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 Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

Funding Opportunity Title

ImmuneChip: Engineering Microphysiological Immune Tissue Platforms (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-19-138

Companion Funding Opportunity

 None

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

 93.286, 93.350, 93.846    

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to promote the development of in vitro platforms that recapitulate components of the human immune system. Applications that qualify for this funding will focus on engineering 3-D in vitro microphysiological immune system tissues, adding immune system responsiveness to existing in vitro platforms, and/or in vitro modeling of autoimmune diseases and inflammation.   

Key Dates

 

Posted Date

December 27, 2018

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

January 27, 2019

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

30 days prior to the application due date

Application Due Date(s)

 February 27, 2019 , by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.

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)

 March 26, 2019 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 this date.

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-July, 2019

Advisory Council Review

August 2019

Earliest Start Date

September 2019

Expiration Date

March 27, 2019

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 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will support the development of in vitro platforms that recapitulate components of the human immune system. Applications that qualify for this funding will focus on engineering 3-D in vitro microphysiological immune system tissues, adding immune system responsiveness to existing in vitro platforms, and/or in vitro modelling of autoimmune diseases and inflammation.  This FOA is part of a broader effort by NIH to encourage the development of validated alternatives to the use of human fetal tissue in biomedical research, as indicated in NOT-OD-19-042.

    Background

    Understanding the human immune system is key to diagnosing and managing a number of physiological conditions, from wound healing and the natural response to a pathogen (virus or bacterium) to cancer and autoimmune diseases. For example, in recent years researchers and clinicians have worked to engineer a stronger immune response in certain patients, by applying an Adaptive Cell Transfer therapy via CAR T-cells. Further, the immune system, and specifically the wound healing and repair processes, can be negatively affected by certain diseases, such as diabetes, which ails over 30 million people in the United States alone. Thus, a better understanding of the immune system and its interactions with other physiological systems is key in addressing diseases. This in-depth understanding can be provided by developing animal and in vitro research models of the human immune system, with well-controlled experimental parameters.

    These models do have some limitations, however. For example, the use of animal models or human-fetal-tissue-based in vitro models in biomedical research raises ethical issues and frequently these models do not completely recapitulate  human physiology and pathology. On the other end of the complexity spectrum, in vitro cultures of cells grown as flat monolayers also poorly emulate in vivo tissue responses due to the lack of organizational and cellular intricacy and architecture of normal tissues. An alternative that could overcome these deficiencies is the use of tissue chip platforms, which are novel in vitro 3D tissue models. These platforms leverage micro-fabrication and microfluidic technologies to create continuously perfused, prefabricated, micrometer-sized environments for co-culturing living cells. They can incorporate different mature cell types, as well as stem and progenitor cells that comprise a given organ in combination with other complex factors found in vivo, including extracellular scaffolding, cellular interactions (including between different cell types), perfusion, hormone responses etc. Technical features of the tissue chips permit precise application of physiologically relevant fluids (such as growth media), physical forces, including biomechanical stresses (stretch and shear forces from fluid flow), electrical stimulation of excitable tissue, mechanical compression etc. – in order to simulate changing local physiologic conditions. While unlikely to completely replace animals, this technology could transform many areas of basic and translational research as a paradigm-shifting alternative to conventional tissue culture and animal models. Additionally, tissue chips could be particularly powerful when multiple tissue platforms are joined to produce rudimentary models of human physiological systems, such as circulatory, musculoskeletal, endocrine, immune etc.

    A limitation of current in vitro platforms is that they do not reflect the full complexity of human physiology, such as immune responsiveness - although several unique in vitro platforms (heart, kidney, liver, lung, and others) have demonstrated human organotypic physiological functions and response to drug exposure. Additionally, models of tissues that are an integral part of the human immune system (e.g. spleen, lymph node, thymus) and in vitro models of wound healing and inflammation processes as well as autoimmune diseases are still lacking. Therefore, this funding opportunity seeks to stimulate a currently underdeveloped technology – 3D in vitro models of parts of the human immune system as well as models that expand the functionality of existing tissue chips.

    We expect that the use of these tissue chips will result in unprecedented opportunities for addressing mechanistic questions of health and disease, as well as assessing biomedical interventions, especially when combined with in vitro models of other human tissues toward a comprehensive “body-on-a-chip” approach. These platforms will also aid the screening of signaling molecules, drug targets etc. and will help to develop Precision Medicine-based approaches focused on specific patient populations.

    Specific Research Objectives

    The goal of this initiative is to develop tools and technologies to allow robust, precise and predictable in vitro assembly and functional morphogenesis of 3D micro-tissues that play an important role in the human immune system: 1) as primary immune system organs and tissues (lymph node, lymphatic vessels, spleen, thymus, tonsils, leukocyte-producing bone marrow) and 2) as secondary tissues affected by inflammatory/wound healing processes and autoimmune diseases (e.g. gut, skin, muscle, or granuloma). These tissue chips should mimic architecture, organization, multi-tissue interfaces, physiology and disease pathology of native human tissues.

    The team-based project between bioengineers and immunologists will balance the engineering aspects of tissue chip development with proven immunology expertise in the service of efficacy and validation of the in vitro models. Further, the intent of the project must be on building an in vitro platform with broad applicability to physiological conditions of the immune system, such as wound healing, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

    Essential characteristics of the tissue models should include all or some of the following features:  1) multicellular architecture that represents characteristics of the tissues or organs of pathology; 2) functional representation of normal and / or diseased human biology; 3) reproducible and viable operation under physiological conditions in culture; and 4) accurate representation of normal and / or disease phenotypes. To demonstrate a functional representation of normal or diseased human immune tissue models, the model characteristics should be cross-validated with clinical measures in humans. Ideally the platform should utilize human primary tissue or iPSC-derived patient cell sources and be compatible with high content screening platforms that include multiple molecular read-outs, such as gene expression, proteomic, metabolomic, or epigenomic analyses. The bioengineered platform should also provide spatial and temporal control of the cellular microenvironment, while enabling continuous monitoring (sensing), probing (direct in-cell measurements), and sampling (testing and continuous data collection and analysis) of the system. 

    Quantitative milestones and benchmarks should be described in the Research Strategy as a tool to monitor periodic progress.

    Examples of research supported by this FOA include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

    • A microphysiological lymphoid organ (e.g. lymph node, spleen, thymus, lymphopoietic bone marrow-on-a-chip
    • Integration of immune effector and/or regulatory cells into an existing in vitro tissue model
    • Wound healing in fibrous tissue
    • Models of pathological immune processes (e.g. chronic inflammatory processes, non-healing wounds, ulcerated, progressive skin ulcers etc.)
    • Models of granuloma and their interactions with other tissues

    Desired model characteristics may include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Innovative and creative approaches using tissue-on-chips technology towards 3-D models that include relevant anatomical and cellular elements
    • Integration of proposed disease models with other organ systems to understand how tissue interactions influence disease pathogenesis, comorbidities, and treatment
    • Inclusion of immune elements (e.g., lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, or mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue)
    • Inclusion of site-specific microbiota, where appropriate
    • Accurate reflection of human host - pathogen interactions, where appropriate
    • Capacity to test biomarkers or candidate therapeutics
    • Applying genome manipulation strategies, such as CRISPR/Cas9, Talen and Zinc-finger to introduce relevant variants

    To be considered for funding for this initiative, applications should NOT focus on the following:

    • The use of animal tissues
    • Genetic / epigenetic manipulation of specific immune cells that do not entail interaction with non-lymphoid tissues
    • Cancer models

    Additional Considerations

    Cells: The use of transformed or immortalized cell lines as well as animal tissue is discouraged, except for preliminary, proof of concept studies. The use of primary cells, organ explants, or pluripotent stem cells, e.g., iPSC, is encouraged. Multipotent or unipotent stem cells also may be utilized where appropriate. The current NIH guidance on stem cell usage can be found at http://stemcells.nih.gov/policy/pages/2009guidelines.aspx.

    Biomaterials: Native extracellular matrices (ECM) are dynamic, complex microenvironments that can drive functional and biomechanical development. Applicants should consider the biological properties and potential downstream effects when choosing ECM materials. Biomaterials should be chosen to avoid confounding characteristics, e.g., the plastic polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) binds hydrophobic drugs or reagents, which decreases the intended concentration, and can leach the endocrine disruptor cyclosilane into the medium.

    Leveraging Existing Research Resources

    NIH utilizes expertise (organ physiology, regulatory science, stem cells, bioengineering etc.) from many Institutes, Centers, and Offices at the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the private sector. The Tissue Chip (TC) Consortium, which comprises all these partnerships, and the funded investigators, holds an in-person meeting every 6 months and plays a pivotal role in advancing the MPS technology. Awardees from this FOA will be members of the TC Consortium. Awardees should budget travel for two annual visits to the TC Consortium at NIH, Bethesda, MD.

    NIAMS: NIAMS is interested in applications developing in vitro human tissue platforms that recapitulate the human immune system or components of the system in the NIAMS mission relevant diseases, conditions, organs, and tissue systems, such as engineering 3D in vitro microphysiological human immune system tissues, adding immune system responsiveness to existing in vitro human musculoskeletal and/or skin tissue platforms, and/or modelling autoimmune diseases and inflammation of NIAMS mission areas.

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

    Clinical Trial?

    Not Allowed: Only accepting applications that do not propose clinical trials

    Need help determining whether you are doing a clinical trial?

    Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

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

    Award Budget

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

    Award Project Period

    The scope of the proposed project should determine the 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:

    o   Hispanic-serving Institutions

    o   Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

    o   Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)

    o   Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions

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

    Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

    For-Profit Organizations

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

    Governments

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

    Other

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

    Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
    Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
    Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are not 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)– 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.
    • o   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 to register in eRA Commons.  Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration, but all registrations must be in place by time of submission. 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

    The application forms package specific to this opportunity must be accessed through ASSIST, Grants.gov Workspace or an institutional system-to-system solution. Links to apply using ASSIST or Grants.gov Workspace 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, 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.

    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:

    Šeila Selimovic, Ph.D.
    Email: seila.selimovic@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.

    R&R Subaward Budget

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

    PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

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

    PHS 398 Research Plan

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

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

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

    Appendix:

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

    PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

    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

    Delayed Onset Study

    Note: Delayed onset does NOT apply to a study that can be described but will not start immediately (i.e., delayed start).

    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. 

    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 How to Apply – Application Guide. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Dealing with System Issues guidance. 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.

    Applications submitted to the NIH in support of the NIH mission 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 the prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project rigorous? 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? Are the tissue chip platform and cells being proposed suitable to impactfully reproduce the relevant tissue features?    

    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?  Does the team include experts in both bioengineering and immunology? Does the application provide a feasible strategy for collaboration among the scientific fields relevant to this FOA, i.e. bioengineers, immunologists, and, if appropriate, clinicians?   

    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? Are the overall goals of the application conducive to generating significant multidisciplinary investigations? Does the project utilize cutting-edge technologies?  

    Approach

    Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators included plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility, and will particularly risky aspects be managed? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects? 

    If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address

    1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of individuals of all ages (including children and older adults), justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

    Does the proposed work include appropriate in vitro tissue and disease models that are part of orrelevant to the human immune system? Will the expected results lead to advances in technologies used in the tissue-chips field? Are the proposed approaches, tools and technologies scientifically justified for the particular tissue chip model?  Is the choice of the bioengineered platform, microfluidics, biomechanics and cell sources for the model system well-justified? Are the overall strategies, methodologies and analyses for conducting a translatable biomarker study well-reasoned and appropriate? Are the milestones sufficient to monitor periodic progress? Is the timeline consistent with the proposed research?   

    Environment

    Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?   

    Additional Review Criteria

    As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

    Protections for Human Subjects

    For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the  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  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 Individuals Across the Lifespan 
     

    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 individuals of all ages (including children and older adults) 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

     Not Applicable

    Renewals

    Not Applicable

    Revisions

    Not Applicable

    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

    Not Applicable

    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 National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

    As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

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

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

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

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

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

    Section VI. Award Administration Information
    1. Award Notices

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

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

    Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

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

    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

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

    For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see 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 https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557/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 https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/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.

    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

    Performance Requirements

    • - Meet yearly milestones as defined by investigators and NIH program at the time of award
    • - Work with, cooperatively interact with, and actively seek input from NIH
    • Sharing Plan
    • - Broad sharing of data and biological specimens with academic, industry and government researchers is a critical feature of this program that is consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and policies. All subjects must be properly consented to allow appropriate sample and data distribution to researchers in academics and industry.

    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 Part 75, and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.

    The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the 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 NIH purpose 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 the primary responsibility for:

    • - Defining the details and goals of the project as a whole within the guidelines of this FOA.
    • - Determining experimental approaches, designing protocols, setting project milestones and conducting experiments
    • - Adhering to the NIH policies regarding intellectual property, data release and other policies that might be established during the course of this activity
    • - Managing all data acquired in a coherent database that will be available to government and private partners.
    • - Analyzing, publishing and/or publicly releasing and disseminating results, data and other products of the study in a timely manner, concordant with the approved plan for making quality-assured data and materials available to the scientific community and the NIH, consistent with NIH policies and goals of the FOA.
    • - Participating in a cooperative and interactive manner with NIH staff, TC investigators and one another.

    - Upon completion or termination of the project, ensuring that all study materials, tools, databases and procedures developed from the project are broadly available (e.g., putting into the public domain) or make them accessible to the research community according to the NIH-approved plan submitted for each project, for making data and materials available to the scientific community and the NIH for the conduct of research. The data sharing plan should include a plan to accomplish this within 90 days of the end of the study.

    Intellectual Property:

    Awardees are expected to make new information and materials known to the research community in a timely manner through publications, web announcements, reports to the NIH Tissue Chips Program Project Team, and other mechanisms.

    • - The awardee is solely responsible for the timely acquisition of all appropriate proprietary rights, including intellectual property rights, and all materials needed for the applicant to perform the project.
    • - Before, during, and subsequent to the award, the U.S. Government is not required to obtain for the awardee any proprietary rights, including intellectual property rights, or any materials needed by the awardee to perform the project.
    • - The awardee is required to report to the U.S. Government all inventions made in the performance of the project, as specified by 35 U.S.C. Sect. 202 (Bayh-Dole Act).

    Data

    Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and resources developed under these awards, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current HHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

    Publications

    The Principal Investigator will be responsible for the timely submission of all abstracts, manuscripts and reviews (co)authored by project investigators and supported in whole or in part under this Cooperative Agreement. The Principal Investigator and Project Leaders are requested to submit manuscripts to the NIH Project Scientist within two weeks of acceptance for publication so that an up-to-date summary of program accomplishments can be maintained. Publications and oral presentations of work conducted under this Cooperative Agreement are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator and appropriate Project Leaders and will require appropriate acknowledgement of NIH support. Timely publication of major findings is encouraged.

    Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and resources developed under these awards, 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.

    1. The NIH Program Officer will

    • - need to ensure timely completion of milestones and assist with project management;
    • - coordinate and facilitate the activities of the program, attend and participate in any and all meetings.
    • - review the scientific progress and administrative accomplishments of the awardees and review the project for compliance with operating policies and procedures, including meeting milestones. Based on this review, the Program Officer may recommend to the NIH to continue funding, or to withhold or restrict support for lack of progress or failure to adhere to NIH policies. Review of progress may include regular communications between the Principal Investigator and NIH staff, periodic site visits for discussions with research teams, fiscal review, and other relevant matters. The NIH retains the option of organizing periodic external review of progress.
    • - ensure that the awarded project(s) adhere to cooperative agreement data-sharing and other resource-sharing policies.

    2. The NIH Project Scientist will provide scientific advice and not manage the award. The Project Scientist will:

    • - monitor research progress and help identify recourses by providing scientific advice, if needed;
    • - lend relevant expertise to facilitate the selection of scientists not affiliated with the awardee institutions who are to serve as External Scientific Consultants, as needed; 
    • - provide input into the design of research activities and play a key role in coordinating research efforts.

    The NIH reserves the right to curtail or phase out the award in the event of (1) a substantial shortfall in accomplishing the management goals and responsibilities as stated in the reviewed application, (2) failure to meet project milestones based on predefined go/no-go criteria, (3) substantive changes in the management of award(s) that are not in keeping with the objectives of the FOA, or (4) failure to comply with Terms and Conditions of the award.

    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 from the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board 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 individual 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

    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, application errors and warnings, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, and 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)

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

    Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and Workspace)
    Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
    Email: support@grants.gov

    Scientific/Research Contact(s)

    Šeila Selimovic, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
    Email: seila.selimovic@nih.gov

    Ricardo R. Cibotti, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    Telephone: 301-451-5888
    Email:  ricardo.cibotti@nih.gov

    Danilo Tagle, Ph.D.
    National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences (NCATS)
    Telephone: 301-594-8064Email: Danilo.Tagle@nih.gov

    Peer Review Contact(s)

    Manana Sukhareva, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
    Telephone: 301-451-3397
    Email: sukharem@mail.nih.gov

    Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

    Ms. Ruthann McAndrew
    National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
    Telephone: 301-496-8521
    Email: Ruthann.McAndrew@nih.gov

    Andrew Jones
    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    Telephone: 301-435-0610
    Email: jonesan@mail.nih.gov

    Jenelle Wiggins
    National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences (NCATS)
    Telephone: 301-435-0843
    Email:enelle.wiggins@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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