The purpose of the ViCTER program is to use the R01 mechanism to foster and promote early-stage transdisciplinary collaborations and/or translational research efforts to address fundamental research among basic (technology and mechanism oriented), clinical (patient-oriented) and population-based researchers in the environmental health field. The newly established collaborative teams will come together in common interest to investigate potential linkages between human health and one or more environmental stressor(s). The ViCTER program is intended to support innovative high-risk, high-reward transdisciplinary/translational research projects that are more difficult to achieve in a typical R01 application. Collaboration among investigators at different institutions through a virtual consortium arrangement is encouraged.
The primary goal for creating this ViCTER program is to support the exchange of knowledge among individuals from a diverse set of disciplines and accelerate the translation of scientific research into meaningful improvements in human health in those areas where environmental factors are known or suspected to influence the development or progression of disease. To accomplish this goal, each newly established collaborative team is expected to initiate research in the development and application of novel approaches for understanding the etiology of environmentally-related disease and, where appropriate, explore clinical and public health implications for diagnosis, treatment and/or prevention.
Each ViCTER consortium must consist of at least three key participants (the PD/PI plus two scientists designated by the PD/PI as “co-investigators”) that together represent a newly collaborative team. For the purposes of this FOA, a team is considered newly collaborative if there are no co-authored original research publications among the PD/PI and co-investigators within the last 5 years (excluding reviews, white papers, commentaries etc.). NIEHS strongly recommends but does not require that at least one co-investigator be at a different institution from the PD/PI. In addition, applicants are encouraged to assemble teams that bring diverse perspectives to the theme of the consortium, thus enhancing translational opportunities and broadening the public health impact.
A critical component of the ViCTER program, particularly in cases where team members are located at different institutions, is their virtual aspect. This allows researchers at remote locations to form a consortium to integrate their research through the development of a “virtual” center that coordinates the overall ViCTER project. The PD/PI serves as the Director of the consortium and is responsible for scheduling regular virtual (at least monthly) and in-person (at least yearly) meetings.
The PD/PI must propose a series of aims that are thematically related, foster collaboration among team members and reflect transdisciplinary/translational approaches to environmental health. The PD/PI and co-investigators should each have a substantial and meaningful role in developing and conducting the overall ViCTER project, demonstrated by each assuming primary responsibility for leading one or more of the proposed Specific Aims. The aims may include several research approaches to address a fundamental research question (i.e. moving within the TRF “fundamental questions” level), or may combine fundamental research questions with more intervention-, prevention-, and/or implementation-based approaches (i.e. moving from TRF “fundamental questions” towards “application and synthesis” and/or “implementation and adjustment”). NIEHS also particularly encourages applicants to propose research aims that are high risk/high reward which, if successful, are likely to contribute significantly to one or more areas of environmental science and/or be the motivator of future collaborative research. In addition, ViCTER teams present a unique opportunity for cross-disciplinary training; hence, seeking opportunities to enhance and broaden skills of students is encouraged.
Applicants should prospectively plan for how scientific data generated from the proposed research project will be preserved and shared. Likewise, the team should develop a robust plan for data management and sharing to facilitate synthesis, integration, and translation of the individual aims. As applicable, applicants are highly encouraged to include an expert in data stewardship when data integration, sharing, and reuse are critical to achieving the goal of the consortium. For additional information, NIH has developed guidance for recommended elements of a Data Management and Sharing Plan (NOT-OD-21-014).
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