NIH

Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research (CEER)

Frequently Asked Questions About RFA RFA-HG-15-021

Is the RFA open only to those institutions that have already been awarded a P20 Exploratory/Developmental CEER grant?

No. It is open to all qualified applicants.  Having had an Exploratory/Developmental P20 grant is not a requirement.

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Can I submit an application for an Exploratory/Developmental Research grant under this RFA?

No. The current RFA is soliciting only applications for full Centers.  A separate RFA for Exploratory/Developmental grant applications may be issued at a future date.

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Can an institution that had previously received funding for a P50 Specialized Center through the CEER Program submit an application under this RFA?

No. Institutions that have previously received funding for a P50 Specialized Center through the CEER Program are not eligible to submit applications.  However, individual investigators at such institutions may be listed as consultants/collaborators on applications from another institution which has not previously received a P50 award through the CEER program.

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Are multi-site applications allowed under this RFA?

Yes. However, it is important that multi-site applications have a clearly articulated and effective management plan that will ensure that the activities across the different sites are well integrated into a single cohesive center.

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Are multi-PI/PD applications allowed under this RFA?

Yes. Multi-PI/PD applications are allowed. However, If multiple PDs/PIs are listed, their combined effort must total 4 person months, with at least one PD/PI committing not less than 2 person months.

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Previous CEER RFAs have used the P50 grant mechanism. Funding under this RFA will be through the RM1 mechanism.  What is an RM1 and how does it differ from what was used in the past?

The RM1 or Research Project with Complex Structure mechanism is used to support complex, large-scale research projects.  Unlike the P50 mechanism, the RM1 mechanism does not require multiple discrete components with separate budgets for each component.  This allows for greater flexibility in the construction of the grant and for a more integrated application. 

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The current RFA does not require a formal training plan focused on postdoctoral students, but instead requires a description of education and career activities within the Research Management, Education and Career Advancement plan. What is the purpose and target audience for this plan? 

The RM1 mechanism does not permit the inclusion of a formal training component.  This allows for the design of a broader, and more inclusive, flexible and responsive "education and career advancement activities plan" designed to support the development of the next generation of ELSI researchers.  Activities included in this plan can focus on the full career pipeline from undergraduates to junior faculty (as appropriate for the overall focus of the Center).  However, educational activities focused at the K-12 level and those targeted to the general public are discouraged.  A wide spectrum of activities can be included depending on the focus of the CEER and available institutional resources.  Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of existing institutional training and education programs. 

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Can an application for a CEER under this RFA still include postdoctoral education and career advancement activities?

Yes.  A new CEER can include postdoctoral students in its education and career advancement activities. 

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The current RFA does not require a formal plan for recruiting and retaining minority trainees.  Is this still a requirement?

No. Since the RM1 mechanism does not allow a formal training component, a formal minority training plan is not required.  However, it is expected that CEER applicants will describe the steps they will take to ensure diversity among those involved in their education and career advancement activities.  Applicants are encouraged to work with existing institutional education programs focused on underrepresented minority students.  In addition, once an award has been made, the Center will be eligible to apply for a "Diversity Action Plan" grant that will allow a more formalized approach to these activities. [See PAR-13-063: Limited Competition: Initiative to Maximize Research Education in Gemomics (R25):  Diversity Action Plan]

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What is intended by the requirement that an application have an "organizing theme"? 

The organizing theme should be a highly significant and well defined topic area that will serve to enhance the focus and cohesiveness of the Center and decrease the risk that the activities of the Center will become diffuse.  The Center application should describe plans for research that will be conducted consistent with that focus or theme.  It is critical that the topic area not be overly broad and that the planned research be articulated in sufficient detail to allow assessment of its scientific merit in the peer review process.

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Is each Center required to have a single defined research project?

No. Each application will be expected to describe either a single research project or a number of tightly interwoven research projects focused on the central topic or theme.  The research should be described in sufficient detail to allow assessment of its scientific merit in the peer review process.

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Where should the Specific Aims for the overall Center be included in the application?

A one page description of the overall Specific Aims for the Center should be included under the Specific Aims section at the beginning of the PHS 398 Research Plan and before the Research Strategy section. This is separate from the Research Activities section discussed below and will not count against the 30 page limit for the Research Activities section.

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What should be included in the 30 page Research Activities section?

  • A description of the interrelated multi-disciplinary research project(s) that will address the Center's organizing theme or topic.  Specific aims for these projects should be included within the 30 page limit.
  • A description of the activities that will facilitate the use of Center research findings and expertise to inform the development of health, research and public policies and practices.
  • A description of the process used to identify new issues emerging out of the Center's activities

This section can also include a discussion of how the Education and Career Advancement Activities will be integrated into the research activities described above, and how the management structure will support these activities.

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Can specific aims for the research project(s) be included in the 30 page Research Activities section?

Yes, specific aims for individual research projects can be included within the 30 page limit for the Research Activities section and will be counted against that limit.  The overall aims for the Center should NOT be included within the Research Activities section.  A separate section for the overall Center aims is provided before the Research Strategy section at the beginning of the PHS 398 Research Plan.  (see above)

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What should be included in the six page Research Management, Education and Career Advancement plan section?

  • A description of the management structure and how this will support the integration of all Center activities
  • A description of how the trans-disciplinary research team will be recruited and supported
  • A description of the education and career advancement program
  • A timeline of Center activities

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Can some aspects of the Research Management, Education and Career Advancement plan be discussed in the 30 page Research Activities section?

Yes. It is entirely appropriate to discuss how the research management, education and career advancement activities are integrated into the research activities as part of the 30 page research activities plan. 

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Posted: May 20, 2015