The majority of grant applications received and funded by NICHD are unsolicited, submitted by extramural investigators working within the mission of the Institute. However, when NICHD program staff identify areas of research that would benefit from stimulation or that demonstrate specific gaps in knowledge that should be highlighted, a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for a focused grant solicitation may be proposed. We use two types of FOA: the Program Announcement, with no set-aside of funds, and the Request for Applications, with a specific commitment of funds.
Concepts for proposed Requests for Applications (RFA) are reviewed during the Open Session of Council. These are the features of the process:
- A brief concept description, written by the program staff proposing an FOA with a set-aside of funds, is posted on the Council Member Website.
- Program staff present the concepts during the Open Session and are available to answer questions and lead discussion with Council Members and the public.
- Council members are welcome to indicate their opinion of each concept.
- Comments, suggestions, and Council advice are recorded by NICHD staff.
This approach to concept review:
- Provides a wide spectrum of expertise for the consideration of concepts, including scientific, policy, and advocacy perspectives. The process requires the presentation and evaluation of broad concepts, without detailed or in-depth discussion of the specific science. Such discussion, typical when concepts are reviewed by a group with more narrowly focused expertise, goes well beyond the purpose of this review. Indeed, it places those involved in a potential conflict of interest situation that would prevent them from responding to a resultant RFA should they choose to do so.
- Enables the full Council to consider individual initiatives within the broader context of many planned initiatives, giving the Institute the benefit of multiple perspectives in the overall planning of an NICHD research agenda.
- Meets the NIH requirement for public presentation of concepts and the opportunity for public comment.
There are 3 concepts for review for the May 2015 Council session.