Maximizing the Scientific Value of the NHLBI Biorepository: Scientific Opportunities for Exploratory Research (R21)

Released Date
Expiration Date
Activity Code
R21
Full Announcement
RFA-HL-17-022

FAQs for RFA-HL-17-022: Maximizing the Scientific Value of the NHLBI Biorepository: Scientific Opportunities for Exploratory Research (R21)

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to stimulate exploratory research relevant to the NHLBI mission using the existing biospecimen collections that are stored in the NHLBI Biorepository, thereby maximizing the scientific value of the stored collections and providing researchers with an opportunity to generate preliminary data for subsequent research proposals.

Are the applicants required to use biospecimens available in the NHLBI Biorepository?

The specific aims must include the use of biospecimens stored in the NHLBI Biorepository from a collection(s) identified on the BioLINCC website http://www.biolincc.nhlbi.nih.gov as an "Open BioLINCC Study".

How do I find what biospecimens are available and if they will meet my research needs?

Descriptions to the available biospecimen collections and associated datasets can be found at the NHLBI Biospecimen and Data Repository Information Coordinating Center (BioLINCC) website at www.biolincc.nhlbi.nih.gov.  You can search for a study by name or keyword(s) in the main search window, and/or limit your search parameters using the common properties, material types, diseases, and study type tabs to generate a list of available open collections.  After performing the search, a list of available studies will appear.  Once you select a study link, this will bring up the study description, additional details on the study population and available biospecimens and associated study documents including the data dictionary, procedures manual, and the study protocol.  The study catalog link is also a helpful resource to access basic study information, study design, study population, and available biospecimens.  All of this information can be used to determine which of the available samples, material types, and amount from a particular study meet your research needs.  The specific availability of biospecimens that meet your research criteria will be provided after you have submitted a request through the BioLINCC website. The link to submit a request can be found on the right hand side and bottom of each study description page.  You can contact BioLINCC with any additional questions via the “Contact Us” link at the top of the page.

How can I request access to available biospecimens in the NHLBI Biorepository?

The process to determine the availability of biospecimens and obtain a Letter of Availability from BioLINCC is described in the Biospecimen Availability section of this RFA.  Please refer to the BioLINCC Handbook for specimen request instructions and requirements: https://biolincc.nhlbi.nih.gov/static/guidelines/handbook.pdf

Is a Letter of Availability required to apply for this RFA?

A Letter of Availability from BioLINCC that confirms the availability of biospecimens for the proposed research aims must be included in the grant application. Resubmitted applications must obtain a new Letter of Availability from BioLINCC.  Applications without a current Letter of Availability will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Since the time to complete the initial search for biospecimens varies depending on the complexity of the search parameters, the request to search for biospecimens from a specific collection(s) available through BioLINCC must be initiated at least 21 days prior to the FOA Application Due Date to allow enough time to obtain the Letter of Availability.

Can I use funds from this R21 FOA to collect biospecimens?

No, the funds from this RFA may not be used to collect biospecimens.

Can the proposed research include the use of supplemental biospecimens (from sources other than BioLINCC)?

Supplemental biospecimens from other existing collections may be used if the research question(s) cannot be fully addressed using only biospecimens available through BioLINCC.  The application must justify the inclusion of other existing collections and include documentation indicating that the biospecimens are available for the proposed research aims.

Does this FOA support analysis of datasets?

The FOA was primarily intended for analysis of existing biospecimens.  While the research proposal can include studies involving datasets, it must also use the existing biospecimen collections that are stored in the NHLBI Biologic Specimen Repository to be responsive to this RFA.

Those interested in data analyses only should consider applying to PAR-17-004: Secondary Dataset Analyses in Heart, Lung, and Blood Diseases and Sleep Disorders (R21), which has recently been reissued: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-17-004.html

How many receipt dates are there?

There are six receipt dates: February 17, 2017; October 17, 2017; February 15, 2018; October 17, 2018; February 15, 2019; October 17, 2019.

Are resubmissions allowed?

Yes, resubmissions are allowed.  The last receipt date for the funding opportunity (FOA) is October 17, 2019.  Please note that resubmitted applications must obtain a new Letter of Availability from BioLINCC.  Applications without a current Letter of Availability will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

What IRG/Study section should I submit my grant application to?

This RFA will involve a Special Emphasis Panel convened by NHLBI.  Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by this Special Emphasis Panel.

Does early stage investigator status (ESI) apply to this announcement?

ESI status does not apply to R21 grants.  However, junior investigators are encouraged to apply to this RFA.  Award of an R21 grant will not impact ESI status.

Does the RFA have set aside funds?

NHLBI intends to fund up to 5 new awards in fiscal year 2017, up to 10 new awards in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and up to 5 new awards in fiscal year 2020.  The applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit.  Final funding decisions of meritorious applications are based on considerations of program relevance, overlap with existing programs, availability of funds, and NHLBI Advisory Council recommendations.

Do I need IRB review before initiating a search for biospecimens and requesting a letter of availability for RFA-17-022?

IRB review of the proposed research is not required to search for the biospecimens or to request the letter of availability that needs to be included in the grant application. Once you have secured an intent from NHLBI to fund the R21 grant application, the IRB review requirements described in Chapter 3, Table 3.1, of the BioLINCC Handbook (www.biolincc.nhlbi.nih.gov) must be completed. For the majority of studies, written approval from a requestor’s IRB must be submitted stating that the IRB has either a) performed a review of the project and issues an approval, or b) declared that the research project is exempt from review. A few studies require full or expedited review and an exemption statement cannot be accepted. This requirement is noted on the BioLINCC website study page.