Several NIH institutes and centers have developed programs that focus on highly innovative researchers, as compared to the traditional R01 focus on projects with specific aims and preliminary data. NHGRI already supports much innovative science of broad value to the community, and developed this program to allow investigators participating in team-science projects more flexibility to pursue new research topics as science evolves and as they establish themselves as independent investigators.
Much genomics research is done as part of “team science”, in consortia or other research group efforts including interdisciplinary research, large projects or centers, or similar multifaceted collaborative efforts. Many investigators in genomics start their careers in such groups, which do not always provide traditional opportunities for career development such as leading independent research projects and writing first-author publications. Such individuals can face hurdles when applying for standard NIH awards, since their contributions and creativity can be difficult to recognize. This program aims to assist researchers who have been important contributors to research consortia or similar large groups to obtain their own funding and establish themselves as independent investigators. These researchers may continue their participation in the groups in which they currently work, or they may transition to work on individual projects or other team-science projects, in genomics.
This program supports highly creative individuals in NHGRI priority research areas, such as the development of resources, approaches, or technologies that will accelerate genomic research on the structure of genomes, the biology of genomes, or the biology of disease; that will advance the science of genomic medicine; that will incorporate genomics to improve the effectiveness of healthcare; or that will advance genomic technology development, computational genomics, or research on the ethical, legal, and societal implications of genomics and genetics research.
This program supports the development of approaches that can be used broadly. A hallmark of genomic research is comprehensiveness across the genome, such as all genes, variants, or regulatory elements, rather than specific sets. The focus should be on developing approaches that can be applied generally, although an approach may be tested with specific genes, genomic elements, variants, cell types, diseases, traits, or model organisms. Studies that focus on one or a few specific genes should be paradigm-setting and yield findings relevant at the genomic level. The application should explain how broadly useful the approaches will be.
The program focuses on investigators who are important contributors to team-science efforts. They may be participants in consortia supported by NHGRI or other institutes or agencies, or they may be part of other group efforts. Although the investigators may have funding from other institutes or agencies, the applicants’ experience and proposed work should be in NHGRI priority areas.
The investigators should show considerable promise for becoming independent researchers. They may demonstrate creativity and accomplishment by active leadership and contribution to the team-science effort, and, if appropriate, by their work on smaller awards or projects, comparable to R03s, R21s, or SBIR/STTRs.
Like the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award program (https://commonfund.nih.gov/newinnovator), this program has a strong emphasis on supporting exceptionally creative scientists; however, this program has more of an emphasis on facilitating opportunities for career independence and less emphasis on high-risk research. The awardees may continue their leadership roles or other important contributions in team-science efforts, but may also develop independent research projects.
Because the PDs/PIs will have proposed research areas but not specific aims, they will have the flexibility to explore new ideas and take advantage of opportunities that arise during this award. NHGRI program staff will work with the PDs/PIs to ensure that modifications of the research plan stay within NHGRI scientific priorities. This means, for example, that work on the development of new approaches to study disease does not move into work that is most appropriate for a disease institute.
PDs/PIs will be eligible to receive additional awards from NHGRI, other NIH institutes or centers, and other agencies.
Deadlines: October 30, 2018; October 30, 2019; October 30, 2020; (letters of intent due 45 days prior to the deadline)
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities