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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 NIH Research and Research Infrastructure "Grand Opportunities" Grants (RFA-OD-09-004)

Note: This is an archived page that is not updated.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

NIH has received new funds for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), Pub L. No. 111-5. Among the NIH initiatives related to the Recovery Act is a new program, Research and Research Infrastructure "Grand Opportunities," hereafter called the "GO" grants program.

This new program will support high-impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term, non-renewable funding and may lay the foundation for new areas of investigation. Applicants may propose to address a specific research question or to create a unique infrastructure/resource designed to accelerate scientific progress in the future. The initiative is designed to provide investigators and institutions with the opportunity to engage in new avenues of research with a high likelihood of significant impact on growth and investment in biomedical or behavioral research and development, public health and health care delivery.

This program is a trans-NIH effort. For those projects that span the missions of NIH institutes, centers, and offices, support may come from Recovery Act funds allocated to the Common Fund.

NIGMS expects to fund no more than one grant in each topic area. Depending on the quality of applications received, the Institute might not fund any grants in some areas.

See RFA-OD-09-004 for important details about the project scope and specific requirements for "GO" grants.

The receipt date for letters of intent is April 27, 2009. Send letters of intent to Paul Sheehy at, fax 301-480-1852.

The application due date is May 27, 2009.

NIGMS Grand Opportunities Grant Topics

NIGMS GO grant applications should be directly related to the topics below.

Community Resources

Creation, validation and dissemination of resources that benefit entire scientific communities (such as those using established or emerging model organisms) are key to accelerating the tempo of research. This grand opportunity solicits proposals to generate community research reagents or resources. A responsive application might propose, for example, the creation of mutant collections, generation of tagged proteins, creation of antibody panels or generation of genomics-based reagents. The resource must be created and validated within the two-year period of the grant, and a specific plan for maintenance and dissemination of the resources or reagents after that time must be included. Indications of the strength of support and priority from the targeted research community will be a required component of the application.

Contact: Laurie Tompkins, Ph.D., 301-594-0943,

Determining Unknown Bacterial Gene Function: A Community-Based, Combined Approach

A major, concerted and coordinated effort is required to determine/validate the function of the large fraction of currently unknown (or incorrectly annotated “known”) genes in the principal bacterial species that serve as key model organisms. This grand opportunity will fund the creation of a community consortium. The consortium will integrate bioinformatic and experimental approaches with the goal of establishing methodologies and will determine and prioritize the most valuable targets for investigation within the two-year term. The effort will also result in a template for further work and will serve to nucleate efforts to extend the investigations to other microbes, such as pathogens of medical importance.

Contact: James Anderson, Ph.D., 301-594-0943,

Filling in the Record: Accelerating Comparative Genomics, Systems Biology and Evolutionary Analysis

Finished, validated DNA sequence is a valuable resource for studying gene regulation, characterizing biological systems, deciphering the genetic architecture of traits and measuring population parameters. This grand opportunity solicits proposals for whole-genome sequencing or targeted resequencing of carefully chosen organisms that are widely used and of demonstrated value in genetic research. Four categories of sequencing projects will be considered: 1) closing or finishing sequences of organisms where incomplete or draft sequences are currently available, 2) whole-genome sequencing or targeted resequencing of closely related or sibling species, 3) whole-genome sequencing or targeted resequencing of individuals within populations and 4) sequencing appropriately selected crosses of genetically characterized species with the goal of measuring population parameters such as mutation and recombination rates.

Contact: Irene Eckstrand, Ph.D., 301-594-0943,

Image Resource for Biology

This grand opportunity would collect, annotate and provide access to a broad inventory of images and videos of cellular events, processes and structures relevant to biomedicine. With the recent explosion of sophisticated microscopic techniques, much discovery in biology is currently in the form of images and videos that appear as figures or supplementary data in research journals. This information is not organized for easy access, and much of it is difficult to find. The image resource would serve as a library of image data on cellular structure/function that would provide catalogued access to images covering a broad range of biomedical topics. The resource must be created within the two-year period of the grant, and a specific plan for maintenance of the library after that time must be included. A centralized resource would be of great value to scientists, students, teachers and the public.

Contact: Catherine Lewis, Ph.D., 301-594-0828,

Multifunctional Particles for Targeting and Delivery

This grand opportunity would refine methods for building multifunctional particles and probes that target and deliver chemical agents to locate, activate, image or medicate targets within a cell or organism. Multifunctional particles are externally packaged and administered, delivered into cells and then directed to their targets without disrupting cellular physiology. Prototypes of such particles have been created for a variety of uses in imaging and drug delivery, but challenges remain. The goal is to develop and catalog a general set of strategies and reagents that could be adapted for a variety of medical or research purposes.

Contact: Catherine Lewis, Ph.D., 301-594-0828,

Integration of Pharmacogenomics with Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Recent progress in several areas sets the stage for the realistic implementation of personalized medicine: 1) the discovery and validation of many significant genetic predictors of drug responses, 2) the widespread implementation of electronic health records and 3) advances in bioinformatics and clinical decision-making algorithms. As a result, there are unprecedented opportunities to invest in system-wide demonstration projects for applying genomic information to personalized health care. Large-scale pilots in health systems are needed to demonstrate the value of automated methods for computational definitions of health and disease status. It should also be possible to capitalize on recently established, extensive biobanks of samples consented for research purposes coupled with EHRs for extremely valuable and cost-efficient access to specimens of diverse cultural, racial/ethnic, gender, age and socioeconomic backgrounds. This grand opportunity is for the development of a paradigm to enable linking genotype and drug response phenotype relationships in a real-world setting, with the goals of improved patient care, reduced errors and safe and effective use of medications.

Contact: Rochelle Long, Ph.D., 301-594-3827,

Leukocyte Gene Expression in Healthy Humans

While studies have suggested that diagnostic information may be obtained through the assessment of gene expression in human tissues, the true clinical utility of microarrays is severely hindered by a general lack of understanding of genome-wide expression in apparently healthy individuals across both genders, a broad age range and racial, ethnic and socioeconomic status. As means now exist to perform high-quality, high-throughput expression analysis and simultaneously obtain single nucleotide polymorphism data on isolated peripheral leukocytes, which are important as sentinels of the general inflammatory state and health of individuals, the grand challenge of collecting such information from a large cross-section of people (at least 1000) would yield an important resource for the general biomedical research community.

Contact: Scott Somers, Ph.D., 301-594-3827,

Linking Metabolomics to Pharmacogenomics

Pharmacogenomic studies can link genotype to phenotype in drug response, and metabolomic studies can provide an instantaneous snapshot of an individual’s biochemistry. This grand opportunity encourages metabolomic studies of existing pharmacogenomic clinical sample sets that will lead to a better understanding of how therapeutic agents affect metabolic pathways in human subjects. The goal is to ascertain how metabolomics might aid the identification of critical pathways and genetic biomarkers in patient populations treated with a specific drug that influences their therapeutic response and/or the appearance of adverse events, which would contribute to progress toward personalized medicine.

Contact: Richard Okita, Ph.D., 301-594-3827,

Transcriptomes of Medicinal Plants: Understanding the Biosynthesis of Natural Products

The focus of this grand opportunity is the assembly and analysis of transcriptome data from selected medicinal plants. The availability of such data should substantially enhance understanding of the biosynthetic pathways of therapeutically valuable, plant-derived natural products. For each plant studied, transcriptome information should be collected, as scientifically appropriate, from different tissues and under differing elicitation conditions. Ancillary work that facilitates the selection, interpretation and use of these data can be included in the proposed research. The applicant will choose and scientifically justify the plants targeted for this study. The proposed project is expected to contribute significantly to the research efforts of those who study the genes and enzymes associated with natural products biosynthesis. 

Contact: Warren Jones, Ph.D., 301-594-3827,

"Hardening" of Biomedical Informatics/Computing Software for Robustness and Dissemination

Through this grand opportunity, investigators will take existing software and/or databases with a well-established user and developer base and "harden" the product(s) for dissemination in professional-grade, Web-available repositories. The proposed work should apply best practices and proven methods for software design, implementation and delivery, with the goal of extending the applicability of existing biomedical informatics/computational biology software to the broadest possible community. Preference will be given to applications employing existing standards, and investigators should specify design and implementation milestones with a completion date within two years. At least one of these milestones should provide a measure of the viability of low-cost future maintenance and usefulness to the community.

Contact: Peter Lyster, Ph.D., 301-451-6446,

For general information on NIGMS implementation of NIH Grand Opportunities Grants, contact:

Ann A. Hagan, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Extramural Activities
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health

For financial or grants management questions, contact:

Grace Olascoaga
Chief Grants Management Officer
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health

For peer review questions, contact:

Helen Sunshine, Ph.D.
Chief, Office of Scientific Review
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health

This page last reviewed on August 11, 2016