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 Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Funding Opportunity Title
AHEAD (Advancing Head and Neck Cancer Early Detection Research) (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type
New
Related Notices

NOT-OD-23-012 Reminder: FORMS-H Grant Application Forms and Instructions Must be Used for Due Dates On or After January 25, 2023 - New Grant Application Instructions Now Available

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number
RFA-DE-23-013
Companion Funding Opportunity
None
Assistance Listing Number(s)
93.121, 93.394, 93.393
Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to accelerate translation of research to improve early detection of head and neck cancers (HNC). This FOA seeks applications that focus on early detection of HNC by applying molecular, cellular, and multi-omics signatures to clinical studies for differentiating benign from premalignant lesions, and identifying prognostic signatures on the transformation from premalignant to malignant lesions. Better understanding of the molecular characteristics of dysplastic lesions and early recurrence are needed for improving lesion classification relevant to predicting cancer progression, which could have a significant impact on cancer prevention and treatment optimization.

Key Dates

Posted Date
October 13, 2022
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)
December 27, 2022
Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

December 11, 2022

Application Due Dates Review and Award Cycles
New Renewal / Resubmission / Revision (as allowed) AIDS Scientific Merit Review Advisory Council Review Earliest Start Date
January 27, 2023 Not Applicable March 14, 2023 July 2023 October 2023 December 2023

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 15, 2023
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

Head and neck cancers (HNC), the sixth leading type of cancers by incidence worldwide, are a heterogeneous group of malignancies that arise in the oral and nasal cavities, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, larynx, and salivary glands. In the United States, more than 65,000 individuals are newly diagnosed with HNC every year. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) accounts for about 80% of all HNC; less common HNC types include adenocarcinomas (<15%), lymphomas (<5%), melanomas (<3%), and salivary gland carcinomas (<3%). The primary risk factors associated with HNC include tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and viral infections, such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

While cancer prevention programs such as tobacco control and smoking cessation have decreased the overall HNC incidence, a steady increase in HPV associated base of tongue and oropharyngeal cancers have been observed in recent years. Despite improved treatment, the overall five-year survival rate for HNC patients remains around 40- 50%. HPV(+) HNC responds better to treatment, and HPV(+) HNC patients demonstrate favorable prognosis, with a 28% reduced risk of death and almost 50% reduced risk of local recurrence when compared with HPV(-) HNC patients. Despite a favorable initial response to therapy, up to 30% of HPV(+) HNC patients experience recurrence. Treatment of late-stage HNC involves intense surgical intervention causing disfiguring, and/or chemo- and radiotherapies cumulatively causing severe morbidity, compromising the quality of life. The low survival rate and low quality of life for HNC patients are often due to limited detection of early disease and limited interventional options for HNC premalignancy. HNC patients diagnosed at an early-stage experience significantly improved survival rates and quality of life. The conventional visual/tactile exam coupled with a tissue biopsy is the current gold standard for lesion assessment, but this method has significant limitations due to its inability to reliably discriminate between reactive or inflammatory lesions verses premalignant or early malignant lesions. Early detection and diagnosis of HNC remain a significant challenge because early development of cancer may not cause any symptoms, may appear as benign lesions or may reside in deep cavities. Therefore, improvement of early detection and biomarker research with definitive diagnostic value is much needed.

During the past two decades, the advancements of high throughput technologies and large data computation accelerated the understanding of the most comprehensive genomic and molecular portraits of human cancers. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program, together with other large collaborative functional genomic and proteomic projects, have generated over 2.5 petabytes of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic datasets of 33 major cancer types, including HNC. These large-scaled open-source datasets provide unique and complex information codes to specifically match the tumor genetic or expression defects with patient clinical outcomes, which could lead to tailored biomarker identification for early diagnosis and treatments.

Research Objectives and Scope

The predominant precursor for HNC is tissue dysplasia. Treatment approaches for dysplastic lesions include observation, excision, phototherapy, laser therapy, cryotherapy, or pharmacological therapy. Estimates of the propensity for lesions to progress to cancer vary considerably, and in most cases, there are limited biomarkers that can predict which lesions will progress to cancer and which will not. In addition, tumor recurrence and metastasis after treatment, and the development of secondary tumors are risk factors for poor prognosis of HNC patients. Better understanding of the molecular characteristics of dysplastic lesions and early recurrence are needed to provide biomarkers that improve lesion classification relevant to predicting cancer progression, which could have a significant impact on cancer prevention and treatment optimization.

Examples of research areas that fall within the scope of this FOA include, but are not limited to:

  • Identify and develop signatures for early cancer classification of HPV(+) and HPV(-)  HNC, or premalignant lesions. This may include molecular, immunological, cellular, imaging, or multi-omics (genomic, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) signatures to detect tumor heterogeneity and plasticity for predicting potential of dysplasic lesions to transform.
  • Identify and evaluate prognostic biomarkers and technologies that complement current clinical methods (e.g. CT, MRI, pathology) to increase sensitivity and specificity for assessing risk for early cancer development and progression, and early cancer recurrence and metastasis after treatments.
  • Develop novel tools and methods for detecting molecular, immunological, and cellular hallmarks in bodily fluids obtained by non-invasive or minimally invasive methods for HNC detection, with standardization of sample collection.
  • Integrate high throughput technologies of cancer multi-omics, with large datasets, bioinformatics computation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) approaches to accelerate the process of cancer early detection and prognostic biomarker discovery and validation.
  • Identify and characterize factors for risk prediction or early detection of HNC, including nutrition, microbiome, immunocompetence, oral health, and health disparities.

While molecular biomarkers have been studied, there are major gaps in the systematic discovery and validation of these potential biomarkers for clinical use. The immediate benefit of AHEAD is the creation of interdisciplinary groups with diverse backgrounds to conduct cohesive collaboration targeted specifically for HNC early detection. Each interdisciplinary group must bring together expertise from different disciplines such as, laboratory-based technologies, molecular biomarker discoveries, animal models, high throughput technologies, data science, population cohorts, and clinical studies to identify and validate molecular biomarkers for HNC early detection.

Projects supported through this FOA are encouraged to use highly annotated (pathologic and clinical) biospecimen collections including longitudinal sampling, from human and preclinical experimental sources. The prospective collection of patient’s biospecimens of hyperplasia, dysplasia, or HNC recurrence in high-risk population is allowed. Applications proposing prospective collection must define why the population is considered high-risk (ie, rate of transformation) and justify that the population will yield sufficient cancer progression cases for power/analysis within the grant period.

In addition, the partnership between NIDCR and NCI will encourage AHEAD investigators access to valuable NIDCR and NCI resources to enhance their research capabilities. Awardees of AHEAD will join NCI’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), a national infrastructure funded to discover, develop, and validate biomarkers for risk assessment, detection, and molecular diagnosis and prognosis of early cancer. The awardees will act as members of EDRN to participate in all activities of EDRN, including monthly calls and EDRN Steering Committee meetings twice per year. When the AHEAD awardees join EDRN network and interact with EDRN awardees, they must sign a confidential Disclosure Agreement and follow the policy on data sharing. For details on EDRN, see edrn.nci.nih.gov.

Non-responsive applications include 1) studies not explicitly focusing on early detection, molecular diagnosis, and prognosis of premalignant lesions, early staged HNC, or cancer early recurrence; 2) epidemiologic or observational studies that only build HNC cohorts or monitor HNC patients longitudinally; 3) clinical studies that only collect benign, premalignant, or early stage HNC specimens. Non-responsive applications will not proceed to review.

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

Section II. Award Information

Funding Instrument

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

Application Types Allowed
New

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

Clinical Trial?

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

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

Issuing IC and partner components intend to commit an estimated total of $4 million to fund 5-6 awards.

Award Budget

Applications are limited to $500,000 direct costs per year. A detailed budget is required. The nature and scope of the proposed research will vary among applications; thus it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary.

Award Project Period

The maximum project period is 5 years.

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

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

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

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

For-Profit Organizations

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

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 full SAM and Grants.gov registrations; 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 his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, individuals with disabilities, and women are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility

Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time, 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 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.

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:

Yasaman Shirazi, PhD
Telephone: 301-594-5593
Email:yasaman.shirazi@nih.gov

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

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

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

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

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

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

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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

R&R or Modular Budget

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

R&R Subaward Budget

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

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

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

PHS 398 Research Plan

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

The following points must be clearly addressed in the Research Strategy:

  • Description of the interdisciplinary nature of the team, including expertise of members. Teams must include two or more experts in the following relevant areas: molecular biomarker discoveries, laboratory-based technologies, animal models, bioinformatics/data science/AI/ML, population cohorts, and clinical studies to identify or validate molecular biomarkers for HNC early detection.
  • Description of highly annotated (pathologic and clinical) biospecimen collections including longitudinal sampling, from human and preclinical experimental sources.
  • For studies proposing prospective collection of patient’s biospecimens, description of the high-risk population (i.e., rate of transformation) and justification that the population will yield sufficient cancer progression cases for power/analysis with the grant period.
  • Project Milestones must be quantitative and scientifically justified. Discuss the milestones as means of evaluating the success of proposed studies. While Specific Aims describe the goals and intended path of the proposed research, quantitative milestones are a way of determining whether the specified goals of the project have been accomplished. In most cases, applicants should provide milestones for each specific aim or project.
  • Project timeline in the overall Research Strategy section. The timeline should include milestones.

Letters of Support: Include letters of support from clinical partners, research collaborators, or other groups with the investigators involved in the proposed work.

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 fieldof 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 FOA 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, NIH. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIDCR Referral Office by email at yasaman.shirazi@nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Post Submission Materials

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

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.  Applications submitted to the NIH in support of the NIH mission are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is the prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project rigorous? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

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:

  • How diverse, collaborative, and multidisciplinary is the team, such that it comprises appropriate content experts recognized as leaders in their field(s)?
  • To what extent is there evidence that the research team has been/will be able to work together effectively to accomplish the proposed research? Is there demonstration of prior collaborative teamwork?

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?

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:

  • How well does the application sufficiently describe the use of highly annotated (pathologic and clinical) biospecimen collections including longitudinal sampling, from human and preclinical experimental sources?
  • To what extent are the milestones clearly presented, scientifically justified, phased appropriately, and provided quantitative evaluation?
  • Does the application include a reasonable timeline?

Environment

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

Additional Review Criteria

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

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Individuals Across the Lifespan

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals of all ages (including children and older adults) to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

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

Resubmissions

Not applicable

Renewals

Not applicable

Revisions

Not applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not Applicable.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: (1) Data Sharing Plan; (2) Sharing Model Organisms; and (3)  Genomic Data Sharing Plan (GDS).

Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by NIDCR, 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 FOA.

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 submitted in response to this FOA. 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.

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 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.

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 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 (including gender identify, sexual orientation, and pregnancy). This includes ensuring programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency and persons with disabilities. 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 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 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 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

Proposed Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions: The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) administrative guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Part 75 and 2 CFR 200, and other DHHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.

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

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

  • Defining the scientific objectives and approaches, including research design and study protocol development, if applicable.
  • Overseeing study conduct, including data collection and analysis, quality control, and resulting publications.
  • Providing accountability to the applicant organization officials and to the NIH for the performance and the proper conduct of the research supported by the U01 award in accordance with the terms and conditions that are stated in this FOA.
  • Participating as a full member of the AHEAD Working Group and EDRN.
  • Participating in a Planning Meeting in the first year of the award, monthly calls, and EDRN Steering Committee meetings twice per year in each of the subsequent years of the award.
  • Accepting and implementing the goals, priorities, procedures, and policies agreed upon by the Working Group to the extent consistent with applicable grant regulations.
  • Cooperating with other PD(s)/PI(s) and the NIH staff members, as appropriate for the goals of the program.
  • Overseeing the implementation of the approved data management and resource sharing plans.
  • Adhering to the NIDCR Clinical Terms of Award
  • Ensuring that experimental data and their format, analytical algorithms, computational modeling and visualizations, and other bioinformatics tools resulting from this FOA are compatible with the NIH-approved bioinformatics platforms, such as those designed and implemented by the NCI Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT; http://cbiit.nci.nih.gov/).
  • Recipients(s) will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and software developed under these awards, subject to Government policies regarding rights of access consistent with current DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

NIH Program staff member(s) acting as Project Scientist(s) will have substantial programmatic involvement. The main responsibilities of substantially involved NIH staff members include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

An NIH Project Scientist will be assigned and will be responsible for:

  • Consulting with the PD(s)/PI(s) regarding achieving U01 milestones.
  • Coordinating the research activities among all of the AHEAD U01 awardees and organizing the exchange of scientific information across the program, including coordination of the distribution and usage of specimens from the NCI / NIDCR-supported programs.
  • Facilitating interactions among participating researchers.
  • Serving on the AHEAD Working Group.
  • Advising the awardees on matters related to the technical performance of the projects.
  • Monitoring the progress and performance of the awardees.

An NIH Program Official will be assigned and will be responsible for:

  • Carrying out continuous review of all activities to ensure that the objectives are being met and that all regulatory, fiscal, and administrative matters are handled according to NIH guidelines.
  • Having the option to withhold support to a participating institution if technical performance requirements are not met.
  • Performing other duties required for normal program stewardship of grants.

Joint Responsibilities:

There are no joint responsibilities.

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

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, 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 FOAs 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 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)

Zhong Chen, MD, Ph.D.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Telephone: 301-529-7083
Email: zhong.chen@nih.gov
 

Wendy Wang, Ph.D., M.Sc.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 240-276-7117
Email: Wangw@mail.nih.gov
 

Sudhir Srivastava, Ph.D., MPH
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Telephone: 240-276- 7028
Email: srivasts@mail.nih.gov
 

Peer Review Contact(s)

Yasaman Shirazi, PhD
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Telephone: 301-594-5593
Email:yasaman.shirazi@nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Diana Rutberg, MBA
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Telephone: 301-594-4798
Email:rutbergd@mail.nih.gov

Crystal Wolfrey
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Phone: 240-276-6277
Email:  crystal.wolfrey@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 2 CFR Part 200, 42 CFR Part 52, and 45 CFR Part 75.

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