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Your Environment. Your Health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Superfund Research Program

The following list contains Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pertaining to RFA-ES-18-002 that were answered during the P42 Funding Opportunity Webinar as well ask questions that have been sent to SRP Staff during the duration of the RFA’s open period (July 3, 2018 – December 19, 2018). Questions have been divided based on the components listed in RFA. Please contact an SRP staff member (contact information is available in the RFA) if you have a question that you would like answered that is not on this list.

Please note:

  • This FAQ was originally posted on August 28, 2018. Please check back regularly as updates and new questions will be posted when available.
  • This page was updated on September 11, 2018 to add Questions 18 and 19 in the General and Overall Component Questions section and Questions 6, 7, and 8 in the Research Experience and Training Coordination Core section.
  • This page was updated on September 25, 2018 to add Question 5 in the Research Projects section.
  • This page was updated on October 10, 2018 to add Question 6 in the Research Projects section.

General and Overall Component Questions

  1. Who do we contact with questions on Center content?
    You may contact any staff listed at the end of the RFA for questions regarding your Center content; however, your assigned Program Officer would be able to direct you to the appropriate resource for your questions. If you do not have an assigned program officer, please contact an SRP Program Officer ASAP:

    Danielle J. Carlin, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator
    Tel 984-287-3244
    danielle.carlin@nih.gov
    Michelle L. Heacock, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator
    Tel 984-287-3267
    heacockm@niehs.nih.gov
    Heather Henry, Ph.D.
    Health Scientist Administrator, Superfund Research Program
    Tel 984-287-3268
    henryh@niehs.nih.gov
  2. Is the Principal Investigator (PI) also the Center Director? Could you comment on the leadership of the Center (e.g., area of expertise, experience in managing centers or large research groups/collaborations).
    Yes, the PI of the application is considered the Center Director. The proposed Center Director should have the necessary experience/expertise to demonstrate effective and responsible leadership of the Center.

  3. Is there a specific number of new Centers that SRP will support/fund from this RFA?
    The RFA is open to new Center applications as well as renewals applications, and there is no set number of new vs. renewal applications that will be supported/funded by this RFA.

  4. When does ASSIST open to begin uploading application documents?
    As per the RFA, the open date (i.e., earliest submission date) is November 19, 2018.

  5. Does the $1.75M direct cost include consortium F&A or is the limit $1.75M direct cost less consortium F&A?
    F&A for consortium is excluded from the Direct Cost cap, but when developing your budget, it will be part of your total direct cost.

  6. Do indirect costs on subcontracts count toward the cap on allowable direct costs for the program?
    Indirect costs (F&A) for consortium is excluded from the direct cost cap of $1.75M, but please note that when putting the budget together it will be part of your total direct cost. Total Direct Cost will be over $1.75M by the amount of indirect cost for the consortiums.

  7. The RFA states, under the Research Strategy section of Overall Component, the following subsections are recommended: Significance and Relevance to SRP Mandates and Superfund; Research Team; Innovation, Approach; Environment; and Center Integration. Do these subsections together need to be within the 12-page limit set for the Research Strategy section (which normally contains only Significance, Innovation and Approach subsections)?
    Yes, the subsections recommended should be included in the 12-page limit.

  8. Under Research Strategy for the Overall Component and Research Projects, the following subsections exist: Center Integration and Relation to Overall Center, respectively. Are they the same?
    No, they are not the same, but they are complementary. In addition, they are needed for Application Reviewers, who may review the Overall Component, but not a specific Project or vice-versa. Specifically, the Overall Component includes a section titled "Center Integration". This section should include a description of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature of the Center, the interactions between the projects and cores; how each project and core contributes to the Center's theme; and how the Center will achieve the integration and interaction among biomedical and environmental science and engineering research. The Research Projects are required to have a section titled "Relation to Overall Center". This section should include a description that clearly states the relevance of the project to the goals of the overall Center, how this project integrates with other projects and cores, and how the findings/activities of this project assist in solving the problem(s) that the Center is addressing. Coordination and or shared specific aims should be cross-referenced between projects/cores. Interactions with the Administrative Core's research translation functions and Data Management and Analysis Core should also be included. For project, applicants may refer to their "Table of Integration with Center" attachment (see Overall Section "Other Attachments")

  9. Is the SRP Strategic Plan (mentioned in the RFA) for 2015-2020 or 2020-2025?
    The RFA refers to the SRP Strategic Plan for 2015-2020.

  10. Are subawards to foreign universities/organizations allowed? How do you add a foreign component?
    Yes, subawards to foreign institutes/organizations are allowable. Subawards to foreign universities/organization may be added to either Projects or Cores. However, a foreign institute/organization cannot be supported directly (i.e., Project/Core Leaders cannot be from a foreign institute/organization, but they may include Co-Leaders from foreign universities/organizations).

  11. Is an annual increase in budget allowed, such as 2% increase per annum?
    Although an applicant may request escalation, it will be removed if an application is selected for funding because NIH no longer allows escalation.

  12. If submitting a Resubmission of a Renewal, should an applicant follow both Resubmission and Renewal instructions in the RFA?
    Yes, if submitting a Resubmission of a Renewal, an applicant should follow both Resubmission and Renewal instructions described in the RFA.

  13. Should salary for individuals above the salary cap be budgeted at the actual salary or salary cap?
    It is recommended that an applicant request the actual salary amount at the time of the award. (There are instances when the salary is increased after an application has been selected for funding.) SRP Grants Management Staff cannot increase what is asked for, but can decrease it if an applicant has asked for more than what was allowed.

  14. Is there an order to the Cores that they should be entered into ASSIST?
    There is no set order; however, it is encouraged to use the order of Cores as described in the RFA. Applicants should follow up with eRA commons about how to upload Cores to ensure they appear in the order desired.

  15. What are the page limits for Projects' and Cores' Research Strategies and how should each project/core establish an outline to follow when writing an application? Further, is the timeline, abstract/summary, narrative, and attachments separate from the research strategy?
    The RFA indicates the Research Strategy is limited to 12 pages for each Project and Core. There is no prescribed outline for Projects and Cores. The Project Research Strategy is recommended to have the following subsections: Significance and Relevance to SRP Mandates and Superfund; Investigators; Innovation; Approach; Environment; and Center Integration. The Cores do not have specific recommended subsections, but should be written clearly and logically. Applicants should carefully read the review criteria specific to each project/core and ensure that the review elements are addressed and clearly marked in the research strategy section. The Project/Core abstract/summary, narrative, and any allowable attachments are separate from the Research Strategy section. Please see SF424 Application Guide for text/page limitations for the abstract/summary, narrative, and any allowable attachments.

  16. What kind of attachments can be included in the Cores?
    Attachments are not allowed for the Cores, except for the RETCC which requires a "Trainee List" attachment for renewal applications.

  17. What materials are allowable in the Appendix?
    Very limited items are allowed in the Appendix. Multi-Project (M) Instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide cite the following: NIH Guide Notice on Allowable Appendix Materials for more information.

  18. The RFA states that funds for travel by appropriate staff (i.e., Center Director, Center Administrator, Research Translation Coordinator, Research Experience and Training Coordination leader, Data Management and Analysis Core leader, Community Engagement Core leader, and four trainees) should be included in the Administrative Core budget. Could the costs for travelling these individuals be added to the budgets of their respective cores/projects? (Question added 09/11/2018)
    In general, this is acceptable. However, the Administrative Core is responsible for ensuring that the required attendees have funds to travel to the meeting. For example, one would expect the Center Administrator's travel support to be in the Administrative Core's budget, but travel of the Director, and other travelers could be added to the budgets of the project/cores with which those individuals are associated. Any SRP Annual Meeting travel costs that are covered under other project/cores should be noted in the Administrative Core budget justification.

  19. Do we include a letter from our EAC in the application? (Question added 09/11/18)
    Letters of support from the EAC are allowable in the application.

Research Projects

  1. Should a single environmental science and engineering (ESE) project be solely dedicated to SRP's Mandate 4? Can Mandate 4 be supported with individual aims from the ESE projects?
    SRP requires that at least one ESE project supports Mandate 4 "basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances." A single project is not required to be solely dedicated to Mandate 4. Having an aim with a good connection to Mandate 4 is acceptable, but the applicant should be sure to emphasize (i.e., be specific) how the aim supports Mandate 4. If a poor connection is made to Mandate 4, the application may be returned as unresponsive, or it could raise concern by reviewers. In addition, the applicant should carefully review the RFA Sections titled "Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) Projects"; and Mandate #4 "Basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances". The application should also review the Suggested Research and Activities Document which provided examples of ESE research that supports Mandate 4.

  2. What is the definition of "delayed onset" for human subjects’ research?
    The NIH definition of delayed onset can be found here: https://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2017/12/28/what-is-delayed-onset/

  3. The RFA states, under the Research Strategy section of research projects, the following subsections are recommended: Significance and Relevance to SRP Mandates and Superfund; Investigators; Innovation; Approach; Environment; and Center Integration. Do these subsections together need to be within the 12-page limit for the Research Strategy section (which normally contains only Significance, Innovation and Approach subsections)?
    Yes, the subsections recommended are included in the 12-page limit.

  4. Investigator expertise is typically derived from the biosketch. It appears that an applicant is being asked to add a section to the Research strategy section on investigators. Is that correct?
    An applicant may include, in the Research Strategy, the group's expertise to accomplish the overall goals of the Project, but without duplicating information in biosketches.

  5. Is it allowed to have a National Lab collaborator (e.g., PNNL to work with us on a project/core) and if so, could some amount of money for the SRP project go there? (Question added 09/25/2018)
    Yes, it is fine to have National Lab collaborators. If the National Lab employee’s contract is such that it allows federal grant money, then NIEHS has authorization to cover expenses for their efforts, in accordance to the employee's contract.

  6. Regarding the Resource Sharing Plans for the research projects, is there a suggested length for the Data Management Plan and Investigator Initiated Research Translation Plan for the research projects? (Question added 10/10/18)
    There is no prescribed length for the project Data Management Plan (DMP) or the Investigator Initiated Research Translation Plan (IIRT) and it will vary from project to project. In most cases, each would be a half-page to one and a half pages in length and would be included in the "Resource Sharing Plan." For the Project DMP, the applicant should briefly summarize plans for project data management, analysis, sharing, etc. It should cross-reference other sections of the application (e.g. the Project's Research Strategy and the DMAC) if additional details are provided elsewhere. Similarly, the IIRT plan should communicate the anticipated and potential research translation activities for the project, being sure to cross-reference other sections of the application (e.g. Administrative Core) where additional details may be described. For Projects, the Resource Sharing Plans should include details called for in SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (Data Sharing Plan; Sharing Model Organisms; and Genomic Data Sharing Plan). In addition, Projects are expected to include within their Data Sharing Plan, a Data Management Plan and an Investigator-Initiated Research Translation Plan.

Administrative Core

  1. Is the research translation (within the Administrative Core) goal to mainly focus on projects that are linked to investigator-initiated research translation rather than projects that span the overall theme of the program?
    One of the required activities for research translation (within the Administrative Core) is communication which includes working with projects on their investigator-initiated research translation activities; another is to help disseminate research findings from the Center. One is not emphasized over the other.

  2. Since research translation is now part of the Administrative Core (as compared to previous P42 RFAs), do we respond to reviewer critiques in the Administrative Core Introduction?
    Yes

  3. With the addition of research translation functions into the Administrative Core (previous P42 RFAs had separate Administrative and Research Translation Cores), do you envision the role of the research translation coordinator changing? It appears that the responsibilities of the coordinator are the same compared to previous SRP P42 RFAs, but are there functions of the coordinator that we should be de-emphasizing (in this current RFA)? Do you see their role as evolving to include administrative tasks?
    The role of the coordinator will neither change nor will they have more administrative functions.

  4. If an applicant had member on the External Advisory Committee (EAC) on a previous application, does an applicant need to list them if they will stay on the EAC?
    If the applicant is a renewal (Type 2), then they should include EAC members who are staying on for the renewal period. If the applicant is new (Type 1), the applicant should not list members of the EAC.

  5. If the SRP application is a multiple PI application, can the 1.8 months of effort be split between two PIs (i.e., two Administrative Core Leaders)?
    Multi-PI applications are allowed; however, Program staff discourage this arrangement unless there is a strong justification. If you are considering submitting a multiple PI application, please discuss with SRP Program Staff. They can also provide guidance about how the level of effort should be applied.

  6. When an application includes multiple institutions, must there be an Administrative Core Leader (PI) and Center Administrator at each institution?
    The Administrative Core Leader (i.e., PI) should be from the institution submitting the application. In addition, there would be one Center Administrator, preferably from the applicant university.

  7. Is there a conflict of having a PI from a P42 center (currently in competition) named as an EAC member for a different university that is also currently in competition?
    There is no conflict.

  8. Is a resubmission application included in the following statement from the RFA: "New applicants should not list names of anticipated EAC members, unless they provide input into the design of the application?"
    If it is a resubmission of a new application (Type 1) from the last RFA, then names for EAC members should not be provided. If it is a resubmission of a renewal application (Type 2), then it would be appropriate to add the names of the EAC members.

  9. Are the Core limits (i.e. $150k direct costs for Admin Core) a yearly limit?
    Yes

Data Management and Analysis Core (DMAC)

  1. Is the budget for the DMAC part of the 20% limit of the overall direct costs budget? And what is the total allowable budget for the DMAC?
    No, the budget for the DMAC is not part of the 20% limit of the overall direct costs budget, and there is no budget cap for the DMAC.

  2. Can bioinformatics be included in the budget for the DMAC?
    As appropriate for the research goals of the DMAC, bioinformatics can be included in the DMAC. For example, if one of the projects requires a bioinformatics approach, the Center should budget accordingly for the respective research project and its role in the DMAC, if applicable. Keep in mind these additional functionalities (i.e., bioinformatics) are optional and should not detract from the data management and analysis responsibilities of the DMAC.

  3. Does the expectation that the DMAC facilitate integration of data across projects mean that there is an expectation that there be cross-project analyses performed?
    There is no requirement that there will be cross-project analyses, but an applicant would include cross-project analyses if it meets the scientific goals of the Center.

  4. Is there an expectation for a DMAC to develop data standards and ontologies?
    The DMAC is not required to develop ontologies, rather it should leverage existing ontologies to facilitate data sharing and integration. The DMAC should include discussion of ontology, data structures, standards, data platforms, interfaces, tools, and any data visualization approaches that may be used to facilitate data sharing and integration within the Center.

  5. Is the DMAC required to establish and maintain a data repository?
    While it is not expected for the DMAC to create a repository for the Center’s data, the core should be familiar with databases that can be used to deposit the data (https://fairsharing.org/). It should develop a plan for project and core members to have access and use the data generated from the Center, with appropriate ethical controls in place.

  6. Is there an expectation for the DMAC to have a web-based platform for sharing data with other SRP grantees?
    While we do not require a web-based platform to share data outward with other SRP grantees, the DMAC research strategy should address plans for sharing data within and outside the Center, including which data repositories will be used. To facilitate data sharing, the DMAC is highly encouraged to incorporate the concepts of "Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable" (FAIR) as a guiding principle, when working with project/core leaders (Wilkinson MD et al. Sci Data. 2016; 3:160018). The DMAC may look for data coordination and sharing opportunities within the SRP grantee community and should plan to participate in the SRP research translation/community engagement/data management and analysis core conference calls, as appropriate.

  7. What should the DMAC do if there is no repository (i.e., "no home") for the data?
    Some SRP-generated data might be appropriate for existing repositories, but we recognize that not all types of data have specific [existing?] repositories. If the DMAC cannot take advantage of university [or existing like GEO, Encode] repositories, a plan should be indicated for data storage.

  8. Is the DMAC expected to budget for long-term data storage after the grant ends?
    While it is not expected for the DMAC to create a repository for the Center's data, the core should be familiar with databases that can be used to deposit the data (https://fairsharing.org/; https://www.re3data.org/) and should develop a plan for project and core members to have access and use the data generated from the Center, with appropriate ethical controls in place. The DMAC would work with project and core leaders in establishing a process for identifying which datasets hold a high priority for sharing versus data that may be more practical for internal curation (e.g., preliminary results from projects). The DMAC should assist project/core leaders in identifying appropriate data sharing platforms or strategies for sharing of prioritized data sets. This may include plans for how and in which form data will be shared (e.g. raw vs processed, de-identified) within and outside Center, and appropriate timelines for dataset deposition. Hence, the DMAC is not required to budget for long-term storage of data after the grant ends, but should work with investigators on a long-term data storage plan for appropriate datasets.

  9. What expertise should the Core Leader of the DMAC have? Is it acceptable to have a DMAC Leader with expertise in data management, but no experience leading a core or vice versa (a DMAC Leader with experience leading a core, but limited expertise in data management)?
    According to the RFA, "The DMAC leader should have relevant experience to lead the data management and analysis core. The core key personnel should have expertise in data management; and, as applicable, may wish to include other expertise relevant to the DMAC's objectives (e.g., biostatistics and/or bioinformatics, and data visualization, etc.)" Ultimately, a Center must demonstrate that the DMAC leadership and its key personnel have the appropriate structure and qualifications to successfully achieve the goals of the core. Ideally, the DMAC leader would have both expertise in data management as well as experience to lead a core. If the Center envisions an alternative leadership arrangement, applicants are encouraged to speak with an SRP Program Officer to discuss potential programmatic or review implications. In any case, Centers should provide adequate justification explaining how their proposed DMAC leadership and personnel will achieve the DMAC goals.

Community Engagement Core (CEC)

  1. Are Significance and Innovation sections required in the CEC Research Strategy section?
    No, please refer to the RFA for guidance on what to include in the Research Strategy section. In addition, please ensure that you are responsive to the review criteria for the CEC.

  2. How many total pages are allowed for the CEC?
    Summary/Abstract is 30 lines total, Project Narrative is three sentences, Specific Aims are one page, and the Research Strategy is a total of 12 pages. Applicants should also review SF424 for further guidelines regarding text and page limitations.

  3. Are there new elements of the Community Engagement Core in the current RFA as compared to previous P42 RFAs?
    You are encouraged to read the current RFA carefully. In recent RFAs, an emphasis has been placed on Prevention/Intervention activities related to Mandate #4 ("basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances"). In addition, more information has been included with regard to biological or environmental sample collection. Specifically, the RFA states: "In some cases, CECs may choose to, but are not required to, include biological or environmental sample collection as part of their core prevention and intervention activities. CECs proposing to collect biological or environmental samples should include details of sampling methodology, analysis, statistical calculations (e.g., power) to ensure best practices are being adopted and communities are receiving scientifically defensible data."

  4. For the CEC, is there a page limit for the Progress Report (for renewal applications) which is to be included in the Research Strategy section (whose overall page limit is 12 pages)?
    There is no page limit for the Progress eport, but it does have to be within the 12 page Research Strategy. Note: The Progress Report only applies to renewal (Type 2) applications.

  5. Where should the timeline be placed in the CEC? Can it be a table? Is there a page limit?
    The timeline is part of the 12 pages in the CEC Research Strategy. It can be a table or text.

Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC)

  1. Are the training efforts in the RETCC expected to be innovative?
    While innovation is not explicitly mentioned in the description of the RETCC or the review criteria, it is encouraged to demonstrate innovation in the Core.

  2. Is there required curriculum for the RETCC? Is there a requirement for diversity recruitment? Do we need to describe our Individual Development Plan (IDP) process? Ethics in Research? The previous RFA contained these sections, but they are not in the current RFA. In addition, the RETCC appears to contain a 12 page Research Strategy, when the previous RFA requested a 25 page Program Plan.
    The previous RFA required that the Training Core (now titled Research Experience and Training Coordination Core (RETCC) in the current RFA) follow the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) format. The current RFA (RFA-ES-18-002) requests that the RETCC contain a 12 page Research Strategy. Please follow the instructions in the current RFA for more details about the content required for the 12 page RETCC Research Strategy.

  3. Trainee success stories (usually a table placed in the progress report section) can be moved to the list of current and former trainees (which is outside of the 12 page limit for the Research Strategy). Is this correct?
    Renewal applications are encouraged to include examples of trainee success stories in the Progress Report in the RETCC Research Strategy Section. In their Progress Report, applicants should also refer to the Trainee List (an allowable attachment) for a full list of current and past trainees.

  4. For the traveling to the SRP annual meeting for trainees, can travel be budgeted in the RETCC?
    Yes, traveling trainees to the SRP annual meeting may be budgeted within the RETCC travel budget. However, please note there is a limit of one trip to a scientific meeting per trainee per year in the travel budget of the RETCC.

  5. For the RETCC, would trainee travel be considered a Participant Support Cost?
    No, the cost should be listed under travel.

  6. It seems reviewers in the past have been looking for something that resembles a Training Grant, including a lot of tables, curricula, etc. But this is NOT the goal of the current iteration of the RTCC, correct? If so, will the reviewers be advised NOT to look for a T32 like proposal? (Question added 09/11/18)
    Yes, the reviewers will not be looking for a T32 like proposal.

  7. Although the RFA indicates the type of training activities they're looking for, there's no specific structure recommended. Am I correct in assuming we do not follow the traditional, "Significance, Approach, Innovation, Research Plan" format of an R01? (Question added 09/11/18)
    Yes

  8. It specifies to use "Component type 'Core'"- this automatically means the RTCC core proposal has a page limit of 12 pages + aims, correct? (Question added 09/11/18)
    Yes

Research Support Cores (optional)

  1. If a Research Support Core provides a service involving handling/housing animal models, should IACUC approval forms (for vertebrate) be provided for the core if they have been included in the Projects?
    IACUC approval forms should be provided for each Project using vertebrate animals and should be referenced in the Research Support Core, as applicable.

  2. The RFA states, under the Research Strategy section of research projects, "the following subsections are recommended: Significance and Relevance to SRP Mandates and Superfund; Investigators; Innovation; Approach; Environment; and Center Integration". How do the recommended subsections apply to the Research Strategy section of optional research support cores?
    The recommended subsections do not necessarily apply to optional Research Support Cores, but the same subsections may be used, if applicable. Applicants should refer to the review criteria to ensure that the review elements are addressed and clearly marked in the research strategy section.

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