National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Confirmatory Efficacy Clinical Trials of Non-Pharmacological Interventions for Mental Disorders (R01)
R01 Research Project Grant
Reissue of RFA-MH-16-425
RFA-MH-17-606, R33 Exploratory/Developmental Grants Phase II
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support confirmatory efficacy testing of non-pharmacological therapeutic and preventive interventions for mental disorders in adults and children through an experimental therapeutics approach. Under this FOA, trials must be designed so that results, whether positive or negative, will provide information of high scientific utility and will support "go/no-go" decisions about further development, effectiveness testing, or dissemination of the intervention. Interventions to be studied include, but are not limited to behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal, and device-based (both invasive/surgically implanted as well as noninvasive/transcranial) approaches, or a combination thereof. Interventions appropriate for efficacy testing must be based on a compelling scientific rationale, previous demonstration that the intervention engages and alters the hypothesized mechanism of action, a preliminary efficacy signal, and must address an unmet therapeutic need. Support will be provided for a trial of the intervention's efficacy that includes measurement of the hypothesized mechanism of action and the relationship between change in the mechanism and change in functional or clinical effects. Ultimately, this FOA is intended to support a sufficiently-powered efficacy trial to determine the intervention's potential for significant clinical benefit.
December 13, 2016
January 15, 2017
30 days prior to the application due date
February 15, 2017; June 14, 2017; October 17, 2017;
February 14, 2018; June 15, 2018; October 15, 2018, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.
No late applications will be accepted for this Funding Opportunity Announcement.
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.
June 2017, October 2017, March 2018, June 2018, October 2018, March 2019
October 2017, January 2018, May 2018, October 2018, January 2019, May 2019
November 2017, April 2018, July 2018, September 2018, April 2019, July 2019
October 16, 2018
It is critical that applicants follow the Research (R) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.
There are several options available to submit your application through Grants.gov to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services partners.
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 purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support confirmatory efficacy testing of non-pharmacological therapeutic and preventive interventions for mental disorders in adults and children that address unmet therapeutic needs, and are consistent with the NIMH emphasis on the experimental therapeutics approach. In this approach, clinical trials should be designed to increase knowledge of the relationship between underlying disease processes and the mechanisms of action through which any intervention produces therapeutic change.
Therefore, interventions appropriate for confirmatory efficacy testing must be based on a compelling scientific rationale, previous demonstration that the intervention engages and alters the hypothesized mechanism of action, and a preliminary efficacy signal (for further information, see the NIMH Clinical Trials FAQ webpage. The proposed trial must include plans to replicate these target engagement and validation findings in a fully powered, confirmatory efficacy study that is likely to show superiority of the intervention over an appropriately justified comparison condition.
Interventions appropriate to this FOA may include in-person or technology-assisted psychosocial intervention approaches, device-based approaches (both invasive and non-invasive), or combinations of these approaches as monotherapies or as augmentations to standard interventions. While this FOA will support efficacy testing of novel technology-assisted intervention approaches, it is not intended to support the translation of existing treatments into technology-based applications (e.g., mHealth). FDA-indicated drugs may be included as part of a combination treatment when the intent is to test the efficacy of the other (novel) non-pharmacological treatment component or the novel combination. However, applications to establish the efficacy of pharmacological interventions will be considered not responsive to this FOA.
NIMH Priorities for Confirmatory Efficacy Trials
Traditionally, efficacy testing of interventions for mental disorders involves administering an intervention to subjects selected on the basis of heterogeneous clinical indications and measuring outcomes focused on symptom reduction. Such trials, whether positive or not with respect to symptom change, deliver little information about the mechanism of action of the intervention or the underlying cause of the disorder and therefore provide little guidance for further intervention development or refinement. As a result, NIMH has shifted to an experimental therapeutic paradigm in which interventions are evaluated in stages (see http:/www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2012/experimental-medicine.shtml). Prior to confirmatory efficacy testing, a preliminary stage in this progressive pipeline is to demonstrate that the intervention exerts some measurable effect on a hypothesized "target" or mechanism of action, and that measurable changes in the target are related to changes in clinical outcomes.
Targets might include, but are not limited to, potentially modifiable behavioral, cognitive, affective and/or interpersonal factors or processes, or neural circuits that underlie such processes. Circuit-based targets can include networks of brain regions defined anatomically as well as temporal dynamics of network function defined physiologically as neural oscillatory patterns. The intended target(s)/mechanism(s) and clinical endpoints will vary with the type of intervention. In the case of preventive interventions, the proximal target might involve a risk factor that has been associated with the etiology or onset of a mental health (MH) disorder. Accordingly, the intervention’s efficacy might be evaluated in terms of whether or not the intervention, mediated by changes in the target, resulted in decreased onset of the MH disorder/condition (i.e., the clinical endpoint). Alternative conceptualizations might propose proximal targets/mechanisms that are intervening variables purported to be instrumental in reducing the risk state itself (i.e., with the clinical endpoint defined in terms of a reduction of risk). More than one target/mechanism may be proposed if each target/mechanism is supported by an empirical rationale, there are testable hypotheses proposed for each, and there are valid and reliable measures of change available for each.
In the assessment of target engagement, NIMH encourages the use of measures that are as direct and objective as is feasible in the clinical research setting. NIMH encourages hypotheses and measures of potential mechanisms across biological, cognitive, psychological, and/or behavioral domains of analysis that might account for change in the target and symptom expression. The type of measures will depend on the conceptual model, the nature of the targeted construct, and the availability of valid, reliable measures of change in the target/mechanism. Measures might include self-reports, lab-based neurocognitive tasks or other behavioral measures, psychophysiological measures, neuroimaging or other brain-based measures, sensor-based or other observational measures of interpersonal processes or contextual/environmental factors, or valid proxy measures as alternatives. Specifically encouraged are empirically validated measures of the construct that extend beyond self-reports and other subjective measures, where possible, and inclusion of measures that span more than one level of assessment if possible and appropriate.
This FOA supports confirmatory efficacy trials of interventions for which this preliminary evidence of target engagement has already been demonstrated and there is a signal suggesting clinical efficacy. The earlier stages of intervention development, which include optimization of intervention delivery parameters, preliminary tests of target engagement, and target validation, are not appropriate for this FOA and are supported by NIMH through companion FOAs (NIMH Clinical Trials FOA page). Interventions appropriate for confirmatory efficacy testing under this FOA are those for which preliminary evidence already exists; NIMH will consider the following critical pre-requisite criteria for a confirmatory efficacy trial:
NIMH is particularly interested in the development of therapeutic and preventive interventions that focus on operationally defined, empirically-supported functional domains or symptom(s) of mental disorders as opposed to broad diagnostic categories in which not all subjects may share the same underlying disease process. For example, NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) constructs may inform mechanism-based hypotheses and the selection of interventions, outcome measures and clinical subjects (see http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-funding/rdoc/nimh-research-domain-criteria-rdoc.shtml for more details). Intervention targets related to RDoC constructs are of interest for this FOA, but other, non-RDoC constructs may be suitable as well, especially if they maximize the probability that subjects share the same mechanism of disorder.
In order to address the lack of uptake of research-based therapies and the alarming fall-off in effect sizes from efficacy to effectiveness studies, NIMH encourages studies that incorporate a deployment-focused approach, taking into account typically available resources (e.g., the training and skill level of average providers), usual care service structures (including healthcare financing, reimbursement mechanisms), and typical service use patterns, in order to test more practice-ready interventions.
Effective prevention and treatment of mental illness have the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with intentional injury (i.e., suicide attempts and deaths, see: www.suicide-research-agenda.org). Lack of attention to the assessment of these outcomes has limited our understanding regarding the degree to which effective mental health interventions might offer prophylaxis. Accordingly, where feasible and appropriate, applicants are strongly encouraged to incorporate assessment of suicidal behavior in clinical trials in response to this FOA using strategies that can facilitate integration and sharing of data (e.g., see NOT-MH-15-009 and https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/ for constructs and corresponding assessment strategies).
Examples of studies that are not responsive to this FOA and will not be reviewed include the following:
For applications that plan to test efficacy of devices that require federal regulatory approval processes, NIH expects FDA guidance meetings to be performed prior to submission of the application, so that information from the guidance meeting is incorporated into the protocol design.
Applicants are encouraged to leverage existing resources and infrastructure such as those provided by institutions with Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) and/or other existing consortia/networks to promote efficient cross-disciplinary collaborations. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with Scientific/Research Contacts when developing plans for an application. This early contact will provide an opportunity to clarify NIMH policies and guidelines as well as to discuss how to develop an appropriate project timeline, which is subject to peer review.
Scale and Scope of Studies Covered Under this Announcement
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to support confirmatory efficacy trials of non-pharmacological therapeutic and preventive interventions that are powered to provide a definitive answer regarding the study intervention's efficacy.
PD(s)/PI(s)s submitting applications consistent with the experimental therapeutic approach but whose scope does not fall within that of the current R01 FOA are encouraged to contact Scientific/Research staff or view the NIMH Clinical Trial web page.
Applicants interested in initial intervention development and pilot testing of novel non-pharmacological interventions are directed to RFA-MH-17-604 for psychosocial interventions and to RFA-MH-17-600 for device-based intervention development and pilot testing.
Please note, per NOT-MH-14-007 NIMH will not accept R01, R21, or R03 applications that include clinical trials of potential therapies for mental disorders under the NIH Parent R01 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) PA-16-160, NIH Parent R21 FOA PA-16-161, and NIH Parent R03 FOA PA-16-162, and subsequent reissuances of these FOAs. Studies involving vertebrate animals will be considered to be non-responsive to this FOA.
Applicants with data collection plans that involve multiple respondent groups (e.g., clients/patients, therapists/providers, supervisors, administrators) should address provisions for human subject protections and consenting procedures for all participant groups, accordingly. The NIMH has published updated policies and guidance for investigators regarding human research protection and clinical research data and safety monitoring (NOT-MH-15-025). The application's Protection of Human Subjects section and data and safety monitoring plans should reflect the policies and guidance in this notice. Plans for the protection of research subjects and data and safety monitoring will be NIMH for consistency with NIMH and NIH policies and federal regulations.
See Section VIII. Other Information for award authorities and regulations.
Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.
NIMH intends to commit $27 million in FY 2018 to fund this FOA and companion FOAs listed in Part 1. Overview Information.
Application budgets are not limited but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.
The maximum project period is 5 years; however, applicants are strongly encouraged to limit their proposed project period to 3 or 4 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 Research (R) Instructions in 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.
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.
Facilities and Other Resources: Staffing, governance, and organizational structure should be appropriate for conducting the study as proposed and within specified timelines. Expertise to be contributed by any individuals not listed in key personnel should be described.
Other Attachments: Applicants should upload the attachments described below, as separate files. Applicants should use the headers below to name these other attachment files (i.e., “Recruitment, Study Timeline, and FDA Regulations”, "Additional Documentation" (if applicable), and “Intervention Manual/Protocol Materials”, if applicable) and use the format, below, in their description of the Recruitment Procedures and the Study Timeline.
I. “Recruitment, Study Timeline and FDA Regulations" (Required): Applications that lack this attachment will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed. Note: Recruitment and Study Timeline and FDA Regulations must be no more than 4 pages, and include Sections A-C described below. Applications that exceed this limit will not be reviewed.
A. Participant Recruitment and Retention Procedures. Applications must provide a clear description of:
B. Timeline: Applications must provide a timeline for reaching important study milestones such as: (i) finalizing the study procedures, standard operating procedures, assessment protocols and training participating clinical site staff; (ii) enrollment milestones; (iii) completing all subject assessments and data collection activities, including all data quality checks; (iv) analyzing and interpreting results; (v) preparing de-identified data and relevant documentation to facilitate data sharing, as appropriate; and (vi) presenting a timeline for establishing necessary agreements with all partners (e.g., compound or device supplier for the studies).
C. FDA-regulations: For studies of devices, at the time of the application’s submission, there must be open Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) in place, or a documented FDA-submitted application/request for an IDE. The grant application should describe the status of any such pending regulatory submissions. If an FDA IDE application/request has not yet been submitted by the time of the grant application submission due date, the grant application should describe the plan and timeline for submitting the request for and obtaining the IDE. If the device is exempt from the IDE, the grant application should include the justification and documentation for why the device would be exempt.
II. "Additional documentation" (required for all device-based studies): All necessary agreements for use of the device in the study, including clinical research agreements and licensing agreements, must be executed prior to grant award. There must be documentation of sufficient devices and matching placebo/sham stimulation devices available for testing at the time of award. Documentation should be provided from the 3rd party supplying the device. A timeline should be included in the application showing activities with 3rd parties, such as: 1) execution of necessary agreements, 2) availability of device, and 3) permission to reference an open IDE (as applicable). There are no page limits for this information.
III. “Intervention Manual/Protocol Materials” (if applicable): It is strongly recommended that intervention protocols and manuals be included as an Other Attachment, if applicable. As appropriate, this may include screenshots of mobile interventions, technological specifications, training manuals or treatment algorithms.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
As appropriate, Senior/Key Personnel should demonstrate their expertise and track record in clinical trials including: recent recruitment and retention rates of trial subjects; methodological and statistical expertise (e.g., handling repeated measures designs, missing data; assessing effect size; and measurement of intervention change mechanisms). Also include recent collaborative clinical research efforts among members of the proposed team, if any.
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, with the following additional instructions:
Research Strategy: Applicants must include the following information as part of the Research Strategy. Applications should not duplicate information provided in the Other Attachment included on the SF424 (R&R) Other Project Information form, but can refer to it as needed in order to provide context.
Applications must address the transportability/scalability of the proposed intervention and should detail how the treatment manual, therapist training procedures, and fidelity assessment and enhancement methods could be adapted and refined to be applicable to clinical practice. The application should justify the potential impact of the intervention compared to existing approaches and should address the degree to which the proposed intervention could potentially be brought to scale in an effectiveness study or be disseminated into practice.
Significance: In this section of the Research Strategy, the application should:
Innovation: In this section of the Research Strategy, the application should:
Approach: In this section of the Research Strategy, the application should:
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:
In order to advance the goal of advancing research through widespread data sharing among researchers, investigators funded under this FOA are expected to share those data via the National Database for Clinical Trials related to Mental Illness (NDCT; http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/; see NOT-MH-14-015 and NOT-MH-15-012). Established by the NIH, NDCT is a secure informatics platform for scientific collaboration and data-sharing that enables the effective communication of detailed research data, tools, and supporting documentation. NDCT links data across research projects through its Global Unique Identifier (GUID) and Data Dictionary technology. Investigators funded under this FOA are expected to use these technologies to submit data to NDCT.
To accomplish this objective, it will be important to formulate a) an enrollment strategy that will obtain the information necessary to generate a GUID for each participant, and b) a budget strategy that will cover the costs of data submission. The NDCT web site provides two tools to help investigators develop appropriate strategies: 1) the NDCT Budgeting Spreadsheet http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/preplanning/budget - a customizable Excel worksheet that includes tasks and hours for the Program Director/Principal Investigator and Data Manager to compute estimated costs for data sharing; and 2) plain language text to be considered in your informed consent http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/preplanning/informed-consent. Investigators are expected to certify the quality of all data generated by grants funded under this FOA prior to submission to NDCT and review their data for accuracy after submission. Submission of descriptive/raw data is expected semi-annually (every January 15 and July 15); submission of all other data is expected at the time of publication, or prior to the end of the grant, whichever occurs first (see Data Sharing Expectation http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/preplanning/#tab-1 for more information); Investigators are expected to share results, positive and negative, specific to the cohorts and outcome measures studied by using the Study functionality(see http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/results). The NDCT Data Sharing Plan is available for review on the NDCT web site (http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/NDCT_Data_Sharing_Policy_20141002.pdf ). NDCT staff will work with investigators to help them submit data types not yet defined in the NDCT Data Dictionary http://ndct.nimh.nih.gov/submit/data-dictionary.
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 NIMH,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 email@example.com when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.
NIMH encourages 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.
Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in the policy.
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 project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? 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?
Could the intervention fill an important unmet therapeutic need for those living with a mental disorder and substantially reduce the burden of serious mental disorders? Will the study advance the knowledge of the pathophysiologic and/or psychopathologic mechanisms relevant to the functional domain, symptoms, or diagnosis of interest? Will the project advance knowledge of intervention or disease mechanisms, whether the result is positive or negative?
Does a robust and reproducible body of evidence support the study hypothesis and rationale? Is there compelling evidence of the intervention's target engagement (i.e., a significant difference in target change between the experimental and control intervention groups)? Is there evidence of target validation (i.e., a signal that changes in the presumed target(s) are associated with changes in the clinical outcome in the hypothesized direction)? Is there an initial efficacy signal that serves as a basis for anticipating at least a moderate effect size in the fully-powered confirmatory efficacy trial? Is there a rationale for the effect size threshold that would be clinically meaningful?
Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or 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?
What evidence indicates that the researchers can function as a team? Does the research team have demonstrated clinical trials expertise and a track record in successfully conducting clinical trials (e.g., subject recruitment and retention rates, reporting in clinicaltrials.gov, publications, etc.) of similar structure and complexity? Does the investigative team have sufficient methodological and statistical expertise in the study and measurement of intervention change mechanisms (e.g., handling repeated measures designs, missing data, effect size)? Does the investigative team include sufficient expertise in the measurement methods proposed? Are the staffing, governance, and organizational structure appropriate for conducting the study as proposed and within specified timelines? Is there a description of the expertise needed by any potential consultants?
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?
If the intervention being evaluated is a novel approach, does the application introduce a novel, well-specified target and/or a novel approach to engaging established targets (i.e., mechanisms of disorders or mechanisms of change); alternatively, does the approach involve translating an established finding in a novel way?
If the proposed project concerns an adaptation or extension of an intervention with established efficacy, will the study focus on novel targets and will the design be able to provide an empirically supported basis for: (a) identifying prognostic indicators (subgroups) that predict differential benefit from target engagement (e.g., in comparison to the existing, un-adapted intervention), and/or (b) further paring the intervention down to its essential elements based on clear evidence of target engagement?
Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the 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?
Have the intervention parameters been empirically optimized?
Are the intervention protocols/manuals, therapist training packages, and fidelity assessment methods sufficiently developed for a confirmatory efficacy trial?
Does the project propose clear hypotheses and have the potential to test and potentially refute any hypotheses around the proposed mechanism(s) of action?
Does the application describe preliminary evidence of feasibility, including the availability of intervention manuals and fidelity measures?
Is the methodology for (a) replicating and extending the initial target engagement findings, and (b) evaluating associations between target engagement and subsequent clinical or functional change (target validation) sound?
Are the methods for operationalizing, monitoring, and quantifying the delivery of the intervention appropriate?
Does the application address the intervention's potential scalability (i.e., compatibility with typically available resources, reimbursement practices)? Does the application address how the treatment manual, therapist training procedures, device operator training, and protocols for monitoring and enhancing fidelity could be adapted for use in community practice if the intervention is found to be efficacious?
Does the application include reliable measures of outcome that capture changes in the disorder, functional domain, or symptom(s) within the context of the trial?
Is the approach feasible in terms of realistically having in place everything necessary to carry out data acquisition and analysis in a timely manner? Will sufficient and appropriate data be collected to inform a "go/no-go" decision about further intervention development or moving the intervention to an effectiveness trial?
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 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?
Does the environment support timely subject recruitment and completion?
As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.
Study Timeline and Milestones
Is the study timeline described in detail, taking into account start-up activities, the anticipated rate of enrollment, and planned follow-up assessments? Is the project timeline realistic and well justified? Does the project incorporate efficiencies and utilize existing resources (e.g. CTSAs, practice-based research networks, electronic medical records, administrative data bases, or patient registries) to increase the efficiency of participant enrollment and data collection, as appropriate?
Are appropriate, evaluative milestones clearly defined for the aims associated? Are the milestones achievable and quantifiable with regard to the specific aims and timeline? Are potential challenges and corresponding solutions discussed (e.g., strategies that can be implemented in the event of enrollment shortfalls)?
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.
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.
For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.
For Revisions, the committee will consider the appropriateness of the proposed expansion of the scope of the project. If the Revision application relates to a specific line of investigation presented in the original application that was not recommended for approval by the committee, then the committee will consider whether the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group are adequate and whether substantial changes are clearly evident.
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 National Advisory Mental Health Council. 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.
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.
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.
In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), NIH awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements. FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award. An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS. The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgement about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.” This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.
Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award
NIMH requires reporting of recruitment milestones for participants in clinical trials as noted at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-MH-05-013.html. While trials in response to this FOA may not seek 150 subjects or more (the level at which this reporting has been required), we expect reporting for all trials, even those with less than 150 subjects.
The NIMH expects the registration and results reporting for all NIMH-supported clinical trials in ClinicalTrials.gov, regardless of whether or not they are subject to FDAAA (see http://grants.nih.gov/ClinicalTrials_fdaaa/at-a-glance.htm). We plan to include language regarding this expectation in the notice of grant award.
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)
For inquiries to the Division of Translational Research (DTR):
For inquiries to the Division of Services and Intervention Research (DSIR):
Joel Sherrill, Ph.D.
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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