Department of Health and Human Services
Part 1. Overview Information
Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

Funding Opportunity Title

Limited Competition for the Continuation of the Adult Acute Liver Failure Study Group (U01)

Activity Code

U01 Research Project – Cooperative Agreements

Announcement Type

Reissue of RFA-DK-09-506

Related Notices

None

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

RFA-DK-14-504

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.847 

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to continue the Acute Liver Failure Study Group with a focus on further enrollment of patients with acute liver failure (ALF) into a clinical database; to increase the numbers of well-characterized biospecimens stored in a central repository; and to continue innovative clinical investigation into the causes and means of treatment of ALF and the complications that emanate from ALF.              

Key Dates
Posted Date

July 18, 2014

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

October 25, 2014

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

October 25, 2014  

Application Due Date(s)

November 25, 2014, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on this date.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Scientific Merit Review

February/March 2015  

Advisory Council Review

May 2015

Earliest Start Date

July 2015   

Expiration Date

November 26, 2014

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.


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Table of Contents

Part 1. Overview Information
Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
Section II. Award Information
Section III. Eligibility Information
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
Section V. Application Review Information
Section VI. Award Administration Information
Section VII. Agency Contacts
Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement
Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to continue the support for the Adult Acute Liver Failure Study Group (ALFSG) to allow for further enrollment of patients with acute liver failure (ALF) into a clinical database, to increase the numbers of well characterized biospecimens stored in a central repository, to continue innovative clinical investigation into the causes and means of treatment of ALF and the complications that emanate from ALF.

Background

The Adult Acute Liver Failure Study Group was established through partial funding support by the Food and Drug Administration with subsequent full support from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases since 1997. Current and past activities of the ALFSG include the completion of a large clinical trial on the use of N-acetylcysteine for non-acetaminophen related ALF and a prospective database with more than 2500 cases and 102,000 biospecimens along with over 1500 tissue and 1000 DNA specimens.  Furthermore, the clinical database and biospecimen collection have been the basis for more than 23 peer reviewed publications since 2010 focusing on the nature, course, epidemiology, management and pathogenesis of ALF. In terms of clinical trials, the ALFSG currently has ongoing the “A Phase 2a Study to Evaluate the Safety and Tolerability of OCR-002 (ornithine phenylacetate) in the Treatment of Patients with Acute Liver Failure/Severe Acute Liver Injury due to Acetaminophen Overdose” (STOP-ALF).

Acute Liver Failure is a rare and clinically devastating condition characterized by the acute loss of hepatic function. An estimated 2000 cases of ALF occur annually in the United States, often affecting young individuals without previous medical problems and often leading to death or need for emergency liver transplantation. ALF is not a single, specific disease, but rather a clinical syndrome that represents the most extreme consequences of several forms of sudden and severe liver injury. The causes of ALF encompass a wide range of etiologies including viral hepatitis, drug- or toxin-induced liver injury, autoimmune conditions, metabolic disorders, vascular compromise, and other rare causes. Importantly, despite modern diagnostic tools, a large proportion of cases of ALF remain “indeterminant” or of unknown cause. Without knowing the cause of these cases of ALF, it is difficult or impossible to develop means of prevention and treatment of this condition. In adults, slightly more than half of the patients with ALF will either undergo liver transplantation or die from liver failure. The most common immediate causes of death from ALF are cerebral edema and sepsis. Other organ system involvement is common, and ALF can present early with acute renal or respiratory failure.

Therapy for ALF is largely supportive in nature. Specific therapies are available for some forms of ALF such as N-acetylcysteine for acetaminophen overdose and prompt delivery of a fetus for pregnancy-related ALF. However, for other forms of acute liver failure, there are no specific treatments. Liver transplantation is effective as a treatment of last resort for ALF but is problematic because of the acute, unanticipated nature of ALF, the need for immediate transplantation (within hours or days) and the national shortage of liver donor organs. Paramount to the management of patients with ALF is the timing of the decision for liver transplantation, determining whether the patient will recover spontaneously or will continue to deteriorate and require transplantation. Timing is critical because waiting too late to go to transplantation may result in irreversible renal, lung or brain damage such that the patient will not recover even if a successful liver transplantation is performed. Going to transplantation too early is also problematic because some patients will recover spontaneously and thus will undergo the procedure unnecessarily and be left with a life-time need for immunosuppression to protect the liver graft from rejection. These challenges make development of prognostic algorithms critical for proper management of ALF.

Multiple organ systems can be seriously deranged in ALF.  Supportive therapy for ALF is often times made more challenging by the various extra-hepatic conditions such as alterations in mental status, cardiovascular performance, coagulation measures, and renal function.  In essence, ALF serves as the nidus for the development of multi-organ dysfunction for which further investigation into gaining an improved understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms remains.

Rapid identification of the cause, improved prognostication of the disease course, and institution of appropriate supportive and therapeutic measures are essential for optimal clinical management of ALF patients. Understanding the pathophysiological basis of these clinical manifestations of ALF remain daunting and formed the basis for several research recommendations in ALF that were identified at prior meetings. These challenges underscore the need to continue support of the ALFSG.

The overall goal of the ALFSG is to gain a better understanding of the causes, pathophysiologic mechanisms, complications, natural history, and therapy of ALF. Future goals for the ALFSG may include but are not limited to:

  • Continued prospective monitoring of well characterized ALF patients in order to provide information on secular trends on the causes of ALF and on short-term and long-term morbidity and mortality outcomes.
  • Studies directed towards determining the cause of indeterminate ALF by utilizing standard and innovative approaches such as an adjudication committee, metabolomics, genomics, gene expression and protein arrays, and proteomics.
  • Basic and translational research into the pathophysiologic mechanisms of acute liver injury that leads to ALF and to extrahepatic organ and system failures.
  • Basic and translational research into the mechanisms by which N-acetylcysteine leads to improved survival in early stage ALF.
  • Improvement of predictive modeling of outcome with standard clinical markers for survival and death from ALF and for modeling outcome for survival and death after liver transplantation.
  • Discovery or improvement of predictive modeling with innovative biomarkers for survival and death from ALF and for modeling outcome for survival and death after liver transplantation.
  • Studies of integrative liver physiologic functions for predictive modeling for survival and death from ALF and for modeling outcome for survival and death after liver transplantation.
  • Studies of bioartificial liver support systems in patients with ALF with regard to the efficacy of achieving practical and meaningful clinical endpoints.
  • Studies of translational research on biomarkers of growth and regeneration of the liver during ALF.
  • Clinical studies of therapeutic agents directed towards ameliorating the hepatic and extrahepatic consequences of ALF.

Organization of the Adult Acute Liver Failure Study Group:  The ALFSG will continue to be a cooperative network based upon the support of a single U01 Cooperative Agreement.  Components of the ALFSG will include a Data Coordination Center, an Administrative Center, and clinical study sites.  The Program Director/Principal Investigator or the corresponding Program Director/Principal Investigator of the application (or their designee with the approval of the NIDDK) will serve as the ALFSG Study Chair.  The Steering Committee will be the main governing body of the ALFSG and will be composed of the ALFSG Study Chair, the lead investigators at the various clinical study sites and the Data Coordination Center, and the NIDDK Project Scientist and other NIDDK staff as deemed appropriate by the NIDDK.  The Steering Committee will meet two to four times per year in the Washington, DC/Baltimore metropolitan area or other suitable venue as appropriate.  All major scientific decisions will be determined by a majority vote of the Steering Committee.  Major decisions that have financial implications, such as final protocols, ancillary studies, or safety implications, such as the choice of study drugs will be made by the Steering Committee with final approval by the NIDDK.  Each Steering Committee member will have one vote.  The Steering Committee will have primary responsibility for the general organization of ALFSG, finalizing common clinical protocols, facilitating the development of a standardized nomenclature, diagnostic criteria, histological definitions, and necessary components to the common database on patients.  The Steering Committee will be responsible for the conduct and monitoring of studies and reporting study results.  Topics for investigational and treatment protocols will be proposed and prioritized by the Steering Committee. 

The Data Coordinating Center in conjunction with the Administrative Center will take on data collection/analysis functions and will be responsible for the conduct of all of the ongoing and future studies of the ALFSG.  In addition, the DCC will be responsible for supporting any protocol development or modifications; providing sample size calculations, statistical advice, questionnaires, and data analysis; supporting development, implementation, and maintenance of a data base of clinical information and blood samples; developing or modifying any data safety and monitoring plans; supporting manuscript preparation; maintaining web based data entry, digital data storage, and automated electronic medical record downloads of data to a centralized database; and, providing overall study coordination and quality assurance, including coordination of the activities and meetings (including conference calls or face to face meetings) of the Data and Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMB), the Executive and Steering Committees, and other needed committees. The DCC will prepare or modify protocols for submission to the DSMB and the Steering Committee for their approval prior to the implementation of any study protocols or protocol change. The DCC will be responsible for preparation of documents to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of Investigational New Drug Applications (INDs) held by the NIDDK on behalf of the ALFSG.  The DCC will prepare all reports including data reports for review by the DSMBs at their meetings. The DCC in conjunction with the Administrative Center will provide DSMB payments and meeting logistics and provide planning logistics in conjunction with the NIDDK.  The DCC in conjunction with the Administrative Center will also be responsible for the logistics and planning of the meetings of the Steering Committee and the various operational committees of the ALFSG. The DCC in conjunction with the Administrative Center will be responsible for acquiring and administering subcontracts as needed (see Terms and Conditions of Award).  During the next funding cycle for the ALFSG, it is anticipated that the administrative functions of the Administrative Center will eventually be transitioned over to the Data Coordination Center in order to facilitate seamless study logistics oversight and monitoring of data and tracking of biospecimens.

The NIDDK has established Central Biosample, Genetic, and Data Repositories for the ongoing and archival storage of data and biospecimens collected in large, multi-site studies funded by NIDDK. The DCC in conjunction with the Administrative Center will develop a subcontract to a vendor for the preparation of blood into DNA for the ALFSG.  The DCC will work with the NIDDK Biosample, Genetic and Data Repositories and the clinical study sites to coordinate procedures for coding, shipping, processing, receipt, and storage of study samples that are to be maintained in the Repositories and dispensed to Steering Committee approved ancillary study sites.  In addition, the DCC and /or Administrative Center will coordinate with the NIDDK Data and Biospecimen Repository to prepare the collected data and biosamples for eventual archiving and distribution as per NIDDK policy (https://www.niddkrepository.org/niddk/home.do).  All samples and data transferred to the Repositories will be under the custodianship of the NIDDK, although the HBRN Steering Committee will have proprietary control of and exclusive access to the samples and data for an agreed-upon period of time.

An Executive Committee composed of the ALFSG Study Chair, other PD(s)/PI(s) of the Cooperative Agreement if a multiple PD(s)/PI(s) Cooperative Agreement application, the lead investigator of the Data Coordination Center, selected clinical site lead investigators, the NIDDK Project Scientist and other necessary NIDDK staff will effect management decisions required between Steering Committee meetings as required for the function of the ALFSG.  Other personnel, as deemed necessary by the NIDDK Project Scientist and Program Official, may also be included.

An independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board has been established by the NIDDK to review protocols and monitor patient safety and performance of each study.  As a part of its responsibilities, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board will submit recommendations to the NIDDK regarding the continuation of each study.

Section II. Award Information
Funding Instrument

Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, NIH scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities.

Application Types Allowed

Renewal

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

NIDDK intends to commit $3,500,000 to fund one award in FY 2015.

Award Budget

The Total Costs cannot exceed $3,500,000 in FY2015 including any consortium F&A costs.   

Award Project Period

The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period.  The maximum project period is 5 years. 

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
Eligible Organizations

Only current ALFSG awardees are eligible to apply to this FOA.   

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply.
Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are not allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account.  PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Only the current AFLSG PDs/PIs are eligible to apply to this FOA.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility
Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time.  This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).

In addition, the NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows.  The NIH will accept submission:

  • To an RFA of an application that was submitted previously as an investigator-initiated application but not paid;
  • Of an investigator-initiated application that was originally submitted to an RFA but not paid; or
  • Of an application with a changed grant activity code.
Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Letter of Intent

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

By the date listed in Part 1. Overview Information, prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed activity
  • Name(s), address(es), and telephone number(s) of the PD(s)/PI(s)
  • Names of other key personnel
  • Participating institution(s)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity

The letter of intent (preferably electronically) should be sent to:

Francisco O. Calvo, PhD
Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
6707 Democracy Blvd, room 752
Bethesda, MD 20892-5452
Telephone: 301- 594-8897
Email: calvof@mail.nih.gov    

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.  

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed. 

R&R or Modular Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.  

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions: 

Other Special Performance Requirements: The ALFSG will continue to be a collaborative effort that will require frequent interactions of the awardee and subcontracted sites with the NIDDK. The applicant must indicate their willingness to incorporate into their subcontracts with the Data Coordination Center and the clinical study sites to:

  • Participate in Steering Committee meetings (expected to occur in person 1-2 times a year) in the Washington DC/Baltimore metropolitan area or other suitable venue, and as monthly (or as needed) teleconference, site visits as required by the NIDDK, and regular subcommittee telephone conference calls;
  • Cooperate with other subcontract awardees in the development and design or modification of research protocols, and cooperate with other awardees in carrying out approved research protocols and state willingness to disclose to the Steering Committee any applicant institutional specific clinical studies that may overlap with the clinical activities of the ALFSG;
  • Abide by common definitions; common methods for patient selection and enrollment; and common protocols, procedures, tests, and reporting forms as chosen by majority vote of the Steering Committee;
  • Actively seek to implement each ALFSG protocol approved by the DSMB and the NIDDK that the site is selected for participation;
  • Comply with all study policies and quality assurance measures approved by the Steering Committee;
  • Agree to oversight of the study by a Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB);
  • Transmit study data to the Data and Coordinating Center in a timely and accurate manner;
  • Report all adverse events in accordance with procedures established by the Steering Committee, and NIDDK and FDA policies;
  • Cooperate with other awardees in the publication of study results and the eventual release to the scientific community of study procedures and other resources;
  • Serve on and chair subcommittees and protocol committees as assigned by the steering committee or the NIDDK;
  • Accept the “Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award” in Section VI.2.A “Award Administration Information”.  

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans (Data Sharing Plan, Sharing Model Organisms, and Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)) as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Appendix:  Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. 

3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date.  If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.  Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically.

Important reminders:
All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review and responsiveness by components of participating organizations, NIH. Applications that are incomplete and/or nonresponsive will not be reviewed. 

In order to expedite review, applicants are requested to notify the NIDDK Referral Office by email at calvof@mail.nih.gov when the application has been submitted. Please include the FOA number and title, PD/PI name, and title of the application.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

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?  

Investigator(s)   

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), 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? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?   

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?   

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses 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 human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?   

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children 

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

Not Applicable

Renewals

For Renewals, the committee will consider the progress made in the last funding period.

Revisions

Not Applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Not Applicable

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS).

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • Will receive a written critique.

Appeals of initial peer review will not be accepted for applications submitted in response to this FOA.

Applications will be assigned to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications submitted in response to this FOA. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the National Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Advisory Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.      

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website.  This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) administrative guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies. The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the cooperative agreement, an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the NIH purpose is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined below.

The PD(s)/PI(s) will have the primary responsibility for:

1. Developing the research design and study protocol, including definition of objectives and approaches, sample size and power calculations, and establishing procedures for participant recruitment and follow-up, data collection, quality control, interim data and safety monitoring, final data analysis and interpretation, and publication of results.

2. Establishing a Steering Committee to implement, coordinate and manage the project(s). Awardee(s) will name investigators to serve as members on a Steering Committee and other subcommittees, as appropriate, meeting periodically. Awardees will be required to accept and implement the common protocol(s) and procedures approved by the Steering Committee.

3. Designating Protocol Chairs. The Program Director/Principal Investigator (for studies involving multiple protocols) shall designate a single Protocol Chairperson (if the Program Director/Principal Investigator does not assume this role) for each protocol to be carried out by the study group. The Protocol Chairperson shall function as the scientific coordinator for the protocol and shall assume responsibility for obtaining approval to implement the protocol from the Steering Committee and for developing and monitoring the protocol. Significant modifications to approved protocols must be approved by the Steering Committee.

4. Implementing collection of data specified by the study protocol. For a multi-center study, each awardee/site is required to ensure that data will be submitted expeditiously to the Data Coordinating Center. Additionally, individual investigators/sites must demonstrate the ability to implement the strategy specifically designed for their individual study population.

5. Establishing procedures for data quality and completeness. Awardees are responsible for ensuring accurate and timely assessment of the progress of each study, including development of procedures to ensure that data collection and management are: (1) adequate for quality control and analysis; (2) for clinical trials, as simple as appropriate in order to facilitate cooperation/referral of study participants by physicians to avoid unnecessary expense; and (3) sufficiently staffed across the participating institutions. For research involving multiple sites, a plan for analysis of pooled data will be developed by the Steering Committee.

6. Submitting interim progress reports, when requested, to the NIDDK Program Director including as a minimum, summary data on protocol performance. For coordinated multiple awards or a multi-site single award, the NIDDK Program Director may require additional information from individual awardees/sites. Such reports are in addition to the required annual noncompeting continuation progress report.

7. Establishing procedures, where applicable, for all participating institutions in coordinated awards to comply with FDA regulations for studies involving investigational agents or devices and to comply with the requirements of 45 CFR Part 46 for the protection of human subjects, and the NIH policy requirements for the inclusion of women, minorities and children.

8. Reporting of the study findings. Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and software developed under these awards, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies. The awardee must also be adherent to Study Publication and Presentation Policy. The NIDDK will have access to and may periodically review all data generated under an award. NIDDK staff may co-author publications of findings with awardees consistent with NIH and study policies.

9. Support or other involvement of industry or any other third party in the study -- e.g., participation by the third party; involvement of study resources or citing the name of the study or NIDDK support; or special access to study results, primary data/summary information, or resources -- may be advantageous and appropriate. However, except for licensing of patents or copyrights, support or involvement of any third party is permitted only after concurrence by NIDDK.

10. Study investigators are encouraged to publish and to release publicly and disseminate results and other products of the study, in accordance with study protocols and steering committee policies on publications.

11. Maintaining confidentiality of information: The awardee(s) will maintain the confidentiality of the information developed by the investigators (i.e., protocols, data analysis, conclusions, etc.) as well as proprietary information of a company collaborating with the study.

12. The NIDDK has established Central Biosample, Genetic, and Data Repositories for the archiving and storage of data and biosamples collected in large, multi-site studies funded by NIDDK. The PD/PI or his/her designee will coordinate with the NIDDK Data Repository to prepare the collected data for eventual archiving and distribution. In addition, if applicable, the PD/PI or his/her designee will work with the NIDDK Biosample Repository to coordinate procedures for coding, shipping, processing, receipt, and storage of study samples that are to be maintained in the Repository. All samples and data transferred to the Repositories will be under the custodianship of the NIDDK, although the study’s Steering Committee will have proprietary control of and exclusive access to the samples and data for an agreed-upon period of time. Subsequently samples and data will be available to the wider scientific community in accordance with the NIH policy on Data Sharing (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/ and, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_guidance.htm#goals , and http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing/data_sharing_faqs.htm), as well as the NIDDK policy for data sharing in multi-center and large single-center clinical studies http://www.niddk.nih.gov/research-funding/process/human-subjects-research/Documents/PublicversionNIDDKdatasharingpolicy2013July2013.pdf.

13. The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (FDAAA or US Public Law 110-85) was passed on September 27, 2007. The law requires mandatory registration and results reporting for certain clinical trials of drugs, biologics, and devices. If trials conducted under this Cooperative Agreement are applicable clinical trials subject to FDAAA, the sponsor or his/her designee will perform the mandatory study registration and reporting of study results to ClinicalTrials.gov. For more information about this law and requirements for sponsors and/or investigators, visit the PRS and U.S. Public Law 110-85 Information Page at http://prsinfo.clinicaltrials.gov/fdaaa.html. In addition, grantees should be aware that clinical trials not covered by FDAAA may still require registration in an approved registry in order to be published, according to the guidelines issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (http://www.icmje.org/publishing_10register.html).

NIH staff have substantial programmatic involvement that is above and beyond the normal stewardship role in awards, as described below:

An NIDDK Project Scientist with substantial involvement will:

1. Serve as the contact point for all facets of the scientific interaction with the awardee (s). As required for the coordination of activities and to expedite progress, NIDDK may designate additional NIDDK staff to provide advice to the awardee on specific scientific and/or analytic issues. Such staff may include another Project Scientist or Analyst, who will provide direct technical assistance to the awardees to optimize the conduct and/or analysis of the study; or who may assist in the coordination of activities across multiple sites.

2. For multi-center studies, participate in the Steering Committee that oversees study conduct. The NIDDK Project Scientist or designee will be a full participant and voting member of the Steering Committee and, if applicable, subcommittees.

3. Serve as a resource to study investigators with respect to other ongoing NIDDK activities that may be relevant to the study to facilitate compatibility with the NIDDK missions and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.

4. Have substantial involvement assisting in the design and coordination of research activities for awardees as elaborated below:

a. Assisting by providing advice in the management and technical performance of the investigations, coordinating required regulatory clearances for investigational agents used in the study, which are held by NIDDK. The NIDDK may reserve the right to cross file or independently file an Investigational New Drug Application or an Investigational Device Exemption form with the FDA.

b. The NDDK Project Scientist or designee may coordinate activities among awardees by assisting in the design, development, and coordination of a common research or clinical protocol and statistical evaluations of data; in the preparation of questionnaires and other data recording forms; and in the publication of results.

c. Reviewing procedures for assessing data quality and study performance monitoring.

d. The NIDDK Project Scientist or designee may be co-authors on study publications. In general, to warrant co-authorship, NIDDK staff must have contributed to the following areas: (a) design of the concepts or experiments being tested; (b) performance of significant portions of the activity; (c) participation in analysis and interpretation of study results and (d) preparation and authorship of pertinent manuscripts.

The NIDDK Program Official identified in the Notice of Award will:

1. Interact with the Program Director/Principal Investigator on a regular basis to monitor study progress. Monitoring may include: regular communications with the Program Director/Principal Investigator and staff, periodic site visits, observation of field data collection and management techniques, quality control, fiscal review, and other relevant matters; as well as attendance at Steering Committee, data safety and monitoring board, and related meetings. The NIDDK retains, as an option, periodic review of progress by researchers not involved with the study.

2. Review and approve protocols prior to implementation to insure they are within the scope of peer review, for safety considerations, as required by Federal regulations.

3. The NIDDK Program Official will monitor protocol progress, and may request that a protocol study be closed to accrual for reasons including: (a) accrual rate insufficient to complete study in a timely fashion; (b) accrual goals met early; (c) poor protocol performance; (d) patient safety and regulatory concerns; (e) study results that are already conclusive; (f) low likelihood of showing a benefit of the intervention (futility); and (g) emergence of new information that diminishes the scientific importance of the study question. The NIDDK will not permit further expenditures of NIDDK funds for a study after requesting closure except as specifically approved by the NIDDK.

4. Make recommendations for continued funding based on: a) overall study progress, including sufficient patient and/or data accrual; b) cooperation in carrying out the research (e.g., attendance at Steering Committee meetings, implementation of group decisions, compliance with the terms of award and reporting requirements); and/or c) maintenance of a high quality of research, which will allow pooling of data and comparisons across multiple cooperative agreement awards for common data elements.

5. Appoint a Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as appropriate; the NIDDK Program Official or their designee will serve as the Executive Secretary and/or NIDDK program representative on the DSMB.

Areas of Joint Responsibility include:

In addition to the interactions defined above, NIDDK Project Scientist and Awardees shall share responsibility for the following activities:

1. Steering Committee. A Steering Committee organized by the study investigator(s) will be the main governing body of the study.

The Steering Committee has primary responsibility to design research activities, establish priorities, develop common protocols and manuals, questionnaires and other data recording forms, establish and maintain quality control among awardees, review progress, monitor patient accrual, coordinate and standardize data management, and cooperate on the publication of results. Major scientific decisions regarding the core data will be determined by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will document progress in written reports to the NIDDK Program Official, and will provide periodic supplementary reports upon request.

The Steering Committee will be composed of all Program Director (s)/Principal Investigator(s), (including those of data coordinating /statistical centers, if any) and co-investigators as deemed necessary, and the NIDDK Project Scientist. The final structure of the Steering Committee and voting procedures will be established at the first meeting. The NIDDK Project Scientist will have voting membership on the Steering Committee, and as appropriate, its subcommittees. The frequency of Steering Committee meetings will be dictated by a vote of the members of the Steering Committee.

A Chairperson of the Steering Committee, other than the NIDDK Project Scientist, will be selected by the NIDDK. The Chairperson provides leadership to the Committee by conducting the Steering Committee meetings, representing the study group to the External Oversight Committee established by the NIDDK  and by interacting closely with the awardees during protocol development and implementation.

2. External Study Oversight.

An independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board will be established by the NIDDK for Phase III clinical trials or other high risk studies as appropriate. An Observational Study Monitoring Board (OSMB) will be established for observational/epidemiologic studies. These Boards will review study progress, safety data and interim results, as appropriate, and provide guidance to the NIDDK.

Dispute Resolution

Any disagreement that may arise on scientific/programmatic matters (within the scope of the award), between award recipients and the NIDDK may be brought to dispute resolution. A dispute resolution panel will be composed of three members --one selected by the awardee (or the Steering Committee, with the NIDDK member not voting), a second member selected by NIDDK, and the third member elected by the two prior selected members. These special dispute resolution procedures in no way affect the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulations at 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D, and HHS regulations at 45 CR Part 16.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the annual Non-Competing Progress Report (PHS 2590 or RPPR) and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later.  All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000.  See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement. 

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Commons Help Desk (Questions regarding eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone: 301-435-0714
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Edward Doo, MD
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Telephone: 301-451-4524
E-mail: Dooe@niddk.nih.gov     

Averell H. Sherker, MD, FRCP(C)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Telephone: 301-451-6207
Email:  averell.sherker@nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Francisco Calvo, PhD
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Telephone: 301-594-8897
Email: calvof@mail.nih.gov    

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Mr. Kieran Kelley, MAS
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) 
Telephone: 301-594-2193
Email:  kelleykieran@niddk.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.

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