More “Grand Opportunities” (GO!)

The OD, with participation by NCI, NHLBI, NHGRI, NIA, NIAAA, NIAMS, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDCR, NIDA, NIGMS, NIMH, NINDS, NCCAM, NCMHD, have designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 – 2010 to fund 200 or more grants in response to:

Research and Research Infrastructure “Grand Opportunities” (RC2)
LOI due April 27, Applications due May 27
IC-specific info at

The purpose of the “GO” grants program is to support high impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term funding, and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation. The “GO” grants program will support large-scale research projects that accelerate critical breakthroughs, early and applied research on cutting-edge technologies, and new approaches to improve the synergy and interactions among multi and interdisciplinary research teams. The initiative seeks novel approaches in areas that address specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Applicants may propose to address either a specific research question or propose the creation of a unique infrastructure/resource designed to accelerate scientific progress in the future.

  • Only applications with budgets greater than $500,000 total costs per year for a project period of two years are expected to be considered.
  • The Research Plan component (Item 5) may not exceed 12 pages, including tables, graphs, figures, diagrams, and charts.
  • New PIs and ESIs are invited to apply for NIH ”GO” funds.
  • More than one PD/PI (i.e., multiple PDs/PIs) may be designated on the application.
  • Applicants may submit more than one application, provided each application is scientifically distinct

Scope. The scope of the ”GO” grants program includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Groundbreaking, innovative, high impact and cross-cutting research projects that can be readily deployed and that will improve and accelerate biomedical research.
  • Basic, clinical and translational projects that could fundamentally enhance the research enterprise and that require the participation, interaction, coordination and integration of activities carried out in multiple research laboratories.
  • Creation of large scale unique resources, accelerated application of high throughput, and other novel technologies.
  • Deployment of critical infrastructure, resources, tools, and methodologies that substantially accelerate collaborative, multi and interdisciplinary basic, translational, and/or clinical research.
  • Implementation of large scale research projects that are carried out using new and creative collaborative agreements and partnerships with industry and small businesses to accelerate the pre-clinical and clinical testing of new therapeutics.
  • Creative approaches to overcome barriers to basic, translational, or clinical research using novel tools, technologies, and services.

Requirements. ”GO” projects are expected to demonstrate the following:

  • The work cannot be reasonably expected to be carried out successfully without support provided by ”GO” grants.
  • Specific outcomes of the proposed project promote and advance the mission of the NIH to improve health.
  • The project is ready to be deployed immediately upon funding.
  • A rapid infusion of significant funding will accelerate current and future research in the area of study and there are appropriate measurable outcomes to evaluate the short and long-term effects of the project.
  • The proposed project is something that no other entity is likely or able to do, and is there a public health benefit to having the results of the research in the public domain.
  • The project or generated results and resources can be expected to become integrated with other NIH and privately funded research within a reasonable timeframe.
  • Projects that would require funding beyond this timeframe should provide a detailed plan for maintaining the research efforts without any expectation of further financial assistance from the sponsoring IC or other NIH components. Applicants are expected to provide a list of outcomes and include plans to obtain long-term support for research endeavors carried out with ”GO” grant funding.

A detailed statement addressing the bullets above should be included as part of the application Research Plan and in summary form in the Letter of Intent.

One page of literature cited, 2-page biosketches (10 or fewer publications), one page of Specific Aims page plus a 12-page Research plan organized as shown below. Start each section with the appropriate section heading (i.e. Research Area, The Challenge and Potential Impact, The Approach, Timeline, Milestones and Expected Measurable Outcomes and Deliverables.)

Research Area: State the broad goals of the project and describe how the project may result in research and development innovations that could effectively be linked to long-term improvements and growth in the research enterprise, public health and health care delivery.

Opportunity and Potential Impact: What is the research opportunity, scientific knowledge gap or technology that will be addressed? How broad is the potential impact in science and/or health? Which community (ies) will be affected? What is (are) the size(s) of the community(ies)? Will the potential impact be major?

Approach: How will you attempt to explore or solve the stated research problem? How will your rationale and/or approach overcome existing challenges or barriers in the field? If you propose to improve existing technologies or to develop new technologies, what needs are being addressed and what is unconventional and exceptionally innovative about your approach? Provide enough information for reviewers to determine what you are proposing to do, but do not include a detailed experimental plan.

Timeline, Milestones, Expected Measurable Outcomes and Deliverables: Provide a timeline for the proposed research indicating points where intermediate objectives will be assessed, the measurable outcomes that will be evaluated to assess progress, and the timing and process that will be used to reach decisions regarding the course and direction of the continuing research effort. Possible alternative paths that may be followed at critical junctures in the project plan should be described and indicated on the timeline.

Long Term Sustainability Plan: Applications requesting new infrastructure support must include a plan that describes how the infrastructure and services will be maintained and supported beyond the initial NIH funded period. The plan should include potential sources of support other than NIH and preliminary budget estimates. The level of institutional support and commitment and organizational structure should also be included.

Preliminary data are not required but may be included, if necessary to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed studies. The presentation must be clear and particularly compelling. No detailed scientific plan should be provided, but timelines must be presented. Applicants should construct the project timeline to include critical milestones, measurable outcomes, and mid-term and end of project deliverables to be publicly shared as expeditiously as possible. Awards will be made for a two-year budget period. Clinical trials and large clinical studies involving large sample sizes and significant efforts to recruit human subjects are unlikely to be completed in a two year period and therefore are not considered responsive to this FOA.

GO get ’em …



  1. CD0 said

    I see some potential overlap between these mechanism and challenge grants. If people start recycling certain challenge grants and submitting them in response to this RFA too, the review burden may be unbearable…

    Because the Challenge Grants will still be under review, no one should submit a GO application that essentially duplicates their Challenge proposal with a larger budget. “The NIH will not accept any application in response to this funding opportunity that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial review, unless the applicant withdraws the pending application.” I will certainly ensure that no one at BICO does this. Of course, with thousands of applications flowing in using unusual narrative formats and a non-traditional review process, checking for such similarity will be, shall we say, a challenge. – writedit

  2. writedit said

    Of note … some big ICs never signed on (e.g., NIAID), and some may be about to bail (e.g., NIDDK). As always, do your best to communicate with a PO before getting too heavily invested in planning an application.

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