Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information

Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

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 Mental Health (NIMH)

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

All applications to this funding opportunity announcement should fall within the mission of the Institutes/Centers. The following NIH Offices may co-fund applications assigned to those Institutes/Centers.

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

Funding Opportunity Title
BRAIN Initiative: Research Opportunities Using Invasive Neural Recording and Stimulating Technologies in the Human Brain (U01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type
Reissue of RFA-NS-19-001
Related Notices

See Notices of Special Interest associated with this funding opportunity

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

NOT-OD-22-190 - Adjustments to NIH and AHRQ Grant Application Due Dates Between September 22 and September 30, 2022

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number
RFA-NS-22-041
Companion Funding Opportunity
None
Assistance Listing Number(s)
93.853, 93.242, 93.213, 93.867, 93.866, 93.273, 93.286, 93.279, 93.173, 93.865
Funding Opportunity Purpose

Invasive surgical procedures offer the opportunity for unique intracranial interventions such as the ability to record and stimulate intracranially within precisely localized brain structures in humans. Human studies using invasive technology are often constrained by a limited number of patients and resources available to implement complex experimental protocols and need to be aggregated in a manner that addresses research questions with appropriate statistical power. Therefore, this RFA seeks applications to assemble diverse, integrated, multi-disciplinary teams that cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration to overcome these fundamental barriers and to investigate high-impact questions in human neuroscience. Projects should maximize opportunities to conduct innovative in vivo neuroscience research made available by direct access to the brain from invasive surgical procedures. Projects should employ approaches guided by specified theoretical constructs and by quantitative, mechanistic models where appropriate. 

Awardees will join a consortium work group, coordinated by the NIH, to identify consensus standards of practice, including neuroethical considerations, to collect and provide data for ancillary studies, and to aggregate and standardize data for dissemination among the wider scientific community. 

Key Dates

Posted Date
May 24, 2022
Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)
August 23, 2022
Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

August 23, 2022; August 22, 2023; August 21, 2024

Application Due Dates Review and Award Cycles
New Renewal / Resubmission / Revision (as allowed) AIDS Scientific Merit Review Advisory Council Review Earliest Start Date
September 23, 2022 September 23, 2022 Not Applicable February 2023 May 2023 July 2023
September 22, 2023 September 22, 2023 Not Applicable February 2024 May 2024 July 2024
September 21, 2024 September 21, 2024 Not Applicable February 2025 May 2025 July 2025

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

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Expiration Date
September 22, 2024
Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

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

Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions.

Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

There are several options available to submit your application through Grants.gov to NIH and Department of Health and Human Services partners. You must use one of these submission options to access the application forms for this opportunity.

  1. Use the NIH ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online.
  2. Use an institutional system-to-system (S2S) solution to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and eRA Commons to track your application. Check with your institutional officials regarding availability.

  3. Use Grants.gov Workspace to prepare and submit your application and eRA Commons to track your application.


  4. Table of Contents

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Background

Since 2014, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative has aimed to accelerate the development and application of innovative neurotechnologies, enabling researchers to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that reveals how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that these advances will ultimately lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.

As one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative, NIH's contributions to the BRAIN initiative were initially guided by "BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision," a strategic plan that detailed seven high-priority research areas. This plan was updated and enhanced in 2019 by: "The BRAIN Initiative 2.0: From Cells to Circuits, Toward Cures" and "The BRAIN Initiative and Neuroethics: Enabling and Enhancing Neuroscience Advances for Society." This and other BRAIN Initiative Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) are based on this vision and issued with input from Advisory Councils of the 10 NIH Institutes and Centers supporting the BRAIN Initiative, as assisted by the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group.

The NIH BRAIN Initiative recognizes that diverse teams working together and capitalizing on innovative ideas and distinct perspectives outperform homogeneous teams. There are many benefits that flow from a diverse scientific workforce, including: fostering scientific innovation, enhancing global competitiveness, contributing to robust learning environments, improving the quality of the research, advancing the likelihood that underserved populations participate in, and benefit from research, and enhancing public trust.

To support the best science, the NIH BRAIN Initiative encourages inclusivity in research. Examples of structures that promote diverse perspectives include but are not limited to:

  • Transdisciplinary research projects and collaborations among neuroscientists and researchers from fields such as computational biology, physics, engineering, mathematics, computer and data sciences, as well as bioethics.
  • Engagement from different types of institutions and organizations (e.g., research-intensive, undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, community-based).
  • Individual applications and partnerships that enhance geographic and regional heterogeneity.
  • Investigators and teams composed of researchers at different career stages.
  • Participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds, including groups traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce (see NOT-OD-20-031), such as underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.
  • Project-based opportunities to enhance the research environment to benefit early- and mid-career investigators.

The 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.

The BRAIN Initiative requires a high level of coordination and sharing between investigators. It is expected that BRAIN Initiative awardees will cooperate and coordinate their activities after awards are made by participating in Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) meetings and in other activities such as the annual PI meeting. The data sharing expectations for BRAIN Initiative awards can be found at NOT-MH-19-010.

The BRAIN Initiative Research Opportunities in Humans program

The BRAIN Initiative seeks to understand the circuits and patterns of neural activity that give rise to mental experience and behavior, which will provide a foundation for understanding and treating diverse neurological, psychiatric, and behavioral disorders. Dynamic activity of ensembles of neurons in specially organized networks gives rise to the internal states we experience as sensations, perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and memories and to observable motor behavior. The activity of these networks is the substrate of cognitive processes such as attention, intention, reasoning and decision making; of emotional states of happiness, sadness, and fear; of sensation such as touch, pain, hearing, olfaction, taste, and vision; and to motor behaviors such as balance, motor control. Dysfunction of these large systems of neurons due to disease, injury, or developmental anomaly is the basis of neural and mental disorders. Investigative studies of neural circuits in human subjects offer unique opportunities for mechanistic understanding of complex capabilities especially advanced in humans.

While research using non-invasive imaging and stimulation methods is typically considered ‘non-significant risk’ by Institutional Review Boards and does not require an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) from the FDA, opportunities for research involving invasive, higher resolution stimulating/recording devices for human neuroscience research often have limited time windows. These opportunities are mostly restricted to patients undergoing neurosurgical procedures or implantation for less than 30 days with devices such as ECoG/EEG grids and indwelling penetrating arrays. There are few stimulating/recording devices that are FDA market-approved for implantation for greater than 30 days. These inherent challenges associated with research using invasive devices in the human nervous system therefore require a high degree of planning and interdisciplinary collaboration.

RFA Research Objectives

Investigations within the human brain offer revolutionary, but challenging, opportunities for experimental investigation of how the human brain senses, thinks, perceives, remembers, plans, registers emotions, activates movements, and makes decisions. Invasive surgical procedures offer the opportunity for unique intracranial interventions, such as the ability to record and stimulate neurons within precisely localized brain structures in humans.However, human studies using invasive technology are often constrained by a limited number of patients and resources available to implement complex experimental protocols and need to be aggregated in a manner that addresses research questions with appropriate statistical power. Therefore, this RFA seeks applications to assemble diverse, integrated, multi-disciplinary teams that cross boundaries of interdisciplinary collaboration to overcome these barriers to investigate high-impact questions in human neuroscience. Projects should propose prospective testing and validation of explicit or model-driven hypotheses.Studies that offer deployment or development for high temporal resolution of behavioral quantification integrated with invasive recording of brain activity is encouraged. Of particular interest are approaches that would enable a transition to naturalistic environments outside of strict laboratory settings.

Projects should engage diverse, multidisciplinary teams consisting of clinicians, scientists, device engineers, data/computational scientists, regulatory specialists, and/or ethics specialists. Teams may be assembled within a single institution, but because of the likelihood of a limited number of patients at any single research center, integration of research teams across sites is strongly encouraged.

Awardees are expected to actively participate in a consortium work group, coordinated by the NIH, to identify consensus standards of practice, including neuroethical considerations, to collect and provide data for ancillary studies, and to aggregate and standardize data for dissemination among the wider scientific community. In the interest of iterative models of discovery, limited support for complementary animal studies is allowed if they validate or inform these empirical studies of human physiology. Applicants are expected to employ approaches guided by specified theoretical constructs, and are encouraged to employ quantitative, mechanistic models where appropriate.

We anticipate that implantable devices for most of these applications will rely on existing technology sufficiently advanced for an IRB Non-Significant Risk designation, or an FDA IDE without needing significant additional pre-clinical testing on the device. We also anticipate that newly IDE-approved devices may become available over the course of these awards. NIH BRAIN is supporting new device development and regulatory approval through other NIH BRAIN initiatives, including the availability of template Memoranda of Agreements (MOUs), Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs) and Collaborative Research Agreements (CRAs) with various private and commercial device providers that may facilitate awardees to adopt novel technologies (see http://braininitiative.nih.gov/ for up-to-date information and NIH Scientific/Research contacts). Where appropriate, applicants are encouraged to anticipate potential and alternative plans for adopting newly available technologies. Furthermore, the use of the cooperative agreement mechanism will facillitate the incorporation of new technologies by working through NIH Program staff in collaboration with technology providers.

This FOA requires a Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) as part of the application (see further below). Applicants are strongly encouraged to read the FOA instructions carefully and view the available PEDP guidance material.

Applications must include a one-page Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) submitted as Other Project Information as an attachment (see Section IV). The PEDP will be assessed as part of the scientific and technical peer review evaluation, as well as considered among programmatic matters with respect to funding decisions.

Activities Supported

The list below includes representative, but not exhaustive, examples of activities that could be considered responsive to this RFA:

  • direct intracranial recording and/or stimulation.
  • experimental use of clinical interventions such as tract transections.
  • propose statistically powered hypothesis testing.
  • integrate non-invasive technologies to image and/or perturb the nervous system for use in conjunction with the invasive implants in order to cross spatial and temporal scales.
  • combine multi-modal techniques.
  • offer a combination of quantitative psychophysics and behavioral assays in combination with brain recording or stimulating that test mechanistic hypotheses. Behavioral assays with time resolution comparable to neural recording assays are strongly encouraged.
  • utilize approved, chronic implants, (e.g., DBS implants; FDA-approved indwelling electrodes) to address mechanistic hypotheses about brain function, plasticity, etc.

Topics supported

The list below includes representative, but not exhaustive, examples of topics that could be considered responsive to this RFA.

  • Human research studies as mechanistic investigations. A mechanistic investigation is designed to understand a biological or behavioral process.
  • Investigative studies for understanding the neurobiology of cognitive functions specifically advanced in humans.
  • Approaches to understanding network coding of sensory information.
  • Paradigms to assess motor coding during complex behaviors.
  • Approaches to understand neural circuitry associated with social behaviors.
  • Circuit functions underlying the brain's ability to store information and to learn new behaviors (plasticity).
  • New approaches designed to capture and assess information processing across brain regions during memory consolidation, memory retrieval, spatial/relational processing, attention, or planning.
  • Assessment of distributed representations and information processing associated with advanced mental processes such as language, decision making, numerical cognition, reasoning, consciousness, and metacognition.
  • Investigation of distributed circuits that contribute to the coordination of motivational states and reward behavior.
  • Empirical and analytical approaches to understand how behavioral states are emergent properties of the interaction of neurons, circuits, and networks.

The following are non-responsive for this program:

  • Human research studies that include clinical trials designed to answer specific questions about safety, tolerability, efficacy, and/or effectiveness of pharmacologic, behavioral, biologic, surgical, or device (invasive or non-invasive) interventions (e.g., phase 1, phase II, phase II, or pivotal clinical trials).
  • Studies designed primarily to develop or improve disease/disorder therapeutics or devices.
  • Studies for which the primary goal is to achieve regulatory approval of neurotechnology (see http://braininitiative.nih.gov/ for other BRAIN FOAs supporting this activity, and the NIH bioengineering grant program https://www.nibib.nih.gov/research-funding/bioengineering-research-partnerships) or the peripheral nervous system (see NIH SPARC http://commonfund.nih.gov/sparc/index).
  • Imaging approaches not coupled with intra-cranial interventions, recording or stimulating.
  • Implementing rehabilitation therapies.
  • Definitive clinical trials of therapeutic devices, such as a traditional feasibility study and/or pivotal trial (see http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulati%20onandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM279103.pdf2 for the definition of an early feasibility study, feasibility study, and pivotal trial).
  • Projects focused on augmentation of neural function in healthy individuals.
  • Applications that do not include information on neuroethical considerations.
  • Applications that lack the required one-page PEDP attachment

Prior Consultation with Scientific/Research Staff

Consultation with relevant Scientific/Research staff is strongly recommended, not later than the Letter of Intent due date. If requested by the applicants, staff can advise whether the proposed project meets the goals of this RFA and the mission of the BRAIN Initiative, and discuss responsiveness questions. Staff will not evaluate the technical and scientific merit of the proposed project; technical and scientific merit will be determined during peer review using the review criteria indicated in this RFA. During the consultation phase, if the proposed project does not meet the programmatic needs of this RFA, applicants will be strongly encouraged to consider other Funding Opportunities.

This Funding Opportunity Announcement is for basic science experimental studies involving humans, referred to in NOT-OD-18-212 as “prospective basic science studies involving human participants.” These studies fall within the NIH definition of a clinical trial and also meet the definition of basic research. Types of studies that should submit under this FOA include studies that prospectively assign human participants to conditions (i.e., experimentally manipulate independent variables) and that assess biomedical or behavioral outcomes in humans for the purpose of understanding the fundamental aspects of phenomena without specific application towards processes or products in mind. Studies conducted with specific applications toward processes or products in mind should submit under the appropriate ‘Clinical Trials Required’ or ‘Clinical Trial Optional’ FOA.

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

Section II. Award Information

Funding Instrument

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

Application Types Allowed
New
Renewal

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

Clinical Trial?

Required:Basic Experimental Studies with Humans: Only accepting applications that propose clinical trial(s) that also meet the definition of basic research.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

Issuing IC and partner components intend to commit an estimated total of up to $8M to fund 5 awards per receipt date.

Award Budget
Application budgets are not limited but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.
Award Project Period
The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period. The maximum project period is 5 years.

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

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

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

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

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

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

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

For-Profit Organizations

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

Local Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)

Federal Government

  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government - including NIH Intramural program
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.

Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed. 

Required Registrations

Applicant organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • System for Award Management (SAM) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
    • NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code – Foreign organizations must obtain an NCAGE code (in lieu of a CAGE code) in order to register in SAM.
    • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)- A UEI is issued as part of the SAM.gov registration process. SAM registrations prior to fall 2021 were updated to include a UEI. For applications due on or after January 25, 2022, the UEI must be provided on the application forms (e.g., FORMS-G); the same UEI must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
    • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) – Organization registrations prior to April 2022 require applicants to obtain a DUNS prior to registering in SAM. By April 2022, the federal government will stop using the DUNS number as an entity identifier and will transition to the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) issued by SAM. Prior to April 2022, after obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • eRA Commons - Once the unique organization identifier (DUNS prior to April 2022; UEI after April 2022) is established, organizations can register with eRA Commons in tandem with completing their full SAM and Grants.gov registrations; all registrations must be in place by time of submission. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support. See, Reminder: Notice of NIH's Encouragement of Applications Supporting Individuals from Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups as well as Individuals with Disabilities, NOT-OD-22-019.

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

2. Cost Sharing

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

3. Additional Information on Eligibility

Number of Applications

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

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time, per 2.3.7.4 Submission of Resubmission Application. This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see 2.3.9.4 Similar, Essentially Identical, or Identical Applications)

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Requesting an Application Package

The application forms package specific to this opportunity must be accessed through ASSIST, Grants.gov Workspace or an institutional system-to-system solution. Links to apply using ASSIST or Grants.gov Workspace are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the Research (R) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

 

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent should be sent to:

James Gnadtk, PhD
Telephone: 301-496-9964

Email: BRAINResOppHu@ninds.nih.gov

Page Limitations

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

Instructions for Application Submission

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

SF424(R&R) Cover

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

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

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

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

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

Other Attachments:

Applicants are required to include the following items: 1) Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP) and 2) Neuroethics considerations. These items must be uploaded as separate attachments in pdf format with filenames that correspond to the individual items. Applications lacking these required items will be deemed incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP)

In an "Other Attachment" entitled "Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives," all applicants must include a summary of strategies to advance the scientific and technical merit of the proposed project through expanded inclusivity. The PEDP should provide a holistic and integrated view of how enhancing diverse perspectives is viewed and supported throughout the application and can incorporate elements with relevance to any review criteria (significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment) as appropriate. Where possible, applicant(s) should align their description with these required elements within the research strategy section. The PEDP will vary depending on the scientific aims, expertise required, the environment and performance site(s), as well as how the project aims are structured. The PEDP may be no more than 1-page in length and should include a timeline and milestones for relevant components that will be considered as part of the review. Examples of items that advance inclusivity in research and may be part of the PEDP can include, but are not limited to:

  • Discussion of engagement with different types of institutions and organizations (e.g., research-intensive, undergraduate-focused, minority-serving, community-based).
  • Description of any planned partnerships that may enhance geographic and regional diversity.
  • Plan to enhance recruiting of women and individuals from groups traditionally under-represented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce.
  • Proposed monitoring activities to identify and measure PEDP progress benchmarks.
  • Plan to utilize the project infrastructure (i.e., research and structure) to support career-enhancing research opportunities for diverse junior, early- and mid-career researchers.
  • Description of any training and/or mentoring opportunities available to encourage participation of students, postdoctoral researchers and co-investigators from diverse backgrounds.
  • Plan to develop transdisciplinary collaboration(s) that require unique expertise and/or solicit diverse perspectives to address research question(s).
  • Publication plan that enumerates planned manuscripts and proposed lead authorship.
  • Outreach and planned engagement activities to enhance recruitment of individuals from diverse groups as research participants including those from under-represented backgrounds.

For further information on the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP), please see https://braininitiative.nih.gov/about/plan-enhancing-diverse-perspectives-pedp.

Neuroethics considerations

In an "Other Attachment" of up to three pages entitled "Neuroethical considerations", applications must include this section that describes and discusses in detail the process of informed consenting of research subjects who can expect no direct benefit from engaging in the investigative research proposed, considerations of FDA-defined conditions of non-significant risk/significant risk beyond established standards of clinical care, ethical and practical considerations of invasive device maintenance and ultimate removal, and other ethical issues specific to invasive human neuroscience research (e.g. compensation, informed consent, undue influence, therapeutic misconception and capacity, dual roles of clinician and investigator, etc). The consent methodology needs to address how the possibility of coercion or undue influence, and therapeutic misconception, will be minimized.

Please note that the Federal mandate for cooperative research at 45 CFR 46.114 requires a single IRB and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on the Use of a Single Institutional Review Board of Record for Multi-Site Research establishes the expectation that all sites participating in multi-site studies involving non-exempt human subjects research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will use a single Institutional Review Board (sIRB) to conduct the ethical review required by the Department of Health and Human Services regulations for the Protection of Human Subjects at 45 CFR Part 46 (NOT-OD-16-094).

Long-Term Plan for Patients: Applicants must describe a plan for the care of patients at the end of the study and after the study period, if appropriate. These plans may vary from project to project, but examples might include 1) explant of indwelling devices once the approved study period is complete, 2) surgical removal of batteries and ‘capping’ the exposed metals from leads/IS-1 connectors, 3) manufacturer-supported device maintenance for patients responding to therapy, 4) manufacturer support for filing of compassionate use exemptions for device maintenance, etc.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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

Applications to this RFA should assemble diverse, integrated, multi-disciplinary teams of clinicians, scientists, device engineers, mathematicians, statisticians, data scientists, regulatory specialists and/or ethics specialists, as appropriate, to propose innovative research plans within the context of the unique research opportunities offered by these clinical procedures. These teams may be assembled within a single university or medical center, or may comprise integrated teams across multiple institutions to aggregate these limited opportunities to address high-impact neuroscience questions.

R&R or Modular Budget

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

PEDP implementation costs: Applicants may include allowable costs associated with PEDP implementation (as outlined in the Grants Policy Statement section 7: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps/html5/section_7/7.1_general.htm).

Data sharing costs: Applicants may include costs associated with preparing and submitting data to a data archive (as outlined in this data sharing policy: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-MH-19-010.html

Research Budget: To be successful, programs of this level of complexity are expected to require significant effort from all PDs/PIs involved. All PDs/PIs must commit at least 2.4 person months (i.e., the equivalent of 20% effort on a full-year appointment, 26.67% on a 9-month appointment, or 40% on a 6-month appointment) throughout the duration of the award. .

Certain supporting functions such as equipment, animal research costs, and clinical research costs may be requested if well justified and unique to the institution(s) involved. Within the research budget, equipment, including data sharing and management systems, can be included if well justified. Equipment that duplicates existing institutional or regional shared facilities that are available to investigators must be identified and the proposed duplication should be well justified. Do not request inflationary increases in the overall budget or any of the budget categories. Changes in budget should reflect changes in activities required by the science.

R&R Subaward Budget

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

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

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

PHS 398 Research Plan

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

Research Strategy: 

The aims of this application must investigate fundamental questions in human neuroscience. Harmonization of recruitment and methods (including collection, curation, and analysis) across multiple sites should be well planned and described as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program. While fundamental basic research often generates insights relevant to disorders of the nervous system, this RFA is not intended to generate research that is explicitly disease-therapeutic.

All applications are required to include the following points, which must be incorporated within the page limits of the Research Strategy:

  • Statement of the neurobiological, neurological or mental health questions to be addressed, including the theoretical and conceptual framework that drives the research design and questions, and discussion of the analytical methods for interpreting the results.
  • Justification of why these studies are best engaged in humans (vs. nonhuman species) and why the specified cohort of human patients is best for the questions posed.
  • Description of how studies in the brain tissues potentially affected by the disease or disorder can adequately address the research questions and mechanisms posed, including comparison to complementary studies in animals if appropriate and feasible.
  • Description of recording/manipulation methods that will be employed or developed to approach the questions as a functional system, and how the invasive intervention and/or the implantation of foreign (device) materials may confound the interpretation of results.
  • If complementary animal studies are proposed, then anticipated, non-human, experimental components must be adequately described and justified.
  • Where the adoption of newly developing technology pending FDA-approved is anticipated, reasonable description as an alternative methodology (to the extent that details are available), along with potential advantages and pitfalls, is required.
  • Description of a timeline for completion of tractable research goals, strategic goals, and key stages of progress for the project, especially in terms of participant accrual.
  • Applicants must address the technical, procedural, and ethical aspects specific to invasive studies in human patients, and the strategic plans for addressing functional studies of a specified neural system in the context of patients with neural dysfunctions and invasive device interventions.
  • Description of resources and personnel dedicated to active participation in a consortium work group, coordinated by the NIH, to identify consensus standards of practice, including neuroethical considerations, to collect and provide data for ancillary studies, and to aggregate and standardize data for dissemination among the wider scientific community.

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.

All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, must address a Data Sharing Plan as part of the Resource Sharing Plan. The data sharing expectations for BRAIN Initiative awards can be found at NOT-MH-19-010.

Awards made under this RFA are expected to share data using appropriate standards in an appropriate repository, as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program. For example, the NIH BRAIN Initiative will be supporting candidate activities and repositories through 3 BRAIN Informatics RFAs (RFA-MH-17-255, RFA-MH-17-256, and RFA-MH-17-257). Project-specific details will be established at the time of award. Budgets should include sufficient resources to prepare, analyze, and disseminate data and to coordinate data-related activities identified by the consortia.

Appendix:
Only limited Appendix materials are allowed. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

When involving human subjects research, clinical research, and/or NIH-defined clinical trials (and when applicable, clinical trials research experience) follow all instructions for the PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following additional instructions:

If you answered “Yes” to the question “Are Human Subjects Involved?” on the R&R Other Project Information form, you must include at least one human subjects study record using the Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information form or Delayed Onset Study record.

Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

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

Section 1 - Basic Information

1.4 Clinical Trial Questionnaire

Applications to this FOA must propose a study that falls within the NIH definition of a clinical trial and also meets the definition of basic research. Consequently, applicants must answer "yes" to the four questions on 1.4 Clinical Trial Questionnaire and complete the subsequent form fields accordingly.

Section 3 - Protection and Monitoring Plans

3.1 Protection of Human Subjects

Assurance of the protection of human participants and the biohazard safety of employees (if applicable) must be provided for the overall study and for each clinical site. The applicant must discuss any issues which might lead to concern for the welfare of participants. Additionally, the human subjects section of the application must address data security measures and confidentiality.

3.3 Data and Safety Monitoring Plan

For minimal- to no-additional risk studies, it generally will be acceptable for the data and safety monitoring to be conducted by an investigator-appointed Study Monitoring Committee (SMC), an Independent Medical Monitor (IMM), or, for single-site studies involving low risk, the Program Director/Principal Investigator and his/her IRB. However, NIH may decide to establish an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) depending on the score and risk of the study. Applicants should refer to NIH’s policy on data and safety monitoring (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-038.html) as well as the NINDS Guidelines for Data and Safety Monitoring (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/research/clinical_research/policies/data_safety_monitoring.htm).

Delayed Onset Study

Note: Delayed onset does NOT apply to a study that can be described but will not start immediately (i.e., delayed start).All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS Assignment Request Form

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

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov

4. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

6. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit How to Apply – Application Guide. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Dealing with System Issues guidance. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential fieldof the Senior/Key Person Profile form. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the unique entity identifier (DUNS number or UEI as required) provided 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.

Applications must include a PEDP submitted as Other Project Information as an attachment. Applications that fail to include a PEDP will be considered incomplete and will be withdrawn.

Applications Involving the NIH Intramural Research Program

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 will 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.

Use of Common Data Elements in NIH-funded Research 

Many NIH ICs encourage the use of common data elements (CDEs) in basic, clinical, and applied research, patient registries, and other human participants 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. Investigators are encouraged to consult the NIH CDE Repository and describe in their applications any use they will make of NIH-supported CDEs in their projects, when applicable.  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 diseases), 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) Repository 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. 

Post Submission Materials

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

Section V. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

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

For this particular announcement, note the following:

The application must investigate fundamental questions in human neuroscience. While fundamental basic research often generates insights relevant to disorders of the nervous system, this RFA is not intended to generate research that is explicitly disease-therapeutic.

Has the application addressed why these studies are best engaged in humans (vs. nonhuman species) and why the specified cohort of human subjects is best for the questions posed.

If complementary animal studies are proposed, then anticipated, non-human, experimental components must be adequately described and justified.

The BRAIN Initiative invites applications with high levels of innovation, which assumes some degree of risk. Reviewers should evaluate whether a sound rationale has been provided as to why the research approach is the most appropriate, and likely to generate an exceptionally high impact if successful. Although reviewers will consider feasibility, they should not penalize unavoidable risks that are intrinsic to new and innovative approaches. In addition to the review criteria below, reviewers will assess the technical, procedural, and ethical aspects specific to invasive studies in human patients, and the strategic plans for addressing functional studies of a specified neural system in the context of patients with neural dysfunctions and invasive device interventions.

In the interest of the possibility of adopting new and developing technologies during the award, when applicants offer anticipated or alternative, newly developed, IDE-approved devices in the research plan, reviewers should assess feasibility, risk and opportunity, along with strategic contingencies.

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

Overall Impact

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

Scored Review Criteria

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

Significance

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

Specific to this FOA:

Does the project investigate high-impact questions in human neuroscience as appropriate for the goals of this RFA and the BRAIN Initiative? Does the project offer the theoretical and conceptual framework that drives the research design and questions and the discussion of the analytical methods for interpreting the results?

To what extent do the efforts described in the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives further the significance of the project?

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

Investigator(s)

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

Specific to this FOA:

Does the project engage diverse multidisciplinary teams consisting of clinicians, scientists, device engineers, data/computational scientists, regulatory specialists, and/or ethics specialists, as appropriate?

To what extent will the efforts described in the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives strengthen and enhance the expertise required for the project?

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

Innovation

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

Specific to this FOA:

Does the project offer novelty and innovation appropriate for/commensurate with the goals of the BRAIN Initiative?

Does the project maximize opportunities to conduct innovative in vivo neuroscience research made available by direct access to brain from invasive surgical procedures?

To what extent will the efforts described in the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives meaningfully contribute to innovation?

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

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators included plans to address weaknesses in the rigor of prior research that serves as the key support for the proposed project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects?

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of individuals of all ages (including children and older adults), justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

Specific to this FOA:

How well does the Data Sharing Plan provide a summary of the shared data, a description of the data standards, a plan for the data archiving, and a timeline for data submission to the archive and sharing data with the research community? 

Are the timeline and milestones associated with the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives well-developed and feasible?

Does the application adequately address the following, if applicable

Study Design

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

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

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

Data Management and Statistical Analysis

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

Environment

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

Specific to this FOA:

To what extent will features of the environment described in the Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (e.g., collaborative arrangements, geographic diversity, institutional support) contribute to the success of the project?

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

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

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

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

Additional Review Criteria

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

Study Timeline


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

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

Protections for Human Subjects

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

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

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Individuals Across the Lifespan

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

Vertebrate Animals

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

Biohazards

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

Resubmissions

Not applicable

Renewals

For competing renewals, reviewers will assess specifically:

  • Progress of prior award to achieve the specific aims
  • Justification of new or expanded research questions in human neuroscience

Revisions

Not applicable

Additional Review Considerations

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

Plans for Patient Recruitment/Retention

Does the application document the following?

  • Availability of the requisite eligible subject pool in proposed clinical center(s);
  • Plans for recruitment outreach and, as appropriate, follow-up procedures to ensure collection of data at stated intervals; and
  • Are retention plans and practices adequate?

Neuroethical considerations

Does the application adequately address neuroethical considerations about informed consenting of research subjects who can expect no direct benefit from engaging in the investigative research proposed, considerations of FDA-defined conditions of non-significant risk/significant risk beyond established standards of clinical care, ethical and practical considerations of invasive device maintenance and explantation, and other ethical issues specific to invasive human neuroscience research?

Is a plan described for the care of patients at the end of the study and after the study period?

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not Applicable.

Select Agent Research

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

Resource Sharing Plans

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

Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

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

Budget and Period of Support

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

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s), convened by NINDS, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications will receive a written critique.

Applications may undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.

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

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities including the PEDP.

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons. Refer to Part 1 for dates for peer review, advisory council review, and earliest start date.

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the recipient's business official.

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

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

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

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

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

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Recipients, and Activities, including of note, but not limited to:

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

Should the applicant organization successfully compete for an award, recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, religion, conscience, and sex (including gender identify, sexual orientation, and pregnancy). This includes ensuring programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency and persons with disabilities. The HHS Office for Civil Rights provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/provider-obligations/index.html and https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/nondiscrimination/index.html

HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research. For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA.

Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/about-us/contact-us/index.html or call 1-800-368-1019 or TDD 1-800-537-7697.

In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), NIH awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements. FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award. An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS. The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgement about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 and 2 CFR Part 200.206 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.” This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

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 75, 2 CFR Part 200, 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 recipients 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 recipients 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 responsibility for:

  • PDs/PIs will determine and coordinate the research approaches and procedures, conduct experiments, and analyze and interpret research data generated under this award.
  • PDs/PIs will endeavor to meet or exceed the timeline stated in their application.
  • PDs/PIs will agree to participate as a voting member in Research Consortia composed of other BRAIN Initiative awardees and NIH staff.
  • PDs/PIs will share resources and data, as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program.
  • PDs/PIs will ensure that results are published in a timely manner.
  • PDs/PIs will submit data for quality assessment and/or validation in any manner specified by the NIH ProgramOfficer.
  • PDs/PIs will submit periodic progress reports.
  • PDs/PIs will provide updates at least annually on implementation of the PEDP.
  • PDs/PIs will accept and implement any other common guidelines and procedures approved by the ProgramOfficer.
  • PDs/PIs will attend BRAIN Initiative-related meetings. It is likely that there will be one in-person meeting per year and that other meetings will be by telephone or using internet-assisted meeting software.
  • Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and software developed under these awards, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

NIH staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:

  • A Program Officer will be assigned to this award. The Program Officer will be responsible for normal scientific and programmatic stewardship and guidance and be named on the Notice of Award.
  • A group of NIH program staff from the ICs contributing to the NIH BRAIN Initiative will form a Project Team for this award.
  • The Project Team will be led by the Program Officer(s) for these BRAIN Initiative awards.
  • The Project Team will review annual progress reports and other documents from the awardees and will advise the ProgramOfficer about their view of the progress being made by the recipients as well as about progress being made by others in the field.
  • One extramural NIH program staff member will be assigned as the Project Coordinator for this award. The same person may serve as the Project Coordinator for multiple BRAIN Initiative awards
  • The Project Coordinator will also be a member of the Project Team.
  • The Project Coordinator will interact scientifically with the PDs/PIs of the cooperative agreement and other named key personnel as an advisory partner in the research.
    • The Project Coordinator may assist in research planning, present experimental findings from the group from published sources or from relevant contract projects, advise in the design of experiments agreed to by the group, advise in the analysis of results, and help ensure that duplication is avoided.
  • In all cases, the role of NIH staff will be to assist and facilitate, but not to direct activities.
  • Additionally, an agency program official or IC program director will be responsible for the normal scientific and programmatic stewardship of the award and will be named in the award notice.

Areas of Joint Responsibility include: None; all responsibilities are divided between recipients and NIH staff as described above. Dispute Resolution: Any disagreements that may arise in scientific or programmatic matters (within the scope of the award) between award recipients and the NIH may be brought to Dispute Resolution. A Dispute Resolution Panel composed of three members will be convened. It will have three members: a designee of the Steering Committee chosen without NIH staff voting, one NIH designee, and a third designee with expertise in the relevant area who is chosen by the other two; in the case of individual disagreement, the first member may be chosen by the individual recipient. This special dispute resolution procedure does not alter the recipient's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulation 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and DHHS regulation 45 CFR Part 16.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, recipients will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final RPPR, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. NIH FOAs outline intended research goals and objectives. Post award, NIH will review and measure performance based on the details and outcomes that are shared within the RPPR, as described at 45 CFR Part 75.301 and 2 CFR Part 200.301.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for recipients of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All recipients of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

In accordance with the regulatory requirements provided at 45 CFR 75.113 and Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75, recipients that have currently active Federal grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from all Federal awarding agencies with a cumulative total value greater than $10,000,000 for any period of time during the period of performance of a Federal award, must report and maintain the currency of information reported in the System for Award Management (SAM) about civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings in connection with the award or performance of a Federal award that reached final disposition within the most recent five-year period.  The recipient must also make semiannual disclosures regarding such proceedings. Proceedings information will be made publicly available in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS).  This is a statutory requirement under section 872 of Public Law 110-417, as amended (41 U.S.C. 2313).  As required by section 3010 of Public Law 111-212, all information posted in the designated integrity and performance system on or after April 15, 2011, except past performance reviews required for Federal procurement contracts, will be publicly available.  Full reporting requirements and procedures are found in Appendix XII to 45 CFR Part 75 – Award Term and Conditions for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons, application errors and warnings, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, and post-submission issues)

Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)

General Grants Information (Questions regarding application instructions, application processes, and NIH grant resources)
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-637-3015

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and Workspace)
Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Email: support@grants.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

James Gnadt, PhD 
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
Telephone: 301-496-9964 
Email: BRAINResOppHu@ninds.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Telephone: 301-496-9223
Email: nindsreview.nih.gov@mail.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Shellie Wilburn 
Chief Grants Management Officer
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
Telephone: 301-496-9231 
Email: shellie.wilburn@nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 2 CFR Part 200, 42 CFR Part 52, and 45 CFR Part 75.

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