Frequently Asked Questions for the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, Phase III RFAs

RFA-HG-14-025: The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, Phase III - Study Investigators (U01)

RFA-HG-14-026: The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, Phase III - Coordinating Center (U01)

RFA-HG-14-027: The Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network, Phase III - Central Genome Sequencing and Genotyping Facility (U01)

Are projects using research cohort data linked to hospital billing data eligible for this RFA?

The goal of eMERGE is to use electronic medical records (EMRs) linked to existing biorepository to conduct genomic discovery and clinical implementation research. Hospital billing data without the full spectrum of EMR phenotypic and clinical data would not assist in fulfilling goals of the Network and would not be eligible.

What are the expected roles of the Coordinating Center (CC) and Central Genomic Sequencing/Genotyping Facility(-ies) (CSG) in analysis of the genome sequencing data, including but not limited to imputation and quality control (QC) in eMERGE III?

As described in the RFAs, eMERGE III investigators at the study sites, CC, and CSG will work collaboratively although particular entities may be asked to lead some specific aspects of the Network's activities. For sequencing data quality assurance, management, and analyses, investigators at the CC and CSG are expected to work very closely with each other. The CC RFA "Research Plan" requires that all applicants describe their suggested strategies for working with the CSG. The specific emphases for the CC and CSG are described in Section IV. 2., under "Research Strategy."

In brief, the CSG will provide high-quality BAM and VCF files to the CC (and other eMERGE sites as desired) including component tasks leading to the production of such files such as alignment, variant calling, quality control/quality testing, analysis completion, and validation. The CSG will also participate collaboratively with other eMERGE-funded sites and NHGRI in annotation of variants and identification of potential pathogenic or functional variants in genes critical to health and disease. The CC will be responsible for conducting comprehensive quality assurance on delivered BAM and VCF files; storing, hosting, managing, and distributing to eMERGE investigators and to public repositories such as dbGaP the large amount of sequencing and phenotyping data; harmonizing data across studies; and leading (in close collaboration with the other eMERGE-funded sites and NHGRI) the cross-study analyses. The CC is expected to be primary site for hosting the datasets generated by the CSG and the primary point of contact for responding to inquiries and for distributing the data within and outside eMERGE according to policies agreed upon by the Steering Committee and NHGRI.

The exact division of responsibilities for data analysis is nearly impossible to define in advance given the rapidly evolving nature of this field and the variety of capabilities that may ultimately reside in the selected awardees. Applicants for both the CC and CSG should describe the components of analysis they are capable of undertaking and their willingness to participate collaboratively and share responsibilities as deemed appropriate by the Steering Committee and NHGRI.

Are food-related costs an allowable expense to be included in the grantee budget?

Food for programmatic meetings is permissible - this should be based on the consistent application of the grantee's own policies for research grant meetings with food, and in accordance with the cost principles applicable to the grantee. Please see the excerpt from the Guide Notice below (NOT-OD-12-041: New NIH Policy on Efficient Spending Related to Grants Supporting Conferences and Meetings):

Research Grants and Other Mechanisms that are not Awarded Specifically to Support Conferences: The policy does not apply to research grants and other mechanism that are not awarded specifically to support conferences. Any meetings conducted under these programs are considered an ancillary effort under the grant and cooperative agreement and are not subject to the new policy. In these cases, the allowability of food-related costs is governed by the respective cost principles and the terms of award which include references to the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

For more information, please contact:

Rongling Li, M.D., Ph.D.
Phone: (301) 594-6524

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Posted: August 11, 2014