Recent reports (e.g., enhancing the effectiveness of team science) have evaluated the benefits of a team science approach to scientific inquiry, and the need to create flexible funding opportunities that enable interdisciplinary research teams to accomplish goals that could not be achieved individually. The Collaborative Program Grant draws on our past experience and is designed to improve support for interdisciplinary collaborative research across different scientific domains. We also anticipate that these grants will enhance the diversity and interdisciplinarity of participating investigators, and may encourage early stage investigators (ESIs) to initiate short-term, complementary pilot studies that enrich the team’s program objectives.
Successful Collaborative Program Grant applications will bring together scientists to apply complementary approaches to work on an important and well-defined problem. Applications may address any area of science within the NIGMS mission, which is to support basic research that increases understanding of biological processes at a range of levels, from molecules and cells to tissues, whole organisms and populations. NIGMS also supports research in a limited number of clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems (see here for scientific areas supported by NIGMS). Truly new interdisciplinary ideas for approaching significant biological problems are encouraged. Applications that bridge the research interests of more than one NIGMS division are also encouraged, but must remain within the scope of the NIGMS mission. Consultation with NIGMS staff (see below) prior to preparing an application is strongly encouraged.
Applications for smaller projects with one or two PD/PIs should consider submitting a multi-PD/PI application to the “NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01)” FOA (see the Parent Announcement website for the current issuance of this FOA). Applications that are mainly focused on the creation, expansion, and/or maintenance of community resources, or on infrastructure development are not appropriate for this FOA. Although Collaborative Program Grants may include some technology development, applications with a central focus on the creation of new technologies would not be considered for funding as a Collaborative Program Grant and are more appropriate for other NIGMS mechanisms for funding technology researchand resources.
Applications that employ specific cells or tissues to address a fundamental biomedical question are appropriate. However, applications that focus solely on a specific organ or disease state and that are within the mission areas of other NIH Institutes and Centers would not be appropriate for this FOA. All clinical research must be completely within the context of NIGMS clinical areas (anesthesiology and peri-operative pain; clinical pharmacology; sepsis; trauma, burn injury and wound healing). Finally, NIH-defined clinical trials are not allowed.
Applications submitted to this FOA are expected to propose a single, well-integrated research plan of sufficient scope, complexity, and impact to justify the investment of significant resources. Applicants are expected to describe a cohesive program with a single set of specific aims sufficient to accomplish program objectives that can be achieved within a maximum of ten years (one five-year program with one competitive five-year renewal). Program objectives that are unlikely to be achieved within ten years are not appropriate for this FOA.
Applications should be sufficiently challenging, ambitious, and innovative that the proposed research cannot be achieved by a single investigator or small group of investigators. Therefore, a multiple PD/PI application is required and applications must include a minimum of three and a maximum of six PD/PIs who are all necessary to provide sufficient research capacity and the relevant expertise to address the proposed scientific problem. Applications that propose extrapolations of a single line of research or propose parallel but independent advancement of different areas are not appropriate for this FOA.
Applicant teams should be sufficiently nimble to provide new knowledge and techniques mid-stream that might be required to tackle unsolved challenges and achieve program objectives. Therefore, proposed approaches can be complemented by adding new pilot studies led by ESIs.
Studies of team science have highlighted the need for effective management structures to achieve program goals. These structures grow in importance as the team size increases. Many resources exist to aid in developing effective team-based programs (see e.g., the NCI Team Science Toolkit). In addition to the required multiple PD/PI leadership plan, applications are expected to develop a comprehensive team management plan that addresses the following points:
- Appropriate organizational structure and team composition
- Shared leadership, contributions and distributed responsibility for decision making
- Resource allocation
- Plans for professional development
- Conflict resolution
If teams include individuals from widely divergent scientific backgrounds, applicants may wish to address how they will develop trust and a shared vision, as well as how shared responsibilities, interpersonal interactions and professional credit will be managed. Additionally, applicants may want to consider a scientific project manager or program coordinator as part of the management plan.
Collaborative Program Grant applications may propose optional activities to support ESIs through a program of exploratory pilot study projects. If applicable, the exploratory pilots must start after the first year of the award and propose new approaches that are within the original scope of the grant. For an NIH definition of ESI please refer to the New Investigator Policy. If the application includes pilot studies directed by ESIs, plans must be included for selecting the projects and for leveraging existing resources for appropriate mentoring, including the effective conduct of multidisciplinary team science, as described in Part 2. Section IV.2. An expectation for any successful pilot projects program would be that it would lead to funding independence for the participating ESIs. This will be a criterion in a subsequent Renewal application to evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot program in meeting this goal. Note that pilot studies are an optional activity, are not required, and, if requested, must be extremely well justified.
NIGMS intends to fund a limited number of applications. Therefore, consultation with relevant staff at least 10 weeks prior to the application due date is strongly encouraged. Once applicants have identified overall program objectives and PD/PI participants, NIGMS staff may be able to advise applicants whether the proposed research strategy meets the goals and mission of the Institute, whether it addresses one or more high priority research areas, and whether it is appropriate for a collaborative team program. A collaborative program that is closely related to the goal of a PD/PIs’ existing NIGMS-funded research might require that funding be relinquished to avoid overlap. Institute staff will not evaluate the technical and scientific merit of the proposed program in advance; technical and scientific merit will be determined during peer review using the review criteria indicated in this FOA. During the consultation phase, if the proposed research strategy does not meet NIGMS’ programmatic needs or is not appropriate as a Collaborative Program Grant, applicants will be encouraged to consider other funding opportunities.
Deadlines (note: letters of intent due 30 days prior to deadline):
- non-AIDS – January 25, 2018; May 25, 2018; January 25, 2019; May 25, 2019; January 25, 2020; May 25, 2020
- AIDS – May 7, 2018; September 7, 2018; May 7, 2019; September 7, 2019; May 7, 2020; September 7, 2020
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities