CFAR Developmental Grant Guidelines and Instructions

Eligibility

Applicants for all types of projects must have a full-time appointment at either Brown University or Boston University. Faculty must have at least an appointment of Instructor or Investigator to apply.  Applications from post-doctoral fellows will not be accepted unless a faculty promotion letter (e.g. a letter confirming the intent of the institution to promote the applicant to an eligible position by the activation of the award) is attached to the application.

Faculty with backgrounds in either basic or clinical investigation, including investigators committed to research in the developing world are encouraged to apply.

MENTORS:  If applying for an Initial HIV/AIDS research award or pilot project, each applicant must have a primary mentor, in the form of a senior colleague who has been supported by one or more NIH R01 or equivalent research grants. Any mentor who has not had, or does not currently hold, an R01 grant must inquire with the CFAR office (CFAR@lifespan.org) about whether other awards can validly be classified as R01 equivalents. The application must include the mentor's NIH-form biosketch with research support listed, and a letter of support, which indicates that the mentor fully accepts the time commitments essential to the monitoring process. Investigators applying for either a pilot or collaborative project must contact the CFAR office (CFAR@lifespan.org) to discuss the proposal prior to the submission deadline in order to determine eligibility.

In exceptional circumstances, individuals who have successfully reached the goal established for an initial CFAR developmental grant, and have obtained NIH-R01 funding for further related studies, may be eligible to apply for a second CFAR Developmental Grant in a new HIV/AIDS research domain. Please contact the CFAR office (CFAR@lifespan.org) to discuss eligibility.

Instructions
A. Contents

A completed application for developmental funding should include:

Abstract describing the research (500 words or less).

NIH-format biosketch for all key personnel listed, including mentors. The NIH biosketch format must include other support information such as current and pending support, percent of effort, grant number, title, total project beginning and ending dates, and a description of an overlap relative to the developmental application.

Research plan (maximum 4 pages excluding timeline and references) which includes:

  • Specific aims (1/2 page)
  • Significance (background) (1/2 - 1 page)
  • Preliminary data (1/2 - 1 page)
  • Approach (Experimental design and methods) (2 pages), which should include an appropriate analytical program for the proposal, as well as, a data management plan, if appropriate.

 

Statement of how the awarding of the developmental grant will enhance chances for outside funding and how the proposal addresses the NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities. For established investigators, please provide an additional statement addressing how the CFAR developmental application avoids duplication of any current NIH funded research.

Budget and Budget Justification. Projects are funded for a maximum of 12 months.

Letters of support: 

  • Department Chief or Chair: must include a statement on the availability of institutional resources for the proposed study; assurance of protected time for Principal Investigator; and a statement of institutional commitment to the development of the PI's career.
  • Initial or Pilot applications:  a letter from primary mentor which indicates that the mentor fully accepts the time commitments essential to the monitoring process.
  • Collaborative applications:  a letter from each collaborating investigator must be included.
  • International applications: a letter of collaboration from the collaborative foreign institution.

All letters should be addressed to: the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research, 164 Summit Avenue, CFAR Building, Room 135, Providence, RI 02906 and included in the application packet.
Additional considerations:

1. MENTORS:  If applying for an Initial HIV/AIDS research award or pilot project, each applicant must have a primary mentor, in the form of a senior colleague who has been supported by one or more NIH R01 or equivalent research grants. Any mentor who has not had, or does not currently hold, an R01 grant must inquire with the CFAR administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org) about whether other awards can validly be classified as R01 equivalents. The application must include the mentor's NIH-form biosketch with research support listed, and a letter of support, which indicates that the mentor fully accepts the time commitments essential to the monitoring process. Investigators applying for either a pilot or collaborative project must contact the the CFAR administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org) to discuss the proposal prior to the submission deadline in order to determine eligibility.

2. You are encouraged to contact the Core Directors when designing your study. They can provide insight on how best to utilize the CFAR Core Services within your project. Please see description of CFAR Cores

3. If you are applying for a project which includes HUMAN SUBJECTS, please review the Guidance for CFAR Clinical Research Studies prior to submitting an application. Those projects approved by the CFAR review committee and needing additional NIH review will be submitted directly through the CFAR Administrative Office.  CFAR cannot fund clinical trials (research study in which one or more human subjects are prospectively assigned to one or more interventions, the study is designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants, and/or the effect being evaluated is a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome).  To determine if your study would be considered a clinical trial by the new NIH standards, please utilize the NIH decision tree tool.  Any proposal submitted that is considered a clinical trial will be withdrawn prior to review.

B. Format - Application packet Microsoft Office document iconDEVAppPackage_Fall_2018.doc

  • Minimum margins for additional text pages are 1/2 inch on all sides.
  • Minimum font size throughout the application is 11 point.
  • Number pages consecutively at the bottom.
  • Include applicant's name at the top right hand corner on all but cover page.

A complete, signed, electronic copy (one combined PDF document) should be sent by e-mail to the CFAR Administrative office at cfar@lifespan.org no later than 5:00 PM on the posted due date.

For additional information please contact Vicki C. Godleski, CFAR Administrative Director, at (401) 793-4068 or via email at vgodleski@lifespan.org.

CFAR Developmental Award Applications are reviewed twice a year and applications are accepted in April and October.

Terms of Award

Awards for all project types are $40,000 for a maximum of one year. In exceptional circumstances, requests for lesser amounts may be considered for discrete projects.

Once awarded, the CFAR Executive Committee may grant a six-month no cost extension to the project. In this situation, the Principal Investigator must submit a request with justification along with their 12 month progress to the CFAR Administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org) for approval. If approved by the CFAR Developmental Core Directors, projects will be continued for an additional six-month period with no supplemental funds. It is imperative that awardees complete their projects in a timely manner.  Developmental grant recipients will not be awarded extensions beyond this additional six months.

Funds may be used for the salary and fringe benefits of junior faculty for research support and laboratory personnel and for research-related supplies. No funds may be expended for mentor salary, equipment, domestic travel, or indirects (F&A). Funds for international travel associated with projects abroad may be requested with additional justification. Approval will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Awards are non-transferable to institutions not part of the Providence/Boston CFAR network.

Conditions of Award

  • Completion of an NIH International Studies Checklist if your study includes any work, data collection, funding, or sample gathering, etc. from outside the United States. International clearance by the NIH is required for such projects prior to initiation of the award.
  • Completion of an NIH Clinical Research Studies Checklist if your study is defined by the NIH as follows: “ A prospective study of human subjects designed to answer questions about biomedical and behavioral interventions, e.g., drugs, treatments, or devices or new ways of using known treatments to determine whether they are safe and effective”. NIH approval of such studies is required prior to initiation of the award.
  • Appropriate IRB approval for work involving human subjects or samples obtained from human subjects.
  • Once the study is initiated, Serious Adverse Event (SAE) reports including a description of the adverse event and action taken must be sent by you to your IRB office and to the CFAR administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org) within 48 hours.
  • A signed IACUC protocol if your study involves the use of vertebrate animal subjects.
  • Submission of a progress report and Mentor Evaluation form to the CFAR administrative office every six months. The CFAR office will forward a reminder email at least one month prior to the due date. A template for completion will be provided at that time.
  • The presentation of your funded research at a CFAR Research-in-Progress Seminar, annual CFAR Forum, or CFAR Research Integration Seminar (CRISS) and presentation at a CFAR sponsored Grant Writing Workshop.  Regularly scheduled workshops are available on both the Brown University and Boston University campuses.  Contact the CFAR administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org) for scheduling.
  • Acknowledgment of the Providence/Boston Center for AIDS Research (NIH P30AI042853) in all presentations, publications and funding derived from Providence/Boston CFAR funding.
  • In the event other funds are received for your proposed study, and/or your level of effort needs to be reduced significantly on this study, you agree to notify the CFAR administrative office (cfar@lifespan.org). Your funding status will be reviewed and a determination will be made as to whether or not you are able to meet the specific aims of your study.

Review Process

Under the direction of the Developmental Core, each application will be evaluated by a team of at least two reviewers with expertise related to the science addressed by the application. Applicants may suggest specific reviewers or request exclusion of specific reviewers. Reviewers will provide an evaluation of the application along with a numerical score. The CFAR Executive Committee will consider these evaluations in making final funding decisions. The Developmental Core will notify applicants of awards. Written critiques of the proposed research will be provided to all applicants.

Once the review is completed and the award letters are sent out, additional paperwork may need to be completed. Projects that involve clinical research (above minimal risk) or have an international component will need additional review from NIAID prior to the activation of the project. If required, this information will be included in the Notice of Award. All additional paperwork will need to be completed within 4 weeks of notification or the award may be withdrawn.

Review Criteria

Scoring:

The CFAR developmental grant application scoring system uses a 9-point scale.  A score of 1 indicates an exceptionally strong application with essentially no weaknesses.  A score of 9 indicates an application with serious and substantive weaknesses with very few strengths; 5 is considered an average score.

1. Significance.
Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?  Will successful completion of the project provide the basis for future NIH funding?  Does the proposal address the NIH HIV/AIDS Research Priorities?

2. Investigator(s).
Are the PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? Has the PI previously received funding for a related project?  If the project is collaborative, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise? How will the award further the applicant’s career development?

3. Innovation.
Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?

4. Approach.
Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analysis well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?
If the project involves clinical research are the plans for protection of human subjects from research risks included.