Challenging Grand Opportunities

No rest for the weary. Grand Opportunity letters of intent are due Monday, April 27 to the appropriate GO PO.

Please note the request for a lot more detail than is typical in an LOI. In fact, they essentially want most of the proposal, including its budget.

Prospective applicants are asked to submit a LOI that includes the following information:

  • Descriptive title of proposed research.
  • Name, address, and telephone number of the PD(s)/PI(s).
  • Names of other key personnel.
  • Participating institutions.
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity.

Sounds familiar so far. But prospective applicants are also asked to consider including [translation: damn well better include] the following in the LOI:

  • Description of the research areas, including any subprojects
  • Significance of the proposed research
  • Rationale why the application is not suitable for the Challenge Grant program
  • Evidence that the project is ready for immediate implementation
  • Key personnel
  • Direct, contract F&A, and total costs for each year
  • Description of how the goal and outcomes of the project match the goals of the ”GO” grants program and Recovery Act
  • Preliminary list of the expected 2-year outcomes and deliverables.

This last bit is really important. NIH needs to have a lot to show Congress at the end of 2 years for its $10B stimulus funding, particularly this grand opportunity to support “large-scale research projects that have a high likelihood of enabling growth and investment in biomedical research and development, public health and health care delivery.” Is that all?

Remember that not all ICs are participating (i.e., FIC, NCRR, NEI, NIAID, NIDCD, NIDDK, NLM), and most of those who are have explicit lists of funding priorites – although some simply ask applicants to address the IC’s published priorities (e.g., NINDS). I suspect these LOIs will be especially critical for ICs in this latter category.



  1. D said

    Usually, LOIs are not required. In fact, I think that legally, they can’t be required. The GO grant RFA says as much. Have POs hinted that it might affect funding decisions? I wouldn’t stress about the LOIs too much. Of course, if it gets your PIs moving faster to put their grant packages together it can’t hurt.


    Nope, not required (as you say, by law), but I’m sure preferred to gauge review load … and I’d want feedback from a PO, especially if there were no specific funding priorities listed. – writedit

  2. gwinnk said

    it can certainly be used to determine if the application will be responsive to the GO rfa. Those deemed “likely unresponsive” will be scrutinized for that first, and probably not make it to review at all. So while legally not required, it can still be a hurdle/used to add to data deciding if it will go to review at all.

  3. D said

    A good reason not to send in an LOI. But, I am under the impression that there is pressure to not return anything as unresponsive. So, the application would have to have a major flaw (e.g., submitted by a foreign institution) to be deemed unresponsive. Even the real stinkers will get critiques.

    So, send in an LOI. CSR certainly needs whatever help it can get.

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