Questions and Answers
Q: For current Botanical Research Center awards, can the title of the competitive renewal application be different from that of the prior award to reflect the shift in focus of the research towards health maintenance/resilience?
A: Yes. The application should still be submitted as a competitive renewal, but the letter of intent should reflect this change so that the NIH system can be alerted, to ensure that the application is entered as a competitive renewal and not as a new award. The project number will stay the same, while the title changes.
If Research Projects or Cores are discontinued, the Overall section of the competitive renewal application should explain the rationale and justification for such changes.
Q: Since the budget for the P50 cannot directly support training per se, does this mean that graduate student stipends cannot be included in the P50 budget?
A: Stipends cannot, by NIH policy, be supported on NIH research grants.
The Administrative Core component of each BDSRC application must describe plans for obtaining funds (or utilizing existing resources) to provide training and career development opportunities. Supplemental funding for training and career development could be sought from NIH institutional training grants (T32), individual fellowships (F31, F32), mentored career development awards (K01, K08), and other sources including, but not limited to, the parent institution and private foundations.
Q: Would research on Β-glucans or micro-algae be within the purview of the BDSRC RFA?
A: Research on microorganisms other than plant endophytes, and on marine organisms would be considered unresponsive to this RFA, and applications with such a focus will NOT be reviewed.
Research on macroscopic fungi is an area of interest for the BDSRC RFA, so research on the contribution of fungal &Beta-glucans to health-relevant effects of macroscopic fungi would be within scope.
Q: Is it acceptable in a BDSRC application to propose to use commercially available products?
A: Yes, as long as the applicant can convincingly demonstrate that they have a plan to ensure access to consistent product for the conduct of research throughout the project period, and for replication of the research, and to independently assure and verify product integrity, as required by NCCAM’s Product Integrity Policy.
Q: What do you mean by essential nutrients?
A: Essential nutrients would include protein as a nutrient (as opposed to a specific modifier of function, e.g., an enzyme or cofactor), carbohydrate (as calories, as opposed to, e.g., a specific modifier of function), vitamins, and minerals. These important compounds have substantial research support through other mechanisms, and are not eligible for support as a primary research focus for awards pursuant to RFA OD-14-001.
Q: The RFA states that applications with human subjects or clinical research in more than one Research Project, or with all the specific aims of such a Research Project focused on human subjects or clinical research are not responsive to the BDSRC RFA. What is allowed in human subject research?
A: Only one of the Research Projects may include NIH-defined human subjects or clinical research. Proposals in which more than one Research Project includes NIH-defined human subjects or clinical research will be considered unresponsive and NOT reviewed. Proposals in which ALL the specific aims of a Research Project that includes NIH-defined human subjects or clinical research are focused on such research will be considered unresponsive and NOT reviewed. Specific aims using samples from human subjects or clinical research that is already funded (as part of a separate award or other Research Project) to address research questions not inherently addressed elsewhere would not render an application unresponsive.
Q: What are the limits on information provided in the letter of intent?
A: There is no length limit for letters of intent, and they are only required to provide the information listed in 7, above; however applicants are welcome to provide additional information in their letters, although they are urged to be concise.
Q: What information should applicants provide regarding External Advisory Committee (EAC) members?
A: Those submitting new applications should describe the expertise that would be appropriate for EAC members, but should NOT name potential members in their applications, nor contact them. This leaves a larger pool of experts available for peer review.
Those submitting competitive renewal applications should list people who have served on their EACs, as these individuals are in conflict for purposes of peer review. Potential NEW EAC members should NOT be named in competitive renewal applications.
Q: The requirement for a focus on health maintenance or resilience is quite explicit, yet only one-third of the specific aims are required to have such a focus. Can you explain?
A: This is a minimum requirement – applicants are welcome to include a greater focus on health maintenance/resilience. Staff was concerned that given the disease focus of much NIH-supported research, there might be a very limited number of teams with substantial preliminary data relevant to health maintenance or resilience that would support three or four synergistic Research Projects.
Q: If the P50 are limited to one human subject or clinical Research Project, and not all the specific aims of that project can be focused on human subjects or clinical research, but at the same time at least one-third of the specific aims must be relevant to health maintenance or resilience, is that contradictory?
A: We believe that you can do research relevant to human health maintenance or resilience in non-human models; certainly in preclinical animal models, and perhaps also in in silico and in vitro models. Some of the outcomes listed as possible resilience-relevant outcomes in Part 2, Section I of the RFA, under "Purview of the FOA," could be studied in preclinical models, and arguments made supporting their relevance to humans.
Q: Could you say a little more about how NIH views pilot projects in the context of this BDSRC renewal FOA?
A: Requirements for (and restrictions on) the BDSRC pilot project program are described in the Administrative Core section of Part 2, Section IV of the FOA.
Goal of the pilot program:
We see pilot projects in this program as a way to draw in researchers new to botanical research, and give them an opportunity to acquire preliminary data with the support of a research team and cores that have cutting-edge expertise in this research. The goal is to bring promising young investigators, or experienced investigators who have not previously participated in botanical research, into the research area.
Each Administrative Core must include funds for soliciting, reviewing, selecting, supporting and monitoring pilot projects.
Not more than $100,000 per year (direct costs) from the P50 budget may be allocated to pilot projects, but additional support for pilot projects (or other aspects of the P50) from outside or institutional funds is welcome.
Restrictions: Pilot projects:
- Must be within the research scope of the P50.
- Must be approved by NIH.
- Cannot be awarded to the Center PD(s)/PI(s), Research Project Leaders, Core Leaders, or other scientists listed in the initial grant application.
- Are limited to one or two years duration each.
- Eligible applicants for pilot projects must be independent faculty at the awardee institution or another member of the P50 consortium.
- Eligible applicants for pilot projects cannot have been otherwise supported by the P50 grant, or collaborated with Center key personnel on botanical research within the two years prior to receipt of pilot project support.
Program staff contact information:
Barbara C. Sorkin, Ph.D.
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODP)
D. Craig Hopp, Ph.D.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Grants Management staff contact information:
George Tucker, MBA
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)