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NHGRI AnVIL Webinar Q&A Session

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Eligibility Questions

Are For Profit entities eligible to submit an application in response to the RFA-HG-17- 011?

Yes, For Profit and Small Business entities are eligible to apply to this RFA. 

Is an applicant eligible for RFA-HG-17-011 if it will be able to achieve one, two, or three, but not all the goals of the AnVIL?

No, the applicant is expected to address all the goals in the RFA-HG-17-011. 

Does the foreign component prevent any work performed by people affiliated with foreign institutions, or may grantees consider foreign experts to support parts of the development of the AnVIL?

Applicants must ensure effort(s) provided by foreign organizations are not providing significant scientific contribution to the project. Examples of significant scientific contributions, as outlined under the definition of foreign components, can be found at the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  Consultants would generally be allowed unless the involvement of the consultant would be considered as an Other Significant Contributor. Please see Professional Services Costs in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Selected Items of Cost for more information.

Can foreign institutions be partners or receive subcontracts?

No - Please refer to the answer to the question above for more information.

Data Commons Questions

Can you describe how AnVIL relates specifically to the recently released NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase initiative? Does AnVIL call for types of analytic tools distinct from the Data Commons vision?

The NHGRI AnVIL aims to facilitate genomic data access by the broad scientific community, integration and computing on and across large datasets generated by NHGRI programs, using a cloud based infrastructure.

The NIH launched the Data Commons Pilot Phase (DCPP) to test ways to store, access and share FAIR biomedical data and associated tools in the cloud ( The AnVIL is expected to coordinate with the activities of the DCPP Consortium with respect to data and tools provided to the scientific community.

How do you see the federation with the NIH Data Commons working? Do you anticipate copying data from the Data Commons into AnVIL then performing analysis?

If computing can be easily ported across cloud service providers then there will be no need to copy or move data from the Data Commons into the AnVIL and vice versa. If there is a significant performance bottleneck, then there may be a need to move or copy data across the systems. Decisions will be made based on the evaluation of the technical challenges and costs.

Cloud and Cost Related Questions

Cloud agnostic implies not taking advantage of the differentiating capabilities of each of the cloud vendors, but more importantly seamless operation across multiple cloud platforms greatly increases the cost of development. Thoughts?

NHGRI aims to take advantage of the expected decreased costs of cloud services and the competition in the market place of cloud vendors.

Will NHGRI be billing the users of the cloud services provided by the AnVIL?

NHGRI will not be billing the users of the cloud services of the AnVIL. Applicants should propose how they plan to develop and implement a billing system for the use of the cloud's storage and computing resources of the AnVIL. 

How will cost sharing provided by cloud vendors be viewed?

Matching or cost sharing with cloud vendors is permissible. The details of the applicant's agreement with the cloud vendor should be described in your proposal. The awardee will be responsible for administering the cost sharing agreement and for alerting NHGRI immediately should the terms of the agreement change over the award period.  Matching or cost sharing requirements are subject to the same policies governing allowability of other costs under an approved budget.  

Can you expand on the statement "Costs for the procurement of cloud services should be clearly identified and detailed justification should be provided."?

The proposed budget for cloud costs should include expected storage, computing and egress costs over the award period. Cloud costs will be a significant cost item for the AnVIL, and NHGRI will monitor these costs over the award period.

Will AnVIL be responsible for invoicing and collecting the cloud fees from the end users?  Including developing the system to track these?


Are awardees expected to work with cloud providers that are not part of their original application package?

Yes, awardees should anticipate having to work with cloud providers that are not part of their original application. The software platform supporting the AnVIL should be cloud provider agnostic, and easily portable across cloud platforms.

Informatics Questions

Do you expect AnVIL to mostly implement existing software?

There is no expectation for the AnVIL to mostly implement existing software. There will likely be projects and activities where implementation of existing software is appropriate and encouraged. New software should be developed as necessary.

Is there any information on the specific computational tools/ pipelines that should be prioritized/ proposed? Or the applicants can propose based on the datasets proposed?

The initial proposal for analytical tools and pipelines should come from the applicant and will depend on their proposed datasets. Over the award period, NHGRI in collaboration with the Data Steering Committee and the External Scientific Committee may adjust priorities and/or request the implementation of specific tools/pipelines that were not in initial proposal.

Is the intention of the AnVIL resource to host multiple copies of selected datasets?

No, the intention of the AnVIL is not to host multiple copies of selected datasets. Rather, the AnVIL will host some selected datasets as a foundation on which AnVIL users can conduct analyses or add data or develop derived datasets of broad interest to the community. The AnVIL will also provide tools and services to access and compute on datasets that reside on other cloud based platforms.  

Will the AnVIL resource be responsible for moving datasets to other repositories?

Applicants should anticipate having to move datasets into other repositories.  However, the final decision will be based on guidance from NHGRI staff, and the AnVIL advisory committees identified in the RFA-HG-17-011.

Will only the datasets listed in RFA-HG-17-011 be included for the federated data commons systems?

Applicants are required to propose datasets they believe are appropriate for populating the AnVIL resource. However, final determination of datasets integrated into AnVIL resource will be made by NHGRI staff and the AnVIL advisory committees. 

GTEx data is part of the list of datasets that the NIH data commons will host. However, GTEx is also an NHGRI funded resource. Will the NIH data commons and AnVIL be independently hosting GTEx data?

It is not the intention of NHGRI to host independent datasets from the NIH data commons. Hosting GTEx data is not a requirement for the AnVIL RFA. Please see previous questions regarding datasets for further clarification.

Logistical and Application Related Questions

In the RFA a 30-page limit is mentioned. Does this limit refer to the entire application or only the research strategy section?

The 30-page limit refers to the research strategy section only.

Are letters of support mandatory in responding to the RFA-HG-17-011?

Letters of support are not mandatory for this RFA but are encouraged as evidence of the applicants' experience in providing resources to the community and the applicants' expertise in developing and managing cloud-based genomics resources.

Are letters of Intent a requirement in responding to the RFA-HG-17-011?

Letters of intent are not mandatory but are strongly encouraged for this RFA.

Can figures and tables be used in the summary and budget section?

Yes, however applicants must adhere to the page limits as stated in Page Limitation section of the RFA-HG-17-011.

Can applicants submit a budget that is over the amount listed in the RFA-HG-17-011?


Will AnVIL include personally identifiable information (PII) and/or require a FISMA moderate environment?

There are no specific data security requirements for AnVIL. However, the NIH security best practices and provisions ( should be implemented to protect the privacy and confidentiality of research participants, and prevent unauthorized access to data. Refer to the RFA, Section 1 "Data security and access" for additional information (

Should all security certification proposed in response to the RFA-HG-17-011 be in place prior to an award being issued?

Yes, applicants should have all proposed security certification in place prior to an award being issued.

Who will establish the membership of the DSC and ESC?

NHGRI will select the members of both the Data Steering Committee and the External Scientific Committee.

Can applicants provide the names of individuals for their proposed advisory committee?

Please do not identify individuals who you plan on having serve on your proposed advisory committee, nor contact individuals about your proposed advisory committee. This is so you don't unintentionally limit potential individuals for review of applications. Details on a general structure of the proposed advisory committee are okay to include in your application, just no specific names.

As the project is scheduled to start July 2018, is the grantee expected to spend out funds allocated for FY18 by the end of the fiscal year in September 2018?

FY18 funds can used for a 12-month project period ending in FY19.


Posted: September 22, 2017