One of the first announcements for funding opportunities in the health and life sciences sector due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has been released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Five distinct grant programs within three broad areas have been created by the NIH and its Centers. These programs are in addition to the original and traditional R01 Research Project Grant Program used by the NIH. Current NIH grant recipients should also be aware that supplemental funding has been made available due to the ARRA funding. Current grantees should consider reaching out to their grant administrator to explore supplemental grant opportunities.

Deadlines for the recently announced grant opportunities are imminent; please see below for specific dates. Click on the link to be connected directly to the discussion on each grant program.

  • Biomedical and Behavioral Research
  • Research Facility Construction
  • Research Instrumentation Equipment

 

 NIH Challenge Grants

The NIH has created a new grant mechanism, called Challenge Grants, in Health and Science Research. The Challenge Grants are to support research that is focused on certain biomedical and behavioral research challenges.

The NIH expects to fund 200 or more grants, dependent upon how many meritorious applications are submitted. According to the NIH announcement, the focus of the grants will be on "specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways."

In addition, NIH has indicated that additional funds may be available to grant applicants if the proposed project specifically incorporates or addresses comparative effectiveness research. Applicants seeking additional funding for comparative effectiveness research must demonstrate that the proposal includes “a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy.”

The Challenge Grant topics have been published on the NIH website and are organized into Challenge Areas. Within each Challenge Area, topics have been designated either as a highest priority or left without designation. However, applicants may apply to any topic listed by the NIH. To view the highest priority Challenge topics for a particular Challenge Area, click on one of the below links.

Challenge Areas

The Challenge Grants will support selected research programs with up to $500,000 of funding per year for a two-year period. Applicants must base their proposal on this two-year time frame. In addition, applicants may submit multiple applications so long as each proposal is "scientifically distinct." Eligible grantees include public and private institutions of higher education, non-profits with and without 501(c)(3) status, small businesses, other for-profit entities and state and local governments. Eligible grantees must be domestic entities, including U.S. territories and possessions, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

The earliest that a grant application may be submitted is March 27, 2009, and the deadline for grant applications is April 27, 2009. NIH will review grant proposals over the summer with the goal of a September 30, 2009, start date.

Research Facility Construction

Two grant funding streams have been announced to aid certain entities in the renovation, repair and improvement of research facilities across the United States. Each of the two grant opportunities have certain eligibility standards and fund different aspects of research facility rehabilitation or construction.

The first grant, dubbed Core Facility Renovation, Repair and Construction, is focused on upgrading "core facilities to support the conduct of Public Health Service supported biomedical and/or behavioral research." For purposes of this grant, a "core facility" is a "centralized shared resource that provides access to instruments or technologies or services, as well as expert consultation to investigators supported by the core." Funds awarded through this first funding stream will be in the range of $1M to $10M. The funds may be used to renovate the core facility and to improve or purchase general equipment, such as autoclaves, clinical instruments, cold rooms and even certain fixed equipment, that supports specialized groups of researchers.

Funds awarded under this grant must be spent within five years and each applicant is expected to submit no more than two applications. Eligible grantees include public and private institutions of higher education and non-profits with and without 501(c)(3) status. The opening date for grant applications is August 17, 2009, and the application deadline is September 17, 2009. Review of the grants will then take place over the following six to eight months with the goal of a July 2010 start date.

The second construction grant is named the Extramural Research Facilities Improvement Program. This program is focused on major alterations to existing facilities, additions to existing facilities or construction of new facilities in order to enhance "the conduct of Public Health Service-supported biomedical and behavioral research" by helping improve non-Federal research facilities to meet certain research needs of an institution. Major alterations and renovations must exceed $500,000 and total awards under this program will be in the range of $2M to $15M.

A few examples of projects to be considered under this program include the creation of BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratory facilities, altering space to be compliant with Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Laboratory Practices, and creation of infrastructure to establish bio-specimen and/or DNA clinical repositories. Funds awarded under this grant must be spent within five years and each applicant is expected to submit no more than three applications. Eligible grantees include public and private institutions of higher education and non-profits with and without 501(c)(3) status. The opening date for grant applications is April 6, 2009, and the deadline for projects between $2M and $5M is May 6, 2009; between $10M and $15M is June 17, 2009; and between $5M and $10M is July 17, 2009. Review of the grants will then take place over the following six to eight months with the goal of a December 2009 to April 2010 start date.

Under both of these construction grant initiatives, applicants are expected to consider "green" building technology standards. In certain circumstances, depending on the cost of the project and/or the size of the project, the final constructed facility may be required to meet U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification or the Green Building initiative’s Green Globes System Certification rating system. Awards under these grant programs are also expected to create or maintain American jobs.

Research Instrumentation Equipment

Two grant programs are directed at the purchase of research equipment. The programs, the High-End Instrumentation Grant Program and the Shared Instrumentation Grant Program, are both existing NIH programs that are being augmented by ARRA funding.

The High-End Instrumentation Program is aimed at encouraging applications from groups of NIH-supported investigators to purchase a single major item of equipment to be used for biomedical research that costs at least $600,000. The maximum award is $8M. Funds are to be spent within two years of the award. Examples of eligible instruments include, but are not limited to, structural and functional imaging systems, macromolecular NMR spectrometers and high-resolution mass spectrometers. Eligible grantees include public and private institutions of higher education and non-profits with and without 501(c)(3) status, however a minimum of three major users must be "Principle Investigators on NIH peer reviewed research grants." Applications may be submitted beginning on April 6, 2009, and must be received by May 6, 2009. Review of the grants will then take place over the following six to eight months with a goal of a December 2009 to April 2010 start date.

The Shared Instrumentation Grant Program is focused on applications from groups of NIH-supported investigators to purchase or upgrade commercially available instruments that cost at least $100,000 up to a maximum of $500,000. Eligible grantees include public and private institutions of higher education and non-profits with and without 501(c)(3) status, however a minimum of three major users must be "Principle Investigators on NIH peer reviewed research grants." Applications are being accepted now and must be received by March 23, 2009. Review of the grants will then take place over the following 12 months with a goal of a April 1, 2010, start date.