National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) - Brain Cell Data Center (U24)
U24 Resource-Related Research Projects – Cooperative Agreements
93.242, 93.867, 93.866, 93.273, 93.286, 93.865, 93.173, 93.213, 93.279, 93.853
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) intends to support a Brain Cell Data Center (BCDC) that will work with other BICCN Centers and interested researchers to establish a web-accessible information system to capture, store, analyze, curate, and display all data and metadata on brain cell types, and their connectivity. The BCDC is expected to: (1) lead the effort to establish spatial and semantic standards for managing heterogeneous brain cell census data types and information; (2) lead the effort to collect and register multimodal brain cell census data to common brain coordinate systems; (3) generate searchable 2D and 3D digital brain atlases for cell census data; and (4) generate a unified and comprehensive brain cell knowledge base that integrates all existing brain cell census data and information across diverse repositories. A central goal of this and the three companion FOAs is to build a brain cell census resource that can be widely used throughout the research community.
October 19, 2016
December 23, 2016
December 23, 2016
January 23, 2017, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.
No late applications will be accepted.
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.
January 24, 2017
It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research Instructions for the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.
I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information
The BRAIN Initiative: The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, will show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new tools and technologies will ultimately lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.
NIH is one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years. This FOA and other FOAs issued in Fiscal Year 2017 are based on careful consideration by the NIH of the recommendations of the BRAIN 2025 Report, and input from the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group. Videocasts of the NIH BRAIN Multi-council Working Group are available at http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/about/mcwg.htm.
To enable rapid progress in development of new technologies as well as in theory and data analysis, the BRAIN Initiative encourages collaborations between neurobiologists and scientists from statistics, physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer and information sciences; and NIH welcomes applications from investigators in these disciplines.
NIH encourages BRAIN Initiative applications from investigators that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). Such individuals include those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
NIH also encourages businesses to participate in the BRAIN Initiative. It is possible for companies to submit applications directly to BRAIN Initiative program announcements or to collaborate with academic researchers in joint submissions. Small businesses should consider applying to one of the BRAIN Initiative small business FOAs (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/funding/index.htm).
In addition to the National BRAIN initiative, the NIH continues to have a substantial annual investment in neuroscience research. The Institutes and Centers contributing to the NIH BRAIN Initiative (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/ ) support those research efforts through investigator-initiated applications as well as through specific FOAs. Potential applicants to this FOA are strongly encouraged to contact Scientific/Program staff if they have any questions about the best FOA for their research.
The BRAIN Initiative will require a high level of coordination and sharing between investigators.
This FOA is related to the Recommendations in Section III.1 and 2 of the Final Report (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/2025/index.htm) of the BRAIN working group. Specifically, this FOA solicits applications that will address the recommendations in "Section III.1. Discovering Diversity" and those on meso-scale connectome in "Section III.2. Maps at Multiple Scales".
The mammalian brain contains an astronomical number of cells. There are an estimated 1.13 x 10^8 cells in the mouse brain and an estimated 1.7 x 10^11 cells in the human brain, with each neuron making thousands of synapses with other cells. Since the early work of Ramón y Cajal, beginning with the elegant staining of individual neurons in the brain using the Golgi method, brain cell types have been increasingly defined by their location, morphology, connectivity, neurotransmitter type, physiology, and most recently, their transcriptional profile. Cataloging brain cell types and their connectivity is a prerequisite to understanding how they are organized in circuits, and how they change in brain disorders. In addition, a detailed understanding of cell classes and subclasses will enable the development of novel tools that allow researchers to target specific cell types and manipulate circuits for further study. However, there is not yet a consensus on what a brain cell type is, since a variety of factors including experience, cell interaction, and neuromodulators can diversify the molecular, electrical, and structural properties of similar cells, and cell phenotypes may change over time. Nonetheless, there is general agreement that cell types can be defined provisionally by invariant and generally intrinsic properties, and that this classification can provide a good starting point for a census. A recent workshop co-sponsored by the BRAIN Initiative and the NIH Single Cell Analysis Program shared information on how investigators are currently describing cellular phenotypes and novel approaches to better quantify, evaluate, understand, and communicate the brain cell classification. The consensus is that classification of cell types will be facilitated by a systematic collection and integrative analysis of three data elements at cellular level: (1) molecular signature (e.g., transcriptome, epigenome, proteome, metabolome), (2) anatomy (e.g., location, size, orientation, morphology, and connectivity), and (3) function (e.g., electrophysiology, functional connectivity). Current technological capabilities promise a new era in the call for a brain cell census hallmarked by high dimensionality of molecular information at an unprecedented scale and resolution. Single cell ‘omics’ analyses (transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics) will likely help define unique cell type markers and unveil the regulatory code that controls cell type formation, maintenance, and transition in health and disease. The new molecular insights gained may thus transform our understanding of cells types by revealing fundamental biological principles with mechanistic underpinnings to define discreet cell classes as well as relevant transition states.
The BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN)
The BRAIN initiative cell census program awarded 10 grants in September, 2014 under RFA-MH-14-215, forming the BRAIN Cell Census Consortium (BICCC) to pilot cell classification strategies for a comprehensive brain cell census (see Census of Cell Types: http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/funding/fundedAwards.htm for information on these awards). The purpose of these awards was to test various methods in multiple brain regions from different organisms to determine whether approaches were mature enough to allow for the generation of large-scale and comprehensive cell census in the mammalian brain. Advances such as single cell transcriptional profiling, anatomical mapping at cellular resolution, and other approaches have proven ultimately to be powerful and scalable. At this time, the BRAIN initiative cell census program is looking to establish the BICCN for a systematic generation of reference cell census data and relevant tools. This FOA and the companion announcements intend to recompete the BRAIN initiative cell census projects within the network. The overarching goals of the BICCN are to:
The expected outcomes of the BICCN include:
The BICCN will be composed of a group of Centers supported via four companion FOAs: Comprehensive (U19) Center(s) supported via RFA-MH-17-225that will focus on building up a comprehensive mouse brain cell atlas; Specialized (U01) Centers via RFA-MH-17-230 that will contribute cell census data for endpoints in the mouse brain not otherwise covered in the U19 Center(s); Specialized (U01) Centers supported via RFA-MH-17-210 that will begin to collect cell census data from human or non-human primate brains. In addition, the U24 BRAIN Cell Data Center (BCDC) supported via this announcement, RFA-MH-17-215, will integrate, visualize, and disseminate the cell census data generated by the U19 and U01 Centers as well as create a brain cell knowledge base. The NIH expects that the BICCN will operate as a cooperative network to promote collaboration and coordination with any research entities that have similar goals. It is expected that funded projects in the BICCN will work together to achieve the overall goals. This will include regular meetings and other coordinated activities within the BICCN as well as in the BRAIN Initiative more broadly. Thus, the BICCN will leverage existing atlases and common coordinate systems to facilitate collaborative efforts for the data annotation and 3D spatial mapping.
Research Scope of U24 BRAIN Cell Data Center
In alignment with the goals of the BICCN, this FOA intends to support a BCDC that will work with other BICCN Centers and interested researchers to establish a web-accessible information system to capture, store, analyze, curate, and display all data and metadata on brain cell types, and their connectivity, by adopting and promoting common coordinate systems and semantic standards. Atlases and common coordinate systems play a fundamental role in gathering, analyzing, communicating, and standardizing data. This FOA embraces the existing effort of the research community (e.g., the International Neuroinformatics Coordination Facility) to collaboratively build up brain atlases with broadly accessible common brain coordinate systems for brain cell census data. The BCDC is expected to:
There will be two parts to the BCDC, a Data Coordination Component and a Data Integration and Visualization Component.
Data Coordination Component (DCC)
The DCC will interface directly with the neuroscience research and education community. Throughout the funding period, it will be essential for the DCC to work with the neuroscience research community to define data and metadata types to be collected in support of the overall goal of establishing a cell census of the brain. Although contributing projects will not yet be known at the time of application submission, expected data elements include: (1) molecular signatures (e.g., transcriptome, epigenome, proteome, metabolome), (2) anatomy (e.g., cell location, size, orientation, morphology, and connectivity), and (3) functions (e.g., electrophysiology, functional connectivity). The following data types are likely to be collected: fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), single cell RNAseq, immunohistochemistry, cell morphology, neuronal connectivity, electrophysiology, calcium imaging, etc. Due to the heterogeneous nature of the data being collected, a key functionality of the BCDC will be to link and display the datasets in space and time and give users the ability to easily browse and navigate datasets on the basis of key metadata fields including (but not limited to): species, sex, age, brain region, cell type, and molecule type. The DCC will work with the research community, with the journals, and with other interested parties to adopt and promote a standard terminology to describe the cell census experiments and datasets by leveraging existing resources (e.g., Neuroscience Information Framework, BAMS, Allen Brain Atlas). This will include a nomenclature for the cells and neural circuits themselves. It is expected that the standards to describe the experiment will build on the work of the RFA-MH-14-215 awardees.
In addition, the DCC will develop a data submission pipeline ensuring appropriate quality control standards for laboratories within and beyond the BICCN to submit data. The DCC will work closely with awardees funded under the BICCN companion FOAs and RFA-MH-14-215 to collect and archive appropriate datasets with experimental and analytical protocols. The DCC may also take the strategy of accepting all data submissions and giving them grades with respect to the adherence of that dataset to the standards set up by the BICCN. The DCC will develop a secured database that can receive data from the BICCN Center awardees and allows private collaboration among researchers prior to public release. The DCC will help to establish quality control metrics, metadata requirements, and controlled vocabularies to ensure that the data are interoperable and maximally useful to the community. The DCC may also help users deposit data into other sustainable databases, such as those supported by the NCBI, but this is not a requirement. The DCC will ensure that the user community can find the data no matter where it actually is stored. Furthermore the DCC will maintain a database that is accessible to anyone with a web browser to view and access data or tools generated by the consortium, protocols, and other relevant information. The web site is expected to have a broad user base that will include both naïve users and experienced bioinformaticians, and should provide an interface that will accommodate both types of users. Some datasets may require controlled access although it is expected that most datasets will not. The DCC may, but is not required to, use cloud storage to enable the research community to compute on the data without downloading it.
Data Integration and Visualization Component (DIVC)
The DIVC will be expected to be staffed mostly by specialists in informatics. The DIVC will play a pivotal role in data management and integration. It will process and register data to common brain coordinate systems, generate 2D and 3D digital brain atlases, link multiple data elements (e.g., molecular, anatomical, and functional) in space and time for cell type taxonomy, establish a brain cell knowledge base, and provide analyses and reports for presentation to awardees, advisors, NIH staff, and the BRAIN Initiative Multi-Council Workgroup. The DIVC will lead the effort to establish spatial and semantic standards that will incorporate multiple ways to define a location in the brain, including spatial coordinates, anatomic names, and spatial organizational rules of brain. The DIVC will promote and support development and dissemination of user-friendly data registration tools for individual investigators outside the BICCN to interact with the digital brain atlases to share and cross validate the data. The DIVC will be responsible for coordination with other relevant informatics efforts. In particular, the DIVC will be expected to identify and federate the BCDC with other data repositories and knowledge bases as appropriate to create a unified spatial and semantic framework and brain cell information system. The DIVC will develop tools that provide analytical and visualization capabilities to end users. There should also be the capacity to allow users to bring their own analysis tools to the data. The DIVC will be a member of a larger BRAIN Initiative Data Network that will work across BRAIN initiative activities to promote integration of a variety of data types. In addition, the DIVC will interact, as appropriate, with informatics activities outside of the BRAIN Initiative such as the NIH BD2K effort and the work of the International Neuroinformatics Coordination Facility.
The BCDC should use existing infrastructures and standards as much as possible. These would include persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers and/or Resource Identifiers. The awardee will have the responsibility for operating an infrastructure that is useful to the community. While there will be some parts of the application that propose to do research for optimal solutions, the focus should be on delivering the infrastructure – not on research.
The BCDC will be expected to act as a hub to interface the cell census data and to allow the researcher to find and search through all relevant data. The BCDC should collaborate with the broad neuroscience research community and be innovative to collect and integrate the so-called long-tail data generated by individual investigators outside the BICCN. A free user-friendly data registration software may play an important role as it will allow the individual labs to manipulate and compare their own data with the spatially registered reference data generated by the BICCN with potential benefit to unveil functions and abnormalities of any particular brain cell types and structures. This would bear some resemblance with a Geographic Information System and Google Map that make all geographically referenced data types widely accessible.
Other Coordination and Communication Functions
The BCDC will also provide the administrative infrastructure and functions necessary to facilitate and coordinate both internal BICCN communication and activities to maximize the impact of the program as well as external partnerships and outreach. Specifically, the BCDC will be tasked for:
Meeting organization- In cooperation with other Centers and the NIH, the BCDC will take primary responsibility for the planning and logistics associated with organizing the BICCN meetings that include monthly phone- and web-based and annual in-person BICCN Steering Committee meetings, and subcommittee meetings involving informatics efforts such as developing and implementing spatial and semantic standards, data/metadata submission and deposition.
BICCN communication - In order to facilitate communication across the Network members, BCDC will provide resources such as mailing lists, forums, or wikis to enable discussion. When needed, BCDC will provide computational and data analysis support to the BICCN members and NIH to identify knowledge gaps, prioritize research, and prepare reports.
Education and outreach - In order to facilitate the data use by the broad scientific community, the BCDC will be responsible for coordinating education and outreach efforts. This could include, for example, the development of tutorials, conducting user workshops, use of social media outlets, or other activities not specifically named here.
Program Technical Assistance Note: On November 18 (Friday), 1 pm Eastern Time, an interactive technical assistance webinar will be held for investigators who are interested in information about the structure of collaborations, topics of interest or programmatic requirements of the FOA. Potential applicants are strongly advised to solicit Program feedback from the NIMH Scientific/Research Contact (BICCN Technical Assistance) well in advance of the application due date to determine whether their proposed studies align with the FOA purpose.
See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.
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.
The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.
Issuing IC and partner components intend to commit an estimated total of $3M per year to fund 1 award.
Application budgets are not limited but must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.
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 in response to this FOA.
Higher Education Institutions
The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:
o Hispanic-serving Institutions
o Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
o Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
o Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
o Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)
Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.
Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.
Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))
All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account. PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.
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.
This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
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:
Buttons to access the online ASSIST system or to download application forms are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.
It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research Instructions for the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions 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.
For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
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:
The letter of intent should be sent to:
All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed, with the following exceptions or additional requirements:
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.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
The Center PD/PI funded under this FOA should devote at least 25% effort (3 person months) to the Center project for the duration of the award.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:
Research Strategy: All applications should include the following:
Data Coordination: This section of the research strategy must describe:
Data Integration and Visualization: This section of the research strategy must describe:
Other Coordination and Communication Functions: This section of the research strategy must describe:
The following additional items must also be addressed in the application:
Management Plan: This section should describe:
Milestones and Timeline: A detailed set of milestones and timeline covering all aspects of the BCDC must be presented, which include annual milestones with metrics that will document progress towards the achievement of the ultimate goals. Applications should include plans for critically evaluating and revising these milestones on a regular basis. The number and duration of milestones will depend on the project being proposed, so applicants should include these items for every year, as appropriate. Applications lacking this information, as determined by the NIH staff, will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. The clarity and completeness of the application with regard to specific goals and milestones are critical.
Letters of Support: Include letters of support/agreement for any collaborative/cooperative arrangements, subcontracts, or consultants. Letters of support should indicate the specific activities the individual or organization will perform in pursuit of the Center goals; letters of support from individuals or organizations without a specific role in the Center should not be included.
The applications are expected to include written statements from the officials responsible for intellectual property issues at all of the applicant institutions (including subcontractors) to the effect that the institution supports and agrees to abide by the resource sharing plans put forth in the application if applicable. Such letters would be clear expressions of commitment. A separate letter should be sent by each participating organization including each subcontractor. Please note that institutional sign-off on the grant application signifies that all relevant components of the institution, including the relevant office handling intellectual property matters have reviewed and approved the document.
Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:
Appendix: Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing PHS Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov
Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.
Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time. If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.
Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.
Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.
All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Paper applications will not be accepted.
Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.
For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.
All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.
The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
See more tips for avoiding common errors.
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.
In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIMH Referral Office by email at
NIMHReferral@mail.nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.
Many NIH ICs encourage the use of common data elements (CDEs) in basic, clinical, and applied research, patient registries, and other human subject research to facilitate broader and more effective use of data and advance research across studies. CDEs are data elements that have been identified and defined for use in multiple data sets across different studies. Use of CDEs can facilitate data sharing and standardization to improve data quality and enable data integration from multiple studies and sources, including electronic health records. NIH ICs have identified CDEs for many clinical domains (e.g., neurological disease), types of studies (e.g. genome-wide association studies (GWAS)), types of outcomes (e.g., patient-reported outcomes), and patient registries (e.g., the Global Rare Diseases Patient Registry and Data Repository). NIH has established a “Common Data Element (CDE) Resource Portal" (http://cde.nih.gov/) to assist investigators in identifying NIH-supported CDEs when developing protocols, case report forms, and other instruments for data collection. The Portal provides guidance about and access to NIH-supported CDE initiatives and other tools and resources for the appropriate use of CDEs and data standards in NIH-funded research. Investigators are encouraged to consult the Portal and describe in their applications any use they will make of NIH-supported CDEs in their projects.
The requests by NIH intramural scientists will be limited to the incremental costs required for participation. As such, these requests will not include any salary and related fringe benefits for career, career conditional or other Federal employees (civilian or uniformed service) with permanent appointments under existing position ceilings or any costs related to administrative or facilities support (equivalent to Facilities and Administrative or F&A costs). These costs may include salary for staff to be specifically hired under a temporary appointment for the project, consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel, and other items typically listed under Other Expenses. Applicants should indicate the number of person-months devoted to the project, even if no funds are requested for salary and fringe benefits.
If selected, appropriate funding will be provided by the NIH Intramural Program. NIH intramural scientists may participate in this program as PDs/PIs in accord with the Terms and Conditions provided in this FOA. Intellectual property will be managed in accord with established policy of the NIH in compliance with Executive Order 10096, as amended, 45 CFR Part 7; patent rights for inventions developed in NIH facilities are NIH property unless NIH waives its rights.
Should an extramural application include the collaboration with an intramural scientist, no funds for the support of the intramural scientist may be requested in the application. The intramural scientist may submit a separate request for intramural funding as described above.
Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.
Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.
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).
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.
Does the proposed Center address the needs of the research network that it will serve? Is the scope of activities proposed for the Center appropriate to meet those needs? Will successful completion of the aims bring unique advantages or capabilities to the research network?
Do the proposed aims and scientific questions align well with the overarching goals and the expected outcomes of the BICCN? Are the expected results likely to provide a significant scientific resource for the identification and classification of brain cell types?
Are the PD(s)/PI(s) and other personnel well suited to their roles in the Center? Do they have appropriate experience and training, and have they demonstrated experience and an ongoing record of accomplishments in managing BICCN research? Do the investigators demonstrate significant experience with coordinating collaborative basic research? If the Center is multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise and skills; are their leadership approach, governance, and organization structure appropriate for the Center? Does the applicant have experience overseeing selection and management of subawards, if needed?
Are the PD/PI and other key personnel devoting sufficient time/effort to achieve the goals? Has adequate leadership for day-to-day project management activities been described?
Does the application propose novel organizational concepts, in coordinating the research network the Center will serve? Are the concepts, strategies, or instrumentation novel to one type of research program or applicable in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of organizational concepts proposed?
Does the application propose innovative strategies to integrate and visualize heterogeneous data? Are there innovative strategies to involve the broad research community? Is there innovative strategy to federate with external data and information repositories to allow queries across multiple sources of data and information? Does the application propose an innovative method to collect and integrate cell census datasets from individual investigators outside of the BICCN?
Are the overall strategy, operational plan, and organizational structure well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the goals of the research network the Center will serve? Will the investigators promote strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased scientific approach across the network, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the network is in the early stages of operation, does the proposed strategy adequately establish feasibility and manage the risks associated with the activities of the network? Are an appropriate plan for work-flow and a well-established timeline proposed? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to ensure consideration of relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies of vertebrate animals or human subjects?
Does the application provide a clear strategy for working with the BICCN U01 and U19 Center awardees and other interested researchers: to define and refine all data and metadata types and experimental protocols using and promoting common spatial and semantic standards; to develop submission process and standards? Does the application adequately describe how to develop a streamlined workflow for upload, validation, and dissemination of all relevant types of experimental data as well as associated experimental and analytical protocols? Does the application provide an adequate strategy for creating a web site that allows anyone to explore the spatially linked data and knowledge?
Does the application provide an adequate strategy for how the BCDC will: lead the effort to coordinate with multiple interested parties to adopt and refine spatial and semantic standards for linking heterogeneous data sets; develop searchable 2D and 3D digital brain atlases to link and visualize the cell census datasets; identify and federate the BCDC with other data repositories and knowledge bases as appropriate to establish a unified and comprehensive open-access brain cell information system; develop innovative strategies to collect and integrate datasets generated by the BRAIN cell census awardees as well as other datasets generated by the investigators outside of the BICCN; develop and disseminate user-friendly data registration, data analysis, and data visualization tools; develop a database that can receive data and allows private collaboration among researchers prior to public release?
Does the application provide an adequate strategy for how the BCDC will: organize meetings that include the BICCN Steering Committee meetings and subcommittee meetings involving informatics efforts; facilitate communication across the Network members and provide computational and data analysis support to identify knowledge gaps, prioritize research, and prepare reports; and facilitate the use of cell census data by the broad research and education community?
Does the application include an adequate Management Plan that describes how the PD(s)/PI(s) will manage the proposed project and who will oversee the day-to-day activities? Does the application adequately describe the Center's organizational structure and individual responsibilities; how the management will support to achieve the proposed goals and milestones; how multiple efforts will be integrated; how collaborations or subcontracts (if proposed) will be managed; and how to enhance the collaborative effort among the BICCN centers to ensure efficient cooperation, communication and coordination, and resource sharing as appropriate?
If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?
Will the institutional environment in which the Center will operate contribute to the probability of success in facilitating the research network it serves? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the Center proposed? Will the Center benefit from unique features of the institutional environment, infrastructure, or personnel? Are resources available within the scientific environment to support electronic information handling?
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.
Milestones and Timeline
Are clear, quantitative, and actionable, milestones and timelines proposed? Do the milestones establish feasibility for all aspects of the proposed research? Does the application include plans for critically evaluating and revising milestones on a regular basis? Are there additional key experiments that need to have milestones? Will the overall milestones provide adequate information to evaluate yearly progress of the Center project as a whole? Are the timelines proposed for achieving the milestones realistic and inclusive of necessary steps, but also efficient without adding unnecessary steps?
Is there a clear and sound plan for communication and coordination within the Center and across BICCN demonstrating an integrated Center project capable of performing the functions specified in the FOA?
For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.
For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.
When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.
The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.
Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.
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.
Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.
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).
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).
For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.
Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.
Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by NIMH, 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:
Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.
Applications will be assigned 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:
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.
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.
Prior to funding an application, program staff will contact the applicant to discuss the proposed milestones. Program staff and the applicant will negotiate and agree on a final set of milestones as the basis for judging the success of the project. The milestones will be reviewed annually (and at other times, if necessary), and new milestones will be re-negotiated with the NIH as described in the terms and conditions of a Cooperative Agreement in section VI.2.
A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.
Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.
Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website. This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.
All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.
Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency. HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.
In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), NIH awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements. FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award. An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS. The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgement about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.” This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.
For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/resources/laws/revisedlep.html. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/section1557/index.html; and http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/index.html. Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/index.html. Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/office/about/rgn-hqaddresses.html or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697. Also note it is an HHS Departmental goal to ensure access to quality, culturally competent care, including long-term services and supports, for vulnerable populations. For further guidance on providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services, recipients should review the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=53.
Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award
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 Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is
applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other
HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.
The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the cooperative agreement, an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the NIH purpose is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined below.
The PD(s)/PI(s) will have the primary responsibilities as described below:
Awardee will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and software developed under the award, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies. Awardee will:
NIH staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:
BRAIN Cell Census Network (BICCN) Steering Committee:
The Steering Committee will be composed of the PD(s)/PI(s), Project Scientist(s) and External Scientific Panel members (experts to be named after award). The Steering Committee will be established to help monitor progress, encourage improvements, and coordinate the production of brain cell census datasets and resources through the BICCN. It is anticipated that additional coordination mechanisms will be set up with other U.S. and international groups that may join this effort. The BICCN Steering Committee members will meet periodically to plan and design activities, review and discuss progress, and establish priorities and policies. A chair will be designated on a rotating basis as needed. Each PD(s)/PI(s), and external scientific advisor will have one vote each and the NIH will have one vote through the participation of the Project Scientist(s). The frequency of meetings will be determined by the Project Scientist who will be responsible for scheduling the time and place and for preparing concise proceedings or minutes which will be delivered to the Steering Committee members within 30 days after the meeting. Awardee members of the Steering Committee will be required to accept and implement policies approved by the Steering Committee.
The BICCN Steering Committee will:
External Scientific Panel (ESP):
The ESP will provide recommendations to the NIH BRAIN Project Team and BICCN about the progress and scientific direction of all components of the program. The ESP will be composed of four to six senior scientists who represent broad research community and have relevant expertise, although the membership may be enlarged permanently or on an ad hoc basis as needed. The ESP will meet at least twice a year; some meetings may be conducted by telephone conference. At least once a year, there will be a joint meeting with the Steering Committee for the members of both ESP and Steering Committees to interact directly. Twice a year the ESP will make recommendations regarding progress of the BICCN and present advice to the NIH BRAIN Project Team about changes, if any, that may be necessary in the BICCN program.
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 awardee. This special dispute resolution procedure does not alter the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulation 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and DHHS regulation 45 CFR Part 16.
The effectiveness of resource sharing will be evaluated as part of the administrative review of the annual non-competing Grant Progress Report.
A final progress report, 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.
We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity
and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.
eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons
registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system
problems that threaten submission by the due date, 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)
Customer Support (Questions
regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
(Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Yong Yao, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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.
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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