Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About PAR-17-340 Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams

Key Dates

What are the next receipt dates and when will funding decisions be made?

Applications are due on May 25, 2019, for review by the January 2020 council. No funding decisions will be made until after the January 2020 Council meeting. Earliest start dates will be in April 2020.

Scope of Research

How can I determine if my proposal is within the mission of NIGMS?

Check the NIGMS website for information on areas of research. You can also get a preliminary read by using the Matchmaker program available in NIH RePORTER to see which institutes fund research related to your proposed area. We​ strongly encourage applicants to contact NIGMS program staff to seek their advice. However, no decisions can be made until the application is received.

Is the RM1 mechanism appropriate for clinical research?

Yes. Problems in clinical medicine that require a multidisciplinary, multiple-investigator research team may be a good fit for this grant mechanism. Clinical trials, however, cannot be supported. Clinical trials within the NIGMS mission are supported through the Investigator Initiated Extended Clinical Trial (R01 Clinical Trial Required) (PAR-18-630) funding opportunity.

Is the RM1 mechanism appropriate for technology development?

No. The RM1 should focus on answering an important biomedical question. Technology development may be a necessary part of addressing the question, but it should not be the primary activity. There are other NIGMS-supported Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that are more appropriate for technology development:

Program Organization

Is an established collaborative team necessary?

No. The goal is to support science that is not easily funded using individual research grant mechanisms, such as the R01. Therefore, solving the identified problem may well involve assembly of a team that has not previously worked together. However, reviewers may favor applications where there is evidence that at least some of the team members have worked together and co-published, or otherwise demonstrated that the team is likely to be successful. A team assembled exclusively to submit an application in response to this FOA may not appear credible.

Does the RM1 mechanism allow continuation of programs that were previously funded using P01, P50, or U54 grant mechanisms?

The problem to be addressed in the RM1 should be largely new and not a continuation of previously funded P01, P50, or U54 awards.

Is it appropriate for all of the investigators to be in the same department?

The RM1 is not required to be interdepartmental, but it is likely that including scientists with an appropriate range of expertise will involve more than one department and quite possibly more than one institution. Inclusion of any personnel who are not scientifically well justified to solve the problem is not appropriate.

Consultation with NIGMS Staff

Should I submit a “white paper” outlining my project in advance of the RM1 application?

The FOA only requests a letter of intent with minimal information. Applicants may send more extensive information, but staff are not required to review such material. No advice given in advance of the application is binding. Decisions about acceptance of an application can only be made once the application is received and evaluated. NIGMS staff will not review a complete application in advance of the receipt date.


Are amended (revised) applications permitted?

No. NIGMS will not accept amended versions of RM1 applications. The same or a similar team of investigators may submit a new application on the same or a similar topic. These are subject to the limitation of one application per institution, per receipt date. Thus, an institution will have to determine whether an amended version of a previous application, or a new application on a different topic, possibly involving a different team of researchers, is the highest priority.


Is participation of scientists at non-domestic institutions permitted?

See: NOT-GM-19-004

  • All the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) of the multiple PD/PI team must have primary appointments at domestic institutions.
  • Scientists at foreign institutions may be included in the team as collaborators/co-investigators, consultants, or other significant contributors.
  • Work at foreign institutions can be supported with funds from the RM1 award budget through subcontracts, when such support is necessary and well-justified.
  • Funds for travel for collaborative work may be requested.
  • Funds may not be requested to support optional Early Stage Investigator (ESI) pilot projects at foreign institutions.

Can an investigator serve as one of the Multiple Principal Investigators (MPI) without receiving any support from the RM1 award??

Yes. NIGMS R35 awardees can participate as a PD/PI of the RM1 and this activity is included as part of the required 51% research effort on the R35, but they cannot receive support. Other investigators may participate as PD/PIs without receiving funds but must devote a specific level of effort. An alternative to consider is participation in an advisory or consulting role, rather than as a PD/PI.

Is it appropriate to include Early-Stage Investigators (ESIs) in the MPI team, or only in the pilot projects?

NIGMS encourages the inclusion of ESIs with appropriate expertise as part of the applicant MPI team. If such investigators are at the applicant institutions at the time of submission, it’s appropriate to include them as named personnel in the application. Applicants can request funds in future years to support ESIs whose value to the project may not be evident at the time of application.

What is the required investigator effort?

The contact PD/PI must devote at least 30% of his/her research effort to this award. Other PD/PIs are required to devote at least 25% of their research effort.


What are the application page limits?

  • Specific Aims = 1 page
  • Research Program = 30 pages
  • Team Management Plan = 6 pages

Does the application have to include a 6-10 year plan?

No. Inclusion of plans beyond an initial 5-year period are optional. If the program can achieve its goals by the end of 5 years, then no future plan is necessary. This point should be made very clearly in the application and timeline. If a second 5-year plan cannot be conceived without the results of the first funded period, then it may be impossible to provide much detail. However, reviewers may find the absence of a second 5-year plan reflects a program of limited scope and impact or incomplete follow-through.

Does the application have to include ESI pilots?

No. Inclusion of ESI pilots is optional, but reviewers may consider the absence of a plan for ESI pilots a missed opportunity. If included, a strong plan should be presented. If not included, it may be useful to present the investigators’ rationale for not doing so.

Where should the requested “Table 1. Application of Personnel and Resources” and “Table 2. Milestones” be placed in the application package?

Include these tables within the 30 page-limit of “Part A, Research Program” section of the “Research Strategy” attachment. Table 1 is intended to help frame the overall research program, the relevant expertise, and engagement with each of the specific aims. Table 2 is intended to help reviewers assess the feasibility of the plan and the likelihood of achieving the project objectives. Applicants should place these tables in the text where they will be most useful.

What format should the tables use?

NIGMS does not specify a format. The format and included data should reflect the planning process of the applicants.

Where should the Team Management Plan go in the application?

Place the “Team Management Plan” behind “Part A/Research Program” within the “Research Strategy” attachment. Be sure to use the heading “Part B. Team Management Plan” so that reviewers can find it easily.

Why are both an MPI Plan and a Team Management Plan required?

The “Multiple PI Plan” and the “Team Management Plan” ask for somewhat different information. An RM1 must be a multiple PI application and the eRA system validations require an MPI plan for an MPI application. The FOA suggests minimizing redundancy, but it may be useful to minimize detail in the MPI Plan and cover the same points and other required items in the Team Management Plan so that it provides a complete picture of how the research will be managed.


How do subcontracts figure into the maximum direct costs limit?

When preparing budgets, facilities and administrative costs associated with consortia/subcontracts are considered direct costs for the grantee institution. Per NIH policy, maximum direct cost amounts listed in FOAs are direct costs, excluding facilities and administrative (F&A) costs on consortia/subcontracts. Exceeding the direct costs limit because of F&A associated with consortia/subcontracts is allowable.

For example, in PAR 17-340, if direct costs without subcontract-associated F&A equal $1.4 million, but the subcontract-associated F&A costs are $250,000, the total direct costs of $1.65 million is allowable.

How should future year funds for optional ESI exploratory pilot studies by budgeted?

In years 2-5, the budget can include up to an additional $250,000 direct costs per year for optional exploratory pilot studies for ESIs. F&A costs associated with consortia/subcontracts of the exploratory pilot studies are in addition to the $250,000 maximum limit. Because the specific ESIs, their projects, and institutions are unknowable at the time of application, future year budget requests for this activity should use the applicant organization F&A rate when projecting total cost budgets for Years 2-5.

Administrative Review

How are applications evaluated for appropriateness to the NIGMS mission?

NIGMS uses a combination of text mining software and human intelligence to evaluate the appropriateness of the response. Applications are considered by the most relevant program officials, branch chiefs, and division directors. Applications judged not to fit within the NIGMS mission must be agreed upon by the Institute director and deputy director before being returned without review.


How are applications reviewed?

All applications for a given Council round will be reviewed by a single Special Emphasis Panel organized by the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR), with members representing the breadth of applications under review. Additional mail reviewers will be recruited to augment the expertise in the specific scientific area of the application.

How are applications scored?

Applications will be scored according to the NIH priority score system. The initial review may involve a process wherein only those applications judged in the upper half are discussed at the meeting and assigned a priority score. The applications will not be percentiled.

Funding Decisions

How are applications selected for funding?

Scored applications will be reviewed by the NIGMS advisory council, which will provide advice to NIGMS on the importance of the work in relation to the Institute’s mission. In addition to the score and initial review group and council comments, NIGMS staff will carefully consider other grant support of the investigators and how the work fits with other NIGMS-supported research.

Are RM1 applications subject to the NIGMS $750K policy?

NIGMS will look carefully at scientific and budgetary overlap between the RM1 application and all existing and pending sources of support for the investigators and their laboratories. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the PI to relinquish current NIGMS support in favor of the RM1 award. The RM1 is expected to be the main focus of the participating investigator’s NIGMS research, rather than being an addition or supplement to the main work of the laboratory. The FOA addresses the participation of investigators with substantial unrestricted other support. Such investigators are welcome as part of the team and could receive funding through the RM1 award as their sole source of NIGMS research support. If supported by other NIGMS funds, then they would be welcome as collaborators, but could not receive support from the RM1 award, except as advisors and consultants (e.g., as SAB members).