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REP – UConn Health Overview

The Research Excellence Program at UConn Health consists of two main categories (three funding levels) with complementary funding priorities.

Full proposals for both categories must be submitted by 12/15/2017.

Stimulus Grant Overview:

The primary objective of Stimulus Grants is to provide seed funding to individual or multiple investigators in order to develop or advance existing areas of research to be better positioned for external funding opportunities. These funds can be used to collect pilot data based on new technologies, purchase user time on instruments or university research cores, obtain sequencing or unique software for pre-clinical or clinical data analyses, obtain expert consultation on novel methodological approaches/techniques, pay for technical assistance or key personnel, or to develop key partnerships with industry or foundation partners.  The purpose of the funds must be clearly identified along with a research plan for future funding opportunities.

Stimulus Grants provide up to $25,000 in seed funding to facilitate the initiation, completion, or advancement of research projects. Four to eight awards are expected in this category.

 

Convergence Grant Overview

 The primary objective of Convergence Grants is to help facilitate strong interdisciplinary research teams to be better positioned and more competitive in seeking and/or creating new opportunities for extramural funding. Proposals for research projects in all disciplinary areas are encouraged.  Convergence Grants provide funding ranging from $50,000 – $100,000 to facilitate interdisciplinary research initiatives. Number of awards expected in the following ranges:

  • Two awards in the $76,000 to $100,000 range
  • Three to four awards in the $50,000 to $75,000 range

Proposals should be of the highest quality and describe how the project will initiate new areas of research, enhance existing areas of strength at UConn Health, and/or promote health care improvement and new technologies.  Proposals should emphasize and foster interdisciplinary research across multiple colleges/departments, campuses, and disciplinary areas.

What REP Convergence Grants Fund:

  • The REP is focused facilitating projects that have a strong potential to stand out as excellent, both within their disciplines and beyond, adding to UConn’s reputation for innovative research.
  • Proposals for research in all areas and for a wide variety of purposes are encouraged. We recognize that scholarly excellence comes in many forms.
  • Emphasis will be given to projects for which REP funding will make a crucial difference in making a significant accomplishment feasible or make a project substantially more competitive for external funding. REP funding should be a “game-changer,” not an add-on to an already competitive project.
  • Multi-PI, interdisciplinary teams are required for REP Convergence grants. Faculty are encouraged to use Lincus, a search engine that will assist in identifying specific faculty expertise at all UConn campuses, including UConn Health.
  • Proposals addressing opportunities for technology commercialization may be submitted to the REP competition.
  • No preference will be given to proposals based on academic rank of the PI or Co-PIs.
  • We encourage resubmissions of proposals that have been not funded in the past, provided that review panel summaries are provided and PIs explain how they are addressing feedback in the new submission. Previous comments must be addressed whether the PI agrees with them or not.

Convergence Grant Parameters
Proposals can be submitted across a wide variety of areas and disciplines but must emphasize interdisciplinary research collaborations. The following criteria apply for all submissions.

  • Proposals seeking funding in the $50,000 to $75,000 range must include collaborations across two different disciplinary areas.
  • Proposals seeking funding in the $76,000 to $100,000 range must include collaborations across three different disciplinary areas.
  • Proposals are encouraged to consider collaborations with faculty at SODM, Storrs, regional campuses, CCMC and/or Jackson Labs, if applicable. Note that projects with cross-campus Co-PIs must choose to be part of either the Storrs or UCH competitions, unless the proposals are for distinctly different projects.
  • Proposals are encouraged to consider relevant clinical disciplines that would foster greater engagement of translational research as a goal of the convergence.
  • Proposals must target specific extramural funding opportunities (federal, state, industrial, corporate, foundation sponsors).
  • Proposals that do not meet program requirements will not be reviewed.

Details for all UCH REP Categories:

Eligibility
The UCH Research Excellence Program (Stimulus/Convergence Grants) is available to UConn faculty members, within the following parameters:

  • UConn Primary Appointment: PIs must be faculty whose primary appointment is at UConn/UConn Health. Faculty with primary appointments to CCMC or Jackson Labs are not eligible to apply. PIs with a primary appointment at a TIP company or community/industry partner are also not eligible. Individuals who are not eligible to apply as a PI may be able to serve as a collaborator/consultant on an eligible PI’s project.
  • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for REP projects, a PI/Co-PI must have departmental research time available during the award period or address in the application how they will handle the time commitment required by the project. PIs/Co-PIs must each make significant and distinct intellectual contributions to the design and direction of the project. Generally speaking, REP awards are available for tenure-track and clinical faculty. UCH in-residence faculty are eligible to apply, but special conditions apply. In-residence faculty should contact the OVPR (research@uconn.edu) before applying to discuss. Faculty with potential projects that involve other grant-dependent faculty should also contact the OVPR before applying.
  • Eligible faculty may only submit one proposal per year as lead PI. Investigators may serve as collaborator on multiple projects.
  • Faculty who have received two REP awards in the last five years are not eligible.
  • Each distinct project should only be submitted only once per program year. Cross-campus teams should decide which program (Storrs or UCH) they want to apply for. The same project will not be considered multiple times per program year.
  • Lead PIs for UCH REP awards must have a primary affiliation with UConn Health.

Review Criteria

Each proposal will undergo a peer review process overseen by the OVPR with input from the SOM and SODM. The review process will include internal peer reviewers from the university community and external reviews by Hanover Research as appropriate. Reviewers will be selected based on areas of expertise and past success in grantwriting.
Using a 5-point rating scale from 1 (Excellent) to 5 (Poor), reviewers will rate and evaluate 6 criteria (Significance, Innovation/Novelty, Feasibility/Resources/Timeline, Investigators/Collaborators, Impacts/Outcomes, and Assessment). In addition, reviewers will evaluate the budget and provide funding recommendations.

Significance/Importance

  • Does this study address an important scientific problem?
  • If the aims of the project are achieved, will scientific knowledge, technical capability, clinical practice, and/or social conditions be advanced in meaningful ways?
  • Does the proposed project significantly contribute to the concepts, theories, methods, technologies, applications, treatments, outcomes, services, and/or preventive interventions that drive the field/discipline?
  • Were the study’s hypotheses, aims, and/or goals clearly articulated, well-reasoned, and adequately supported?

Innovation/Novelty

  • Is the project original and innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms, methods, approaches, applications, theories, practice and/or barriers to progress in the field(s)?
  • Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, technologies, applications, treatments, tools, and/or interventions?

Feasibility/Resources, and Timeline

  • Are the conceptual, theoretical, or clinical frameworks, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well-reasoned, appropriate to the aims of the project and reflective of scientific rigor?
  • Does the environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?
  • Does the proposed project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements?
  • Is the timeline adequate for achieving goals & meeting the project aims? For proposals requesting funding to exceed one year, is the request justified and supported?

Investigators/Collaborators

  • Are the PI, collaborators, and other personnel well-suited to carry out the project?
  • Do the collaborators have complementary and integrated expertise?
  • For Single-PI proposals, does the proposed work advance the PI’s scholarship or likelihood of obtaining an external award?
  • Does the PI (and collaborators for Multi-PI proposals) demonstrate an ongoing/emerging record of accomplishments that have advanced the respective field(s)?

Impact and Outcomes

  • Is the proposed project compelling and if successful, would it make a meaningful disciplinary or interdisciplinary contribution and/or advancement?
  • Does the project address institutional, state, national, and/or global priorities?
  • Does the project have strong potential for producing valuable societal benefits?
  • Does the project have high potential for national or international recognition and achievement?
  • Is the proposal high quality and appropriate for the REP?
  • Does the project have high potential for extramural funding or disciplinary achievement?
  • Does the PI provide evidence from a previous external review that the current proposal would address a weakness and/or strengthen resubmission (e.g., previous feedback suggested additional pilot data was needed or work would be strengthened by more in depth archival analysis, etc).
  • Does the proposal contain an adequate plan or mechanism for assessing success and evaluating outcomes?
  • For Multi-PI proposals, was an external funding opportunity identified?

Budget Evaluation:

  • Is the project budget appropriate and sufficient to carry out the proposed work?
  • Are the budget requests adequately justified, clearly articulated, and necessary for the scope of work and timeline?
  • Would you recommend any reduction in the budget?

Funding Recommendations:
Reviewers will be asked to make funding recommendations based on the merits of each proposal.

 

Funding Period
Awards will be will be made for approximately one year, unless a compelling justification is made by the PI(s) for an alternate funding period. Standard award period will be May 1, 2018 to July 31, 2019.

 

Grant Deadline
There will only be one REP competition per year. Full proposals must be submitted by 12/15/2017. Awards to be announced in mid to late-March.

 

Project Report:
PI is required to submit a project report at the close of the grant period and annual updates on project outcomes in the years following the grant. These annual updates are crucial for building a solid understanding of the full impact of the REP investment. The OVPR will contact awardees when reports are needed.