Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

Funding Opportunity Title

"Clinical Trials" on a Chip: Tissue Chips to Inform Clinical Trial Design and Implementation in Precision Medicine (UG3/UH3 - Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Activity Code

UG3/UH3 Exploratory/Developmental Phased Award Cooperative Agreement

Announcement Type

New

Related Notices
  • August 23, 2019 - Clarifying Competing Application Instructions and Notice of Publication of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Proposed Human Fetal Tissue Research. See Notice NOT-OD-19-137.
  • July 26, 2019 - Changes to NIH Requirements Regarding Proposed Human Fetal Tissue Research. See Notice NOT-OD-19-128.
Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-TR-19-014

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

 93.350, 93.393, 93.846, 93.865, 93.121

Funding Opportunity Purpose

This FOA invites applications for projects designed to test the effectiveness of microphysiological systems (MPS), also called “tissue chip,” technology, for clinical trial frameworks by demonstrating their applied use in clinical trial planning and execution, addressing both safety and efficacy in late-stage preclinical studies. This approach is to provide evidence of the utility of tissue chip technology for precision medicine in informing trial design, establishing recruitment criteria and stratification of patient populations in identifying the best responders to candidate therapeutics.   

Key Dates
Posted Date

June 11, 2019

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

September 9, 2019

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

September 9, 2019

Application Due Date(s)

October 9, 2019, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.

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.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable.

Scientific Merit Review

February 2020

Advisory Council Review

May 2020

Earliest Start Date

July 2020

Expiration Date

October 10, 2019

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

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. 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 1. Overview Information
    Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement

    Section 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

    Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
    Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

    Purpose

    The purpose of this FOA is to support research to test the utility of tissue chips developed with patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines as in vitro human models of disease that represent the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of a given disorder. Utilization of tissue chips in the evaluation of the effectiveness of pharmacologic, biologic, device-based, and combination interventions ultimately can be used to inform human clinical trial design and implementation. Tissue chip studies that address either acute or longer-term therapeutic effects are encouraged. This FOA is intended to support research on the use of tissue chip models that have the potential to substantially impact clinical trial design in terms of anticipated key outcomes (e.g., assessment of clinical benefit and risk, safety and tolerability profile, population stratification to include the best responders, value and efficiency, or scalability potential), as compared to existing approaches. 

    Background

    There is a significant gap in developing therapeutics for diseases/disorders that are life-threatening and/or chronically debilitating, including for neurological disorders, cancer, and rare diseases, especially in pediatric populations (e.g., Duchenne muscular dystrophy, sickle cell disease, congenital heart disease). Drug development for these diseases/disorders is challenging, time-consuming, and high-risk and costly. In particular, failure rates in late stage clinical trials are disproportionately high for these diseases/disorders, due to the complexity and difficulty of examining the pathophysiology directly in vivo, and, in part, inadequately designed clinical trials.

    This FOA seeks to support the use of the microphysiological systems (MPS; also known as “organs-on-chips” or “tissue chips”) technology as an approach to inform clinical trial design and potentially elucidate the disease pathophysiology, assist with the selection of the best drug candidates for clinical trials, and improve the selection of patient populations and identification of reliable clinical trial endpoints. The ultimate goal is to develop these tools towards more informative and efficient clinical trials.

    NIH developed the “Tissue Chips” program (https://ncats.nih.gov/tissuechip) to address challenges in drug development, for safety and efficacy studies, and disease modeling.  The program supports an innovative approach to preclinical toxicity and efficacy testing on human tissue. This includes the development of in vitro three-dimensional organ systems from human cells on bioengineered platforms that mimic in vivo tissue architecture and physiological conditions in order to facilitate and accurately monitor key organ-level functions. The platforms incorporate complex factors found in vivo, including extracellular scaffolding, three-dimensional structure, cellular interactions (including between different cell types), perfusion, biomechanical stresses (e.g., stretch and shear forces from fluid flow), electrical stimulation of excitable tissue, and hormone responses. Tissue chips can be useful tools for predictive toxicology and efficacy assessments of candidate therapeutics. The initial MPS program was a five-year partnership among NIH, DARPA and FDA, (RFA-RM-11-022 and RFA-RM-12-001) to support the development and integration of bioengineered multi-organ systems, and the generation of renewable human cell resources for predictive assessment of drug safety and toxicity. Recent programs to develop disease models on chips (RFA-TR-16-017) encouraged the use of tissue chips to recreate disease phenotypes and test candidate therapeutics on them. This FOA builds on the success of previous MPS programs to move the MPS technology into improved clinical trial designs. Development of tissue chips to inform clinical studies is intended to provide empirical support regarding the intervention's safety and efficacy, and the mechanism that underlies clinical benefit (i.e., evidence that the intervention engages its intended targets and leads to functional improvement, while informing of possible toxicity issues). 

    Leveraging Existing Research Resources:

    Applicants are strongly encouraged to leverage existing research resources for their studies whenever possible. This may include and is not limited to: access to cell banks to source healthy and diseased cells with validated and good quality clinical and genotype information; applications that would use tissue chips as an ancillary and parallel study to ongoing clinical trials;, and commercial sources and/or well developed and validated tissue chips. Collaborations among academic researchers, clinicians and/or patient advocacy groups are expected. When possible, studies should capitalize on existing infrastructure, such as the NCATS Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) and NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP).

    The Tissue Chip Consortium (The TC Consortium)

    The NIH Tissue Chip for Drug Screening Program is led and managed by NCATS and utilizes expertise (organ physiology, regulatory science, stem cells, and bioengineering) from many Institutes, Centers and Offices at the NIH and the FDA. NIH interaction with the non-profit organization, the IQ Consortium, allows for pharmaceutical companies to work with NCATS staff and TC Consortium investigators on context of use, marketability and obtaining potential stakeholder feedback. The TC Consortium, which comprises  these partnerships, and the funded investigators, hold an in-person meeting every 6 months. The Consortium plays a pivotal role in advancing the MPS technology.  Awardees from this FOA will become members of the NCATS-led TC Consortium.

    Pre-Application Consultation:

    Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with NIH Scientific and Program Staff early during planning for an application. This early contact will provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify NIH policies and guidelines, including the scope of the project, goal and intent of this FOA.

    Research Objectives and Scope

    The goal of this FOA is to promote further development and utilization of in vitro MPS in modeling human diseases/disorders by incorporating well-developed and validated tissue chips into a framework for clinical trial design, and by demonstrating their clinical utility.

    An essential feature of funded projects will be a multidisciplinary approach that brings together experts in clinical science and trial design. These may include, but are not limited to, clinicians, clinical trialists, patient groups, experts in disease biology, pathology, electrophysiology, pharmacology, biostatistics, bioengineering, microfluidics, material science, "omic" sciences, and computational biology.

    Funds from the NIH will be made available through the UG3/UH3 phased cooperative agreement award mechanism. The initial UG3 phase will support studies to develop in vitro disease models using tissue chip technologies containing a diverse set of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cells from patients or cell lines representative of disease mutation spectrum or etiology, and lead to functional validation of the models.  The development of clinical trials on chips is dependent upon utilizing the appropriate number of control and patient-derived cell lines to adequately represent mutations, phenotypic heterogeneities and other useful considerations. Functional validation of the disease model on chip will be necessary to reach meaningful, clinically relevant, statistically significant, and reproducible conclusions.

    Microphysiological systems developed to inform clinical trials are expected to recapitulate critical aspects of human physiology and provide relevant outcome measures in the representative systems. In developing disease models to inform clinical trials and to accurately represent human physiology and pathology, primary tissues obtained from patients are allowed only for cases such as cancer. In general, applications should utilize patient-derived iPSCs and/or isogenic iPSC lines wherein patient mutations have been incorporated using genome editing technologies. Investigators are strongly encouraged to take advantage of recent advances with human stem cells, progenitor cells, iPSCs, and gene editing technologies to engineer tissues and corresponding controls whenever feasible. Essential characteristics of the disease models should include all or some of the following features: 1) multicellular architecture that represents characteristics of the tissue or organ pathology; 2) functional representation of normal and diseased human biology; 3) reproducible and viable operation under physiological conditions maintained up to 4 weeks in culture or longer; 4) accurate representation of normal and disease phenotypes; 5) representation of disease spectrum or heterogeneity; and 6) representation of multi-organ or multi-system pathophysiology, depending on disease/disorder. Ideally the platform used should be compatible with high content screening platforms that include multiple molecular read-outs, such as gene expression, proteomic, metabolomic, or epigenomic analyses. The bioengineered platform should also provide spatial and temporal control of the cellular microenvironment, while enabling continuous monitoring (sensing), probing (direct in-cell measurements), and sampling (testing and continuous data collection and analysis) of the system.

    The disease models could be for rare or common diseases, and for monogenic or polygenic diseases. Projects should be designed to meet the FOA goals and involve the development of disease models for neurological diseases, cancer, rare or monogenic diseases, especially for conditions where no animal model exists.  In the case of modeling of a monogenic or common/polygenic disease, where the disease affects several different tissues, the tissue chip has to represent the complexity of disease. It is anticipated that model systems will address multi-organ or multi-system affectations of the disease to inform clinical trial design and implementation.

    The identification and testing of appropriate surrogate endpoints that provide valid and reliable measures of change that correlate with clinical benefit is anticipated. Outcome measures should be validated and instill confidence that this correlates with clinical benefit and may include short- and long-term assessment of changes. Candidate therapeutics to test on the tissue chips and iPSC lines from patient populations should be readily available for the study. Appropriate control conditions should be included in the design of the study.

    The UG3 phase:

    The primary focus of the UG3 phase will be on developing and validating in vitro disease models using tissue chip technologies.  The UG3 phase should also be designed for initial testing of critical experimental parameters, which the applicant will identify as quantifiable milestones (see below). A UG3 project that meets its milestones will be administratively considered by NIH for transition to the UH3 phase.

    The UG3 phase should including the following plans:

    • Develop in vitro models for diseases using primary tissue or iPSC-derived patient cell sources on tissues/organ-on-chips platforms representing clinically relevant disease heterogeneity. Models should demonstrate functional representation of normal and diseased human physiology with or without therapeutic treatment.
    • Determine pathological and phenotypic relevance of disease models by preliminary testing of key experimental features and outcomes essential to proceed to the UH3 phase of the study. This would include: non-invasive endpoints that generate reproducible data under physiological conditions over a long culture period (i.e., up to 4 weeks); platform integration to study multiple organ pathology in the disease and healthy models; and representation of disease heterogeneity and/or population diversity. The functional validation of the models should be disease model-specific.

    The UH3 phase:

    The UH3 phase will support studies to demonstrate the functional and clinical utility of the validated in vitro human models from the UG3 phase. During the UH3 phase investigators are to evaluate the effectiveness of a pharmacologic, biologic, device-based, or combination interventions for the disease of interest. The UH3 phase is for the development of patient-centric models to minimize translational errors and improve the probability of clinical success by identifying novel treatment mechanisms, potential toxicities, mechanism of pathology, drug dosing schedule, potential benefit and risk of candidate therapies, and a pre-clinical foundation to inform clinical trial design. Major goals for the UH3 phase are to demonstrate the functional utility of the MPS for drug screening (i.e. to evaluate candidate therapies for efficacy and safety assessments in clinical trials); and to establish the pre-clinical foundation that will inform clinical trial design. To achieve this, applications should focus on outcomes that include:

    • Cross-validating disease model end-points with clinical measures in humans.
    • Characterizing parameters of treatment, intervention or response to exposure, including dosing.
    • Developing translatable pharmacodynamics, i.e., target engagement and biomarkers for validated therapeutic targets.
    • Conducting preclinical efficacy testing of candidate therapeutics using innovative approaches, data acquisition, and analyses.
    • Extensive characterizing and clinical-pathological staging of the disease models with the corresponding stages of clinical disease using translatable biomarkers.
    • Developing and implementing methods for formal failure of clinical trials of toxicity and efficacy studies.
    • Developing strategies for rapid, open-access dissemination of data and methodology, and for rapid distribution of disease models for their use in therapy development.

    UG3/UH3 Milestones

    All projects must be milestone-driven with clear go/no-go criteria that are quantifiable.  Prior to funding an application, the Program Official will contact the applicant to discuss the proposed UG3 and UH3 milestones and any changes suggested by NIH staff or the NIH review panel.  The Program Official and the applicant will negotiate and agree on a final set of approved UG3 milestones that will be specified in the Notice of Award.  These milestones will be the basis for judging the successful completion of the work proposed in the UG3 stage and progress towards interim milestones in the UH3 stage.  Only projects that meet their UG3 milestones will have an opportunity to move to the UH3 phase. UH3 milestones will be the basis for judging progress towards and completion of the UH3 phase.

    The research interests and priorities of the participating NIH Institutes/Centers (ICs) include:

    NCATS

    The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is interested in applications using tissue chip technology to inform clinical trial design and implementation for cases, such as clinical studies of rare diseases and/or pediatric patient populations, and other human conditions for which animal models do not exist or are hard to generate. Applications should seek to optimize the use of tissue chips to address challenges in designing and conducting clinical trials in these rare disease and pediatric populations. Challenges include issues such as lack of natural history data and heterogeneity of the rare disease population, or issues of pharmacokinetic variability or difficulties of setting pharmacodynamic endpoints for pediatric patient populations.

    NCI

    The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is interested in applications that measure drug toxicity, efficacy, and/or pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in tissue chips in parallel with clinical patient populations or in retrospective studies with banked tissue specimens. Applications should be for the evaluation of tissue chip utility in pre-clinical drug development, and clinical patient stratification and subpopulation identification. Applications proposing development and testing of models of rare cancers are also welcomed.  Investigators seeking to utilize investigational drugs, tissue samples or data generated under NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (NCI CTEP) supported clinical trials will need to agree to relevant intellectual property and data protections associated with these materials and data. Investigators will also need to provide evidence in the application that such arrangements are in place or are reasonably likely to be granted prior to award.

    NICHD

    The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) is interested in the development and validation of in vitro disease models using tissue chip technologies and containing induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cells from patients or cell lines that will be essential to the development of clinical trials on chips for children and pregnant women. In particular, NICHD is interested in developing models for clinical trials for: rare diseases in pediatric populations, pregnancy related/induced diseases, diseases of the neonate, and pediatric cardiovascular, nephrology and infectious diseases as well as pediatric disorders treated in the intensive care unit.

    NIDCR

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is encouraging applications that develop MPS platforms mimicking key aspects of physiology and function of healthy and diseased human dental, oral and craniofacial (DOC) primary tissues or iPSCs, including oral mucosa, salivary gland, vascularized and innervated craniofacial musculoskeletal complex, periodontium and tooth, and utilizing these platforms to inform preclinical studies of DOC disease therapeutics for initiation of clinical trials and acceleration of regulatory approval.

    NIAMS

    The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) is interested in applications to develop “tissue chip” technology addressing safety and efficacy issues for clinical trial planning and execution. Applications should address phases of arthritis, musculoskeletal and skin diseases and conditions within NIAMS core mission.

    Studies of Particular Interest

    The NIH is interested in supporting the further development and validation of MPS to inform clinical trials. It is anticipated that the model systems, where appropriate, will address multi-organ or multi-systems affectations of the disease. For this program, MPS should closely mimic in vivo normal and diseased physiology that recapitulates normal and disease conditions, respectively, and produce reproducible data for drug screening and testing.

    In the deployment of tissue chip technology under this FOA, it is highly encouraged to incorporate well-developed and validated tissue chips. Such tissue chips should include well characterized, genetically engineered cells or patient-derived iPSCs to provide insights into disease mechanisms or biomarkers (such as genome integrity, DNA damage and repair, receptor activation, metabolism and metabolic competence, and toxicokinetics). It is important to have the information on the genotype, phenotype, and developmental maturity of well-characterized patient-derived iPSC lines.

    Areas of interest for disease-relevant MPS development include, but are not limited to:

    • Demonstration of the applied use of MPS linked/integrated multi-chip systems, in addressing both safety and efficacy issues during drug development, in the context of clinical trials planning and execution.
    • Expansion of small patient population sizes, with multiple recreations of patient tissues on MPS platforms to increase statistical power of small/underpowered clinical trials through MPS platform use.
    • Preservation of treatment-naïve patient populations for clinical trials by creation of in vitro surrogates, which allows patients to remain eligible for multiple clinical trials, and that increases the possibility of identifying matching therapeutics for the disease.
    • Provision of information on potential drugs by utilizing MPS platforms with repurposed drugs or drugs from failed clinical trials, which may identify potential alternative drug candidates.
    • Demonstration and comparison of clinical trial outcomes of approved drugs on MPS platforms, to confirm MPS technology derives similar outcomes, therefore increasing confidence that MPS technology faithfully represents disease/disorder pathophysiology and responses.
    • Elucidation of unknown biological mechanisms, pathophysiology, and biomarkers of the disease for advancing basic understanding of disease.
    • Development of systems that can produce functional readouts which have the ability to 1) provide static structural information using traditional methods such as biochemical and histological assays; 2) produce -omics-based readouts, and utilize non-destructive, real-time imaging techniques that provide dynamic and comprehensive systems biology understanding of physiological responses; 3) provide combined efficacy and safety assessments and surrogate endpoints indicative of clinical outcomes.

    Also, of interest are platforms populated with tissues from human donor/patient populations which can assist clinical trial design through utilization of the information attained from the responses of individuals to drug candidates. This will help drive precision medicine approaches. For example, areas of interest for disease-relevant MPS development include, but are not limited to:

    • Provision of information on physiological responses of individuals and/or subgroups in parallel to treatments before, during, or after clinical trial enrollment and participation.
    • Streamlining of clinical trials stage progression by informing on treatment safety and efficacy.
    • Provision of data that can inform physician decision-making by creation of personalized tissue chips for patient subgroups and/or individuals that can identify development and modification of treatment regimens.

    In addition, there is interest in creation of realistic disease state tissue architecture on-chip e.g., inclusion of relevant cell types and endothelium in healthy and diseased populations. It is critical to have appropriate and sufficient enrollment numbers of tissue donors through forming effective partnerships with clinical and patient groups to involve end-users e.g., NIH Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) investigators.

    Tissue chips hold promise for use in “clinical trials on chips” for disease populations waiting for therapeutics to become available. Insights from this program will help validate the usefulness of tissue chip platforms in a clinical setting and will provide tools to help in the planning and execution of clinical trials with patient protection. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

    • Developing and characterizing disease tissue chip panels – using either genetically engineered healthy cells or iPSC-derived cells of disease patients and necessary controls.
    • Modeling of disease/disorder with faithful recapitulation on-chip of the disease state microenvironments of various organs e.g., extracellular matrix in both healthy and diseased states.
    • Demonstrating utilization of tissue chips for therapeutic screening and treatment for diseases.
    • Establishing use of tissue chips for discovery and validation of biomarkers of disease. These include development of models of diseases that replicate pathological and physiological endpoints. Studies of signaling among cells and tissues that could provide new insights into diseases are also encouraged.
    • Developing tissue chips populated with iPSC lines of cells/tissues of brain or solid organs (such as heart and lungs) from which human tissue is not readily accessible in order to facilitate new insights into the roles of exposure.

    In particular, there is interest in using MPS platforms to model rare diseases, which will open avenues for advancing the understanding of disease pathologies. 

    Desired model characteristics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Application of innovative and creative approaches using tissue chip technology towards development of 3D models that include relevant anatomical and cellular elements.
    • Integration of proposed disease models with other organ systems to understand how tissue interactions influence rare disease pathogenesis, comorbidities, and treatment.
    • Inclusion of immune elements (e.g., lymphocytes, macrophages, neutrophils, or mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue).
    • Inclusion of site-specific microbiota, where appropriate.
    • Accurate reflection of human host - pathogen interactions, where appropriate.
    • Capacity to test biomarkers or candidate therapeutics.
    • Development of markers or readouts to confirm that the model(s) of interest mimic human rare diseases.
    • Application of genome manipulation strategies, such as CRISPR/Cas9, Talen and Zinc-finger to introduce relevant variants and establish appropriate controls.

    Additional Considerations

    Disease Models: Applicants are encouraged to develop models for a disease, representing gender, ethnicity and disease heterogeneity. The model should represent the complexity of the disease, in the case of modeling of a monogenic or common/polygenic disease, where the disease affects several different tissues. As indicated above, there is particular interest in rare diseases using MPS platforms in order to open new avenues to advance the understanding of disease pathologies. 

    Cells: The use of pluripotent stem cells, e.g., iPSC, from disease patients is strongly encouraged. Multipotent or unipotent stem cells also may be utilized where appropriate. The current NIH guidance on stem cell usage can be found at http://stemcells.nih.gov/policy/pages/2009guidelines.aspx. The use of primary cells or tumor organoids may be permissible only in instances where cancer models will be developed.

    Biomaterials: Native extracellular matrices (ECM) are dynamic, complex microenvironments that can drive functional and biomechanical development. Applicants should consider the biological properties and potential downstream effects when choosing ECM materials. Biomaterials should be chosen to avoid confounding characteristics. For example, recent findings have shown that the plastic polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) binds hydrophobic drugs or reagents, which decreases the intended concentration, and can leach the endocrine disruptor cyclosilane into the medium.

    Collaborations: Collaborative interactions are a critical aspect of this FOA. Clinical trial MPS model system(s) development will require extensive collaboration among clinicians, disease experts, and tissue engineering/tissue biology experts, as well as engagement of patient advocacy groups. Identification and formation of appropriate collaborations with clinical and patient group collaborators are highly encouraged to ensure access to human donor tissues and full clinical records. Close collaboration with biobanks containing patient cell lines may be required for adequate cell resources.

    Applications that include the following types of studies will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed:

    • Development of 2-dimensional cell models.
    • Creation of platforms without inclusion of multiple relevant cell types.
    • Lack of inclusion of immune components, or a lack of strong scientific justification for their exclusion. 
    • Engineering of non-human tissue models.
    • Development of simple organoid models that do not go significantly beyond those currently available and in use.
    • Conduct of clinical trials.

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

    Section II. Award Information
    Funding Instrument

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

    Application Types Allowed

    New

    The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

    Clinical Trial?

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

    Need help determining whether you are doing a clinical trial?

    Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

    NIH intends to fund $7.75 million in FY 2020 to support 6-8 awards. Funding is contingent on appropriated amounts.

    Award Budget

    Budget requests are limited to $500,000 direct cost per year.

    Award Project Period

    The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period. The maximum project period is 5 years limited to up to 2 years for the UG3 phase, and up to 3 years for the UH3 phase.

    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)

    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)
    • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
    • U.S. Territory or Possession

    Other

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

    Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
    Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
    Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are  allowed.

    Required Registrations

    Applicant Organizations

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

    • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
    • System for Award Management (SAM)– Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
    • 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. 
    • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number to register in eRA Commons.  Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration, but all registrations must be in place by time of submission. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
    • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

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

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

    Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

    Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

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

    2. Cost Sharing

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

    3. Additional Information on Eligibility
    Number of Applications

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

    The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

    • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
    • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
    • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).
    Section IV. Application and Submission Information
    1. Requesting an Application Package

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

    2. Content and Form of Application Submission

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

    Letter of Intent

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

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

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

    The letter of intent should be sent to:

    Carol Lambert, Ph.D.
    Telephone: 301-435-0814
    Email: lambert@mail.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: A separate Milestone plan, to include Gantt chart and UG3/UH3 Go/No-Go milestones, must be included. The filename "Milestone Plan-PI-NAME.pdf" should be used and the document must be limited to 3 pages.

    Milestone Plan:

    Applications must include a Milestone Plan, describing project milestones and the Go/No-Go milestone for transition from the UG3 phase at the end of Year 2 to the UH3 phase, for 3 years of additional funding. The Milestone plan should:

    • Provide detailed quantitative criteria by which milestone achievement will be assessed.
    • Provide detailed timelines for the anticipated attainment of each milestone and the overall project goals.
    • Identify any impediments that could require an addendum to the research plan, milestones, or timeline with a discussion of alternative approaches.
    • Include a clearly identified Go/No-Go transition milestone for completion of the UG3 and transition to the UH3 phase.
    • A timeline (Gantt chart) including milestones is required for all studies. Quantitative milestones are required in order to provide clear indicators of a project's continued success or emergent difficulties and will be used to evaluate the application not only in peer review but also in consideration of the awarded project for funding of non-competing award years.

    See https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Funding/Apply-Funding/Application-Support-Library/Devices-Milestones for example NIH Cooperative Agreement milestones. NOTE: These are suggested formats only and should be adapted as appropriate.

    SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

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

    R&R Budget

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

    R&R Subaward Budget

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

    PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

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

    PHS 398 Research Plan

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

    Specific Aims: Provide the overall goals or hypotheses for the entire project period and identify separate Specific Aims to be accomplished in the UG3 phase and in the UH3 phase.

    Research Strategy:

    • Provide separate sections that describe both the UG3 and UH3 phases
    • Provide a description of the hypotheses to be tested in the UH3 phase of the study

    Primary tissues obtained from patients are allowed only for cases such as cancer for developing disease models to inform clinical trials for accurately representing human physiology and pathology.

    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:

    • All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan.

    Appendix:

    Only limited Appendix materials are allowed. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

    PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

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

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

    Study Record: PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information

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

    Delayed Onset Study

    Note: Delayed onset does NOT apply to a study that can be described but will not start immediately (i.e., delayed start).

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

    PHS Assignment Request Form

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

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

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

    4. Submission Dates and Times

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

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

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

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

    5. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

    This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

    6. Funding Restrictions

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

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

    7. Other Submission Requirements and Information

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

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

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

    Important reminders:

    All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

    The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

    See more tips for avoiding common errors.

    Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review and responsiveness by components of participating organizations, NIH. Applications that are incomplete, non-compliant and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed.

    Post Submission Materials

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

    Section V. Application Review Information
    1. Criteria

    Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

    Applications submitted to the NIH in support of the NIH mission are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

    For this particular announcement, note the following:

    The UG3/UH3 phased innovation grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new interventions, model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or behavioral and social sciences research. A UG3/UH3 grant application is not required to have extensive preliminary data, background material or preliminary information, but these may be included if available. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can also be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding.  Reviewers will assign a single impact score for the entire application, which includes both the UG3 and UH3 phases.

    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: Is a strong justification/rationale provided for potential translational benefit derived from the use of the proposed disease models? How well will the created disease models be able to recapitulate specific alleles and genomic, proteomic, metabolomic or other biological indicators of the disease(s) of interest? Does the application focus on critical gaps to address important questions or obstacles in the particular diseases of interest? Will successful completion of the research aims promote the understanding of disease pathogenesis and advance the development of diagnostics and interventions? 

    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: Is the Multi-PI leadership plan, if applicable, well-described, including plans for dispute resolution? Have project leadership and other key personnel demonstrated a record of directing research activities related to creating and validating models of disease?  Are the collaborations, in particular from disease experts and/or patient groups, well-documented, including provision of letters of support? Does the application provide a feasible strategy for collaboration among the scientific fields relevant to this FOA, i.e. disease experts, clinicians, patient groups, tissue chip developers?       

    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: Are the overall goals of the application conducive to generating significant multidisciplinary investigations that respond to the overall objectives of the FOA, i.e., generating novel models for studies of human diseases that will advance basic and translational science and/or therapy development? Does the project utilize current advances, such as in genome editing and other cutting-edge technologies? Are the tissue chip platform and cells being proposed suitable to capture the features for the disease?     

    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? 

    Specific to this FOA: Has the applicant included an adequate description and justification of the disease, condition, intervention or environmental exposure? Are the technologies or experimental approaches state of the art?  Will the expected results lead to advances in technologies used in the treatment of human diseases? Was the primary tissue used in the experiment obtained from patient which is only allowed for cases such as cancer? Are the proposed approaches, tools and technologies scientifically justified for the particular disease model? Does the application identify major technical risks, and are the proposed efforts to mitigate or address the risks clearly defined and feasible? Is the proposed transition plan to the UH3 phase complete and in a logical sequence to the elements of the phased UG3/UH3? Are the conceptual framework, testable hypothesis, design, methods and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well-reasoned and appropriate to the disease to be modeled? Is the choice of the bioengineered platform, microfluidics, biomechanics and cell sources for the model system well-justified? Are the overall strategies, methodologies and analyses for conducting a translatable biomarker study well-reasoned and appropriate?

    Milestones: Are appropriate, clearly-defined quantitative milestones provided for the UG3 and UH3 phases of the overall project? Are the UG3 and UH3 milestones feasible, well developed and quantitative with regard to the specific aims within each phase?  Is the overall timeline feasible for the UG3 and UH3 phases? Are the critical decision points (i.e. go/no go decision points) and timelines within the UG3 and UH3 phases appropriate? Are adequate criteria provided in the UG3 phase to assess milestone completion in order to make a decision to advance studies to the UH3 phase

    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?     

    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: Is there convincing evidence that applicants have infrastructure in place to immediately begin building disease models using tissue chip technologies? Is there evidence of unique features of institutional support?     

    Additional Review Criteria

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

    Protections for Human Subjects

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

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

    Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Individuals Across the Lifespan 

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

    Vertebrate Animals

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

    Biohazards

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

    Resubmissions

    Not Applicable.

    Renewals

    Not Applicable.

    Revisions

    Not Applicable.

    Additional Review Considerations

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

    Applications from Foreign Organizations

    Not Applicable.

    Select Agent Research

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

    Resource Sharing Plans

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

    Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources:

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

    Budget and Period of Support

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

    2. Review and Selection Process

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

    • 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.
    • Will receive a written critique.

    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 NCATS Advisory Councill. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

    • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
    • Availability of funds.
    • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
    3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

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

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

    Section VI. Award Administration Information
    1. Award Notices

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

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

    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, 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 https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/special-topics/limited-english-proficiency/index.html. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also provides guidance on complying with civil rights laws enforced by HHS. Please see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557/index.html; and https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-providers/laws-regulations-guidance/index.html.  Recipients of FFA also have specific legal obligations for serving qualified individuals with disabilities. Please see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/disability/index.html. 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. 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

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

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

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

    • Defining the details and goals of the project as a whole within the guidelines of this FOA.
    • Determining experimental approaches, designing protocols, setting project milestones and conducting experiments
    • Adhering to the NIH policies regarding intellectual property, data release and other policies that might be established during the course of this activity
    • Submitting quarterly progress reports during the UG3 phase, in a format as agreed upon by the trans NIH Tissue Chip Project team.  Projects that are selected for continued support through the UH3 mechanism will submit progress reports also on a quarterly basis
    • Accepting and implementing any other common guidelines and procedures developed for the Tissue Chip Program for Diseases Modeling and Efficacy Testing and approved by the trans-NIH Tissue Chips Project Team
    • Fully participating in the highly collaborative nature of the NIH Tissue Chips program
    • Attending bi-annual workshops organized by the NIH
    • Managing all data acquired in a coherent database that will be available to government and private partners.
    • Coordinating, cooperating, and participating with NIH staff in the scientific, technical, and administrative management.
    • Identifying and maintaining infrastructure and collaborations needed to support the development of the proposed disease model(s).
    • When needed, working with private partners to acquire and maintain reference compounds that industry partners will provide.
    • Working with NIH Program Officials and industry partners to establish context of use, standardizing and validating approaches.
    • Performing established standardization and validation milestones.
    • Ensuring that all affiliated staff will maintain the confidentiality of the information developed by the investigations, including, without limitation, informatics tools, protocols, data analysis, conclusions, etc. per policies approved by the consortium as well as any confidential information received by third party collaborators.
    • Analyzing, publishing and/or publicly releasing and disseminating results, data and other products of the study in a timely manner, concordant with the approved plan for making quality-assured data and materials available to the scientific community and the NIH, consistent with NIH policies and goals of the FOA.
    • Participating in a cooperative and interactive manner with NIH staff, TC investigators and one another.
    • Sharing data, materials, informatics tools, methods, information and unique resources that are generated by the project as appropriate and in accordance with NIH policies in order to facilitate progress and consistent with achieving the goals of the MPS program.
    • Working with the members of TC Consortium to establish agreements that address the following issues: (1) procedures for data sharing among consortium members and data sharing with industry partners, as appropriate; (2) procedures for safeguarding confidential information, including without limitation, any data generated by the consortium as well as information and/or data received from external collaborators; (3) procedures for addressing ownership of intellectual property that result from aggregate multi-party data; (4) procedures for sharing biospecimens under an overarching MTA amongst consortium members that operationalizes material transfer in an efficient and expeditious manner as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program; (5) procedures for reviewing publications, determining authorship, and industry access to publications.
    • Ensuring that for activities that involve academic and/or industry collaborations within and outside the TC Consortium there are appropriate research collaboration agreements (e.g., CRA, CDA, MTA etc.) with terms that ensure the collaboration is conducted in accordance with the Cooperative Agreement terms of award as well as any additional applicable NIH policies and procedures.
    • Ensuring that the research is conducted in accordance with processes and goals as delineated in this Funding Opportunity Announcement.

    Upon completion or termination of the project, ensuring all study materials, tools, databases and procedures developed from the project are broadly available (e.g., putting into the public domain) or made accessible to the research community according to the NIH-approved plan submitted for each project, for making data and materials available to the scientific community and the NIH for the conduct of research. The data sharing plan should include a plan to accomplish this within 90 days of the end of the study.

    Publications

    The Principal Investigator will be responsible for the timely submission of all abstracts, manuscripts and reviews (co)authored by project investigators and supported in whole or in part under this Cooperative Agreement. The Principal Investigator and Project Leaders are requested to submit manuscripts to the NIH Project Scientist within two weeks of acceptance for publication so that an up-to-date summary of program accomplishments can be maintained. Publications and oral presentations of work conducted under this Cooperative Agreement are the responsibility of the Principal Investigator and appropriate Project Leaders and will require appropriate acknowledgement of NIH support. Timely publication of major findings is encouraged.

    Communication Plans

    The Principal Investigator(s) will be responsible for:

    • Participating in regular (monthly) conference calls with all NIH TC Project Team members.
    • Coordinating efforts with other awardees, especially in circumstances where synergy of efforts and resources is beneficial to the overall goals of the MPS program.
    • Participating and presenting findings at the semi-annual workshops convened by the NIH.
    • Coordinating or jointly publishing findings in a timely manner, and as to have the broadest impact.
    • Making new information and materials known to the research community in a timely manner through publications, web announcements, reports to the NIH Tissue Chip Project Scientist, and other mechanisms.

    NIH staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards.

    NCATS will designate program staff, including a Program Officer, to provide stewardship and administrative oversight of the cooperative agreement. The Program Officer will be named in the Notice of Award (NoA).

    NIH Tissue Chip Project Scientists are members of the trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems Working Group that will have substantial scientific/programmatic involvement in the technical assistance, advice and coordination of this team; the NIH Tissue Chip Project Scientists will facilitate and not direct the activities of the team.

    Specifically, the NIH Tissue Chip Project Scientist will be substantially involved in this project as follows:

    • Coordinate and facilitate the activities of the program, attend and participate in all meetings of the TC Consortium.
    • Work with Project Scientists from the trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems Working Group to review the scientific progress and administrative accomplishments of the awardees, and review the project for compliance with operating policies and procedures, including meeting milestones. Based on this review, the Program Officer may recommend to the NIH to continue funding, or to withhold or restrict support for lack of progress or failure to adhere to NIH policies. Review of progress may include regular communications between the Principal Investigator and NIH staff, periodic site visits for discussions with research teams, fiscal review, and other relevant matters. The NIH retains the option of organizing periodic external review of progress.
    • Prepare up-to-date summaries of program accomplishments based on manuscripts provided by the awardee within two weeks of acceptance for publication.
    • Participate (with the other trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems Working Group members) in the group process of setting research priorities, deciding optimal research approaches and protocol designs, and contributing to the adjustment of research protocols, project milestones or approaches as warranted.
    • Serve as a liaison between the awardees, the Advisory Councils for those Institutes that plan to administer elements of the NIH Tissue Chips program, and the larger scientific community.
    • Coordinate the efforts of the awardee with others engaged in microphysiological systems research, including other awardees under this FOA and those awardees involved in related NIH programs.
    • Attend all trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems Working Group meetings and assist in developing operating guidelines, quality control procedures, and consistent policies for dealing with recurrent situations that require coordinated action.
    • Periodically report progress to the Directors of NIH Institutes/Centers/Offices involved in the NIH Tissue Chip program.
    • Lend relevant expertise and overall knowledge of NIH-sponsored research to facilitate the selection of scientists not affiliated with the awardee institutions who are to serve as External Scientific Consultants, as needed.
    • Maintain public-private partnerships established under the NIH Tissue Chip program.
    • Work directly with industry and regulatory partners on maintaining or modifying standardized protocols to test MPS devices.
    • Provide input into the design of research activities and play a key role in coordinating research efforts.
    • Monitor milestone progress and help identify recourses if needed.
    • Ensure that the awarded project(s) adhere to cooperative agreement data-sharing and other resource-sharing policies.
    • Facilitate collaborations with and access to other NIH-supported research resources and services.
    • Facilitate negotiations with companies interested in working with the awardees.
    • Provide advice on project management and technical performance.
    • Coordinate and manage trans-NIH Microphysiological Systems Working Group efforts.
    • Provide guidance to the awardees on private-public partnerships and regulatory agency policies.
    • Invite experts with relevant scientific expertise to provide feedback on TC program activities.

    The NIH reserves the right to curtail or phase out the award in the event of (1) a substantial shortfall in accomplishing the management goals and responsibilities as stated in the reviewed application, (2) failure to meet procedures and milestones, and/or (3) substantive changes in the management of award(s) that are not in keeping with the objectives of the FOA.

    Areas of Joint Responsibility include:

    • Collectively, awardee(s) and the Project Scientist(s) will determine criteria and processes for quality control of information and data to be posted for the research community, consistent with NIH policies and achieving the goals of the program as described in this Funding Opportunity Announcement.
    • Participate in recurring monthly meetings to discuss progress, obstacles and any other TC-related issues and/or activities.

    The NIH will enlist additional scientific experts as necessary from within the NIH, other government agencies, such as the FDA, and from industry partners whose function will be to assist the Program Director in carrying out the goals and aims of the approved studies.

    Data

    Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and resources developed under these awards, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current HHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

    Intellectual Property

    The successful development of disease models using microphysiological systems platform and the integration of these microsystems within a common platform may require either substantial investment and support by private sector industries, and/or may involve collaborations with other organizations such as academic, other government agencies, and/or non-profit research institutions not directly involved in the NIH-funded Tissue Chips Program. NIH recognizes that intellectual property rights are likely to play an important role in achieving the goals of this program.

    To this end, all awardees shall understand and acknowledge the following:

    The awardee is solely responsible for the timely acquisition of all appropriate proprietary rights, including intellectual property rights, and all materials needed for the applicant to perform the project.

    Before, during, and subsequent to the award, the U.S. Government is not required to obtain for the awardee any proprietary rights, including intellectual property rights, or any materials needed by the awardee to perform the project.

    The awardee is required to report to the U.S. Government all inventions made in the performance of the project, as specified by 35 U.S.C. Sect. 202 (Bayh-Dole Act).

    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 chosen without NIH staff voting, one NIH designee, and a third designee with expertise in the relevant area who is chosen by the other two; in the case of individual disagreement, the first member may be chosen by the individual awardee. This special dispute resolution procedure does not alter the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulation 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and DHHS regulation 45 CFR Part 16.

    3. Reporting

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

    A final RPPR, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

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

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

    Section VII. Agency Contacts

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

    Application Submission Contacts

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

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

    General Grants Information (Questions regarding application instructions, application processes, and NIH grant resources)
    Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
    Telephone: 301-945-7573

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

    Scientific/Research Contact(s)

    Danilo Tagle, Ph.D.
    National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
    Telephone: 301-594-8064 
    Email: Danilo.Tagle@nih.gov

    Brian Sorg, Ph.D.
    National Cancer Institute (NCI)
    Telephone: 240-276-5712 
    Email: brian.sorg@nih.gov

    Ricardo Cibotti, Ph.D.
    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    Telephone: 301-451-5888
    Email: ricardo.cibotti@nih.gov

    Zhaoxia Ren, Ph.D.
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
    Telephone: 240-463-5046 
    Email: zren@mail.nih.gov

    Nadya Lumelsky, Ph.D.
    National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
    Telephone: 301-594-7703
    Email: nadyal@nidcr.nih.gov

    Peer Review Contact(s)

    Carol Lambert, Ph.D.
    National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
    Telephone: 301-435-0814
    Email: lambert@mail.nih.gov

    Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

    Ki-Cha Flash, MS, MBA
    National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)
    Telephone: 301-435-0846
    Email: flashk@mail.nih.gov

    Shane Woodward
    National Cancer Institute (NCI)
    Telephone: 240-276-6303
    Email: woodwars@mail.nih.gov

    Teresa Do
    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    Telephone: 301-594-3512
    Email: dote@mail.nih.gov

    Bryan Clark
    Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
    Telephone: 301-435-6975
    Email: clarkb1@mail.nih.gov

    Diana Rutberg
    National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
    Telephone: 301-594-4798
    Email: dr258t@nih.gov

    Section VIII. Other Information

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

    Authority and Regulations

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

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