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.
New Date March 2019, March 2020, March 2021, March 2022
New Date May 2019, May 2020, May 2021, May 2022
New Date July 2019, July 2020, July 2021, July 2022
New Date December 7, 2021 per issuance of NOT-HD-20-038. (Original Expiration Date: December 5, 2020)
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.
The placenta is critically important for the health of both mother and developing fetus. Abnormalities of placental development and function are known to underlie many major pathologies of pregnancy including spontaneous preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, and preeclampsia. The assessment of the placenta across pregnancy presents special challenges due to the need to avoid risk to the mother and developing fetus. Thus, most information on human placental biology is obtained by studying placental tissue obtained after delivery from pathological pregnancies, such as preterm deliveries occurring predominately in the third trimester, from term deliveries in which placental development has already crested, or from in vitro model systems. There is a paucity of information obtained earlier in gestation when many of the pregnancy pathologies are believed to have their origins, and limited information gleaned throughout gestation from normal pregnancies.
The Human Placenta Project (HPP) is an initiative aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human placenta. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, development of novel biomarkers which reflect placental status, and application of in-depth analysis of existing data and sample collections, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of placental structure and function in real time, one that assesses key developmental trajectories of placental formation and functional cues that are critical for successful human pregnancy. It is expected that the insights resulting from these approaches will ultimately lead to new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent placental dysfunction disorders such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, spontaneous preterm birth, and stillbirth. Given the requirements for these developments, it is likely that the methods developed will also be applicable to assessment of other internal organs, thus the impact may be far reaching.
The goal of this initiative is to stimulate development of novel tools and approaches to assess human placental structure and function in vivo across pregnancy. This will provide valuable clinical and research tools to enhance our understanding of placental biology and improve our clinical management of pregnant women.
Scope of Research to be Performed
The objective of the R21 support mechanism is to encourage new exploratory and developmental research projects. Such projects are to assess the feasibility of a novel area of investigation or a new experimental system that has the potential to enhance health-related research, as well as the unique and innovative use of an existing methodology to explore a new scientific area. These studies may involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or to the development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or applications that could have a major impact on a field of biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.
This FOA is for the development of novel methods for studying the placenta in vivo with the ultimate goal of human use across pregnancy. Special consideration will be given to applications that develop methods that are applicable throughout pregnancy, preferably starting in early gestation during the period of trophoblast invasion and remodeling of the uterine spiral arteries, and which also establish reference values.
The placenta is a dynamic organ which changes over the course of pregnancy. To be helpful, assessments need to yield results within a time frame that reflects the current structural/functional status. However, real-time is not meant to imply instantaneous results.
All proposed research teams must include at least one obstetric clinician to provide insights into current or potential clinical functional or safety limitations of the chosen technology. They should have sufficient involvement to ensure that the proposed technology would be feasible in a clinical setting. It is strongly recommended that the team also include a member with specific expertise in placental biology. The range of additional disciplines included may be either broad or relatively narrow (e.g., various subspecialties within a given field) as appropriate to the scientific goals of the application. The application should reflect the expertise of the proposed team. Strong academic-industrial partnerships are welcomed.
The rapid advancement of research in this area through data sharing is a priority for the HPP. Applicants are encouraged to share their data in real time to magnify the potential impact of their work through dissemination to the scientific community. NIH data sharing guidance is provided at this link: http://grants.nih.gov/policy/sharing.htm
General Technology Characteristics
This FOA promotes the development of breakthrough tools and technologies to enable real-time measurement of human placental processes that are currently relatively inaccessible during pregnancy and to assess changes in these processes as development progresses, including but not limited to:
There is high interest in applications focused on the development of biosensors and devices capable of multiplex analysis of molecules that reflect placental status from small samples of non-blood sources including saliva, breath, urine or vaginal secretions.
For purposes of validating novel technologies for measurement of circulating factors, any placental molecules utilized do not need to be predictive of abnormal placental function, but there should at least be potential for adding novel predictive biomarkers. Applications proposing discovery of biomarkers as a byproduct of technology development and testing are allowed. However, applications whose primary focus is on biomarker discovery will be given low priority. Investigators interested in focusing on placental biomarker discovery should consider other funding opportunities.
Solutions describing existing, well-established and/or currently supported approaches, especially commonly used strategies, are not of interest unless a compelling case is made that significant, quantifiable advances are proposed, and/or the methods and measures are used in unique combinations not previously tested together for the real-time assessment of human placental structure, development, and function.
Projects that are considered low priority for this FOA include:
This funding opportunity is to facilitate development of novel technology that may be used across pregnancy for assessment of placental structure and/or function. Achievement of this goal may require the use of multiple approaches and some may not be able to be utilized within the first trimester at this time. Projects which are directed at development of technologies with little potential for use in the first trimester will be considered, provided:
It is recognized that development of these novel technologies may require use of animal models. Studies carried out exclusively in animals may be proposed; however, the pathway for translation into humans and potential safety and technical issues associated with human application of the technology/tools must be clear.
As the goal of this FOA is to support research-driven technology development to meet the objectives of the HPP, program priority will be given to applications that are exceptional in the following aspects: 1) potential for safe in-vivo placental assessment during gestation, 2) the level of innovation, 3) the uniqueness within the portfolio of currently supported HPP projects, 4) the expected timeline for human applicability. Funds requested must be used primarily to support technology development and validation.Potential applicants are advised to consult with the Scientific/Research contact listed in Section VII for appropriateness of submission to this FOA.
The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.
Higher Education Institutions
The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:
Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education
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.
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.
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.
The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that the NIH will not accept:
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.
For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
Research Strategy: The Research Strategy should be developed to address the topics below.
1) Background and Significance
2) Preliminary data – Preliminary data are not required, but the approach must be scientifically justified (e.g. based upon literature, theoretical underpinnings, or demonstrated use in another field of science).
3) Investigative Team
The Research Strategy section should include specific performance specifications and milestones to be achieved. For any proposed technology, the application should outline:
The following modifications also apply:
All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should include a Data Sharing Plan. The Data Sharing Plan will be considered during peer review and by program staff as award decisions are being made as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program. It is expected that the results of NICHD-funded research will be shared with the wider scientific community in a timely manner.
Awardees are strongly encouraged to deposit large-scale, human genetic data in the database for Genotype and Phenotype “dbGaP” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gap). For other data and biospecimens from human genetic or non-genetic studies, awardees are encouraged to use the NICHD Data and Specimen Hub “DASH” (https://dash.nichd.nih.gov/) or other equivalent broad-sharing data and/or biospecimen repositories.”
The following resource describing Common Data Elements may be helpful during the planning phases of a project when considering ways to optimize data collection in order to facilitate broad data sharing: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/cde/.
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.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Important Update: See NOT-OD-18-228 for updated review language for due dates on or after January 25, 2019.
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.
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 emphasize 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.
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?
Do the proposed studies address a significant technological problem or barrier in placental development or function assessment that is not adequately addressed with current methods?
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?
Does the investigative team include expertise in clinical obstetrics and gynecology?
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?
Do the proposed studies seek to develop novel methods for placental assessment or seek to adapt technologies from other fields of research that have not been applied to the evaluation of placental development and function in real time?
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?
Does the project offer potential for safe in-vivo placental assessment during gestation? For high risk studies, will the outcomes be significant if the feasibility can be demonstrated? Do the proposed studies address any special challenges, limitations, or opportunities created by placental placement (anterior or posterior)? Do the proposed studies address any special challenges, limitations, or opportunities for persons with disability? If animal studies will be used for method/technology development and evaluation, is there a clear path described for translation into humans?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.
Information regarding the disposition of applications is available 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.
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.
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.
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 https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/limited-english-proficiency/index.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 https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/laws-regulations-guidance/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 https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/about-us/contact-us/index.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.
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.
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
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Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and Workspace)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
David Weinberg, PhD
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Bryan S. Clark, MBA
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
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