The Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (GCCRI), is soliciting proposals for pilot project awards. The primary goal of this program is to support early-stage collaborative basic and translational studies that will lead to increased interdisciplinary research likely to compete successfully for national grant support and ultimately to develop new drugs targeted to oncogenic ‘drivers’ of pediatric cancer. The program is supported through GCCRI institutional funds.
Applicants must hold faculty appointments or equivalent research level positions at non-academic institutions at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), UT College of Pharmacy-SA, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, or University Health System
Only collaborative applications that link biologic studies relevant to pediatric cancer with approaches to drug target identification and synthetic lethal interactions will be considered within the focus of this RFA. Previous pilot project award recipients may apply again, but the new application must be a distinct project or a substantial departure, not a simple extension of the previously funded project. Pilot awards target especially junior faculty with potential for career development; however, senior faculty are eligible if the project is a novel departure from currently funded programs.
Applicants need not be directly affiliated with the GCCRI, but must have a GCCRI faculty member as the collaborator. The relevance of the project to children’s cancer must be clearly defined within the proposal.
Submission, terms, and conditions
An individual may submit no more than one project as a Principal Investigator, plus one as a Co-Investigator.
A required letter of intent (LOI) must be submitted by Wednesday, March 1, 2017 at 5:00 pm and should include the title of the project, principal investigator (PI), a very brief summary of the project and a list of 3 to 4 potential reviewers from UTHSCSA, but not from the same department or research group as the PI (Click here for LOI template). Note that the LOI is required for planning purposes, but will not serve as a screening tool for proposal submission (i.e., all PIs submitting the LOI should then proceed to full proposal preparation). The deadline for receipt of the full application is Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5:00 pm. Both the LOI and the full proposal should be submitted electronically, each in a single PDF file attached to an email message to Ms. Nickie Akande (Akande@uthscsa.edu) Please do not send multiple documents. Pilot application forms can be found here.
Awards will be made for a one-year project period starting on or about May 1, 2017. Progress reports will be requested six months (brief) and 12 months after the initiation of funding. For projects involving the use of human subjects or vertebrate animals, no expenditures will be permitted until GCCRI is provided with a copy of the official letter of approval by the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), respectively. Investigators are encouraged to submit IRB and IACUC protocols early in order to avoid significant delays in project initiation. Excessive delays in meeting these regulatory requirements may result in withdrawal of the award. Applicants must also be up to date on compliance with institutional research training and conflict of interest disclosure policies.
Budget and financial policies
The maximum budget for these two-year awards is $100,000 ($50,000 per year), although proposals with smaller budgets will be considered and reviewed under the same criteria. Facilities and Administrative (F&A, indirect cost) expenses will not be reimbursed. Funds may not be used to support the salary of the PI or faculty-level collaborators. Although the PI (and Co-PI/Co-I, if applicable) should be listed in the personnel section of the summary page, there is no minimum effort requirement. Salary (plus associated fringe benefits) may be requested for non-faculty support staff, including post-docs. Other allowable expenses include: equipment essential for the project (maximum $10,000, including computer hardware); PI or Co-PI travel to relevant scientific meetings (maximum $1,500); consumable laboratory supplies; animal purchase and per diem; GCCRI, or UTHSCSA core facility fees; consultation fees (maximum $5,000); computer time; software; publication / presentation expenses; costs related to human subject enrollment and management (listed as “Patient Care Costs” on budget page); and other expenditures that can be justified as being essential for the completion of the project. Account management will be centralized within, GCCRI, with expenditures and encumbrances for UTHSCSA or other projects being committed as they are incurred.
Application requirements and format
Applications should be prepared using the templates provided (adapted from PHS Form 398). Font size should be no smaller than 11 point, preferably Arial or Times New Roman. The font size for figures, figure legends, charts, and tables may be smaller, but must be clearly legible. Margins all-around should be at least 0.5”. Pages should be numbered sequentially. The length of the Research Plan (narrative with illustrations included) is limited to 4 single-spaced pages. The organization of the proposal should be as follows:
- Cover page (p. 1)
- Project summary (level appropriate for scientific peers in the field) and key personnel (p. 2)
- Budget (p. 3)
- Budget justifications (p. 4; maximum 1 page)
- Biographical sketch for PI (maximum 4 pages; for NIH template, format, and see sample)
- Biographical sketches for other key personnel (maximum 4 pages each)
- Research plan (maximum 4 pages; use continuation page template)
- Hypothesis and specific aims
- Background and significance
- Preliminary date
- Work proposed (including statistical analysis, pitfalls, alternatives)
- Past IIMS funding (TTR and/or pilot project awards) and list of grants obtained or applied for resulting from IIMS support
- Career development potential, if applicable
- Prospects and specific plans for outside funding (this is a required element)
- Collaborative, interdisciplinary, or community engagement features, if applicable
- Description of how the pilot project will interact with existing programs of the GCCRI, or UTHSCSA, as appropriate
Review process and criteria
Applications will go through a two-tiered system of review. The first phase, or scientific review, will be performed by Scientific Review Committees, including appropriate content experts and representatives from CTSA resources and services and other CTSA partner organizations. Scientific merit will be scored by these reviewers based on the following criteria:
- Novelty / innovation
- Strength of the study protocol, including:
- Preliminary data (to the extent available)
- Integration with ongoing research
- Quality of the investigative team
A programmatic review will then be performed by the GCCRI, and UTHSCSA leadership teams for program relevance and potential impact on childhood cancer, taking advantage of input from institutional partners. Funding decisions will be based on scientific merit, as well as programmatic considerations, and balance among program areas and disciplines.
Special emphasis areas
The purpose of this RFA is to stimulate research that focuses on oncogenic drivers that are unique to pediatric cancer, with particular emphasis on defining their role during cancer evolution/progression, and as therapeutic targets for drug development. GCCRI will support projects that address important issues in childhood cancer from mechanistic studies to drug development and testing.
It is anticipated that up to $300,000 will be available to fund three or more proposals received in response to this solicitation, depending to some extent on currently pending sources of support.
Responsibilities of the Principal Investigator
The principal investigator of funded projects is required to:
- Abide by NIH rules and regulations
- Abide by GCCRI/UTHSCSA policies and procedures
- Provide demographic information in a timely fashion, as required before expenditures can be authorized
- Provide a waiver of Facility and Administration (F&As) or Indirect Costs
- Submit complete and timely progress reports (required for continued funding in year 2
- Acknowledge support from GCCRI funds in all publications and reports generated with pilot project resources (details to be provided at the time of funding)