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Pilot Projects or Feasibility Studies for Genomic Mapping, Sequencing and Analysis (R21)

NIH GUIDE, Volume 26, Number 8, March 14, 1997

Full Text PA-97-045


National Human Genome Research Institute

NOTES: This program announcement supersedes the program announcement: (PA-94-046) Pilot Projects or Feasibility Studies for Genomic Analysis, NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 23, No.10, March 11, 1994.

The R03 program announcement and the R21 program announcement published by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) are no longer active. NHGRI is still interested in supporting research under these mechanisms and strongly encourage researchers and scholars to use these mechanisms to support pilot projects, feasibility studies or small focused research projects (ELSI program only).

Nucleic Acid Sequencing


The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), formerly the National Center for Human Genome Research, invites applications for pilot projects or feasibility studies to develop new, and/or to significantly improve existing, technologies that will accelerate the genome mapping, sequencing and analysis goals of the Human Genome Project (HGP) in the most expeditious and economical manner. The purpose of this program announcement is to encourage high risk/potential high payoff applications that are not yet developed fully enough to successfully compete for a standard R01 grant.


Applications may be submitted by domestic, for-profit and non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local governments, and eligible agencies of the federal government. Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with disabilities are encouraged to apply as principal investigators.


Support for this program will be through the exploratory/development grants (R21) mechanism. Applicants may request up to two years of support. Projects will be limited to $100,000 (direct cost) per annum. These grants will not be renewable. Continuation of projects developed under this program will be through the regular grant program.


Background and Objectives

The NHGRI is currently engaged, along with several other federal, private, and international organizations, in a fifteen year research program called the Human Genome Project (HGP). The goals are to characterize the genomes of human and selected model organisms, to develop technologies to analyze the human genome, to examine the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genetics research, and to train scientists who will be able to utilize the tools and resources developed through the HGP to pursue biological studies that will improve human health.

Significant progress toward completing these goals has been made in the past six years, with several having already been achieved. Continued progress toward and eventual completion of the HGP goals will require further technological advances in the areas of mapping, sequencing and analysis. Pilot projects can be a valuable means of promoting the development of new technologies that are scientifically sound, effective and cost-efficient.

The NHGRI is interested in supporting technological advances in several areas of research, including the following:

  • Improved technologies for constructing genetic maps, such as developing new methods for rapid genotyping and developing new, easier-to-use markers.

  • Efficient technologies for identifying the nature and extent of sequence differences in human genomic DNA and for analyzing sequence variation within and among species.

  • New conceptual approaches for constructing physical maps of the genomes of other organisms and for constructing higher resolution maps for DNA sequencing.

  • Improved technologies for reducing the cost of de novo seqeuncing and resequencing by at least an order of magnitude.

  • Novel approaches, both biological and computational, for interpreting the genome, with a special emphasis on technologies that are amenable to large-scale analysis and are genome-wide.

  • New methods and tools for the analysis and interpretation of genomic data, as well as new data management systems.

Prospective applicants are encourage to review the companion Program Announcement, PA-97-043, for a more detailed description of the types of research that address these topics.

Proposals for the development of technology applications relevant to other research problems pertinent to the current or long-term goals of the HGP will be considered to be responsive to this announcement.

Applicants responding to this program announcement are not required to have preliminary data. However, the research project must be well designed, must be scientifically and technically sound, and should propose alternative solutions. In the absence of preliminary data, applicants are encouraged to present any other information that can be considered as evidence of feasibility.

The NHGRI encourages applications from scientists who have not traditionally been funded by the NHGRI, such as, chemists, engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists. However, applicants whose expertise is primarily non-biological and who are interested in developing technology for genomic mapping, sequencing and analysis using non-biological tools are encouraged to interact closely with potential users of the technology.


In planning research projects, applicants are urged to consider the following:

  • Interdisciplinary Research: The problems that must be solved in genomic analysis may require technically demanding solutions. Accordingly, interdisciplinary approaches are particularly appropriate. The NHGRI encourages interdisciplinary collaborations between biologists from various sub-disciplines and non-biologists, such as chemists, physicists, information scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

  • Instrumentation:Proposals for instrument development are expected to address the issues of access by groups other than the developers to any instruments developed through this program. In projects where instrumentation and/or software development are key components, investigators should specifically address (1) exportability to other laboratories, (2) access of other investigators to unique instruments, and (3) where appropriate, integration of individual components into systems.

  • Evaluation of Technology: As technology matures it must be tested to demonstrate its capabilities and robustness. Plans for accomplishing such a test should be included in the application, if it is anticipated that the technology will reach the appropriate level of maturity by the end of the project period.


It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research. This policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43). All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research," which have been published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59 14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol 23, Number 11, March 18, 1994.


Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) and will be accepted at the standard application deadlines as indicated in the application kit. Applications kits are available at most institutional offices of sponsored research and may be obtained from the Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone 301/435-0714, email: ASKNIH@od.nih.gov. The title and number of this program announcement must be typed in Item 2 on the face page of the application.

The completed original application and five legible copies should be delivered to:

Division of Research Grants
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040 - MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD 20892-7710
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for express/courier service)


Applications will be assigned on the basis of established Public Health Service referral guidelines. Applications will be reviewed for scientific and technical merit by study sections of the Division of Research Grants. NIH (or by the review group of the relevant Institute, Center, or Division), in accordance with the standard NIH peer review procedures. Following the scientific-technical review, the applications will receive a second-level review by the appropriate national advisory council.

Review Criteria
  • Scientific, technical or medical significance and originality of proposed research.

  • Appropriateness and adequacy of the experimental approach and methodology proposed to carry out the research.

  • Qualifications and research experience of the principal investigator and staff, particularly, but not exclusively, in the area of the proposed research.

  • Availability of the resources necessary to perform the research.

  • Appropriateness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to the proposed research.

The initial review group will also examine the provisions for the protection of human and animal subjects and the safety of the research environment.


Applications will compete for available funds with all other approved applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Quality of the proposed project as determined by peer review, availability of funds, and program priority. In addition, applications assigned to the NHGRI will also take into consideration the following additional criteria:

  • Potential for developing technology or strategies that will accelerate progress in mapping, sequencing, or analysis of the human genome and the genomes of other organisms.

  • Value of the proposed research for achieving the research goals of the National Human Genome Research Institute, while maintaining programmatic balance in the NHGRI grant portfolio.


Inquires are encouraged. The opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is welcomed.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Lisa D. Brooks, Ph.D.
Genome Informatics and Sequence Variation
E-mail: lisa_brooks@nih.gov

Elise Feingold, Ph.D.
Functional Analysis
E-mail: elise_feingold@nih.gov

Adam Felsenfeld, Ph.D.
Large-Scale Sequencing
E-mail: adam_felsenfeld@nih.gov

Bettie Graham, Ph.D. Mapping and Sequence Variation
E-mail: bettie_graham@nih.gov

Jane L. Peterson, Ph.D.
Large-Scale Sequencing
E-mail: jane_peterson@nih.gov

Jeffery Schloss, Ph.D.
Sequencing Technology Development
E-mail: jeff_schloss@nih.gov

The address and telephone number for the staff listed above are:

National Human Genome Research Institute
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room B2B07
31 Center Drive, MSC 2033
Bethesda, MD 20892-2033
[For courier deliveries, use zip code 20814]
Phone: (301) 496-7531
Fax: (301) 480-2770

Inquiries about grants management/policy issues should be directed to:

Ms. Jean Cahill
Grants Administration Branch
National Human Genome Research Institute
Building 31, Room B2B34
31 Center Drive, MSC 2031
Bethesda, MD 20892-2031
[For courier deliveries, use zip code 20814]
Phone: (301) 402-0733
E-mail: jean_cahill@nih.gov


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 93.172. Awards are made under authorization of the Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and 285) and administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74. This program is not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products. In addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education, library, day care, health care or early childhood development services are provided to children. This is consistent with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.

Last Reviewed: February 19, 2012

Last updated: February 19, 2012