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This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) invites qualified institutions of higher education to seek support to modernize and improve existing research facilities (e.g., laboratory space or animal facilities), or to construct new biomedical research space and furnish it with necessary fixed equipment. The objective of this FOA is to support the development of modern facilities that will enable and enhance the conduct of cutting-edge biomedical research. Any facility supported by this FOA must serve a broad research community, locally at the applicant institution or regionally.
NIH recognizes that modern physical infrastructure is necessary for the conduct of cutting-edge research. As science progresses and new technologies become available, dedicated space is required to house specialized equipment and to carry out novel experimental protocols. Projects will vary and depend on the present institutional infrastructure and long-term institutional research plans. Focusing on the advancement of science through the modernization of physical space will be a common and integral feature of all proposed projects. When completed, projects will have a significant institution-wide impact, bringing the research capacities and capabilities to a new level. An institution may request funds to modernize a core facility to create an environment required for research-driven specialized technological services. Likewise, funds may be requested to consolidate space for an institution-wide core which would provide streamlined workflows for contemporary multi-disciplinary investigations. Modernizing laboratory space used on a shared basis to meet the growing needs consistent with an institutional strategic vision for biomedical research is another example of a suitable request. A successful project will serve research teams and a broad range of research efforts.
Various factors are typically considered when developing or modernizing research infrastructure. For applications submitted to this FOA, defined research needs will drive the requests for modern engineering solutions. As science progresses and new technologies become available, required dedicated space must comply with relevant technical specifications to provide a well-controlled environment, to enable novel experimental approaches, and to house specialized equipment.
Modern physical infrastructure requires the implementation of advanced engineering designs. Some protocols may be only conducted in designated clean rooms, such as barrier facilities for pathogen-free research or space for synthesis of compounds meeting standards for human subject experiments. Certain equipment requires specially shielded rooms. In some situations, the precision of experimental setups requires accurate monitoring of laboratory environmental conditions. The laboratory space also needs to be adequately maintained to serve its desired function over the years. The formal structure of an institutional core typically offers effective oversight to ensure that the required engineering standards of a space it occupies are met and maintained over time. Also, such centralized facilities are organized to provide rigorous scientific support for the conduct of research.
NIH recognizes the importance of all institutions of higher learning in contributing to the nation’s research capacity. NIH intends to make available 25% of the funds to support projects from Institutions of Emerging Excellence (as defined in 42 USC 283k(c)(2)). These institutions play a special role in advancing biomedical research as they leverage their research abilities to address problems of special relevance or unmet health needs. Often these institutions are located in the geographical areas in which deficits in research resources and health-related services/technologies may adversely affect health status of the population. Serving individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds by carrying activities related to training, health services, or biomedical research contributes to protecting health of such populations. Such institutions often serve as centers for dissemination of health information, training development, and advancement of research.
It is expected that all projects – both from research-intensive institutions and Institutions of Emerging Excellence – will have long-term effect and benefit the broad biomedical research community at the applicant institution by providing a modern research environment, accessible on a shared basis.
Requests for regular maintenance, replacement of aging or failing equipment, and other routine work are not appropriate for this FOA, and such requests will not be supported. Inappropriate are requests for upgrades of a space serving a single investigator. Also, equally inappropriate are requests to support facilities for billable medical care, office space, or classrooms.
Applicants may request funds for costs of design and implementation of the project. Specifically, the allowable costs include the architectural and engineering design fees, contingency fees, construction and fixed equipment costs, and commissioning costs of the facility – compare the Funding Restrictions section for further details of allowable and non-allowable costs. Applicants are encouraged to follow sustainable design principles and to use green technologies.
To appropriately conceive, develop, construct, and successfully complete the project, a Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) should possess knowledge of the relevant scientific field, have a vested professional interest in the success of the project, demonstrate leadership skills, and assemble a team with technical expertise related to all aspects of the project. The PD/PI does not need to be a currently NIH-funded investigator but should have the appropriate standing in the institutional administration and the research community to lead and oversee the project.
The project should be consistent with the following criteria and documentation requirements:
- The project is essential for research activities supported and the space involved will be used for these activities.
- The building must have a useful life consistent with program purposes, including the time to construct and complete the project plus 20 years of use following the occupancy of the research space; the building must be architecturally and structurally suitable for conversion to the type of research space required.
- If the space is rented, evidence must be provided that the terms of the lease and expected subsequent 20-year use of the facility are consistent with the proposed project. Specifically, a signed document from the building owner must be provided that the terms of the lease agreement and subsequent use of the facility will comply with the 20-year term of the Notice of Federal Interest (NFI) requirement following the occupancy of the facility. A statement of agreement by the owner of the space must be included. These documents will be verified if/when the application is considered for funding.
- If the project will affect a site listed (or eligible for inclusion) in the National Register of Historic Places, the requirements specified in “Preservation of Cultural and Historic Resources” must be followed.
PDs/PIs are strongly encouraged to contact the Scientific/Research Contact listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts to discuss their planned projects before submitting applications.