Rehabilitation Research Infrastructure Request for Applications (RFA)

NICHD is reissuing an RFA for medical rehabilitation research infrastructure.

Please check this page for updated information about a webinar, specifications, and other frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the reissued version of this funding opportunity announcement.

For Reference Only

These FAQs are specific to RFA-HD-20-004, which was released in March 2019.

Medical Rehabilitation Research Resource Funding Opportunity Webinar (April 22, 2019)

Slight correction to the NIH timeline for review and potential funding of P2C awards

While the due date for P2C applications, June 27, 2019, is correctly listed in RFA-HD-20-004, some subsequent dates will be altered:

  • Scientific Merit Review will be shifted from July 2019 to November 2019
  • Advisory Council Review will be shifted from October 2019 to January 2020
  • Earliest Start Date will be shifted from December 2019 to April 2020

What is the purpose of this request for applications (RFA)?

The purpose of the RFA is to solicit applications to build research infrastructure for the medical rehabilitation research community. It is up to the applicant to define a specific research domain, defend its significance and uniqueness for medical rehabilitation researchers, and discuss how that domain would be "taught" and communicated to external researchers through didactic activities, consultations, collaborative opportunities, and pilot funding. Note the focus of this RFA is not on support of research projects within the applicant institution; likewise, it would not be appropriate to develop an application that is primarily focused on the development of databases; gene, cell, or tissue banks; animal models; or clinical networks.

What is the scope of 'medical rehabilitation' in the context of this RFA?

Medical rehabilitation refers to a broad array of research strategies to promote functional recovery in the context of a chronic physical condition. This could include studies on such areas as preventative strategies, comorbid conditions and secondary conditions, adaptation and plasticity, assistive devices and environmental supports, and enhancing participation. Medical rehabilitation research includes basic and clinical studies across the domains of pathophysiology, impairment, functional limitation, disability, and societal interaction.

Contributing conditions may include, but are not limited to, developmental disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida), injury and acquired conditions (e.g., stroke, head injury, spinal cord injury; amputation), musculoskeletal and other non-neuronal disorders (e.g., hip fracture, arthritis, cancer, diabetes), degenerative conditions (e.g., Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, geriatric complications), as well as the secondary consequences and co-morbidities associated with these disorders. The primary focus is on physical impairments rather than cognitive, behavioral, or emotional impairments per se – although these may have relevance as comorbidities and/or secondary consequences. Likewise, the focus of medical rehabilitation is not on substance abuse, alcohol rehabilitation, nor primary psychiatric/mental disorders.

What is a P2C grant mechanism and why the shift from the R24 mechanism?

P2C is a relatively new NIH activity code that is being used to support multi-component research resource projects and centers that will enhance the capability of resources to serve biomedical research, which is more appropriate to the overall goals of the medical rehabilitation infrastructure program. Moreover, the use of the P2C mechanism provides applicants with more flexibility and pages to define their research domain, discuss its relevance and uniqueness to medical rehabilitation, and elucidate the various strategies to promote it to the broader research community. Under this new format, applicants will have the opportunity to provide the necessary detail for each Component of the proposed center, including a Program Overview ("Overall"), Didactic Interactions, Mentored Collaborative Opportunities, Technology Development, Pilot Studies, Promoting Core Expertise, Administrative Oversight, Center Collaborations with Other Institutions (if relevant; see FAQ below), and the optional task of also serving as the Coordinating Center for all the funded P2Cs.

The RFA discusses seven potential high-priority research domains (i.e., pediatric rehabilitation; personalized medicine approaches; family, caregiver, and community support; implementation and dissemination research; clinical trial design; strategies to explore and validate combination therapies; and technology to track real-world outcomes); what if my application is outside these areas?

While the seven areas indicated are priorities, several other research domains could be timely and appropriate for medical rehabilitation research. It is up to the applicant to define a research domain and provide justification for its uniqueness, timeliness, and potential impact on the rehabilitation research community. Other areas may be proposed, provided they can be justified as unique, state-of-the-art, and teachable, and they specifically relate to the 2016 NIH Research Plan on Rehabilitation Research (PDF 443KB).

Is it possible that more than one application in a particular research domain would be supported?

Yes. Some of these priority domains are broad enough that it is possible thatdepending on the array of meritorious applications and potential synergies in their respective coveragethe NIH may negotiate to fund more than one research center in a particular domain.

May I omit any of the Components from my application?

To be fully responsive, the applicant should address all of the required Components (with the possible exception of Collaborations with Institutions and Coordinating Center; see more discussion in separate FAQ below). Applicants must not exceed the indicated page limits on any Component section. However, depending on the research domain and strategies proposed, the detail required to fully address some of the Components will vary, thus fewer pages may be appropriate (be kind to the reviewers).

How important is institutional support from my organization?

Applicants should discuss the appropriateness of their environment to support the proposed infrastructure activities and to provide access to unique and state-of-the art resources. They should document access to facilities and collaborations at their home institution and those of collaborating institutions (if appropriate). Because the infrastructure grant would benefit and provide prestige for the applicant institution, some additional investment and/or in-kind support from the applicant institution or other benefactors might be expected, and would likely strengthen the application.

Is each Component weighted equally during the review process?

Depending on the research domain and the various collaborative strategies proposed, each component would not have equal weight in the review process. Individual components would not be given separate scores from the peer review panel.

Are collaborations with other institutions necessary?

Depending on the research domain proposed and the local expertise and resources available, external collaborations may not be necessary. Thus, the application may originate from a specific department or center, or may cross divisions or schools, or may involve collaborations across multiple institutions.

What if collaboration across multiple institutions is proposed?

Applications across multiple institutions must have clear lines of administrative oversight and respective responsibilities. Each Institution must provide detailed letters of support that confirm the availability of personal and resources, and commitment to the research infrastructure program. While evidence of a past history of collaborations among the proposed institutions and/or researchers is not required, it would enhance confidence in the proposed collaborations especially if very demanding roles and responsibilities are proposed.

May I propose collaborations with NIH intramural programs?

Collaborations with NIH intramural components may be proposed, but the P2C budget cannot provide any direct funds to NIH researcher or their labs.

Can the proposal include collaboration with a foreign institution or foreign researcher?

While the primary locus of the proposed program must be among domestic institutions, foreign components or collaborators may be included if they provide access to unique expertise.

Would it be appropriate for a group with no prior NIH research support to respond to this RFA?

Because the focus of this RFA is on developing research infrastructure, it would be unlikely that a group without formal research support and experience with federal funders would be competitive. However, it is possible that the external research support would include non-NIH sources or even industry connections.

Our group does have a history of NIH support, but mostly involving NIH Institutes not listed on this RFA; would that be an issue?

Medical Rehabilitation research connects to the mandates of several of the NIH Institutes, even beyond the primary sponsors of this RFA. Applications from groups with other NIH support and experience in medical rehabilitation related research may be appropriate, and may even open additional funding possibilities from the other NIH Institutes.

What are the requirements for an Advisory Board?

Depending on the research activities proposed, it may be appropriate to have an internal or external advisory board to enhance responsiveness to the broader research community. Such an advisory board may be made up of external advisors with the applicant institution or drawn from relevant external sources. While the applicant may define the types of expertise proposed, we ask you not to recruit nor name specific advisors yet. This also provides the NIH with more flexibility in recruiting peer reviewers without direct or indirect conflicts with the applicant pool.

Can a given Institution submit more than one application to this RFA? Can a given researcher be involved in more than one application to this RFA?

The answer to both questions is yes, provided that the proposals are clearly distinct and the proposed responsibilities for the researcher are non-overlapping.

How can I find out information about the currently fund medical rehabilitation research programs? Will those programs be given priority in the RFA competition?

The six programs that are currently funded can be referenced at . However, this RFA is an open competition in which all applicants, new and renewal, will compete to justify their potential impact on the medical rehabilitation research community.

Are specific Human Subject and Internal Review Board (IRB) Approvals required for applications submitted to this RFA?

If the applicant is proposing to develop a specific resource that will recruit patients or use clinical information or tissue samples, such approvals may be necessary. But, generally, infrastructure applications would be designed to facilitate research activities that originate externally and the responsibility for such approvals would be with the accessing researcher.

Is it necessary to contact NIH Program staff prior to applying? Could NIH Program staff help evaluate the feasibility of my proposal idea before I prepare a full application?

Applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of intent to apply. Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information allows NIH staff to estimate the potential workload and plan the peer review panel. NIH Program staff can discuss the appropriateness of your application for this RFA and the larger field of medical rehabilitation research, but scientific evaluation is left to the NIH peer review system, which is independent of NIH Program Staff.

I am proposing a renewal of an existing infrastructure resource core. Where in the application should I include the Progress Report and Progress Report Publication List?

Following the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, include a summary of the progress achieved during the previous project period within the research strategy of each of the appropriate application component(s) where the progress to date is relevant. The Progress Report Publication List will be added as an attachment in the electronic filing process and does not count toward the page limits.

Application Formatting

We are using the new P2C application format, which is quite a learning experience for us all (people and computers).

Section 9 of the SF424 Application Guide gives instructions for multi-component applications.  That section has links to other PDF instructions, such as a set of FAQs and a description of how applications are assembled: (PDF 1.78 MB)

We suggest that any questions or problems that you have with the application format itself should be referred to the NIH ASSIST staff at the eRA Commons Help Desk.

While the new P2C application format provides some flexibility in the design and assembly of multi-component applications, it also creates some potential redundancy with respect to specific aims, budget, or even letters of collaboration. We will work to have the same three (or more) assigned reviewers reviewing all the components throughout your application.

For RFA-HD-20-004, a Specific Aims page is required for the “Overall” component as well as each of the other six to eight components. Applicants could minimize redundancy by laying out their research domain(s) and aims in the Overall section, and then following up in the other component sections with ‘aims’ relevant for each of those other sections (i.e., only highlight what reviewers would need to know coming into that section).

For Resubmissions, you could provide some background and/or progress in the ‘introduction’ section of the Overall component and also in specific components if appropriate.

As for Letters of Support, include letters specific to any single component in that section. However, if someone or some facility is supporting more than one component, a single letter describing those commitments/activities could be included in the Overall component but subsequently referenced from all other relevant components (e.g., add a line in each relevant component indicating that some letters of support are included under the Overall component). 

As for budget pages, the P2C format requires that you submit distinct budgets for each component.  We realize that this creates a lot of redundancy and repetition, especially because the same people may have to be artificially spread across multiple components. So feel free to cross-reference recurring budgetary items among the relevant component sections in order to make it easier on the reviewers. Nonetheless, this could still add up to a lot of pages – especially if you have subcontracts to secondary institutions.

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