Frequently Asked Questions for Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (PAR-20-103)


Key Dates

When will funding decisions be made?

Applications will be presented at the NIGMS Advisory Council meeting following the review of an application, January and October of each year. Funding decisions for all applications will be made after the January Council meeting. The earliest start date will be in April of each year.

If Council does not decide until after the second submission date, why should an application be submitted in January?

Council does not make funding decisions. RM1 applications along with other applications are presented at Council for a given cycle for comment. Applicants should submit applications when they are ready to present the best, most complete application possible. Institutions are allowed only one application per cycle; therefore, to submit two applications, the Institution will need to submit one for each cycle.

Do applications submitted to this FOA qualify for the Continuous Submission Policy?

No. Continuous Submission only applies to applications submitted to an FOA using Standard Due Dates. Since this FOA (PAR-20-103) does not use Standard Submission Due Dates, applications in response to this FOA are not eligible for this policy.


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. The full scope of the application must be within the mission of NIGMS, to acquire basic biomedical knowledge that is not directed at a single organ or disease that would otherwise be supported by another NIH Institute. You can use the NIH Matchmaker tool available in NIH RePORTER to find which institutes fund research related to your proposed area. We strongly encourage applicants to contact NIGMS program staff to seek their advice. However, no final decisions can be made until the complete application is received.

Is the RM1 for Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams appropriate for clinical research?

Yes. NIGMS supports research in specific clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems: anesthesiology and peri-operative pain; sepsis; clinical pharmacology that is common to multiple drugs and treatments; and trauma, burn injury, and wound healing.

Scientific problems in clinical medicine that require a multidisciplinary, multiple-investigator research team may be a good fit for this grant mechanism. Clinical trials are optional.

Is the RM1 for Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams appropriate for technology development?

No. Applications responsive to this RM1 program 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:

Technology Research Development and Dissemination programs:

  • NIGMS Technology Development Programs (R21 and R01)
    • Technology R21 for untested innovative concepts - PAR-19-254
    • Technology R01 for prototype development without testing biological hypotheses - PAR-19-253
  • Biomedical Technology Development and Dissemination (BTDD) Centers
    • Development and Dissemination Centers for Tested Technology RM1 - PAR-20-104

Program Organization

Is an established collaborative team necessary?

This program supports highly integrated teams that are either new collaborators or established teams of investigators that have a history of publications (or a combination). 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 involve assembly of a team that has not previously worked together. The novelty of expertise in a team typically is considered a plus. The application should explain how the RM1 would bring together new intersections of expertise that did not exist previously regardless of whether the team of investigator is new or already collaborating.

Does this RM1 funding opportunity 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 the investigators to be in the same department?

The RM1 team should be comprised of members with the needed expertise. If members of the team are at different institutions, a clear communication plan should be included. The team 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 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 will only be made once the application is received and evaluated. NIGMS staff will not review a complete application in advance of the receipt date.

Should I consult with program staff prior to submission?

We strongly encourage applicants to contact NIGMS program staff to seek their advice, particularly to determine if the project is within the NIGMS mission. Providing program staff with the Specific Aims is useful.


Eligibility

Are amended (resubmitted) applications permitted?

No. NIGMS will not accept resubmissions 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.

Can I be funded for multiple RM1s?

It is highly unlikely that investigators who are part of a MPI team from a funded RM1 grant, will be awarded another RM1 grant as a part of a second MPI team.

Can a PI submit a MIRA and a RM1 application at the same time?

Yes. Per NOT-21-001 Collaborative Program Grants for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1) grants and a MIRA application can be pending review at the same time.

Investigators who receive research funds as project leaders or multiple PD/PIs on NIGMS multi-component and complex (e.g., Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1)) grants will have their MIRA award level adjusted to remove any overlap between their MIRA and their multi-component or complex grant.


Investigators

Is participation of scientists at non-domestic institutions permitted?

  • 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.
  • Optional developmental funds to support additional Early Stage Investigators in years 2-5 of the program may not be used to support ESIs 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 any support for their laboratories. This includes no support for any personnel in their lab or supplies. 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?

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. ESIs will lose their ESI status if they are an MPI on RM1 application.

Collaborative Program Grant applications may propose the use of future year developmental funds to support ESIs at domestic institutions whose availability was unknown at the time of submission. These developmental funds can be used to bring new ideas and expertise to the program that was not initially conceived to be relevant at the time of application. Developmental funds for ESIs are in addition to the base grant budget and will be made available after the first year of the award, subject to NIGMS staff approval and availability of funds.

Does a PI retain their NIH ESI status if he is awarded developmental funds in a RM1 grant?

Yes. ESIs supported by developmental funds would not be PD/PI of the RM1 grant, and thus would retain ESI status for a future independent 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.


Application

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?

If a renewal application is anticipated for a second five-year period then, ten-year objectives should be included, and should clearly be identified as goals that extend beyond the current work plan. A process for deciding whether to submit a renewal application should be included. The criteria for the decision to submit a renewal should include achievement of milestones or objectives, and the significance of the work proposed for years 6-10. Note that significant accomplishments are expected within the first five years of funding whether or not applicants plan to renew.

Is an application required to include ESI developmental funds?

No. Inclusion of ESI developmental funds is optional, but the absence of a plan for developmental funds may be considered a missed opportunity to expand the research goals and the expertise of the team. If included, a detailed plan should be presented on how projects and ESIs will be selected. If not included, it may be useful to present the investigators’ rationale for not doing so.

Where should the requested “tables be placed in the application?

Include these tables (“Table 1. Application of Personnel and Resources” and “Table 2. Milestones”) 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 be placed in the application?

Include the “Team Management Plan” after “Part A/Research Program” within the “Research Strategy” attachment. Be sure to use the heading “Part B. Team Management Plan” so that it can be found readily.

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 NIH requires a MPI leadership plan be submitted. The Team Management Plan should provide a more complete description of how the research will be managed.

The Collaborative Program Grant is intended for interdisciplinary research that is beyond the scope of a collaborative MPI R01. Interdisciplinary team structure should be appropriate for the problem being addressed in the research plan. Beyond a description of MPI responsibilities, the Team Management Plan could describe the entire team structure and composition; shared leadership, decision making, conflict resolution, contributions and distributed responsibility; resource allocation; plans for professional development; professional credit; evaluation of investigator progress; and replacement of key personnel and PD/PI’s if needed. technical and administrative roles; scientific responsibilities, including human subjects and vertebrate animals.

The Team Management Plan might include a combination of more detailed considerations, for example: rationale for team approach and configuration; collaboration history and readiness of the team; technical approaches to communication, coordination and data management; leadership, conflict prevention and management practices; interpersonal interactions creating trust and a shared vision; and budget and resource allocation to match changing project priorities and objectives.

The Collaborative Program Grant might include a description of the responsibilities of a scientific advisory board and optionally can include a project manager or program coordinator.


Budget

How do subcontracts factor 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 20-103, 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 developmental funds be budgeted?

In years 2-5, the budget can include up to an additional $250,000 direct costs per year for optional developmental funds for ESIs. F&A costs associated with consortia/subcontracts of the exploratory 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.

Can a MPI supported by a NIGMS R35 award receive any funds for their lab from the RM1 grant?

No. The PD/PI of a R35 MIRA award cannot receive funds from other NIGMS grants including, funds for other personnel and supplies. The PD/PI cannot simply switch personnel from the R35 MIRA to the RM1 since the intent of the R35 MIRA award is to support all the research in an investigator’s laboratory that falls within the mission of NIGMS.


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.


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. Reviewers provide initial reviews and scores. Only those applications judged in the upper half are discussed at the meeting and assigned a priority score. Investigators will receive a summary statement with the reviewer critiques regardless of the score. Applications will not be percentiled.


Funding Decisions

How are applications selected for funding?

Applications that have highly-integrated teams that are committed to team science and address ambitious, bold research questions that are within the NIGMS mission that cannot be addressed by individual R01 grant mechanism will be most competitive.

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 the RM1 proposal.

Are RM1 applications subject to the NIGMS Council Review and Oversight 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).