National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)
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.
New Date May 28, 2021 per issuance of NOT-MH-20-080. (Original Expiration Date: September 29, 2020 )
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.
The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative® is aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain. By accelerating the development and application of innovative technologies, researchers will be able to produce a new dynamic picture of the brain that, for the first time, will show how individual cells and complex neural circuits interact in both time and space. It is expected that the application of these new tools and technologies will ultimately lead to new ways to treat and prevent brain disorders.
NIH is one of several federal agencies involved in the BRAIN Initiative. Planning for the NIH component of the BRAIN initiative is guided by the long-term scientific plan, “BRAIN 2025: A Scientific Vision,” which details seven high-priority research areas and calls for a sustained federal commitment of $4.5 billion over 12 years. This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and other FOAs issued as part of the BRAIN initiative are based on careful consideration by the NIH of the recommendations of the BRAIN 2025 Report, and input from the NIH BRAIN Multi-Council Working Group. Videocasts of the NIH BRAIN Multi-council Working Group are available at http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov/about/mcwg.htm.
To enable rapid progress in development of new technologies as well as in theory and data analysis, the BRAIN Initiative encourages collaborations between neurobiologists and scientists from statistics, physics, mathematics, engineering, and computer and information sciences; NIH welcomes applications from investigators in these disciplines.
Milestones and success criteria will be established to help determine if the tool/method development effort funded by this award should be continued or discontinued. If justified, future year milestones may be revised based on data and information obtained in the current year. In addition to milestones, the decision regarding continued funding will also be based on the robustness of the entire data package that adequately allows an interpretation of the results, overall progress, NIH BRAIN Initiative portfolio balance, program priorities, competitive landscape, and availability of funds. Therefore, continuation is based upon all available evidence at annual review that there remains a reasonable expectation that the project will achieve the goal initially judged to be meritorious by peer review.
NIH encourages BRAIN Initiative applications from investigators that are underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research workforce (see data at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/showpub.cfm?TopID=2&SubID=27 and the most recent report on Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering). Such individuals include those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
NIH also encourages businesses to participate in the BRAIN Initiative. It is possible for companies to submit applications directly to BRAIN Initiative program announcements or to collaborate with academic researchers in joint submissions. Small businesses should consider applying to one of the BRAIN Initiative small business FOAs (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/funding/index.htm).
In addition to the National BRAIN initiative, the NIH continues to have a substantial annual investment in neuroscience research. The Institutes and Centers contributing to the NIH BRAIN Initiative (http://braininitiative.nih.gov/ ) support those research efforts through investigator-initiated applications as well as through specific FOAs. Potential applicants to this FOA are strongly encouraged to contact Scientific/Program staff if they have any questions about the best FOA for their research.
The BRAIN Initiative will require a high level of coordination and sharing between investigators to achieve its goals.
This FOA is related to the Recommendations in Section III.1 and 2 of the Final Report (http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/2025/index.htm) of the BRAIN working group. Specifically, this FOA solicits applications that will address the recommendations on "Discovering Diversity" and "Maps at Multiple Scales", (Section III).
This FOA is designed to support development and validation of novel tools to facilitate the detailed analysis and/or manipulation of cells and circuits and provide insights into the neural circuitry and structure underlying complex behaviors in humans and non-human primates and other mammalian brains (e.g., sheep, pig). The human brain consists of an estimated one hundred billion neurons and similar number of supporting glial cells that are uniquely organized to confer the extraordinary computational activities of the brain. Considerable progress has been made in defining the cytology and signal transduction processes in the CNS, but circuit-level function and the neural mechanisms of cognition and behavior remain poorly understood. Cell-type and circuit-specific manipulation strategies are key technical factors in addressing these important areas and represent attractive strategies to treat brain disorders. This initiative is focused on developing tools (or vastly improving existing tools) that will ultimately enable access to individual cells and defined groups of cells within neuronal circuits of the human brain. In order to achieve these goals, it is acknowledged that the use of large brains such as non-human primates, sheep and pig will be instrumental in this process. Development of tools that are applicable to human or non-human primate brains should focus on overcoming barriers to use of such tools (i.e., opto/chemo and magnetogenetic acutators). The tools sought through this FOA can include novel genetic or non-genetic methods for targeted delivery of genes, proteins, and chemicals to specific cells or tightly defined cell types and circuits.
Development of novel tools that will delineate anatomical connections between cells and expand our knowledge of circuit architecture and function is an area well poised for additional investment. Several efforts are currently underway to study large-scale, long-range connections, such as the NIH Human Connectome Project, as well as large scale rodent connectional studies. Recent development of innovative technologies (e.g., CLARITY, expansion microscopy, MERFISH, and several other imaging breakthroughs) allows an unprecedented three-dimensional view into the post-mortem brain. While still at an early stage, these exciting technologies hold promise for mapping short- and long-range connections throughout the brain. Coupled with improved activity monitoring technologies in awake, behaving animals, these new tools promise an understanding of circuitry in action. Further development of these technologies is crucial to push the envelope beyond our current capabilities. To this end, applicants from the biological sciences are encouraged to establish collaborations with engineers, chemists, material scientists, nanobiologists, and colleagues in other disciplines to develop groundbreaking approaches to study brain activity.
This FOA solicits applications to develop next-generation, innovative technologies to define and target specific cell types in the large mammalian and non-human primate brain. Of high importance are first-in-class and/or cross-cutting non-invasive or minimally invasive techniques that permit repeated measurements from and manipulations of cells over time in a non-destructive manner.
Tools/technologies relevant for this initiative are expected to be transformative, either through the development of novel tools that may be high-risk or through major advances in current approaches that break through technical barriers and will significantly improve current capabilities. While an emphasis of the BRAIN initiative is the development of novel tools to study the brain, here we highlight the need for innovative approaches to bridge experimental scales. Studies that can explore molecular and cellular mechanisms of neural activity permitting improved precision and sensitivity in the analysis of micro-and macro-circuits are strongly encouraged. Progress in understanding how the activity of the brain translates to complex behaviors will be facilitated by non-invasive approaches for both monitoring and manipulating neural activity in awake, behaving mammals. The ultimate practical goal of this FOA is to move these tools in to practice. The phased award will be dependent on milestones proposed by applicants and agreed upon at time of award. Validation of methods or tools in other organisms will only be considered responsive during the UG3 phase of the award and should focus on feasibility measures to move into human or non-human primate models during the UH3 phase. Milestones must be proposed that will demonstrate feasibility for moving into large brains during Year 3 of the award. The new tools and technologies should inform and/or exploit cell-type and/or circuit-level specificity. Plans for validating the utility of the tool/technology will be an essential feature of a successful application and applicants are expected to address issues related to safety, stability, reliability etc. The development of new genetic and non-genetic tools for delivering genes, proteins and chemicals to cells of interest or approaches that are expected to target specific cell types and/or circuits in the nervous system with greater precision and sensitivity than currently established methods are encouraged. Methods to track and monitor exogenously delivered constructs for brain targeting and circuit manipulation are also desired goals. Applications that provide approaches that break through existing technical barriers to substantially improve current capabilities are highly encouraged.
Applications using invasive devices for recording or stimulating neural activity in the human brain should consider one of the following BRAIN Initiative FOAs, and should contact the listed research contact to discuss the appropriateness of the project:
RFA-NS-18-021: BRAIN Initiative: Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System (UG3/UH3 Clinical Trial Required)
RFA-NS-18-023: BRAIN Initiative: Clinical Studies to Advance Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System (UH3 Clinical Trial Required)
RFA-NS-18-022, BRAIN Initiative: Next-Generation Invasive Devices for Recording and Modulation in the Human Central Nervous System (U44 Clinical Trial Required)
This FOA will support the phased development and validation of novel tools to facilitate the detailed analysis and/or manipulation of cells and circuits and provide insights into the neural circuitry and structure underlying complex behaviors in humans and non-human primates. Support will be provided for the initial development phase and can be continued through the validation and application phase if a rigorous set of milestones are achieved. For all tools and methods proposed, applicants should address issues related to safety stability, reliability and/or other relevant topics that may be barriers to adaptation in human or non-human primate brains.
This FOA seeks applications in areas including, but not limited to:
Applications will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed if they propose:
The UG3/UH3 is a two-phased award. The UG3 phase should be focused on the development of the tool, method, or approach, including demonstrating feasibility for use in humans. Each phase will be milestone driven and only those projects attaining the UG3 milestones have potential to progress to the UH3 phase. The UG3 phase supports feasibility, safety, biocompatibility testing and optimization of tools in large brains (e.g., sheep, pig) as well as non-human primates and humans if possible. The initial UG3 phase could support non-clinical testing toward filing of an IND/IDE for a significant risk (SR) study or to obtain IRB approval for a non-significant risk (NSR) clinical trial. Only those UG3 projects that have met specific criteria (see below) will transition to the subsequent UH3 phase after NIH administrative review. The UH3 phase could support a small clinical trial. The UH3 phase supports testing/validation of the tools in efforts to evaluate the performance, sensitivity, and selectivity of the tool(s) in humans or non-human primates.
1. UG3 Tool Development Phase
The UG3 Phase of this FOA supports milestone-driven tool development. The applicant should describe the specific tool, its potential, and what developments are required to translate the tool to larger animal or human brains. Tools that meet the scientific milestones and feasibility requirements will be eligible for transition to the second UH3 stage pending NIH administrative review, availability of funds, and programmatic balance as described below. For applications wishing to perform human studies in the UH3 phase, a detailed regulatory pathway pre-clinical testing plan with commensurate milestones must be included. Regulatory milestones include pre-submission meetings where pre-clinical testing is discussed with the FDA as well as further pre-IND/IDE meetings. Relationships with industry partners that may be necessary for clinical testing should be described. An IND/IDE will be required for the UH3 transition prior to the start of any clinical trials.
2. UH3 Tool Evaluation and Validation Phase
The UH3 Phase of the FOA will support milestone-driven evaluation and validation of tool performance. This phase should evaluate the tool's capability as well as performance in the context of large brains. Capability can be demonstrated by the ability to target, manipulate, record, or otherwise impact brain circuitry in a measurable fashion. Performance should be evaluated by the tool's stability, safety, reliability, or other similar metrics tested within a large brain construct. Validation should extend the tool's use outside of the primary investigators' lab to assess performance across multiple constructs. Different variants within a species and trans-species testing may be used to demonstrate generalizability. While not required for this FOA, applications that propose independent evaluation of the tool by outside laboratories will be prioritized. For applications proposing clinical studies, detailed milestones focusing on patient recruitment, retention, safety, and performance metrics should be included.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the appropriate Scientific/Research Contact, listed below, to discuss the alignment of their proposed work with BRAIN Initiative Program goals.
Because tool/technology development in the UG3 phase is likely to be high risk, it is anticipated that there will be attrition of some projects after the development phase (UG3). Objective milestones of success and go/no-go rules for tool optimization/validation will be required and both should have quantitative criteria associated with them (see Section IV.2 for details). Milestones are defined as annual goals while the Go/No-Go criteria are defined as the major goals to be met to inform the UG3 to UH3 transition.
Specific Go/No-Go criteria should be detailed at the UG3 to UH3 phase transition. Projects that seek to test first-in-human during the UH3 phase should have regulatory approval as their major Go/No-Go criteria. Projects that will focus on animal-model validation in the UH3 should detail specific performance metrics to be obtained in the UG3 phase prior to transition.
NIH program staff will contact the applicant to discuss and negotiate the proposed milestones and any changes recommended prior to funding the application. The final agreed upon and approved milestones will be specified in the Notice of Award (NoA). Progress towards achievement of the final set of milestones will be evaluated by NIH program staff. Program staff may involve independent consultants with relevant expertise. If justified, future milestones may be revised based on data and information obtained during the previous project period. If, based on the progress report, a funded project does not meet the milestones, funding for the project will be discontinued. In addition to milestones, the decision regarding continued funding will also be based on the overall robustness of the entire data package that adequately allows an interpretation of the results (regardless if they have been captured in the milestones), overall progress, portfolio balance and program priorities, competitive landscape, and availability of funds.
NIH encourages increasing the rigor and reproducibility of observed results. In some cases, conducting additional critical experiments will be important for NIH to have confidence in making a funding decision. Therefore, program staff may suggest modification or additional experiments that need to be conducted prior to or during the award as an additional milestone(s). In most cases, these studies will be supported by additional funds.
An administrative review will be conducted by program staff, with potential input by independent consultants, to decide whether a UG3 phase project will be transitioned into the UH3 phase based on the:
Appeals of the transition decision will not be accepted.
Protection of Human subjects: Applications with data collection plans that involve multiple respondent groups (e.g., clients/patients, therapists/providers, supervisors, administrators) should address provisions for human subject protections and consenting procedures for all participant groups, accordingly. The NIMH has published updated policies and guidance for investigators regarding human research protection and clinical research data and safety monitoring (NOT-MH-15-025). The application’s Protection of Human Subjects section and data and safety monitoring plans should reflect the policies and guidance in this notice. Plans for the protection of research subjects and data and safety monitoring will be reviewed by the NIMH for consistency with NIMH and NIH policies and federal regulations.)Appeals of the transition decision will not be accepted.
The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.
Higher Education Institutions
The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:
Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education
Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.
Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))
All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account. PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.
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.
The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that the NIH will not accept:
Buttons to access the online ASSIST system or to download application forms are available in Part 1 of this FOA. See your administrative office for instructions if you plan to use an institutional system-to-system solution.
For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
The UG3/UH3 budget may include travel costs for one or two trips per year to attend meetings of the BRAIN Initiative.
It is expected that the PD/PI or each PD/PI on a multiple PD/PI application will dedicate at least 15% level of effort (1.8 person months) to managing the project.
Provide the overall goals for the entire application. The Specific Aims section should include distinct Aims for the UG3 and UH3 phases. All applications are required to include both UG3 and UH3 phases.
Research Strategy: Organize the Research Strategy in the subsections identified below, addressing all specific points below.
UG3 Tool Development PhaseThe specific improvements to be made, such as stability, reliability, safety, should be described in detail. Applicants should provide a detailed plan that includes critical steps required for successful development of their tool. UG3 projects are milestone driven and include milestones' criteria for each proposed tool, or stage of development if appropriate that will be used to determine whether there is likelihood for successful translation to larger brain.
Applicants should describe both the UG3 phase and the UH3 phase within these subsections as described, including milestones.
Approach: This section should cover the application, as a whole, as well as the UG3/UH3 phases with the appropriate headers within the text.
Current State-of-the-Art Statement: Investigators should specifically define the current state of technology as a benchmark against which their proposed groundbreaking technology or improvements will be measured. Preliminary/feasibility data are not required or expected for early-stage, high-risk projects. However, a sound rationale should be provided as to why the approach proposed is the most appropriate and likely to generate an exceptionally high impact if successful. In these cases, more emphasis should also be placed in details of the approach, particularly feasibility-testing. Applicants are expected to explain the specific biological assay(s) to be utilized in the application to validate the new tool in proof-of-concept testing. Applicants are expected to address if proposed tool(s) have the potential to be applied in multiple model species. The tools should enable analysis of brain circuitry underlying complex behaviors.
Project Timeline (Gantt chart): A project timeline should be included as part of the Research Strategy and should include a distinct final section, entitled “Milestones”, that briefly proposes indicators of progress at critical junctures. These should be tailored to the unique scope of each project and written concretely enough to evaluate what exactly will have been achieved (e.g., crucial steps in tool making) over the duration the project. Given that projects are likely to be early stage and high-risk in nature, this should include the specific proof-of-concept test(s) that will indicate whether/how a proposed tool actually “works”, along with alternative strategies should that effort fail to perform as expected. Tests should include a comparison against existing benchmark technologies; if a tool is truly first-in-class, comparisons may be done against a nearest neighbor technology. Investigators should briefly note how results will be used to inform future phases of tool development such as testing in other model systems or in non-human primate or human brain. Note: This timeline is distinct from the Clinical Trials Study Timeline (if applicable).
Milestones: As part of the application, projects should include quantitative milestones and go/no-go decision points. Applicants must describe milestones to be used for measuring success in achieving each of the research plan's objectives. One or more milestones should be used for each objective. Details on methods, assumptions, experimental designs, and data analysis plans (if the results are quantitatively measured) should be included for each milestone. Applicants are expected to include quantitative criteria for measuring success and the rationale for the quantitative criteria. Quantitative criteria should be robust and consistent with the state-of-the-art in the field. Each milestone must have a timeline, and be incorporated into the overall project timeline, which should also be reflected in a Gantt chart. There should be at least one milestone proposed for completion at the end of each year. Strategies for alternative approaches should be discussed in detail. Technology development is inherently risky, but probability of success is greatest when potential hurdles are anticipated and contingency plans are in place. A Milestone report from the Principal Investigator will be submitted to the NIMH Grants Management Branch 60 days before the Budget End date. The Milestone report will be included in the non-competing year progress report via RPPR. Please note that milestone/progress reports should include an executive summary of progress and milestone achievement, followed by a more detailed description of progress which explains and justifies the use of all selected study parameters or objectives, including but not limited to, number of animals used per study (stratified by gender if applicable), statistical analysis used and assumptions, rules for inclusion/exclusion of animals or data, randomization/blinding details, before demonstrating how study results conform or corroborate each parameter or objective. This information will be used by NIH program staff to evaluate the overall robustness of the data package and path forward.
Applications lacking clearly described timelines for the UG3 and the UH3 phase, as well as Milestones will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
The following modifications also apply:
While it is understood that many tools will be at an early proof-of-concept stage, a central goal of this FOA is to generate transformative tools that will be widely used throughout the research community. Applications that propose to generate such tools are expected to include a detailed plan for sharing these resources and expected to include the following key elements:
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.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.
See Part 1. Section III.1 for information regarding the requirement for obtaining a unique entity identifier and for completing and maintaining active registrations in System for Award Management (SAM), NATO Commercial and Government Entity (NCAGE) Code (if applicable), eRA Commons, and Grants.gov
Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates and times. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission. When a submission date falls on a weekend or Federal holiday , the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.
Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date and time. If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late. Applications that miss the due date and time are subjected to the NIH Policy on Late Application Submission.
Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.
Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement .
Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Paper applications will not be accepted.
Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.
For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues. For assistance with application submission, contact the Application Submission Contacts in Section VII.
All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.
The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.
See more tips for avoiding common errors.
The requests by NIH intramural scientists will be limited to the incremental costs required for participation. As such, these requests will not include any salary and related fringe benefits for career, career conditional or other Federal employees (civilian or uniformed service) with permanent appointments under existing position ceilings or any costs related to administrative or facilities support (equivalent to Facilities and Administrative or F&A costs). These costs may include salary for staff to be specifically hired under a temporary appointment for the project, consultant costs, equipment, supplies, travel, and other items typically listed under Other Expenses. Applicants should indicate the number of person-months devoted to the project, even if no funds are requested for salary and fringe benefits.
If selected, appropriate funding will be provided by the NIH Intramural Program. NIH intramural scientists will participate in this program as PDs/PIs in accord with the Terms and Conditions provided in this FOA. Intellectual property will be managed in accord with established policy of the NIH in compliance with Executive Order 10096, as amended, 45 CFR Part 7; patent rights for inventions developed in NIH facilities are NIH property unless NIH waives its rights.Should an extramural application include the collaboration with an intramural scientist, no funds for the support of the intramural scientist may be requested in the application. The intramural scientist may submit a separate request for intramural funding as described above.
Important Update: See NOT-OD-18-228 for updated review language for due dates on or after January 25, 2019.
Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.
In addition, for applications involving clinical trials:
A proposed Clinical Trial application may include study design, methods, and intervention that are not by themselves innovative but address important questions or unmet needs. Additionally, the results of the clinical trial may indicate that further clinical development of the intervention is unwarranted or lead to new avenues of scientific investigation.
For this particular announcement, note the following:
The UG3/UH3 is a two phased mechanism. Each phase is milestone driven and only those projects attaining the UG3 milestones have potential to progress to the UH3 phase. The UG3 phase supports feasibility testing and optimization of measures in animals and humans. The UG3 phase need not have extensive preliminary data. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, the potential for addressing the challenges of moving technologies developed in small model organisms into humans and the adequacy of the approach for demonstrating feasibility into large, mammalian brain (e.g, pig, non-human primate and human). The novel technology sought in this FOA is expected to be at the earliest stage of development, prior to empirical studies of proof-of-concept or preliminary data. Transition to the second phase will be dependent on attaining milestones defined for the UG3 phase.
Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? Is there a strong scientific premise for the project? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
Does the tool or technology confer a high degree of cell or circuit-specificity? Has the current state of the art been accurately described? Would the proposed tool significantly advance current capabilities? Does the tool have the potential to be applied in humans? Will the proposed study be significant to developing and validating novel tools to analyze cell-specific and circuit-specific processes in the human brain?
In addition, for applications involving clinical trials
Are the scientific rationale and need for a clinical trial to test the proposed hypothesis or intervention well supported by preliminary data, clinical and/or preclinical studies, or information in the literature or knowledge of biological mechanisms? For trials focusing on clinical or public health endpoints, is this clinical trial necessary for testing the safety, efficacy or effectiveness of an intervention that could lead to a change in clinical practice, community behaviors or health care policy? For trials focusing on mechanistic, behavioral, physiological, biochemical, or other biomedical endpoints, is this trial needed to advance scientific understanding?
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?
In addition, for applications involving clinical trials
With regard to the proposed leadership for the project, do the PD/PI(s) and key personnel have the expertise, experience, and ability to organize, manage and implement the proposed clinical trial and meet milestones and timelines? Do they have appropriate expertise in study coordination, data management and statistics? For a multicenter trial, is the organizational structure appropriate and does the application identify a core of potential center investigators and staffing for a coordinating center?
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?
Does the proposed work address existing barriers? Will the proposed tool enable discovery related to brain circuitry underlying complex behaviors? Are the proposed tools/technologies potentially transformative either through the development of novel tools that may be high-risk or through major advances in current approaches that break through technical barriers and will significantly improve current capabilities?
In addition, for applications involving clinical trialsDoes the design/research plan include innovative elements, as appropriate, that enhance its sensitivity, potential for information or potential to advance scientific knowledge or clinical practice?
Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed? Have the investigators presented adequate plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals or human subjects?
If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?
In addition, for applications involving clinical trials
Does the application adequately address the following, if applicable
Is the study design justified and appropriate to address primary and secondary outcome variable(s)/endpoints that will be clear, informative and relevant to the hypothesis being tested? Is the scientific rationale/premise of the study based on previously well-designed preclinical and/or clinical research? the study design adequately powered to answer the research question(s), test the proposed hypothesis/hypotheses, and provide interpretable results? Is the trial appropriately designed to conduct the research efficiently? Are the study populations (size, gender, age, demographic group), proposed intervention arms/dose, and duration of the trial, appropriate and well justified?
Are potential ethical issues adequately addressed? Is the process for obtaining informed consent or assent appropriate? Is the eligible population available? Are the plans for recruitment outreach, enrollment, retention, handling dropouts, missed visits, and losses to follow-up appropriate to ensure robust data collection? Are the planned recruitment timelines feasible and is the plan to monitor accrual adequate? Has the need for randomization (or not), masking (if appropriate), controls, and inclusion/exclusion criteria been addressed? Are differences addressed, if applicable, in the intervention effect due to sex/gender and race/ethnicity?
Are the plans to standardize, assure quality of, and monitor adherence to, the trial protocol and data collection or distribution guidelines appropriate? Is there a plan to obtain required study agent(s)? Does the application propose to use existing available resources, as applicable?
Data Management and Statistical AnalysisAre planned analyses and statistical approach appropriate for the proposed study design and methods used to assign participants and deliver interventions? Are the procedures for data management and quality control of data adequate at clinical site(s) or at center laboratories, as applicable? Have the methods for standardization of procedures for data management to assess the effect of the intervention and quality control been addressed? Is there a plan to complete data analysis within the proposed period of the award?
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?
In addition, for applications involving clinical trials
If proposed, are the administrative, data coordinating, enrollment and laboratory/testing centers, appropriate for the trial proposed?
Does the application adequately address the capability and ability to conduct the trial at the proposed site(s) or centers? Are the plans to add or drop enrollment centers, as needed, appropriate?
If international site(s) is/are proposed, does the application adequately address the complexity of executing the clinical trial?If multi-sites/centers, is there evidence of the ability of the individual site or center to: (1) enroll the proposed numbers; (2) adhere to the protocol; (3) collect and transmit data in an accurate and timely fashion; and, (4) operate within the proposed organizational structure?
Project Timeline and Milestones
Are the Proposed Milestones and Project Timeline described in sufficient detail and are they appropriate for the project? Is the timeline reasonable? Are the milestones feasible, well developed, and quantifiable with regard to the specific aims?
Specific to applications involving clinical trials
Is the study timeline described in detail, taking into account start-up activities, the anticipated rate of enrollment, and planned follow-up assessment? Is the projected timeline feasible and well justified? Does the project incorporate efficiencies and utilize existing resources (e.g., CTSAs, practice-based research networks, electronic medical records, administrative database, or patient registries) to increase the efficiency of participant enrollment and data collection, as appropriate?Are potential challenges and corresponding solutions discussed (e.g., strategies that can be implemented in the event of enrollment shortfalls)?
For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.
For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.
When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.
The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following criteria: (1) description of proposed procedures involving animals, including species, strains, ages, sex, and total number to be used; (2) justifications for the use of animals versus alternative models and for the appropriateness of the species proposed; (3) interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury; and (4) justification for euthanasia method if NOT consistent with the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. Reviewers will assess the use of chimpanzees as they would any other application proposing the use of vertebrate animals. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.
Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.
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).
While it is understood that many tools will be at an early proof-of-concept stage, a central goal of this FOA is to generate transformative tools that will be widely used throughout the research community. For applications that propose to generate such tools, does the application include an adequate and detailed plan for sharing these resources as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program? Does the plan provide a strong rationale for each of the following key elements as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program?
For projects involving key biological and/or chemical resources, reviewers will comment on the brief plans proposed for identifying and ensuring the validity of those resources.
Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.
Information regarding the disposition of applications is available 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.
ClinicalTrials.gov: If an award provides for one or more clinical trials. By law (Title VIII, Section 801 of Public Law 110-85), the "responsible party" must register and submit results information for certain “applicable clinical trials” on the ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration and Results System Information Website (https://register.clinicaltrials.gov). NIH expects registration of all trials whether required under the law or not. For more information, see http://grants.nih.gov/ClinicalTrials_fdaaa/
Institutional Review Board or Independent Ethics Committee Approval: Grantee institutions must ensure that the application as well as all protocols are reviewed by their IRB or IEC. To help ensure the safety of participants enrolled in NIH-funded studies, the awardee must provide NIH copies of documents related to all major changes in the status of ongoing protocols. Data and Safety Monitoring Requirements: The NIH policy for data and safety monitoring requires oversight and monitoring of all NIH-conducted or -supported human biomedical and behavioral intervention studies (clinical trials) to ensure the safety of participants and the validity and integrity of the data. Further information concerning these requirements is found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/hs/data_safety.htm and in the application instructions (SF424 (R&R) and PHS 398).
Investigational New Drug or Investigational Device Exemption Requirements: Consistent with federal regulations, clinical research projects involving the use of investigational therapeutics, vaccines, or other medical interventions (including licensed products and devices for a purpose other than that for which they were licensed) in humans under a research protocol must be performed under a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigational new drug (IND) or investigational device exemption (IDE).
Recipients of federal financial assistance (FFA) from HHS must administer their programs in compliance with federal civil rights law. This means that recipients of HHS funds must ensure equal access to their programs without regard to a person’s race, color, national origin, disability, age and, in some circumstances, sex and religion. This includes ensuring your programs are accessible to persons with limited English proficiency. HHS recognizes that research projects are often limited in scope for many reasons that are nondiscriminatory, such as the principal investigator’s scientific interest, funding limitations, recruitment requirements, and other considerations. Thus, criteria in research protocols that target or exclude certain populations are warranted where nondiscriminatory justifications establish that such criteria are appropriate with respect to the health or safety of the subjects, the scientific study design, or the purpose of the research.
In accordance with the statutory provisions contained in Section 872 of the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 110-417), NIH awards will be subject to the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) requirements. FAPIIS requires Federal award making officials to review and consider information about an applicant in the designated integrity and performance system (currently FAPIIS) prior to making an award. An applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through FAPIIS and comment on any information about itself that a Federal agency previously entered and is currently in FAPIIS. The Federal awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to other information in FAPIIS, in making a judgement about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR Part 75.205 “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.” This provision will apply to all NIH grants and cooperative agreements except fellowships.
For additional guidance regarding how the provisions apply to NIH grant programs, please contact the Scientific/Research Contact that is identified in Section VII under Agency Contacts of this FOA. HHS provides general guidance to recipients of FFA on meeting their legal obligation to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to their programs by persons with limited English proficiency. Please see 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 http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/section1557/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 http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/understanding/disability/index.html. Please contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights for more information about obligations and prohibitions under federal civil rights laws at 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.
The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) administrative guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.
The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the cooperative agreement, an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the NIH purpose is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined below.
The PD(s)/PI(s) will have the primary responsibility for:
NIH staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:
Areas of Joint Responsibility include:
Clarifying and negotiating the milestones and timelines. Creation of a steering committee if warranted.
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 for the investigators 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 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. Final decisions made by NIH regarding a discontinuation are not appealable.
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.
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/ (preferred method of contact)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
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Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov (preferred method of contact)
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Contact Center Telephone: 800-518-4726
Douglas S. Kim, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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