Common Fund Program Criteria
The NIH Common Fund, created through the NIH Reauthorization Act of 2006, supports goal-driven, research networks in which investigators work in a coordinated and synergistic way to generate data, solve technological problems, and/or otherwise create resources and tools that will be stimulatory to the broader research community. These programs typically involve a series of integrated funding initiatives that address scientific areas that are broadly relevant to human health and disease. Funding for each program is limited to 5-10 years, so goals for each program must be achievable within that timeframe.
Common Fund programs address the following criteria:
Transformative: Programs are expected to have exceptionally high and broadly applicable impact. They should be relevant to many diseases and many ICs. They should set new standards for research or clinical practice, create entirely new approaches to research or clinical care, or establish new biological paradigms.
Catalytic, Short Term, and Goal-driven: Programs must achieve - not just work toward - a goal. They have deliverables - data sets, tools, technologies, approaches, or fundamental principles of biology, etc – that can be achieved within 5-10 years. If the deliverable is expected to have ongoing maintenance costs, a vision for transition and sustainment must be articulated.
Synergistic /Enabling: Programs should be valued-added to the ICs, with the output enabling the mission of multiple ICs.
Require High Level of Trans-NIH Coordination: Programs should address complex issues that require trans-NIH teams, insights and perspectives to design and manage. There must be a reason why strategic coordination is required.
Novel: Programs should provide new solutions to specific challenges. If similar efforts exist, the CF program should be tightly coordinated to prevent duplication of effort.
Brief Description of Common Fund Programs (in alphabetical order)
Epigenomics – The Epigenomics Program is intended to provide genome-wide maps of several epigenetic marks in a variety of cell types so that epigenomic changes may be correlated with diseases, conditions, and aging. The Epigenomics Program also provides support for discovery and technology development to advance the field of epigenomic analysis. Launched in FY2007.
Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) - The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project provides the scientific community with data on how DNA variation correlates with variation in gene activity levels. This project is intended to strengthen the power of genome-wide association studies to identify potential new gene targets for therapies. Launched in FY2010.
Global Health - The NIH Common Fund Global Health Program is partnering with other NIH
Institutes, Centers, and Offices, as well as other federal agencies, to improve global health through two initiatives. The goal of the Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is to develop and strengthen models of medical education and build research and clinical capacity in countries of Sub-Saharan Africa that are part of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (PEPFAR). Through the Human Heredity and Health in Africa project (H3Africa), the Common Fund is supporting population-based genetic studies in Africa of common, non-communicable diseases as well as communicable diseases. MEPI was launched in FY2010, H3Africa was launched in FY2012.
Gulf Oil Spill –The Common Fund is providing support to the GuLF study: the Gulf Long-term Follow-up of Workers study to investigate the short- and long-term health consequences among workers and community volunteers engaged in clean-up activities surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The study is being conducted in coordination with federal, State and local agencies, institutions, and communities in the Gulf region. The Institute of Medicine is providing expert input into the study design and implementation methods. Launched in FY2010.
Health Care Systems (HCS) Research Collaboratory – In an effort to leverage the resources and expertise of networks of healthcare organizations for the benefit of research, the Common Fund launched the HCS Research Collaboratory, which provides support for improved informatics and other networking resources in healthcare delivery organizations with significant research interests. Launched in FY2010.
Health Economics – The Common Fund’s Health Economics program aims to support research on how specific features of the structure or organization of health care delivery organizations and reimbursement systems influence how health care technologies are adopted and combined by health care providers, how they are applied or used for specific patients, and how those features could be modified to enhance efficiency. Launched in FY2010.
High Risk/High Reward Research (HRHR) Program – The HRHR Program is intended to support scientists of exceptional creativity who propose highly innovative approaches to major contemporary challenges in biomedical research. By bringing their unique perspectives and abilities to bear on key research questions, these visionary scientists may develop seminal theories or technologies that will propel fields forward and speed the translation of research into improved health. Program includes the NIH Director’s New Innovator, Pioneer, Transformative Research, and Early Independence Awards. Launched in FY2004.
Human Microbiome Project - The Human Microbiome Program, by analyzing microbial populations at multiple body sites in normal, healthy individuals, is building the foundation for an advanced understanding of the degree of microbial diversity that may exist between individuals and whether changes in our “microbiomes” correlate with disease. Launched in FY2007.
Knock-out Mouse Phenotyping Program – Recognizing the value and utility of a readily accessible, genome-wide collection of knockouts as very important in determining how mammalian genes function, several international programs were launched in 2006 to develop mutant mouse strains. The new Common Fund program builds upon this resource by expanding the efforts to characterize the mutant strains. Launched in FY2011.
Library of Integrated Networks of Cellular Signatures (LINCS) – The LINCS program aims to develop a “library” of molecular signatures based on gene expression and other cellular changes that describe the response of different types of cells upon exposure to various perturbing agents, including siRNAs and small bioactive molecules. High-throughput screening approaches are used to interrogate the cells and mathematical approaches will be used to describe the molecular changes and patterns of response. The data are being collected in a standardized, integrated, and coordinated manner to promote consistency and comparison across different cell types. Launched in FY2010.
Metabolomics – The Common Fund’s Metabolomics program was created to increase national capacity in metabolomics, bringing it on par with genomics and proteomics, by providing high quality measurement tools, data, standards, and training of the biomedical workforce needed to catalyze its use in scientific discovery and clinical practice. Launched FY2012.
Molecular Libraries Program (MLP) – The MLP is an integrated set of initiatives, the goal of which is to provide academic researchers high throughput screening (HTS) and chemistry resources to find and develop small molecules that can serve as chemical probes for research. The initiative consists of three main components: a large, shared collection of small molecules, a network of screening and chemistry centers, and a public database of all assay results. Launched in FY2004.
Nanomedicine - The goal of the Nanomedicine program is to determine how cellular machines operate at the nanoscale level and then use these design principles to develop and engineer new technologies and devices for repairing tissue or preventing and curing disease. Launched in FY2005.
National Centers for Biomedical Computing (NCBCs) – The NCBCs develop computational tools that are intended to catalyze research in basic and clinical science. The centers create innovative software programs and other tools that arm the biomedical community with the methods needed to integrate, analyze, model, simulate, and share data relevant to human health and disease. Launched in FY2004.
NIH Center for Regenerative Medicine (NIH CRM) – NIH CRM, housed within the NIH Intramural Research Program, provides a national resource for stem cell science that is specifically focused on accelerating the development of cell-based therapies for repairing or replacing tissue damaged by disease or injury. Launched in FY2010.
Protein Capture – This program is intended to develop a renewable resource of protein capture reagents specifically designed to meet research and clinical demands ranging from protein isolation and high-throughput assays to diagnostics and biomarker development. To have the maximum benefit, such reagents need to include high quality, affordable, reliable monoclonal antibodies and other reagents that can collectively target the range of possible proteins within cells and tissues. Launched in FY2010.
Re-Engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise – This Program consists of several distinct initiatives, each of which is intended to address pressing needs for Clinical Research. NIH Rapid Access to Intervention Development (RAID)/Bridging Interventional Development Gaps (BrIDGs) helps reduce some of the common barriers that block progress of therapeutic discoveries from the bench to the bedside. The Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP) supports fellows at the NIH Campus in mentored clinical or translational research. The Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) is developing and validating quantifiable measures of patient reported outcomes in a variety of conditions as a way of monitoring intervention efficacy. Launched in FY2004.
Regulatory Science - The NIH and the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have formed
an interagency partnership to foster regulatory science, a specialized and inter-disciplinary area of biomedical research that serves to generate new knowledge and tools for assessing experimental therapies, preventives, and diagnostics. As part of this program, NIH, DARPA, and FDA are collaborating to develop a “human-on-a-chip” micro-platform containing artificial organ models to be used in a variety of regulatory and research situations, including the valuation of toxicity and efficacy of new therapies. Launched in FY2010.
Science of Behavior Change - The Common Fund launched the Science of Behavior Change program to improve our understanding of human behavior change across a broad range of health-related behaviors. This will be accomplished by supporting basic research to improve our understanding of human motivation and the maintenance of behavior change across multiple diseases and conditions, and then using this knowledge to develop more effective and economical behavioral interventions. Launched in FY2010.
Single Cell Analysis – The Single Cell Analysis program seeks to overcome the scientific and technological hurdles to understanding how cells vary normally and how they respond to their microenvironment, focusing on cellular responses within the larger context of tissues and networks. Launched in FY2012.
Structural Biology of Membrane Proteins - The Structural Biology of Membrane Proteins program is developing novel approaches for the production and stabilization of membrane proteins so that their structures may be determined at high resolution. Launched in FY2004.
Technology Centers for Networks and Pathways (TCNPs) – The TCNPs develop technologies to measure the dynamics of protein interactions, modifications, translocation, expression, and activity, with temporal, spatial, and quantitative resolution. Launched in FY2004.