Choosing the Appropriate Biomedical Technology Development Program

Biomedical technology research and development programs are defined by specific criteria that differentiate each stage of technology development. The process of technology research and development can be divided into several stages. The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in each area for NIGMS applicants is listed below. For details of a specific program, please refer to the appropriate FOA.

Decision Tree for Choosing a Technology Development FOA:

Is my project strongly focused on technology development?

Projects should be focused on technical questions regarding the development of a novel research tool. For purposes of this discussion, technology includes laboratory instruments and other devices, algorithms and software, chemical reagents and processes by which biomedically related molecules are produced and modified, and the manipulation of biological systems to produce or become research tools.

The following are not considered to be technology development activities: a project primarily focused on pursuit of a biological hypothesis, biomarker discovery or validation, development of drugs or therapies, or new uses of existing technologies that may be ready for validation and application without substantial further development efforts.

Yes: Consider the technology development programs listed below. Answer the next two questions to determine which is appropriate.

No: Consider submitting an application under the Parent R01 FOA. Projects do not need to be focused on technology development to be eligible.

Do I have preliminary data?

No: Consider Exploratory Research for Technology Development.

Yes: Consider Focused Technology Research and Development.

Is the technology sufficiently developed for inclusion of a biomedical research project?

No: Consider Focused Technology Research and Development.

Yes: This work would be considered iterative technology research and development. Consider the Parent R01 FOA.

(I) Exploratory Research for Technology Development:

High risk exploration of possible approaches to development of a potential biomedical technology. This is preliminary research that, if successful, should lead to proof-of-concept: a preliminary demonstration of feasibility. These projects are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty regarding the appropriateness and performance characteristics of the technology in question, with no supporting preliminary data. The project should be responsive to an unmet need or emerging opportunity in biomedical research. This is a broad rationale justifying the investment in technology development, not a description of a specific biomedical driving project.

PAR-17-046: Exploratory Research for Technology Development

(II) Focused Technology Research and Development:

These projects focus on the development of a technology with potential to enable biomedical research. Projects are characterized by innovative research and development, focused on addressing technical challenges that stand in the way of creating an effective research tool. Projects are supported by preliminary data demonstrating feasibility of the approach. The challenge in these projects lies in how the technical obstacles will be addressed more than whether the approach is possible. These projects stop short of the application of the emerging technology to specific biomedical research problems.

PAR-17-045: Focused Technology Research and Development

(III) Iterative Technology Research and Development:

These projects are characterized primarily by the close coupling of technology development with the application of emerging technologies to biomedical projects that serve as test-beds. This pattern is commonly supported through conventional R01 grants that combine aims in technology development with challenging research projects positioned to benefit significantly from access to the technology as it matures. In these cases, technology developers benefit significantly from the opportunity to use those research projects as a proving ground that exposes areas for continued development of technologies.

PA-16-160: NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01)

Other NIGMS Programs Supporting Technology Development:

Biomedical Technology Research Resources (BTRRs)

Small Business Grants

Paul Sammak, Ph.D.
Program Director
Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
National Institutes of Health
45 Center Drive MSC 6200
Bethesda, MD 20892-6200
Tel: 301-594-8494​​​​​