To assist investigators who have temporarily lost significant federal research funding, and to facilitate carefully planned changes in research direction, the School of Medicine has modified its Bridge Funding Program. Bridge funding up to $100,000 or up to 50% of the last year’s direct costs, whichever is lower, will be available to investigators based on merit and potential for funding. Bridge funds cannot be used for salary support of the PI(s). The source of funds used for bridging will be the 10% G&A “Dean’s tax”. For the remainder of FY14 it is estimated that up to $500,000 will be available. In recognition of the continuing difficult funding climate, the application criteria are being broadened.
I. Criteria for Eligibility
- The investigator's NIH (R-series, or subprojects on U- and P-series), NSF, VA competitive or other federal renewal application was not funded. K-Award or equivalent junior investigators transitioning to NIH R-series, NSF or VA grants are also eligible, as are new applications that substitute for an existing research award (see Ic).
- Insufficient funds are available in the investigator's laboratory to maintain a sufficient level of research competitiveness. If two or more R-series or equivalent grants are currently funded, or a single R01-level award plus significant philanthropic or carryover funds are available, the investigator is not eligible.
- The competitive renewal should typically have been discussed and scored if an NIH application, or received excellent or equivalent ratings from NSF, VA or other federal applications. Applications for bridge funding of an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) of a competitive renewal will also be considered if the applicant received a strong priority score, and the applicant is able to describe how the summary statement will guide development of a new application that has less than 50% overlap with the A1 submission. Funding will also be available to catalyze new R01-level applications intended to replace a currently funded line of research that has reached the end of its natural life.
II. Application Procedure
Applications will be accepted for deadlines of April 15, August 15 and December 15, and should be submitted by the investigator’s department chair. An electronic version of the following (a-e) should be submitted as a single pdf in the order listed to the Executive Associate Dean for Research:
- A letter (2 pages maximum) from the investigator identifying i) the amount of the request, ii) the specific consequences to the research program and laboratory personnel of losing the grant, iii) the termination date of the current grant, iv) when current funds will expire, and v) a plan for resubmission including responses to major criticisms of the grant and intended resubmission date. A list of five articles that the applicant considers to be the most significant of his/her career should be included. This letter should also state that remaining bridge funds will be relinquished as soon as additional funding is secured. Any research or salary support available to the investigator that was not reported to the funding agency must be identified (e.g., foundation awards, discretionary funds, gifts, start-up funding). For catalyst funding (see Ic) the investigator should omit (v) and discuss the decision not to apply for a renewal of the existing award but rather to change research direction. Specific plans for gathering essential preliminary data should be included.
- The front sections of the relevant grant application, from the face page through and including the specific aims page. NSF and VA grant applicants should include abstract, specific aims, pages detailing the budget, other support, facilities and resources, local and external collaborative arrangements, and investigator cv(s).
- The NIH study section review sheets or NSF/ VA/ Federal Grant evaluations of the competitive renewal.Dollar amounts (direct funding) available from other awards, and their ending dates. The number of laboratory personnel, and the current annual direct costs of running the lab. A description of how operating costs are being reduced.
- A proposed budget for use of the bridge or catalyst funds, including names and roles for lab personnel. Note that the School’s bridge funds cannot be used for salary support of the PI or co-PIs, or for travel or equipment.
A separate letter (pdf) should be prepared from the investigator's chair to the Executive Associate Dean of Research i) confirming the amount of the request, ii) indicating the degree of departmental enthusiasm for the investigator, iii) how the investigator’s salary will be covered to allow sufficient protected time to resubmit, iv) a statement that the investigator does not have other monies to draw on, v) whether the investigator would benefit from mentoring and if so the outline of a plan, and vi) whether additional departmental funds are available to pool with institutional bridge funds. Departmental matching funds are strongly encouraged but might not be possible in all situations. Requests to bridge subprojects on U- and P-series grants must have a separate endorsement of the U- or PPG PI.
III. Selection and Funding Procedures
A committee of seasoned investigators will review applications and recommend action, recognizing that sufficient funds are unlikely to be available to support all applicants. The Dean, EAD-Research and WHSC VP-Research will then make decisions. Funds will be transferred to the investigator's account in four quarterly payments, each payment upon receipt of a letter to the Executive Associate Dean for Research, signed by both investigator and chair, verifying that additional external funding has not yet been secured (see IIa). Work funded under this mechanism must meet all regulatory requirements of Emory University School of Medicine. Funds unexpended within 15 months of the initial payment will be returned to the Dean’s office.
One year after the end of the bridge or catalyst award the departmental chair will prepare a brief letter to the Executive Associate Dean Research describing the outcome of the award.