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Funding Opportunity Announcements in Virtual Reality Technologies for Research and Education in Obesity and Diabetes FAQ


On May 10, 2011, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the Department of Defense (DOD), and other co-sponsoring agencies from the NIH released 4 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) (see below) to encourage submission of research grant applications that capitalize on the unique capabilities of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies to visualize outcomes, to teach, to motivate, and to extend the health care and learning environments, in order to foster desirable eating, physical activity, self-care, and other health-related behaviors. The overall goal is to develop the potential of VR technologies as research tools for behavioral science-oriented studies in diabetes and obesity, and as practical tools for clinical and public health-level prevention and management of obesity and diabetes.

Q: What reports are available on this topic?
A: A summary report of a July 2010 workshop sponsored by NIH and DOD entitled “Virtual Reality Technologies for Research and Education in Obesity and Diabetes” is available on the NHLBI public website ( Workshop papers were published March 2011 in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology (

Q: What are the Funding Opportunity Announcements, their sponsors, and their application receipt dates?
A:The primary NIH sponsor of the FOAs is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (

The primary co-sponsor of the FOAs is the DOD Telemedicine and Technology Research Center (TATRC) (   TATRC has substantial in-house subject matter expertise and experience in the application of information technologies, virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming technologies for healthcare. If the applicant would like to have the research project considered for supplemental funding from TATRC, a paragraph defining the military relevance should be included as such.

Other NIH co-sponsors for the R21 and R01 FOAs include:

  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (;
  • NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR) (;
  • NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) (; and
  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) (  

Requests for Applications (RFAs):
R41/R42 (Small Business Technology Transfer Grants, STTR):
(NHLBI, TATRC)  (receipt dates July 11, 2011 and July 11, 2012)

R43/R44 (Small Business Innovative Research Grants, SBIR):
(NHLBI, TATRC)  (receipt dates July 11, 2011 and July 11, 2012)

Program Announcements (PAs):
R21 (Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants):    
(standard receipt dates through May 8, 2014) (NHLBI, NICHD, OBSSR, ORWH, NIBIB; TATRC)

R01 (Research Project Grants): 
(standard receipt dates through May 8, 2014) (NHLBI, NICHD, OBSSR; TATRC)

Q: How can I find out which funding mechanism (and FOA) is most suitable for me, and whether my application would be responsive?
A:Interested applicants are encouraged to read all sections of the FOA thoroughly and to contact the scientific program staff listed in the FOAs to determine responsiveness and identify the most appropriate funding mechanism(s) for their projects. The various FOA funding mechanisms are described at: The SBIR and STTR mechanisms are described in detail at:

Applications should address multidisciplinary research strategies drawing on expertise in VR technologies, biomedical sciences, and behavioral sciences. Many projects can usefully be conducted taking advantage of already existing tools, games, and software, although proposals also could seek to develop unique technologies. Applications focusing only on electronic means of research data collection (so-called “e-tools”), without VR components, will not be considered to fit the objectives of these FOAs.

Q: The title of the FOAs refers to research and education in obesity and diabetes. Must my application address both research and education, or can it address just one of these? Similarly, must my application address both obesity and diabetes, or can it address just one of these?
A: According to preference, the applicant can pick one area or both: research and/or education; obesity and/or diabetes.

Q: Can I submit a regular SBIR or STTR application on the scientific topic areas of the Virtual Reality FOAs?
A: Yes, the scientific content areas of the Virtual Reality FOAs are also suitable for regular SBIR/STTR applications.  Applicants may request primary assignment to NHLBI. For more information on these funding mechanisms, see the NIH website on Small Business Research Funding Opportunities ( The appropriate Funding Opportunity Announcements are:

Q: Can videoclip material be submitted as part of an application to the SBIR RFA (HL-12-020) or the STTR RFA (HL-12-024)?
A: Yes, you may include one or more videoclips as part of the RFA application materials. However, do NOT embed them as links in the electronic application. Videoclips MUST be provided on compact disks (CDs) in readily-accessible common formats for the convenience of reviewers. Applicants should provide five (5) copies of these CDs to the NHLBI Review Branch at the time the application is submitted.

Q: Who are the primary Scientific Contacts for these FOAs?
A: Abby G. Ershow, Sc.D.
Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, NHLBI
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 8160 (MSC: 7956), Bethesda, MD 20892 (Express: 20817)
Ph: 301-435-0550; Fax: 301-480-3667

Charles M. Peterson MD, MBA
Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center
Building 1054, Patchel Street, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5012
Ph: 301-619-4197; Fax: 301-619-2518

Last update: June 2011

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