HIGH-IMPACT PILOT STUDIES IN CANCER BIOLOGY

RELEASE DATE:  December 4, 2002

PA NUMBER:  PA-03-041

EXPIRATION DATE:  December 31, 2004, unless reissued. 

National Cancer Institute (NCI)  
 (http://www.nci.nih.gov/)

THIS PA CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION

o Purpose of the PA
o Research Objectives
o Mechanism of Support 
o Eligible Institutions
o Individuals Eligible to Become Principal Investigators
o Where to Send Inquiries
o Submitting an Application
o Peer Review Process
o Review Criteria
o Award Criteria
o Required Federal Citations

PURPOSE 

To support research in new areas that may lead to novel insights into 
understanding and combating the cancer process, NCI invites 
exploratory/developmental grant applications (R21) for high-impact pilot 
studies in basic cancer biology.  Appropriate projects would be those that 
could lead to a breakthrough in our understanding of the cancer process, 
significantly challenge accepted paradigms on cancer mechanisms, or reveal 
novel targets for therapeutic exploration.  Projects that will provide 
incremental advances in knowledge are not eligible.  Preliminary data in 
support of the studies is not required, but demonstration of sound rationale 
and appropriate expertise to undertake the study is expected.  Applications 
will be accepted from newly independent or established investigators, 
however, these grants are not intended to support or supplement ongoing 
funded research. 

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Our understanding of the cellular mechanisms driving cancer and our 
approaches to treat the disease have often been advanced by far-reaching 
discoveries borne out of the unexpected intersection of separate lines of 
research, keen observation that revealed novel associations, "out of the box" 
thinking, or even serendipity.  Examples of these discoveries include 
oncogenes and tumor suppressors, the importance of angiogenesis to tumor 
growth, the impact of apoptotic mechanisms on the treatment of cancer, and 
the involvement of the stroma in the progression of the disease.  Such 
discoveries opened up new areas of scientific investigation in cancer 
research and have had a profound impact on our understanding of neoplastic 
transformation and disease progression.  Despite the wealth of information 
these and many others advances have generated, there are still basic 
questions to be answered and we believe new questions to be formulated.  

Proposals in response to this initiative must be relevant to the mission of 
NCI with potential to have high impact on our understanding of basic cancer 
biology.  High impact is defined as having the potential for precedent-
setting significance.  Examples of appropriate research areas include, but 
are not restricted to, how variations in genes combine with the cellular 
environment to cause cancer; development of new experimental models that 
parallel human cancer-related pathways and processes; and exploration of new 
molecular pathways important in cancer biology particularly those that could 
realistically lead to novel targets for therapeutic development.  An 
important goal of this program is to accelerate basic cancer biology research 
that could greatly benefit all aspects of cancer research.  

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT 

This PA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 
exploratory/developmental (R21) grant award mechanism.  As an applicant, you 
will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the 
proposed project.  You may request up to $100,000 direct costs (four budget 
modules) per year for two years.  These grants are non-renewable and 
continuation of projects developed under this PA will be through the 
traditional unsolicited investigator initiated grant program.  

This PA uses just-in-time concepts.  It also uses the modular budgeting 
format. (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular.htm).   

ELIGIBLE INSTITUTIONS 

You may submit (an) application(s) if your institution has any of the 
following characteristics: 

o For-profit or non-profit organizations 
o Public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, 
and laboratories 
o Units of State and local governments
o Eligible agencies of the Federal government  
o Domestic or foreign

INDIVIDUALS ELIGIBLE TO BECOME PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry 
out the proposed research is invited to work with their institution to 
develop an application for support.  Individuals from underrepresented racial 
and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always 
encouraged to apply for NIH programs.   

WHERE TO SEND INQUIRIES

We encourage your inquiries concerning this PA and welcome the opportunity 
answer questions from potential applicants.  Inquiries may fall into two 
areas:  scientific/research and financial or grants management issues:

o Direct your questions about scientific/research issues to:

Dr. Barbara A. Spalholz
Division of Cancer Biology
National Cancer Institute 
EPN 5034
Bethesda, MD  20892-7396
Telephone:  (301) 496-7028
FAX:  (301) 402-1037
Email: bs62d@nih.gov

o Direct your questions about financial or grants management matters to:

Mr. Bill Wells
Grants Management Branch
National Cancer Institute 
EPS 243
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-7800
FAX:  (301) 496-8601
Email: ww14j@nih.gov

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

Applications must be prepared using the PHS 398 research grant application 
instructions and forms (rev. 5/2001), however the "Research Plan" sections a-
d must not exceed 15 pages.  In addition no more than 5 publications can be 
submitted as appendix material.  The PHS 398 is available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html in an interactive 
format.  For further assistance contact GrantsInfo, Telephone (301) 435-0714, 
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

APPLICATION RECEIPT DATES: Applications submitted in response to this program 
announcement will be accepted at the standard application deadlines, which 
are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/dates.htm.  Application 
deadlines are also indicated in the PHS 398 application kit.

SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR MODULAR GRANT APPLICATIONS:  The modular grant 
format simplifies the preparation of the budget in these applications by 
limiting the level of budgetary detail.  Applicants request direct costs in 
$25,000 modules.  Section C of the research grant application instructions 
for the PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001) at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html includes step-by-step 
guidance for preparing modular grants.  Additional information on modular 
grants is available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/modular/modular.htm.

SENDING AN APPLICATION TO THE NIH: Submit a signed, typewritten original of 
the application, including the checklist, and five signed photocopies in one 
package to:

Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040, MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD  20892-7710
Bethesda, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

APPLICATIONS HAND-DELIVERED BY INDIVIDUALS TO THE CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC 
REVIEW WILL NO LONGER BE ACCEPTED.  This policy does not apply to courier 
deliveries (i.e. FEDEX, UPS, DHL, etc.) 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-CA-02-012.html)

APPLICATION PROCESSING: Applications must be received by or mailed on or 
before the receipt dates described at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm.  The CSR will 
not accept any application in response to this PA that is essentially the 
same as one currently pending initial review unless the applicant withdraws 
the pending application.  The CSR will not accept any application that is 
essentially the same as one already reviewed.  This does not preclude the 
submission of a substantial revision of an application already reviewed, but 
such application must include an Introduction addressing the previous 
critique.

PEER REVIEW PROCESS

Applications submitted for this PA will be assigned on the basis of 
established PHS referral guidelines.  An appropriate scientific review group 
convened in accordance with the standard NIH peer review procedures 
(http://www.csr.nih.gov/refrev.htm) will evaluate applications for scientific 
and technical merit.  

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

o Receive a written critique
o Undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have 
the highest scientific merit, generally the top half of applications under 
review, will be discussed and assigned a priority score
o Receive a second level review by the National Cancer Advisory Board.

REVIEW CRITERIA

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of 
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In 
the written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following 
aspects of your application in order to judge the likelihood that the 
proposed research will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these 
goals: 

o Significance 
o Approach 
o Innovation
o Investigator
o Environment
  
The scientific review group will address and consider each of these criteria 
in assigning your application's overall score, weighting them as appropriate 
for each application.  

(1) SIGNIFICANCE:  Does your study address an important problem? If the aims 
of your application are achieved, how do they advance scientific knowledge?  
What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that 
drive this field?

(2) APPROACH:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses 
adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the 
project?  Do you acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative 
tactics?

(3) INNOVATION:  Does your project employ novel concepts, approaches or 
methods? Are the aims original and innovative?  Does your project challenge 
existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4) INVESTIGATOR: Are you appropriately trained and well suited to carry out 
this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to your experience level as the 
principal investigator and to that of other researchers (if any)?

(5) ENVIRONMENT:  Does the scientific environment in which your work will be 
done contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed experiments 
take advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ 
useful collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional 
support?

PROTECTIONS:  The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals, or 
the environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by the project 
proposed in the application.

INCLUSION:  The adequacy of plans to include subjects from both genders, all 
racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the 
scientific goals of the research.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of 
subjects will also be evaluated. (See Inclusion Criteria included in the 
section on Federal Citations, below)

BUDGET:  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period 
of support in relation to the proposed research.

AWARD CRITERIA

Applications submitted in response to a PA will compete for available funds 
with all other recommended applications, however, there is a maximum limit of 
20 applications that will be funded per year by NCI.  The following will be 
considered in making funding decisions:  

o Scientific merit of the proposed project as determined by peer review
o Availability of funds 
o Relevance to program priorities

REQUIRED FEDERAL CITATIONS 

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS: 
The NIH maintains a policy that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 
21) must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported 
by the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include 
them. This policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for 
receipt dates after October 1, 1998.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
"NIH Policy and Guidelines" on the inclusion of children as participants in 
research involving human subjects that is available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/children/children.htm. 

REQUIRED EDUCATION ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN SUBJECT PARTICIPANTS: NIH 
policy requires education on the protection of human subject participants for 
all investigators submitting NIH proposals for research involving human 
subjects.  You will find this policy announcement in the NIH Guide for Grants 
and Contracts Announcement, dated June 5, 2000, at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-039.html.  A 
continuing education program in the protection of human participants in 
research in now available online at: http://cme.nci.nih.gov/

HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS (hESC): Criteria for federal funding of research on 
hESCs can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/stem_cells.htm and at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-005.html.  Guidance 
for investigators and institutional review boards regarding research involving 
human embryonic stem cells, germ cells, and stem cell-derived test articles 
can be found at
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-044.html.
Only research using hESC lines that are registered in the NIH Human 
Embryonic Stem Cell Registry will be eligible for Federal funding (see 
http://escr.nih.gov).   It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide 
the official NIH identifier(s)for the hESC line(s) to be used in the proposed 
research.  Applications that do not provide this information will be returned 
without review. 

PUBLIC ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT: The 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to 
provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act 
(FOIA) under some circumstances.  Data that are (1) first produced in a 
project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) 
cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action 
that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed 
through FOIA.  It is important for applicants to understand the basic scope 
of this amendment.  NIH has provided guidance at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm.

Applicants may wish to place data collected under this PA in a public 
archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the 
distribution for an indefinite period of time.  If so, the application should 
include a description of the archiving plan in the study design and include 
information about this in the budget justification section of the 
application. In addition, applicants should think about how to structure 
informed consent statements and other human subjects procedures given the 
potential for wider use of data collected under this award.

URLs IN NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS OR APPENDICES: All applications and proposals 
for NIH funding must be self-contained within specified page limitations. 
Unless otherwise specified in an NIH solicitation, Internet addresses (URLs) 
should not be used to provide information necessary to the review because 
reviewers are under no obligation to view the Internet sites.   Furthermore, 
we caution reviewers that their anonymity may be compromised when they 
directly access an Internet site.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010: The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to 
achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy 
People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas. This PA 
is related to one or more of the priority areas. Potential applicants may 
obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at 
http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS: This program is described in the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance No. 93.396 and is not subject to the 
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health 
Systems Agency review.  Awards are made under authorization of Sections 301 
and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and 
administered under NIH grants policies described at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm and under Federal Regulations 
42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92. 

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free 
workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products.  In addition, 
Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in 
certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which 
regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early 
childhood development services are provided to children.  This is consistent 
with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of 
the American people. 


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