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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About CDC Funding Opportunity Announcement TP-08-001

Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers: A Public Health Systems Approach (P01)

See also the abridged version of Announcement TP-08-001 and the complete version of Announcement TP-08-001.

Funding Mechanism

What is the difference between a center grant and the P01 grant mechanism?

The major difference is the interdependence and inter-relatedness of each research project in the program project grant. Specialized center grants can encompass a broad spectrum or range of research activities, whereas the P01 mechanism is more focused for “a system of research activities and projects directed toward a well-defined research program goal.” Each project supported through the P01 mechanism should contribute or be directly related to the common theme of the total research effort and should demonstrate “an essential element of unity and interdependence.”

How does COTPER define Public Health Systems Research?

Public health systems are the constellation of individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors that provide information and assets to promote population health, provide health care delivery, and prevent disease and injury (including health care providers, insurers, purchasers, public health agencies, community-based organizations, and entities that operate outside the traditional sphere of health care). COTPER defines public health systems research as a specialized branch of research that investigates the functions, operations, structure, and interactions of public health systems.

Eligibility

Is eligibility open to accredited programs of public health?

No. The RFA states that the eligibility is limited to "accredited Schools of Public Health, as required by section 319F-2(d) of the Public Health Service Act." This language does not encompass accredited programs.

Can a non-profit foundation that serves a school of public health be the applicant?

No. Because the RFA states that the eligibility is limited to "accredited Schools of Public Health, as required by section 319F-2(d) of the Public Health Service Act," the Foundation cannot apply on the behalf of the School. The school should apply as the eligible applicant and explain in their application how the Foundation will be used as their fiduciary (financial) agent along with documentation regarding this legal relationship. This explanation can be included in a letter signed by the business official and dean or appropriate administrator of the school that states the school's intention for the foundation to serve as their agent for receipt and management of federal grant funds.

Is eligibility open to Schools of Public Health that are not based in the United States?

Eligibility is open to a School of Public Health accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, including those are that are not based in the United States. As a condition of receiving an award, an accredited School of Public Health must "conduct public health systems research that is consistent" with the research agenda established by the HHS Secretary "based on Federal, State, local, and tribal public health preparedness priorities" (Public Health Service Act section 319F(d)(7)).

Any research award applicant, including non-U.S. applicants, must agree to conduct research consistent with this legislative requirement.

Partnerships

Can a school of public health partner with another school of public health in developing an application?

Yes. However, each school cannot submit more than one application, even if one application is in partnership with another school.

Are scientists at foreign universities and/or research institutions eligible to participate as collaborators and receive funding as subcontractors as part of an interdisciplinary team lead by an accredited school of public health?

The eligibility in the CDC Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) TP08-001 does not explicitly exclude foreign organizations as partners nor are they among the organizations listed as potential collaborators. If your application includes a foreign organization, the scientific merit of the proposed research and the need for affiliation with another organization (foreign or other) to conduct the research will be judged in peer review.

The HHS Grants Policy Statement indicates that subawards to foreign organizations require prior approval from the Operating Division. If an application is considered for funding, the requirement for approval of a subaward in your research will be addressed at that time.

Application Submission

Is there a page limit on the Letters of Intent (LOI)?

Yes. Your LOI should be no more than 10 single-sided pages. A modification making this clear is being published.

How can I submit my LOI?

The FOA did not specify format for submitting the LOI. You can e-mail your LOI as a PDF attachment (for the page limitation) or send it to the address listed in the FOA via USPS or express mail.

Do we have 25 pages for the overview, 25 pages for the core, and 25 pages for each individual research project?

As described in the RFA TP-08-001 under Section IV. Application and Submission Information, 2. Content and Form of Application Submission, There is a 25 page limit for the “Program Project Description” for the P01 application. This section includes an overview to provide and an overall description of the program project grant application as well as the core component that will support the program the program project grant. There is a 25 page limit for each individual research project. The only sections that are not included in the 25 page limitation are the budget, budget justification, and biosketches.

How are you defining “new investigators” that can be supported by the core funding?

The intent of providing funding for training new investigators was to expand the pool of research scientists interested and engaged in public health systems research for preparedness and emergency response. COTPER considers a new investigator to be a junior faculty member (associate professor or instructor) such as would be eligible for a K01 award. Doctoral or MPH students who are completing dissertation research would also be considered new investigators for this core funding.

Are each of the individual research projects expected to be prepared as an individual grant on the PHS Form 398? Should there be one application for the core as well?

The application should be prepared as a composite using the PHS Form 398. The core should include the overall budget, budget justification, general description of the research plan for the proposed theme, timeline, etc. for the entire program project grant (maximum $2 million). The total budget should reflect the budget information for the core (up to a total of $300,000) and a composite budget that includes each research project. Each individual research project should have its own budget, budget justification up to a total of $350,000 and a more detailed research plan. Indirect costs should be included in all of these figures.

Does the restriction on 10 attachments apply to the overall proposal or does it apply to the individual research projects?

The limitation on 10 attachments in the appendix applies to the entire P01 application irrespective of the number of individual research projects included in an application.

Budget

Is there a minimum for the pilot project in the core?

Suggested minimum for a pilot project is $10,000.

Typical protocol is to build in a 3% to 4% increase each year for salary and other annual increases. Does the CDC accept budget’s incorporating a 3% to 4% increase each year following the initial 12-month budget period?

Per HHS Grant Policy, costs for salaries including percentage increases, "are allowable to the extent that they are reasonable, conform to established policy of the organization, are consistently applied regardless of the source of funds, and reflect no more than the percentage of time actually devoted to the program project grant funded. Budget requests [in future years] should be clearly explained, adequately justified, reasonable and consistent with the intended use of program project grant funds."

The initial approved 12-month budget in a CDC funded award sets the level of base funding. Budgets can be approved for a higher proposed amount for future years if the funds are available. However, if funds are not available for the proposed future amounts, future year funding will be at this base level to the extent that sufficient funds are available. Therefore, depending upon the availability of funding, increases in salary in future years, while allowable, may be at the expense of funding in other categories necessary for conducting proposed research activities.

Do you have to fund four pilot projects every year? Is the $30,000 for four pilot projects a required expenditure in each of the five years (totaling $120,000 each year for pilot projects), or can it be less in any year?

You do not have to support four pilot projects every year in the core. The number of pilot projects, up to a total of four, is discretionary in any budget year. However, at least one pilot project should be funded in each budget year, consistent with the minimal core functions stated in the FOA. The funding provided for a pilot project is also discretionary, up to $30,000.

Do you have to fund four new investigators every year? Is the $30,000 for four new investigators a required expenditure in each of the five years (totaling $120,000 each year), or can it be less in any year?

Along with the other activities stipulated, the FOA states that the core component should "provide funding and oversight…to develop up to four New Research Investigators…at up to $30,000 per new investigator.” The number of new investigators supported by the core, up to a total of four, is discretionary in any budget year. At least one new investigator should be supported in each budget year, consistent with the minimal core functions stated in the FOA. The funding provided for a new investigator is also discretionary, up to $30,000.

What expenses should be centralized in the research core?

Costs for all support functions or activities provided by the core should be centralized, e.g. administrative support costs, costs for pilot projects, training, meetings, etc. Costs related to an individual research project should be reflected within the budget for each individual research project.

Should we follow the Budget Instructions for the 398 in completing our budgets and budget justifications?

It is stated in the RFA TP-08-001 under Section IV. Application and Submission Information, 2. Content and Form of Application Submission, that the “detailed budget request must be provided in the form, format [398 budget form], and to the level of detail as indicated in the CDC Budget Guidelines.

Under “Program Project Description,” the RFA TP-08-001 states that…“The budget should reflect the composite figures (core plus individual [research] projects) for the grant application. In addition, separate budgets (direct and indirect) and justifications” should be provided for the following categories of activities.”

The following is suggested to provide the required level of detail in the application and avoid duplication.

The composite budget on the PHS 398 budget form to include the detailed budget categories for the core and the total budget for the individual research projects listed in the category “other expenses”. Each project total can then be shown and the combined total listed on the budget form. The budget justification in this section then includes the justification for the core and reference to the detailed budget and budget justification for each of the individual research projects.

Each individual research project should then include its detailed budget per category and the detailed budget justification.

Program

What is an acceptable percentage effort for a Principal Investigator?

While this should be dictated by the research proposed, 10% to 25% could be expected to guide the research effort.

Are each of the research projects expected to run the entire five years?

No. This is dependent upon the research proposed and the reasonable time anticipated for completion. It is possible that some projects may conclude after three years. However, any new research activity that would be expected to replace a completed project should be included in the original application.

Can external partners work with multiple grant applications?

Yes. The role and responsibilities of any partner must be clearly defined and a letter of support confirming the stated relationship should be provided.

Can representation on the Advisory Committee satisfy the interdisciplinary requirements?

No. This requirement refers to the breadth of proposed research of interest to COTPER.

How does COTPER want recipients to translate and disseminate findings?

COTPER is requesting that applicants develop strategies and/or methods for disseminating the research findings but has not asked for proposals to do so at this time due to budget limitations. This may be a fertile area for future research efforts.

Should applicants propose research that addresses only one priority theme?

It is preferred that the individual research projects be interrelated to address various aspects of a single theme.

What overlap, if any, is expected to exist between the current Centers for Public Health Preparedness (CPHP) training grants and this new research grant?

The CPHP program is distinct from the Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers (PERRCs) in its purpose and scope. To the extent that activities supported in the CPHP are relevant to preparedness and emergency response research questions, there may be overlap. However, activities from CPHP cannot be used to address the requirements of this FOA nor the reverse.

Peer Review

Who will be on the review committee?

Persons with expertise relevant to the areas of research proposed will be selected to serve on the external peer review panel. The areas of expertise that we anticipate needing for the review include Crisis Response, Social Science, Engineering, Epidemiology, Systems Research, Laboratory Science, Public Health Practice, Behavioral Science, and others.

What is the scoring and weighting of each program project and the research core?

Applications will be scored using the current HHS/CDC and HHS/NIH criteria (scoring of 100-500 points). The criteria for review and for consideration in funding are all described in the FOA under section V. Application Review Information. Reviewers will assess each individual research project for scientific merit and review the overall program plan described for the core. Reviewers will render a score for the entire program project application that reflects scoring for each component within the program project.

Does the whole review committee evaluate the entire application, or are different projects given to expert reviewers?

The Review Criteria to be used by the Initial Review Group for the Program Project Grant Applications is stated in the FOA, Section V. Application Review Information, 2. Review and Selection Process. The individual projects will be assigned to expert reviewers who will also review the entire program project grant (the core component and all individual research projects in an application).

What is the font type and size for the LOI? This was not indicated in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

The FOA does not state a required font for the LOI. However, your application on PHS Form 398 must use one of the approved font options with a font size of 11 or larger. The approved font options include two serif fonts (Palatino and Georgia) and two sans serif fonts (Arial and Helvetica).

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