Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information

Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Eye Institute (NEI)

Funding Opportunity Title
NEI Translational Research Program for Therapeutics (R61/R33 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Activity Code

R61/R33 Exploratory/Developmental  Phased Award

Announcement Type
New
Related Notices
  • August 31, 2022 - Implementation Changes for Genomic Data Sharing Plans Included with Applications Due on or after January 25, 2023 - See Notice NOT-OD-22-198
  • August 5, 2022 - Implementation Details for the NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy - see Notice NOT-OD-22-189.
Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Number
PAR-23-200
Companion Funding Opportunity
PAR-23-205 , R33 Exploratory/Developmental Grants Phase II
Number of Applications

See Section III. 3. Additional Information on Eligibility.

Assistance Listing Number(s)
93.867
Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is the rapid and efficient translation of innovative laboratory research findings into therapeutics for use by clinicians to treat visual system diseases or disorders. Multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians must focus on generating preclinical data that will lead to the development of biological, pharmacological, medical device and/or combination product interventions. The ultimate goal of this program is to make new technological, biological and pharmacological resources available to clinicians and their patients.

The steps towards this goal should be clearly delineated in a series of milestones that support the development of a therapeutic or device that will lead to an Investigational New Drug (IND) or Investigational Device Exception (IDE) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or testing in a clinical trial.

This NOFO will utilize a bi-phasic, milestone-driven mechanism of award. The R61 phase will support research that has demonstrated significant preliminary data but has not advanced to the level of clinical translation.  The R33 phase will support research that is in the final states of preclinical development with potential for near-term clinical development.  Support for a single phased award that does not need the R61 Exploratory phase is available in the companion R33, PAR-23-205.      
 

Key Dates

Posted Date
June 27, 2023
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)
July 24, 2023
Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

July 24 , 2023

Application Due Dates Review and Award Cycles
New Renewal / Resubmission / Revision (as allowed) AIDS - New/Renewal/Resubmission/Revision, as allowed Scientific Merit Review Advisory Council Review Earliest Start Date
August 24, 2023 September 22, 2023 Not Applicable November 2023 January 2024 April 2024
February 16, 2024 March 16, 2024 Not Applicable June 2024 October 2024 December 2024
February 16, 2025 March 16, 2025 Not Applicable June 2025 October 2025 December 2025

All applications are due by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. 

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.

Expiration Date
March 17, 2025
Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research (R) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this NOFO or in a Notice from NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts).

Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the NOFO) 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 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Notice of Funding Opportunity Description

Research Objectives

The mission of the National Eye Institute (NEI) is to eliminate vision loss and improve quality of life through vision research. The NEI invites applications for research that aligns with our strategic plan.   The purpose of this program is to accelerate the development of biological, pharmacological, medical device, and/or combination product interventions for clinicians to use in the treatment of visual system diseases and disorders.  In the context of this program, the PD/PI assembles a multi-disciplinary research team that employs an integrative approach to the rapid and efficient translation of laboratory research findings into IND or IDE applications to the FDA for testing new therapeutic approaches. The collaborative teams must include as appropriate, non-clinical and clinical scientists, disease experts, regulatory experts, bioethics specialists, experts in manufacturing under Quality Systems and Design Controls, and other relevant academic, clinical, and/or industry experts.

This program is not intended to support solely basic science, platform technologies or isolated technology development. The goal is to produce preclinical data that will support an IND or IDE application to the FDA. Each project must have a well-defined end point, of developing a new device or treatment for a specific ocular disease that is achievable within a five-year time frame. The steps towards this goal should be clearly delineated in a series of milestones that support the development of a therapeutic or device that can be tested in a clinical trial.

Structure

This NOFO will utilize a bi-phasic, milestone-driven R61/R33 mechanism consisting of an Exploratory phase (R61) and a Developmental phase (R33). Applicants must address objectives for both a R61 and a R33 phase and are strongly encouraged to use project management principles as appropriate.

Phases of Award

Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with relevant agency staff prior to developing and submitting an application (see Agency Contacts, Section VII). Early contact with NEI Staff (at least 12 weeks prior to submission) is encouraged. This period of time provides an opportunity for NEI staff to discuss the scope and goals, and to provide information and guidance to the applicants.

The R61 Phase:

The R61 phase can be up to two years and will support research that has demonstrated significant preliminary data but has not advanced to the level of clinical translation.   

Examples of activities that can be supported during the Exploratory (R61) stage include, but are not limited to:

  • Refine device design as necessary for subsequent GLP testing or additional clinical studies for regulatory approval
  • Bench-top and animal testing to demonstrate compliance with FDA Recognized Standards
  • Optimize a promising lead agent
  • Optimization and/or qualification of appropriate assays for pharmacokinetic, target engagement markers, biodistribution, or other assays to monitor safety available to be used in the R33 phase
  • Determination of optimal route of administration
  • Lead optimization to improve effectiveness, diminish toxicity, and increase absorption (e.g., absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME)
  • Demonstration of adequate/stage-appropriate preliminary safety, such as safety pharmacology and/or dose-range finding toxicology
  • Regulatory activities, including pre-submission meetings with FDA

An administrative review of the extent to which peer-reviewed milestones are met in the R61 phase will determine whether the R33 phase award will be issued, subject to NEI funding availability.

The R33 Phase:

The R33 phase can be up to three years and will support research that is in the final states of preclinical development with potential for near-term clinical development. The R33 is to focus on advancing a single therapeutic candidate through IND/IDE -enabling studies, filing an IND/IDE package with the FDA, and designing future clinical trials.  R33 recipients must submit or obtain an Investigational New Drug/Investigational Device Exemption (IND/IDE) application to FDA, or must transition the product to clinical practice, within the period of performance.  The specific activities appropriate for the R33 phase will depend on the product under study and available preliminary data on the product.

Examples of activities that can be supported during the Developmental (R33) stage include, but are not limited to:

  • cGMP manufacturing of material for IND-enabling and/or Phase I clinical testing
  • IND/IDE-enabling safety pharmacology and toxicology studies to determine a basis for clinical dose extrapolation using a relevant animal model
  • IND/IDE document preparation and filing with the FDA

Milestones

Delineation of milestones by the applicant for the R61 and R33 phases is a key characteristic of this NOFO. A milestone is defined as a scheduled event in the project timeline that signifies the completion of a major project stage or activity. This NOFO will support applications that propose a series of milestones including manufacturing and product development goals. Applications that address contingency plans to proactively confront potential delays in meeting the milestones are strongly encouraged. Proposed projects must include both an R61 phase with milestone-driven developmental activities, and an R33 phase with milestone-driven expanded activities that will build on the initial R61 exploratory phase to achieve the aims of the entire award. Milestones are required for both phases. Milestones must be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Applications that only propose R61 or R33 activities will be considered incomplete and will not be accepted to this NOFO.  Support for a single phased award that does not need the R61 Exploratory phase is available in the companion R33, PAR-23-205

Prior to funding an application, program staff will contact the applicant to discuss the proposed milestones. The Program Director and the applicant will negotiate and agree on a final set of milestones. These will be incorporated into the terms and conditions of the award and will be the basis for judging the success of the R61 work.

Satisfactory completion of R61 milestones will be assessed administratively by NEI to determine eligibility to transition to the R33 phase.  As determined by NEI, R33 projects that must be substantially modified because of FDA pre-IND/IDE guidance will be required to submit a new competing R33.  Pre-Submission feedback from the FDA is a required R61 milestone.     

Non-Responsiveness Criteria

The following types of applications will be considered non-responsive and will be withdrawn prior to review:

  • Applications that do not address the NEI mission and Strategic Plan
  • Applications that do not propose R61 and R33 milestones as well as a clear demarcation of which activities are expected to be accomplished in the R61 phase and which are expected during the R33 phase.
  • Applications that propose development of research infrastructure
  • Clinical Trials are not supported by this NOFO including:
  • Phase I (first-in-human) trials
  • Observational studies that do not meet the NIH definition of a clinical trial
  • Multi-site trials
  • Drug or device safety trials
  • Basic Experimental Studies in Humans (BESH)

Diversity Statement

Every facet of the United States scientific research enterprise—from basic laboratory research to clinical and translational research to policy formation–requires superior intellect, creativity and a wide range of skill sets and viewpoints. NIH’s ability to help ensure that the nation remains a global leader in scientific discovery and innovation is dependent upon a pool of highly talented scientists from diverse backgrounds who will help to further NIH's mission.

Research shows that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogenous teams. Scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse NIH-supported scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved or health disparity populations participate in, and benefit from health research, and enhancing public trust. See, Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity, NOT-OD-20-031.

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

Section II. Award Information

Funding Instrument

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

Application Types Allowed
New
Resubmission

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types. Only those application types listed here are allowed for this NOFO.

Clinical Trial?

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

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 in the R61 phase are limited to $500,000 in direct costs per year. Application budgets in the R33 phase should not exceed $1,000,000 in direct costs per year.  

Award Project Period

The scope of the proposed project should determine the requested project award period.

The maximum period of the combined R61 and R33 phases is 5 years, with up to 2 years for the R61 phase and up to 3 years for the R33 phase.    

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

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

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

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

For-Profit Organizations

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

Local 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)

Federal Government

  • 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 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.

  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) - A UEI is issued as part of the SAM.gov registration process. The same UEI must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • eRA Commons - Once the unique organization identifier is established, organizations can register with eRA Commons in tandem with completing their Grants.gov registration; 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 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 their organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support. See, Reminder: Notice of NIH's Encouragement of Applications Supporting Individuals from Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups as well as Individuals with Disabilities, NOT-OD-22-019.

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 NOFO 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, per 2.3.7.4 Submission of Resubmission Application. 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 2.3.9.4 Similar, Essentially Identical, or Identical Applications)

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 NOFO. 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 instructions in the Research (R) Instructions in the SF424 (R&amamp;R) Application Guide except where instructed in this notice of funding opportunity 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:

Brian Hoshaw, Ph.D. 
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone: 301-402-0566 
Email: brian.hoshaw@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 NOFO.

SF424(R&R) Cover

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

Cover Letter: A copy of the NEI approval letter to submit a grant application with direct costs over $500,000 in any year must be attached.  

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.

Other Attachments:

Target Product Profile (Required - 1 page max):  In a table based on an FDA template that summarizes the minimal/ideal profile of the final marketed product and shows the ultimate goals of the proposed drug development effort, such as disease indication, patient population, delivery mode, treatment duration, treatment regimen, and standards for clinical efficacy.

The filename "TargetProductProfile.pdf" should be used and will be reflected in the final image bookmarking for easy access to reviewers.

Gantt Chart (Required – 1-page max): Applicants must include a project timeline in the form of a Gantt chart that includes all major milestones to be accomplished during the R61 and R33 project periods. The chart should also include estimated start and completion dates for those milestones.

The filename " Gantt.pdf " should be used and will be reflected in the final image bookmarking for easy access to reviewers.”

Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy (3 pages max):  Applicants should describe the IP landscape surrounding their therapeutic. This should include any known constraints that could impede the development of their therapeutic (e.g., certain restrictions under transfer or sharing agreements, applicants' previous or present IP filings and publications, similar technologies that are under patent and/or on the market, etc.) and how these issues could be addressed as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program. If patents pertinent to the therapeutic being developed under this application have been filed, the applicants should indicate the details of filing dates, what types of patents are filed, application status, and associated United States Patent Office (USPTO) links, if applicable. Applicants should also discuss future IP filing plans.

The filename "IntellectualPropertyStrategyl.pdf" should be used and will be reflected in the final image bookmarking for easy access to reviewers. 

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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

R&R Budget

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

R&R Subaward Budget

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

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

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

PHS 398 Research Plan

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

Research Strategy: Describe how the project may lead to the development of new therapies, devices, or other resources for the treatment of ocular disease(s).  Applicants must provide an overview of the proposed research, including milestones, feasibility, and timelines for completion of both phases. In preparing the R61/R33 application, investigators must consider that the application will be assigned a single overall impact score. Thus, clarity and completeness of the application regarding specific goals and the feasibility of each phase and the Transition Milestones are critical. As this is an R61/R33 mechanism, both phases must be requested and planned (the two phases should not overlap in time). Applications proposing only one phase to this NOFO will be administratively withdrawn without review.  Support for a single phased award that does not need the R61 Exploratory phase is available in the companion R33 NOFO, PAR-23-205.

Significance

Explain what promising, well-founded discovery is being translated and why it is ready for translation. Explain how the project will help transform a promising discovery into new drugs, devices, or biologics that are ready for definitive testing in clinical trials.

Investigators

State the qualifications of the PI and key personnel. Clearly demonstrate that the investigating team has sufficient expertise that is appropriate for the research idea and the proposed phase/type of study. Explain how the investigative team will include expertise in the FDA regulatory approval process.

NEI strongly encourages applicants to form multidisciplinary teams that consist of academic/industry experts relevant to the research plan (i.e., biostatisticians, clinicians, drug development experts, technical experts). This multidisciplinary team should be able to define the goals of the research, outline specific gaps that need to be addressed during this funding period, outline detailed plans and experiments, and execute the research strategy. NEI strongly encourages applicants to recruit diverse teams of investigators, including the recruitment of prospective PI/PDs and team members from groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical workforce (see, e.g., NIH NOT-OD-20-031).

Clearly define the relationships among the various teams by providing a detailed organizational structure. The roles and administrative, technical, and scientific responsibilities for the project should be delineated for all members of the team. This plan can reference but must not duplicate information submitted on the Multiple PD/PI plan, if applicable, or the PHS Human Subjects-Clinical Trial Information form, Overall Structure of the Study Team.

Innovation/Impact

Describe the short-term impact: Detail the anticipated outcome/product that will be directly attributed to the results of the proposed research. Describe the long-term impact: Explain the anticipated long-term gains from this research. Compare to the products currently available, if applicable. Explain the long-range vision for how the research will impact the field of study and/or patient care.

Approach

Milestones: List the major tasks of the entire project with quantitative milestones and metrics for assessing achievement. The clarity and completeness of the R61/R33 application with regard to specific goals and feasibility milestones are critical. Milestones should provide clear indicators of a project's continued success or emergent difficulties and will be used to evaluate the application as part of the consideration of the awarded project for further funding of non-competing award years by the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s), and Program Official(s). Milestones should support the development of a therapeutic, device, or other resource that can be tested in a clinical trial. Satisfactory completion of R61 milestones will be assessed administratively by NEI to determine eligibility to transition to the R33 phase.   Pre-Submission feedback from the FDA is a required R61 milestone.  This subsection should also clearly show that the project is achievable in the proposed project period. This section must include:

  • Discussion of suitability of the proposed milestones to assess success in the R61 phase.
  • Discussion of the implications of successful completion of these milestones for the proposed R33 phase.
  • Milestones that are specific, quantifiable and scientifically justified; they must not be a simple restatement of the R61 phase specific aims.
  • Go/no-go criteria integrated into the milestone criteria.
  • Sufficiently scientifically rigorous milestones to assess progress in the R61 phase.

Regulatory Strategy: Describe the FDA regulatory strategy for the product. The strategy should include: the number and types of studies proposed to reach approval, licensure, or clearance, the planned indication for the product label, the types of FDA meetings to be held, previous feedback from FDA meetings (required for R33 submission), the submission filing strategy, and considerations for compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Laboratory Practice, and Good Clinical Practice guidelines, if appropriate.

Timeline: Provide a timeline with specific milestones for progression from the R61 phase to the R33 phase. The timeline, specific goals and feasibility milestones should be clear and complete. Indicate when it is anticipated that essential components of the project will be completed. The proposed timeline with specific milestones should be clearly delineated and should appear as the last element of the Research Strategy section.

Letters of Support: Applicants should include letters of support from consultants, contractors, and collaborators.

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. 

Other Plan(s):

Note: Effective for due dates on or after January 25, 2023, the Data Management and Sharing Plan will be attached in the Other Plan(s) attachment in FORMS-H application forms packages.

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

  • All applicants planning research (funded or conducted in whole or in part by NIH) that results in the generation of scientific data are required to comply with the instructions for the Data Management and Sharing Plan. All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, must address a Data Management and Sharing Plan.
Appendix:

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

  • No publications or other material, with the exception of blank questionnaires or blank surveys, may be included in the Appendix.
PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

When involving human subjects research, clinical research, and/or NIH-defined 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 form. 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 NOFO for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the unique entity identifier provided on the application is the same identifier 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 and responsiveness by NEI, NIH. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in the policy

Applicants may also submit a 1 page document with preliminary data that was obtained since the application was submitted. The document should not contain any links or videos.

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?

Specific to this NOFO:

How well does the proposed research present a clear path to transforming a promising discovery into new drugs, devices, or biologics that are ready for definitive testing in clinical trials? 

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?

Specific to this NOFO:

How adequate/appropriate is the investigating team’s expertise and experience in the FDA regulatory approval process?   

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?

Specific to this NOFO:

To what extent will the short- and long-term outcomes of the proposed study, if successful, advance visual system research and/or care?  

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?

      Specific to this NOFO:

       How adequate is the experimental and statistical rigor?  How well does the application explain assumptions for power analysis and describe statistical analysis methods?  How adequate are the controls?

       For the R33 phase, how well does the application address pre-IND/IDE FDA guidance?

       How adequate is the research plan in describing a clear pathway toward submission of an IND/IDE application and the potential for translation by the end of this award’s period of performance?

      How well does the research plan support the preclinical development of the product as defined in the Target Product Profile?

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.

Milestones:

Are milestones robust and associated with clear, quantitative criteria for success that allow go/no-go decisions at the R61/R33 transition point? Does the set of milestones allow the evaluation of progress in the R61 phase and will successful completion of these milestones provide confidence that the investigator will be able to successfully implement the R33 phase? Are the timelines proposed for achieving the milestones realistic and inclusive of necessary steps, but also efficient without unnecessary steps? 

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 Animals Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Renewals

Not Applicable

Revisions

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.

Intellectual Property (IP) Strategy:  If applicable, how strong is the applicant's IP portfolio/position (pertinent to the proposed project), and to what extent does the applicant have a reasonable strategy to protect its IP going forward? If the applicant has filed patents pertinent to the assay, do they provide details about those patents? If IP will be shared among co-investigators, does the applicant provide details about the plans for IP sharing?   

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 Resource Sharing Plan(s) (i.e., Sharing Model Organisms) or the rationale for not sharing the resources, is reasonable.

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 NEI, 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 will receive a written critique.

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.

Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this NOFO.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Eye Council. 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 recipient's business official.

Recipients 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 NOFO 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.

Institutional Review Board or Independent Ethics Committee Approval: Recipient institutions must ensure that protocols are reviewed by their IRB or IEC. To help ensure the safety of participants enrolled in NIH-funded studies, the recipient must provide NIH copies of documents related to all major changes in the status of ongoing protocols.

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, Recipients, and Activities, including of note, but not limited to:

If a recipient is successful and receives a Notice of Award, in accepting the award, the recipient agrees that any activities under the award are subject to all provisions currently in effect or implemented during the period of the award, other Department regulations and policies in effect at the time of the award, and applicable statutory provisions.

Should the applicant organization successfully compete for an award, recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS will be required to complete an HHS Assurance of Compliance form (HHS 690) in which the recipient agrees, as a condition of receiving the grant, to administer programs in compliance with federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex and disability, and agreeing to comply with federal conscience laws, where applicable. This includes ensuring that entities take meaningful steps to provide meaningful access to persons with limited English proficiency; and ensuring effective communication with persons with disabilities. Where applicable, Title XI and Section 1557 prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity, The HHS Office for Civil Rights provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. See https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/provider-obligations/index.html and https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/nondiscrimination/index.html.

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 NOFO.

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.

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 and 2 CFR Part 200.206 “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

Not Applicable

3. Data Management and Sharing

Note: The NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing is effective for due dates on or after January 25, 2023.

Consistent with the NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing, when data management and sharing is applicable to the award, recipients will be required to adhere to the Data Management and Sharing requirements as outlined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Upon the approval of a Data Management and Sharing Plan, it is required for recipients to implement the plan as described.

4. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, recipients 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. NIH NOFOs outline intended research goals and objectives. Post award, NIH will review and measure performance based on the details and outcomes that are shared within the RPPR, as described at 45 CFR Part 75.301 and 2 CFR Part 200.301.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for recipients of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All recipients 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 2 CFR Part 200.113 and Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75 and 2 CFR Part 200, 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 and 2 CFR Part 200– 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: https://www.era.nih.gov/need-help (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: 301-637-3015

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)

Replace this text with Staff Contact Name

Tony Gover, Ph.D.
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone: 301-529-7320 
Email: tony.gover@nih.gov
 

Peer Review Contact(s)

Brian Hoshaw, Ph.D. 
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone: 301-402-0566 
Email: brian.hoshaw@nih.gov
 

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Karen Robinson Smith
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Telephone: 301-435-8178
Email: Karen.Robinson.Smith@nei.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 and 2 CFR Part 200.

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