studies (cross-sectional or longitudinal), and no intervention studies will be supported through this FOA.  Appropriate trial readiness projects can be “stand-alone” studies, or they can be ancillary to other, ongoing clinical studies.  For example, a project could propose to validate new or improved COA measures or biomarkers by adding them as experimental outcomes in an ongoing trial or longitudinal study that is supported through other funding sources.  Higher priority will be given to diseases/conditions that currently or soon will have multiple candidate therapeutics or devices ready for testing in clinical trials, but that lack critical components of trial readiness that are needed for moving forward.  For these higher priority diseases, the justification should be made by the applicants that clinical trials could begin immediately after the completion of the trial readiness study to test the candidate therapeutics that will be available at that time.  Disorders will be given lower priority if there is not a strong justification for the urgent need for trial readiness, based on the likelihood of available candidate therapeutics by the time the trial readiness study would be completed.  Lower priority will also be given to diseases or conditions for which clinical trials are already ongoing, and advances in clinical trial design through more sensitive or reliable biomarkers or COA measures, or better characterization of disease cohorts would not significantly accelerate progress toward effective treatments. 

    Because of the limited number of patients with specific rare diseases or conditions available at any one clinical site, clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of candidate interventions often utilize networks or consortia of clinical sites with experience interacting with those patients.  The consistent and reproducible use of validated COA measures or biomarkers at multiple clinical sites is essential for clinical trial success.  Therefore, prior to planning a multi-site trial, it may be necessary to conduct a multi-site trial readiness study to determine whether COA measures or biomarkers are “fit for purpose” and whether it is feasible to collect the data under conditions expected for the upcoming trial.  This FOA is intended to support clinical studies aimed at verifying that candidate COAs or biomarkers are suitable for use in upcoming multi-site clinical trials.  If only single-site clinical trials are anticipated (e.g., the condition is so rare that all patients are seen at one site), it would be appropriate to conduct the clinical trial readiness study at that one site.  However, this may be an unusual situation, and awards from this FOA are likely to support multi-site studies.

    Applications to this FOA may propose studies to address gaps in knowledge regarding clinical presentation or progression of rare diseases that must be filled before planning for clinical trials.  Such cohort characterization studies may be needed, for example, to determine trial eligibility criteria or to determine a stage of disease progression when the response to treatment may be more readily detected.  Cohort characterization studies should be submitted to this FOA only if the data to be collected are needed for the design of a clinical trial or trials in the near future.  Natural history studies aimed at testing hypotheses regarding the epidemiology, genetic associations, genotype/phenotype correlations, disease mechanisms or therapeutic target identification are outside the scope of this FOA and will not be supported.  However, studies are encouraged that address clinical trial readiness and also collect patient samples that could be valuable for future hypothesis-testing studies supported through other FOAs.  

    It is not the intent of this FOA to support studies of biomarker discovery or assay characterization.  In order to be considered for support through this FOA, the biochemical or molecular biomarker analytical assay(s) should be already characterized in terms of accuracy, precision, analytical sensitivity and specificity, effects of interfering substances, dynamic range and expected normal values.  If the application involves the use of imaging, radiological or physiological biomarkers, methods for measuring the biomarkers should have been optimized in clinical studies (not necessarily the same rare disease patient population), and should be ready for use in a multi-site study at the time of application.  Proposed studies may test the reproducibility of biomarker measurements at multiple clinical sites and the relationship between the biomarker measurement and patient survival, function or other disease-associated symptoms.  Studies aimed at developing COA instruments may include cross-sectional evaluation to assess score reliability (test-retest or inter-rater) and construct validity, as well as longitudinal evaluation to assess responsiveness.  Studies of patient-reported or person-centered outcomes should incorporate existing NIH- and NINDS-supported measurement tools, including NeuroQoLPROMIS and Toolbox.  Validation of these tools in specific rare disease populations, including the addition of disease-specific modules, is encouraged. 

    Studies are encouraged to collect the clinical data needed to apply to the FDA for qualification of biomarkers or COAs intended to be used in the regulatory review process.  Researchers are encouraged to initiate the qualification process with the FDA prior to submitting an application to this FOA.  Advice from the FDA on the development of the COA or biomarker should be included in the application, if available.  The FDA provides additional information about the Drug Development Tools Qualification Program on its website. 

    Examples of studies intended to be supported through this FOA include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Studies aimed at demonstrating that COA measures or significant biomarkers are fit for use in specific contexts relevant to upcoming multi-site clinical trials 
    • Studies to characterize rare disease patient cohorts regarding COA measures, biomarkers, genetic, epigenetic or physiological factors that will be used to stratify patients or determine inclusion/exclusion criteria in upcoming clinical trials
    • Studies to characterize rare disease patient cohorts using candidate outcome measures to collect data needed for accurate power calculations or to determine the appropriate duration of upcoming clinical trials 
    • Studies to establish the variability of outcome measures in patient cohorts, for use as historical control groups for upcoming clinical trials
    • Studies testing the responsiveness of biomarkers or COAs through the observation of patients who are receiving treatment as part of their clinical care, or ancillary to clinical trials that are supported through other sources of funding
    • Studies to address knowledge gaps for clinical trial planning that also pilot innovative recruitment strategies for women, minorities and other underserved populations who would be candidates for participation in upcoming rare disease trials

    Examples of studies that are considered not appropriate for this FOA include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Natural history studies aimed at exploring disease pathophysiology, genetic or epigenetic mechanisms are outside the scope of this FOA.  Studies of patient genetics or pathophysiology would be in scope only if characterization is necessary for stratifying trial participants or determining inclusion/exclusion criteria in upcoming clinical trials. 
    • Preclinical translational studies for the development of candidate therapeutics/devices will not be supported through this FOA.  NINDS has existing funding opportunities for translational studies that are applicable to rare diseases (see http://www.ninds.nih.gov/funding/areas/translational_research/). 
    • Clinical trials that seek to answer specific questions about safety, tolerability, clinical efficacy, effectiveness, clinical management, and/or implementation of pharmacologic, behavioral, biologic, surgical, or device (invasive or non-invasive) interventions. preventive, therapeutic, and services interventions will not be supported through this FOA.  Support for clinical trials is available through other FOAs (see NINDS Exploratory Clinical TrialsNINDS Efficacy Clinical Trials or NeuroNEXT).  However, studies aimed at biomarker or outcome measure validation that involve an intervention (such as treatment with an approved drug to test responsiveness of a biomarker) and may be considered clinical trials under the NIH definition (see NOT-15-015) can be supported through this FOA. 
    • Applications that propose any animal studies will not be considered for funding.  
    • Studies of biomarker discovery should seek funding through the parent FOAs for research project grants.
    • Applications that propose only to create or maintain patient registries will not be considered for funding.  NINDS does not intend to provide support to maintain or acquire additional data on study participants beyond the end of the trial readiness grant.
    • Applications that request support for infrastructure to establish new clinical trial networks are beyond the scope of this FOA.  Applicants should leverage existing resources such as existing rare disease-focused networks or NeuroNEXT.   

    Prospective applicants are encouraged to discuss project suitability for this FOA with the NINDS Scientific/Research Contact listed in the Agency Contacts section below.

    Advisory Committee

    It is a goal of this initiative to support studies that fill knowledge gaps and verify the suitability of tools required for the design of upcoming clinical trials.  The trial readiness study applicants may not necessarily be the researchers designing and conducting the future trials.  To promote communication among these groups of researchers and to ensure uptake of the products of the trial readiness studies, each awardee should establish an external advisory committee.  This committee should include relevant clinical trialists and other stakeholders in the success of rare disease clinical trials.  Applicants are encouraged to include one or more patients or patient advocates on this advisory committee.  The Advisory Committee should meet prior to the initiation of enrollment and periodically during the course of the study to provide comments and suggestions on the study protocol and to review progress and accomplishments.  The NINDS Project Scientist for the Cooperative Agreement should be invited to attend all Advisory Committee meetings, but would not be a voting member of this committee.  

    Leveraging Existing Research Resources

    Applicants should leverage existing research resources for their clinical trial readiness studies.  Such resources may include existing clinical research networks such as NeuroNEXT or other existing networks that have successfully conducted studies of rare neurological or neuromuscular diseases.  Leveraging the resources and support from advocacy groups, private research foundations, academic institutions, other government agencies and the NIH Intramural program are also encouraged.  Researchers interested in conducting trial readiness studies through NeuroNEXT should contact the NINDS Office of Clinical Research early in process of designing the study. 

    Studies are also encouraged that leverage the resources of ongoing clinical trials or longitudinal studies supported through other Federal or private funds.  Researchers may consider collecting data to characterize new or improved COA measures or biomarkers as ancillary studies to ongoing clinical

    trials or longitudinal studies.

    Project Milestones

    Projects should include quantitative milestones leading to the accomplishment of the goals (see “Project Milestones and Timelines” in the Section IV below on Application and Submission Information).  The milestones will be used by the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s), the Advisory Committee and NINDS Program Official and Project Scientist to facilitate monitoring of progress, and assessing the feasibility for completing the study.

    NINDS Program Official will contact the applicant to discuss the proposed milestones prior to the award.  The Program Official and Project Scientist will discuss with the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) any recommended changes to the research plan or suggestions from peer reviewers, and the plan will be revised as appropriate prior to the award.  The Terms and Conditions for the award will include recruitment milestones expected to be met by specific time periods, accrual goals for women and minorities (as appropriate), and other milestones specific to the research project.

    Studies aimed at testing whether COAs or biomarkers are fit for use in upcoming clinical trials should include quantitative milestones regarding the sensitivity, reliability and responsiveness of the COA or biomarker.  For studies aimed at developing COAs or biomarkers that are qualified by the FDA for use in clinical trials, milestones should be based on the advice provided by the FDA in response to the initial consultation.  Submission to the FDA of a full qualification package should also be among the milestones.  For further information, see:

    http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM230597.pdf

    NINDS Staff Involvement

    Under this Cooperative Agreement mechanism, NINDS Project Scientist will have substantial communication and involvement with researchers in decision making prior to award and during the conduct of the study to provide oversight of data and safety monitoring, ensure the timely completion of the proposed studies and to maximize the positive impact of the studies on upcoming clinical trials.  The NINDS Program Official and Project Scientist should also be invited to participate in meetings of the steering committee, the Advisory Committee and meetings with the FDA.

    Applicants are encouraged to consult with NINDS Scientific/Research Staff early on during the planning for an application.  This early contact will provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify NINDS policies and guidelines, including the scope of project relative to the NINDS mission and intent of this FOA.  These discussions also provide important information and guidance on how to develop an appropriate timeline and milestone plan, which are subject to peer review under this program.    

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

    Section II. Award Information
    Funding Instrument

    Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, NIH scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities. See Section VI.2 for additional information about the substantial involvement for this FOA.

    Application Types Allowed

    New
    Resubmission
    Revision

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

    Clinical Trial?

    Optional: Accepting applications that either propose or do not propose clinical trial(s)

    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

    Application budgets are not limited but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

    Award Project Period

    The maximum project period is 5 years

    NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made from 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:

    • Hispanic-serving Institutions
    • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
    • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
    • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
    • 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

    Buttons to access the online ASSIST system or to download application forms are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.

    2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    It is critical that applicants follow the Research (R) 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.

    Letter of Intent

    Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

    By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

    • Descriptive title of proposed activity
    • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
    • Names of other key personnel
    • Participating institution(s)
    • Number and title of this funding opportunity

    The letter of intent should be sent to:

    Emily Carifi, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
    Telephone: 301-496-0665
    Email: Emily.Carifi@nih.gov

    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. 

    R&R or Modular Budget

    All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. The application should include in the budget, support for the safety monitoring plan, and travel and/or teleconferences for the Advisory Committee meetings.

    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: 

    Research Strategy:

    Rare Disease Status

    The Significance section of the Research Strategy should include a paragraph with the heading “Justification of Rare Disease”.  This section should provide a justification that the disease/condition being studied is rare in the U.S.  This section may include one or more references confirming that the prevalence of the disease/condition that is the primary focus of the research application is 200,000 or fewer patients in the U.S. 

    Need for Clinical Trial Readiness

    The Significance section of the Research Strategy should also include a further subsection with the heading “Urgent Need for Clinical Trial Readiness”.  This subsection should describe the need for conducting the trial readiness study at this time.  Applicants should describe the clinical trial design issues (e.g., biomarker or COA validation or qualification, data for power calculations, defining inclusion/exclusion criteria, determining the duration of the trial, etc.) that will be addressed by this trial readiness study.  Describe the potential impact of the proposed studies in addressing significant needs in the design and increasing the likelihood of success of upcoming clinical trials.  

    This section should also contain the following:

    • A brief description of the state of development of candidate therapeutics or devices for this rare disease (even if the current applicants are not involved in the development of those therapeutics/devices).
    • Describe the expected timelines for the advance of therapeutics/devices to clinical trials.
    • A brief description of the clinical trial(s) that would be enabled by the results of this trial readiness study.  Provide letters of support (below) from the researchers who expect to conduct upcoming trials.
    • Briefly describe the currently available COA measures or biomarkers.  If appropriate for the proposed study, describe how the study will result in advancements over the currently available measures/biomarkers.  If the current measures/biomarkers are considered inadequate or insufficiently developed for use in upcoming trials, describe their limitations and how those limitations may compromise the success of upcoming trials.  If the proposed trial readiness study is ancillary to an ongoing clinical trial or longitudinal study, describe that study and provide a letter of support (below) from the study's lead PD(s)/PI(s).  Explain how the trial readiness study will lead to improvements in the design of future trials above that of the ongoing study. 
    • Describe any gaps in knowledge regarding the course of the disease that must be addressed before clinical trials are planned. 
    • A brief description of significant current and/or potential support from companies or voluntary health organizations for clinical trial readiness studies or clinical trials for this disease.
    • Studies aimed at testing whether candidate COA measures or biomarkers are fit for use in upcoming trials should describe the specific, expected context of use for the measures and plans for implementing them in upcoming trials.  Consideration should be given for applying to the FDA for qualification of the COA measure or biomarker.  Qualification may not be necessary or appropriate for all COA measures or biomarkers, but the rationale for the decision of whether or not to apply for qualification should be described in this section of the application. 

    Supporting Data for Entry

    Applications that include the testing of biomarkers or outcome measures should provide, in the Approach section, a justification that the assays and methods for measurement are ready for use in a multi-site study at the time of application.  For biochemical or molecular biomarkers, this justification should describe accuracy, precision, analytical sensitivity, analytical specificity including interfering substances, dynamic range and expected normal values.  For imaging, radiological or physiological biomarkers, the justification should provide preliminary data on the accuracy, reproducibility, sensitivity and specificity as determined by study of a patient cohort (but not necessarily in the same rare disease).  A description of the equipment and expertise available at each clinical site, as related to the measurement of biomarkers or outcome measures, should be provided in the application.  Plans for the training of personnel at each site in the use of the standardized protocols, data quality control strategies, reference standards and approaches for verifying instrument calibration at the clinical sites should also be described as appropriate.

    Existing Clinical Networks

    For ancillary studies, briefly describe the aims of the parent study and the timeline of the parent study relative to the proposed ancillary study.  The application should discuss the additional burden to the participants of the parent study and whether consent obtained from the participants is adequate to cover the ancillary study or if additional consent must be obtained.  (See also Letters of Support)

    Advisory Committee


    The Approach section of the Research Strategy should include a further subsection with the heading “Advisory Committee”.  This subsection should describe plans for establishing an advisory committee for the study, composed of at least five members.  The NINDS Project Scientist for the Cooperative Agreement should be invited to participate in all meetings of the committee, but would not be a voting member.  The members should include researchers not directly involved in the study, either from academics or from industry, who may lead future clinical trials that would be enabled by this trial readiness study.  Researchers conducting similar studies in other diseases may also have the appropriate expertise for this committee.  Applicants should also consider including at least one patient or patient advocate among the members of the committee. This subsection should also describe plans for an initial meeting of study investigators with the committee to seek comments and suggestions on the design of the study and approval of the study protocol, before enrollment begins.  Also describe plans for regular meetings with the committee to review progress and solicit advice on course corrections.  Describe how the advice from the committee will be incorporated into the management of the study.  The Advisory Committee will not be responsible for data and safety monitoring (see Data and Safety Monitoring section below). 

    This subsection in the approach is required for all projects including those not proposing clinical trials.  Those proposing clinical trials can reference, but should not repeat information, about the clinical trial timeline submitted on the Human Subject- Clinical Trial form

    Project Milestones and Timelines

    In this subsection under Approach, applicants should describe milestones to be used for measuring success in achieving each of the research plan’s aims.   Specify the quantitative criteria for measuring success and related rationale.  One or more milestones should be used for each aim.  Specify the timeline for each milestone. There should be at least one milestone each year.

    Examples of milestones include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Institutional Review Board (IRB) and other regulatory approvals (Applicants are encouraged to use a central IRB.)
    • Certification of clinical sites regarding the training of personnel on the study protocol, calibration of instruments, implementation of data management and safety monitoring protocols, etc. 
    • Approval of the research protocol by the Advisory Committee
    • Patient enrollment (including gender, race and ethnicity, children) and clinic visit milestones for each grant year
    • Go/no go decision points regarding biomarker or COA sensitivity, reliability and responsiveness

    For studies aimed at FDA qualification of COAs or biomarkers, milestones should be based on the advice provided by the FDA in response to the initial consultation.  Submission of a full qualification package should also be among the milestones.  For further information, see:

    http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM230597.pdf 

    Include a timeline that indicates IRB approval(s), meetings of the Advisory Committee, staging of patient visits, and expected completion for each of the milestones.  Also describe the time frame of planning for clinical trials that will utilize the resulting products of the trial readiness study.

    Applicants are encouraged to use a central IRB, rather than independent review at each participating institution. 

    Letters of Support

    Provide a letter of support from the leader(s) of the existing clinical research network that will conduct the trial readiness study that indicates the sites involved in the network, relevant resources and study infrastructure, and an estimate of the number of eligible, relevant rare disease patients accessible through the network.  For ancillary studies, provide a letter of support from the PD/PI of the parent study that includes a brief description of the aims of the parent study and indicates the timeline of the parent study relative to the proposed ancillary study.

    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:

    Only limited Appendix materials are allowed. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

    Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. The Appendix must include the following, as appropriate for the proposed study:

    • Standardized protocols for measuring the biomarkers proposed
    • For proposed ancillary studies, provide the protocol for the parent clinical trial or longitudinal study and the consent form for the parent study
    • Guidance documents provided by the FDA regarding qualification of the proposed biomarker(s) or COA measure(s)
    PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

    Use only for applications with due dates on or after January 25, 2018. When involving NIH-defined human subjects research, clinical research, and/or clinical trials (and when applicable, clinical trials research experience) 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 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 with the following additional instructions:

    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.

    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.

    Requests of $500,000 or more for direct costs in any year

    Applicants requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs in any year (excluding consortium F&A) must contact a Scientific/ Research Contact at least 6 weeks before submitting the application and follow the Policy on the Acceptance for Review of Unsolicited Applications that Request $500,000 or More in Direct Costs as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

    Post Submission Materials

    Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in the policy. Any instructions provided here are in addition to the instructions in the 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.

    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?

    How strong is the justification in the application that the disease or condition meets the criteria of being rare (fewer than 200,000 patients in the U.S.)? 

    How does the project address a significant, unmet need for clinical trial readiness? 

    Is there overlap with ongoing efforts for clinical trial readiness for the same rare disease?

    How will successful completion of the aims enable the design of one or more important clinical trials, and will the readiness study increase the likelihood of success of those trials? 

    How strong is the justification that there will be candidate therapeutics ready for testing in clinical trials at the time of completion of the proposed trial readiness study?

    How strong is the justification for the urgency of the trial readiness study?

    If the application proposes to conduct a study that is ancillary to an ongoing clinical trial or longitudinal study, how does the ancillary study have the potential to provide knowledge or test the readiness of outcome measures or biomarkers that will significantly advance the design of future trials beyond that of the existing study?  How will the additional burden of the ancillary study affect the participants in the parent study?  How does the consent obtained for participation in the parent study relate to consent for the ancillary study?

    In addition, for applications proposing clinical trials

    Are the scientific rationale and need for a clinical trial to test the proposed hypothesis or intervention well supported by preliminary data, clinical and/or preclinical studies, or information in the literature or knowledge of biological mechanisms? For trials focusing on clinical or public health endpoints, is this clinical trial necessary for testing the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of an intervention that could lead to a change in clinical practice, community behaviors or health care policy?  For trials focusing on mechanistic, behavioral, physiological, biochemical, or other biomedical endpoints, is this trial needed to advance scientific understanding?

    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?

    In addition, for applications proposing clinical trials

    With regard to the proposed leadership for the project, do the PD/PI(s) and key personnel have the expertise, experience, and ability to organize, manage and implement the proposed clinical trial and meet milestones and timelines? Do they have appropriate expertise in study coordination, data management and statistics? For a multicenter trial, is the organizational structure appropriate and does the application identify a core of potential center investigators and staffing for a coordinating center?

    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?

    In addition, for applications proposing clinical trials

    Does the design/research plan include innovative elements, as appropriate, that enhance its sensitivity, potential for information or potential to advance scientific knowledge or clinical practice?

    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? 

    How well does the application describe plans to ensure that the study is scientifically rigorous, controls are in place to minimize bias, and that reporting is transparent?

    How well will the milestones measure success in achieving the aims of the application? 

    How feasible are the milestones for participant enrollment relative to the timeline for completing the aims within the term of the grant? 

    How effectively will the milestones for the performance of COA measures or biomarkers establish appropriate go/no-go decisions points in preparing for clinical trials?  Are the milestones appropriate for establishing the reliability, validity and responsiveness of the COA measures or biomarkers?

    How well characterized are the assays for biochemical or molecular biomarkers in terms of accuracy, precision, sensitivity, selectivity, dynamic range and expected normal values?

    How well optimized and ready for implementation in a multi-site study are the methods for measuring imaging, radiological or physiological biomarkers and COAs?

    How well does the application describe a plan to establish and meet regularly with an Advisory Committee with appropriate expertise, and to incorporate the advice from the committee in to the management of the study? 

    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?  

    In addition, for applications proposing clinical trials

    Does the application adequately address the following, if applicable

    Study Design

    Is the study design justified and appropriate to address primary and secondary outcome variable(s)/endpoints that will be clear, informative and relevant to the hypothesis being tested?

    Is the scientific rationale/premise of the study based on previously well-designed preclinical and/or clinical research? Given the methods used to assign participants and deliver interventions, is the study design adequately powered to answer the research question(s), test the proposed hypothesis/hypotheses, and provide interpretable results? Is the trial appropriately designed to conduct the research efficiently? Are the study populations (size, gender, age, demographic group), proposed intervention arms/dose, and duration of the trial, appropriate and well justified?

    Are potential ethical issues adequately addressed? Is the process for obtaining informed consent or assent appropriate? Is the eligible population available? Are the plans for recruitment outreach, enrollment, retention, handling dropouts, missed visits, and losses to follow-up appropriate to ensure robust data collection? Are the planned recruitment timelines feasible and is the plan to monitor accrual adequate? Has the need for randomization (or not), masking (if appropriate), controls, and inclusion/exclusion criteria been addressed? Are differences addressed, if applicable, in the intervention effect due to sex/gender and race/ethnicity?

    Are the plans to standardize, assure quality of, and monitor adherence to, the trial protocol and data collection or distribution guidelines appropriate? Is there a plan to obtain required study agent(s)? Does the application propose to use existing available resources, as applicable?

    Data Management and Statistical Analysis

    Are planned analyses and statistical approach appropriate for the proposed study design and methods used to assign participants and deliver interventions? Are the procedures for data management and quality control of data adequate at clinical site(s) or at center laboratories, as applicable? Have the methods for standardization of procedures for data management to assess the effect of the intervention and quality control been addressed? Is there a plan to complete data analysis within the proposed period of the award?

    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?

    Do the clinical sites provide access to a sufficient number of patients with the rare disease to support enrollment for the study?

    How strong is the justification that all of the participating clinical sites have the appropriate expertise and equipment for measuring COAs and analyzing appropriate biomarkers?  

    In addition, for applications proposing clinical trials

    If proposed, are the administrative, data coordinating, enrollment and laboratory/testing centers, appropriate for the trial proposed?

    Does the application adequately address the capability and ability to conduct the trial at the proposed site(s) or centers? Are the plans to add or drop enrollment centers, as needed, appropriate?

    If international site(s) is/are proposed, does the application adequately address the complexity of executing the clinical trial?

    If multi-sites/centers, is there evidence of the ability of the individual site or center to: (1) enroll the proposed numbers; (2) adhere to the protocol; (3) collect and transmit data in an accurate and timely fashion; and, (4) operate within the proposed organizational structure?

    Appendix

    If an appendix is included;

    Are the biomarker standardization protocols provided appropriate?

    For proposed ancillary studies, are the supplied protocols from the parent clinical trial or longitudinal study complete?

    Is the FDA guidance supplied, if it was indicated that FDA guidance was provided?

    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.

    Study Timeline

    Specific to applications proposing clinical trials

    Is the study timeline described in detail, taking into account start-up activities, the anticipated rate of enrollment, and planned follow-up assessment? Is the projected timeline feasible and well justified? Does the project incorporate efficiencies and utilize existing resources (e.g., CTSAs, practice-based research networks, electronic medical records, administrative database, or patient registries) to increase the efficiency of participant enrollment and data collection, as appropriate?

    Are potential challenges and corresponding solutions discussed (e.g., strategies that can be implemented in the event of enrollment shortfalls)?

    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 NINDS, 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 National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Councill. 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.

      Individual awards are based on the application submitted to, and as approved by, the NIH and are subject to the IC-specific terms and conditions identified in the NoA.  ClinicalTrials.gov: If an award provides for one or more clinical trials. By law (Title VIII, Section 801 of Public Law 110-85), the "responsible party" must register and submit results information for certain “applicable clinical trials” on the ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration and Results System Information Website (https://register.clinicaltrials.gov). NIH expects registration of all trials whether required under the law or not. For more information, see http://grants.nih.gov/ClinicalTrials_fdaaa/ 

    Institutional Review Board or Independent Ethics Committee Approval: Grantee institutions must ensure that the application as well as all protocols are reviewed by their IRB or IEC. To help ensure the safety of participants enrolled in NIH-funded studies, the awardee must provide NIH copies of documents related to all major changes in the status of ongoing protocols.  Data and Safety Monitoring Requirements: The NIH policy for data and safety monitoring requires oversight and monitoring of all NIH-conducted or -supported human biomedical and behavioral intervention studies (clinical trials) to ensure the safety of participants and the validity and integrity of the data. Further information concerning these requirements is found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/hs/data_safety.htm and in the application instructions (SF424 (R&R) and PHS 398).

    Investigational New Drug or Investigational Device Exemption Requirements: Consistent with federal regulations, clinical research projects involving the use of investigational therapeutics, vaccines, or other medical interventions (including licensed products and devices for a purpose other than that for which they were licensed) in humans under a research protocol must be performed under a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigational new drug (IND) or investigational device exemption (IDE). 

    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.

    In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), NIH awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements.  FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award.  An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS.  The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgement about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.”  This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.

    Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

    The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) administrative guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.

    The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the U01 cooperative agreement, an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the purpose of the NIH is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined below.

    The PD(s)/PI(s) will have primary responsibility for:

    • Defining of research objectives and approaches.
    • Planning, conducting, analyzing, and publishing results, interpretations, and conclusion of their studies and for providing overall scientific and administrative leadership for the Research Project.
    • Supervising of the clinical study with consistent emphasis on collaborative interactions among PD(s)/PI(s), advisory and steering committees, and NINDS representatives.
    • Retaining custody of and maintaining primary rights to data and software developed under this award, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

    NIH Staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:

    NINDS staff involvement will include oversight of the IRB-approved protocol by the NINDS Program Official, documentation of adequate serious adverse event management and reporting, and regular communications with the PD/PI and staff; additional involvement generally includes participation in meetings of the advisory committee. Specifically:

    • An NINDS Project Scientist working with the PD/PI will develop milestones for the study. Failure to meet the agreed upon milestones may result in reduced funding or early termination of the cooperative agreement. The NINDS retains the option to obtain periodic external peer review of progress.
    • The NINDS Project Scientist will function as one of several co-investigators, collaborating and interacting as necessary with the PD(s)/PI(s) in accomplishing the overall goals of the Research Program.
    • In addition, an NINDS Program Official will be responsible for the normal scientific and programmatic stewardship of the award and will be named in the award notice.
    • If the proposed study should involve interaction with the FDA regarding biomarker or outcome measure qualification, the NINDS Project Scientist and/or Program Official(s) will be present at any meetings held with the FDA related to this NIH-funded protocol.

    As with any award, even during the period recommended for support, continuation is conditional upon satisfactory progress. If, at any time, recruitment falls significantly below the projected milestones for recruitment, the NINDS will consider ending support and negotiating a phase-out of the award. The NINDS retains the option to obtain periodic external peer review of progress. Milestones will be established by the NINDS prior to the award of the grant based on recommendations from the primary review group. Feasibility milestones will be defined at the start of each trial and will be monitored closely by the NINDS Program Official. Achievement of these milestones will be evaluated by NINDS prior to releasing funding for each year of the award and failure to achieve these milestones may lead to study termination.

    Areas of Joint Responsibility include:

    • Clarifying, negotiating and finalizing the milestones and timelines.

    Dispute Resolution

    Any disagreements that may arise in scientific or programmatic matters (within the scope of the award) between award recipients and the NIH may be brought to Dispute Resolution. A Dispute Resolution Panel composed of three members will be convened. It will have three members: a designee of the Steering Committee chosen without NIH Staff voting, one NIH designee, and a third designee with expertise in the relevant area who is chosen by the other two; in the case of disagreement, the first member may be chosen by the individual awardee. This special dispute resolution procedure does not alter the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulation 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and DHHS regulation 45 CFR Part 16. Final decisions made by NINDS regarding a discontinuation are not appealable.

    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 RPPR, 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.

    In accordance with the regulatory requirements provided at 45 CFR 75.113 and Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75, recipients that have currently active Federal grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from all Federal awarding agencies with a cumulative total value greater than $10,000,000 for any period of time during the period of performance of a Federal award, must report and maintain the currency of information reported in the System for Award Management (SAM) about civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings in connection with the award or performance of a Federal award that reached final disposition within the most recent five-year period.  The recipient must also make semiannual disclosures regarding such proceedings. Proceedings information will be made publicly available in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS).  This is a statutory requirement under section 872 of Public Law 110-417, as amended (41 U.S.C. 2313).  As required by section 3010 of Public Law 111-212, all information posted in the designated integrity and performance system on or after April 15, 2011, except past performance reviews required for Federal procurement contracts, will be publicly available.  Full reporting requirements and procedures are found in Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75 – Award Term and Conditions for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters.

    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: http://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 Center Telephone: 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)

    Glen H. Nuckolls, Ph.D. 
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
    Telephone: 301-496-5745 
    Email: glen.nuckolls@nih.gov

    Peer Review Contact(s)

    Ernest Lyons, Ph.D. 
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
    Telephone: 301-496-9223
    Email: Ernest.Lyons@nih.gov

    Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

    Tijuanna Decoster, Ph.D. 
    National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
    Telephone: 301-496-9231
    Email:  tijuanna.decoster@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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