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 Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

Funding Opportunity Title
Small Grants for New Investigators to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
Activity Code

R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant

Announcement Type
Reissue of PAR-19-222
Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number
PAR-21-313
Companion Funding Opportunity
None
Assistance Listing Number(s)
93.847, 93.172
Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to provide support for new investigators from diverse backgrounds, including from groups nationally underrepresented in biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences research, to conduct small research projects in the scientific mission areas of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) or the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). New investigators at the time of award under this FOA will have had less than $125,000 direct costs of combined research funding (excluding NIH training and NIH career awards). This R21 will support small research projects that can be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources and seeks to facilitate transition to research independence. The R21 grant mechanism supports different types of projects including pilot and feasibility studies; secondary analysis of existing data; small, self-contained research projects; development of research methodology; and development of new research technology.

Key Dates

Posted Date
August 20, 2021
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)
September 16, 2021
Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

The following table includes NIH standard due dates marked with an asterisk.
Application Due Dates Review and Award Cycles
New Renewal / Resubmission / Revision (as allowed) AIDS Scientific Merit Review Advisory Council Review Earliest Start Date
October 16, 2021 * November 16, 2021 * January 07, 2022 * March 2022 May 2022 July 2022
February 16, 2022 * March 16, 2022 * May 07, 2022 * July 2022 October 2022 December 2022
June 16, 2022 * July 16, 2022 * September 07, 2022 * November 2022 January 2023 April 2023
October 16, 2022 * November 16, 2022 * January 07, 2023 * March 2023 May 2023 July 2023
February 16, 2023 * March 16, 2023 * May 07, 2023 * July 2023 October 2023 December 2023
June 16, 2023 * July 16, 2023 * September 07, 2023 * November 2023 January 2024 April 2024
October 16, 2023 * November 16, 2023 * January 07, 2024 * March 2024 May 2024 July 2024
February 16, 2024 * March 16, 2024 * May 07, 2024 * July 2024 October 2024 December 2024
June 16, 2024 * July 16, 2024 * September 07, 2024 * November 2024 January 2025 April 2025

All applications are due by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on the listed date(s).

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
September 08, 2024
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 FOA or in a Notice from 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 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Background Information

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes the need to diversify the scientific workforce by enhancing the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences (collectively termed "biomedical") research workforce. Diversity at all levels — from the kinds of science to the regions in which it is conducted to the backgrounds of the people conducting it — contributes to excellence in research training environments and strengthens the research enterprise. 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 interests 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 research, enhancing public trust, and increasing the likelihood that health disparities and the needs of underserved populations are addressed in biomedical research.

Purpose and Need for the Program

This FOA is intended to provide support for new investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups that are nationally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences, who are interested in conducting research projects within the scientific mission areas of the NIDDK or the NHGRI. The goal of this FOA is to enable a pool of investigators from diverse backgrounds to submit subsequent R01 or equivalent applications through the support of these small research grants, as well as receive additional independent research grant awards, produce research results, and author publications.

The NIH recognizes that the entry of new investigators into the ranks of independent, NIH-funded researchers is essential to improving the overall capacity of this country's biomedical research enterprise. While scientific workforce diversity supports the NIH mission, expanding the pool of investigators from nationally underrepresented backgrounds in the biomedical research workforce remains an elusive goal. Even with long-standing congressional support for early research independence, NIH funding, and government-wide efforts to promote STEM workforce diversity, early career scientists find it increasingly difficult to obtain support for a first research award, and retain that support in subsequent years. See, Policy Supporting the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-17-101.html.As a result, the NIH and the participating components of the organization are committed to the research support of new investigators. This program will enable new investigators to gain additional research experience and obtain preliminary data on which to base a subsequent research grant application (i.e., R01 or equivalent) within the scientific mission areas of the NIDDK or the NHGRI.

Although the United States has seen a significant increase in the number of Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences earned by scientists from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the biomedical research workforce, a corresponding increase in the ranks of the faculty in basic science departments has not occurred (Gibbs et al., eLife 2016; Valantine et al., CBE-Life Sciences Education, 2016). In addition, disparities in NIH grant funding still persist among underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (Ginther et al., Science, 2011; Hoppe et al., 2019; Erosheva et al., 2020). A recent NIH report examined the number of investigators funded by the NIH during fiscal years (FY) 2016-2020 and showed that only 2.4% of research grants were awarded to Black or African American investigators while 66.2% of research grants were awarded to White investigators. With respect to ethnicity, 4.8% of research grants were awarded to Hispanic investigators during FY2016-2020. As a way of addressing these disparities in funding, this FOA provides up to three years of funds for applicants from diverse backgrounds to generate preliminary data which can support subsequent research grant applications.

Specific Areas of Research Interest

NIDDK: The NIDDK's mission is to conduct and support medical research and research training and to disseminate science-based information on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutritional disorders and obesity; and kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases, to improve people’s health and quality of life. This funding opportunity seeks to facilitate the transition to research independence of new investigators from diverse backgrounds, including from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences, who are knowledgeable about these diseases within the scope of the NIDDK mission and available to focus on these diseases in their research careers.

NHGRI: The NHGRI supports the development of resources, approaches, and technologies that accelerate and support studies focused on the structure and biology of genomes; the genomics of disease; the implementation and effectiveness of genomic medicine; genomic data science and bioinformatics; training, developing, and expanding the diversity of the genomics workforce; and ethical, legal, and social issues related to genomic advances. More details about the institute’s vision and priority areas can be found in the 2020 NHGRI Strategic Vision (https://www.genome.gov/2020SV).

This FOA will only support research within the mission of the NIDDK or the NHGRI.

Programmatic Approach

To minimize the loss of competitive investigators from diverse backgrounds, and to promote successful transitions to established investigator levels, it is imperative to provide funding opportunities to support investigators actively conducting research studies but without substantial preliminary data for them to be fully competitive at the R01 levels in all areas of interest to the NIDDK or the NHGRI.

The NIDDK will monitor the implementation of this program to determine its impact on individual awardees and their successful transition to research independence.

Applications Not Responsive to this FOA

Applications that do not reflect the areas of research interest specified above will not be considered responsive to this FOA. Applications that do not address how the results of the proposed research will be translated to further R01 or equivalent applications or independent research awards will not be considered responsive. Non-responsive applications submitted to this FOA will be withdrawn without review.

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 FOA.

Clinical Trial?

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

Need help determining whether you are doing a clinical trial?

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

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

Award Budget

The direct costs are limited to $125,000 per year.

Award Project Period

The maximum project period may not exceed 3 years.

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

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

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

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

For-Profit Organizations

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

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 Governments

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Individuals applying as the PD/PI must meet each eligibility criterion below. For a multiple PD/PI application, all the individuals serving as PDs/PIs are required to meet all of the same eligibility criteria as for a single PD/PI application.

Eligible Health Professional or Doctoral Degrees

Program Directors /Principal Investigators (PDs/PIs) must have a clinical or research doctorate (including PhD, MD, DO, DC, ND, DDS, DMD, DVM, ScD, DNS, PharmD or equivalent doctoral degrees). It is recommended that applicants should have completed a postdoctoral research experience which lasted a minimum of two years at the time of application. As jointly defined by the NIH and the National Science Foundation (NSF), a postdoctoral scholar is (available at: https://grants.nih.gov/training/Reed_Letter.pdf): "An individual who has received a doctoral degree (or equivalent) and is engaged in a temporary and defined period of mentored advanced training to enhance the professional skills and research independence needed to pursue his or her chosen career path." However, completion of a postdoctoral research experience is not required for an applicant to apply as a PD/PI to this FOA.

Citizenship Requirements

By the time of award, the individual must be a citizen or a non-citizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status). Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible.

New Investigators

For the purposes of this FOA, an investigator is considered a new investigator if he/she has not competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantialNIH independent research award. PDs/PIs of NIH Training-Related and Mentored Career Awards are eligible for this FOA if the NIH awards are in any of the following categories: fellowships (F awards), individual or institutional career awards (K awards), loan repayment contracts (L30, L32, L40, L50, L60), and all training grants (T32, T34, T35, T90, D43). PDs/PIs with R00 awards are not eligible.

A PD/PI who has been awarded by the time of award for this FOA research funds from all combined grant or award sources (including non-NIH grants) and combined award years as PD/PI at the time of award that is (1) greater than or equal to $125,000 in direct costs and (2) the award(s) is/are for longer than one year in duration in combined time is not eligible for this R21 award. This funding limitation does not include NIH training grants or NIH mentored career development awards.

Finally, a new investigator who is considered a postdoctoral candidate or is in a postdoctoral position at the time of application is not eligible to apply as the PD/PI to this FOA.

Enhancing Diversity

The overarching goal of this program is to enhance the diversity of independent investigators conducting research within the mission of NIDDK or the participating ICs. Fostering diversity by addressing underrepresentation in the scientific research workforce is a key component of the NIDDK and NIH strategy to identify, develop, support, and maintain the quality of our scientific human capital. Despite tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, educational and research opportunities are not equally available to all. NIH encourages institutions to diversify their student, postdoctoral, and faculty populations to enhance the participation of individuals from groups identified as underrepresented in the biomedical sciences (e.g., see the Notice of NIH's of Interest in Diversity).

For the purposes of this FOA, individuals from diverse backgrounds, including groups that are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences are encouraged to apply as PD/PI.

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 instructions in 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.

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.

Facilities & Other Resources: Though this FOA seeks to support new investigators, please include the description of the institutional investments in the success of the investigator described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for Early Stage Investigators.

Other Attachment (Institutional Letter): Eligibility information must be submitted by the applicant's institution in a letter certifying that the PD/PI satisfies the eligibility criteria listed under Section III. "Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)."

This letter must be on institutional letterhead and scanned so that the signatures from an Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and the PD(s)/PI(s) are clearly legible. Name the PDF formatted letter ‘EligibilityCertification.pdf.’ Applications without the Institutional Letter bearing the legible signatures of an institutional AOR and the PD(s)/PI(s)) may be deemed incomplete and withdrawn. Eligibility information provided in the Institutional Letter will be evaluated prior to an award.

In addition to the eligibility information above, an applicant institution must include a statement explaining how participation of the identified PD(s)/PI(s) would further the goals of the Small Grants for New Investigators to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research program that is consistent with the Notice of NIH's Interest in Diversity (NOT-OD-20-031).

Of note, the criteria requiring less than $125,000 in direct costs for combined funding for all years and combined grant sources (including non-NIH grants) will be verified using the Just in Time process prior to an award decision.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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

Biographical Sketch: For those individuals applying as a PD/PI and who did not complete a postdoctoral training period (as defined by the NIH/NSF), an explanation for the absence of a postdoctoral training period should be provided in the biosketch, and needs to explain how the PD(s)/PI(s) has/have prepared for her/his/their research independence, as well as the time frame during which this experience occurred.

The biographical sketch should also demonstrate the PD(s)/PI(s) ability to progress from a new investigator to a robust, independent, and productive research career. The application should also demonstrate how past performance and how previous training have prepared the applicant to conduct a small research project performed in a short period of time that will assist with research career transition to research independence.

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:

Research Strategy: In addition to a statement on the impact of the results of the proposed research in the involved research field, the applicant should describe how the proposed research will be translated to further R01 or equivalent applications or other independent research grant awards. Additionally, the applicant should describe plans to produce research results and to author high-impact publications.

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.

The following modifications also apply:

  • 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 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 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 and responsiveness by components of participating organizations, 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. 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.

For this particular announcement, note the following:
 

The R21 exploratory/developmental grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research. An R21 grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information. Accordingly, reviewers will emphasize the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials: A proposed Clinical Trial application may include study design, methods, and intervention that are not by themselves innovative but address important questions or unmet needs. Additionally, the results of the clinical trial may indicate that further clinical development of the intervention is unwarranted or lead to new avenues of scientific investigation.

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?

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials

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

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or those in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?

Specific to this FOA: Do the PD(s)/PI(s) have high-potential to progress to robust, independent and productive research careers, including obtaining independent research funding and publishing high impact research papers?

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials

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

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials

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

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators 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 FOA: Do the PD(s)/PI(s) demonstrate an ability to conceptualize and organize a short-term research project that will translate to an independent R01 or equivalent research application? Are there a plan and the potential to submit subsequent R01 or equivalent applications, to receive additional independent research grant awards, to produce research results, and to author high-impact publications?

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials

Does the application adequately address the following, if applicable

Study Design

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

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

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

Data Management and Statistical Analysis

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

Environment

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

In addition, for applications involving clinical trials

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

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

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

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

Additional Review Criteria

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

Study Timeline

Specific to applications involving clinical trials

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

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

Protections for Human Subjects

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

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.

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 Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications 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.

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 recipient's business official.

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

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

Individual awards are based on the application submitted to, and as approved by, the NIH and are subject to the IC-specific terms and conditions identified in the NoA.

ClinicalTrials.gov: If an award provides for one or more clinical trials. By law (Title VIII, Section 801 of Public Law 110-85), the "responsible party" must register and submit results information for certain “applicable clinical trials” on the ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration and Results System Information Website (https://register.clinicaltrials.gov). NIH expects registration and results reporting of all trials whether required under the law or not. For more information, see https://grants.nih.gov/policy/clinical-trials/reporting/index.htm

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

Data and Safety Monitoring Requirements: The NIH policy for data and safety monitoring requires oversight and monitoring of all NIH-conducted or -supported human biomedical and behavioral intervention studies (clinical trials) to ensure the safety of participants and the validity and integrity of the data. Further information concerning these requirements is found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/hs/data_safety.htm and in the application instructions (SF424 (R&R) and PHS 398).

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

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Recipients, 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 laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, religion, conscience, and sex. This includes ensuring programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency. The HHS Office for Civil Rights provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/provider-obligations/index.html and http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/section1557/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 FOA.

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 “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. 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)

Katrina J. Serrano, Ph.D.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Telephone: 301-480-7855
Email: katrina.serrano@nih.gov

Michael J Pazin
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Phone: 301 496-7531
E-mail: pazinm@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

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

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Helen Cox, M.H.S.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Telephone: 301-496-7274
Email: helen.cox@nih.gov

Deanna L Ingersoll
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Phone: 301-435-7858
E-mail: deanna.ingersoll@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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