DS-I Africa Funding Opportunities Frequently Asked Questions
Click on the drop-down menus to read frequently asked questions specific to each topic as listed below.
Q1. How can I find out more about DS-I Africa?
Information about DS-I Africa can be found on the program website. The individual funding opportunities are accessible through the DS-I Africa funding opportunities page.
Q2. Where can I find more information on how to apply to NIH?
Potential applicants can find instructions for how to apply in the Application Guide. Applicants must follow both the instructions in the SF424 Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement for which they are applying.
Q3. Are there other resources available for new NIH applicants?
Potential applicants may want to register for the 2020 NIH Virtual Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration.
The DS-I Africa symposium also held short funding clinics and the recorded videos from those clinics are accessible on the symposium website
Additionally, tips for NIH applicants are provided in a video in which reviewers and staff at the NIH offer their insights to scientists seeking to improve their chances of getting a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
Q4. I’m interested in the funding opportunities, but I need to find a new partner to develop a strong application. Where should I start?
To learn more about potential partner organizations, we recommend using the networking platform designed for the DS-I Africa symposium. Registration is required to join, please register at this . You will then receive instructions on joining the platform (it may take a day or so to get this information). In this platform, called KIStorm, we have a section for “Partner Profiles” where different organizations have expressed interest in the initiative. You may also want to peruse the People Explorer to learn more about different individuals’ interests.
You can also find information about all funded NIH awards through the public database NIH RePORTER, which may be helpful in locating experts in specific scientific or geographic regions. Additionally, potential applicants may want to use World RePORT as a resource. This is an open-access, interactive mapping database project highlighting biomedical research investments and partnerships across many large funding organizations.
Q5. Where can I watch recorded videos from the DS-I Africa symposium?
All the recorded videos can be found on the NIH Common Fund website for the DS-I Africa Symposium.
Q6. Can an institution apply to more than one DS-I Africa funding opportunity or submit multiple applications to the same funding opportunity?
Yes, institutions are allowed to submit multiple applications to the same opportunity as long as each application is scientifically distinct and to submit to more than one funding opportunity. Applicants should be aware, however, that geographic distribution will be considered in making funding decisions.
Q7. Are letters of intent required to apply?
No. Letters of intent are not required nor binding. They are encouraged since they help NIH begin preparing for the upcoming review.
Q8. Do all PDs/PIs need to have an eRA Commons ID?
All PDs/PIs must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. For additional information, see the eRA Commons Registration FAQs.
Q1. Who can serve as the applicant institution for a DS-I Africa Research Hub?
The applicant institution must be an African public or private institution of higher education or an African non-profit organization. Non-domestic entities of U.S. institutions are not eligible as a primary applicant institution.
Q2. Are entities within African Ministries of Health or other government entities eligible to apply as a primary applicant institution?
An research institution within an African Ministry of Health or other governmental organization would be considered a non-profit institution, and thus eligible to apply as a prime institution, but must have all registrations for receiving NIH funds, as stipulated in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA).
Partnerships are required for submitting a Research Hub application; what types of partnerships are eligible?
Applicants must include at least two partner organizations and one must be a non-academic partner. Beyond this requirement, partnerships are not limited and can include any sectors, including for-profit institutions, from all World Bank-classified country income groups (i.e., low- and middle-income countries as well as high-income countries).
Q4. The ability to provide sub-awards for pilot projects is a required element within the Research Hub Administrative Core; what are the purposes of these pilot projects and how should they be budgeted for?
Pilot projects are meant as an opportunity to support new research that has significant potential to address developing needs and opportunities while being shorter term and varying throughout the period of award. These pilot projects will allow the grantees to take advantage of new directions stimulated by their projects, form new partnerships, provide support to early-stage investigators to undertake data science-related research and innovation, and support relevant cross-consortium projects. Funds should be set aside within the budget to support these projects and a plan should be developed to solicit proposals, review applications, select recipients, and manage oversight. You are encouraged to speak with NIH program staff if you have questions regarding your specific proposed pilot projects program.
Q5. Do all the required Research Hub Projects or Cores need to be located at the same institution?
The DS-I Africa Research Hubs requires each Hub application to propose at least two Research Projects, an Administrative Core with the ability to solicit and fund yearly pilot projects, and a Data Management and Analysis Core, along with optional Support Cores. While the Administrative Core should be housed at the primary applicant organization and led by the contact PI, the other projects and cores can be led by partner institutions, if deemed most appropriate for the success of the Hub.
Q6. Does a Research Hub application need to involve regional partnerships instead of just in-country partnerships?
No. There are no requirements for involving multiple countries across a region or the continent in your Research Hub proposal, although this is not prohibited.
Q7. The Research Hubs funding opportunity requires capacity building elements as a part of the Hub, but there are also separate DS-I Africa Training awards; what is different between these? Should a Research Hub also prepare a Training award application?
While applicants can submit applications for both the Research Hubs FOA and the Training FOA, this is not required. Training awards will support more formalized masters and doctoral-level education in data science for health innovation while the Research Hubs will provide capacity building opportunities that are less stipulated and should be designed to address specific, contextualized needs associated with your Research Hub institutions, your region, or partner capacity building priorities.
Q8. Does the Research Hub need to budget for using the Open Data Science Platform for their data management needs?
The Research Hub’s Data Management and Analysis Core is responsible for coordinating data management needs for the Hub and funds should be budgeted to support this Core. The Open Data Science Platform will serve to coordinate data sharing, as appropriate, and drive shared research efforts but will not serve as the database for all Research Hub data.
Q9. How much thematic continuity is expected in the grant application?
Applications should be focused on a central health theme that addresses priorities in an African country or region.
Q10. How much is the selection criteria dependent on the complementarity with other funded Research Hubs?
The NIH selection criteria will not only consider the initial peer review score of each application but also the following criteria:
- Availability of funds.
- Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
- Relevance of the proposed project to the goals of DS-I Africa.
- Relevance of proposed project to the priorities of co-funding components.
- Commitment to compliance with DS-I Africa procedures.
- Consideration of programmatic, geographic, and institutional distribution.
Q11. How will applications be handled that focus on HIV/AIDS?
Applications that address HIV/AIDS or associated comorbidities are encouraged and will be reviewed together with all non-AIDS applications. Be aware, though, that the AIDS-related research application receipt date in the FOA applies to this type of research, which is different than the non-AIDS application receipt date.
Q12. What are the key components of the Research Hub? Do you need to add data management in the research grant?
The required components of each Research Hub application include:
- Two or more research projects (at least one research proposal must be problem-based, solution-oriented, where the research directly addresses a specific need associated with health, while the other can be defined by the research team).
- One Administrative Core that oversees the hub and its partnerships, the solicitation and administration of pilot projects, and the overall integration of the hub within the larger DS-I Africa Consortium.
- One Data Management and Analysis Core.
Q13. Will partners with no prior partnerships, collaborations, or common publications score well? How will NIH reviewers deal with this?
Applicants are encouraged take advantage of longstanding partnerships, but these are not required. Having a mix of new and longstanding partnerships is also a good model. New partnerships are a key component of the DS-I Africa Research Hubs program to continually expand the network and reach of the Hub, but it is often very important to show at least some existing partnerships when developing your application. Letters of Support within your application representing broad stakeholders can also be very beneficial to describe the strength of new partnerships where there is no joint funding or publication history.
Q14. What are the expectations for the specific aims portion of the overarching strategy section of the application?
The overarching strategy section, as opposed to the research project and core subsections, should give an introduction to your Hub’s theme, overarching goals, description of partnerships, introduce the significance and innovation of your proposed work, and provide an overview of how the research projects and cores work together to address the problem you are solving (please see the Research Hubs FOA for more information).
Q15. What are the expectations for data ownership and sharing? How do you handle proprietary data?
Grantees will own their data and come together as a consortium to develop a Data Sharing and Access Policy in the first year of the awrads that applies to data and resources funded with NIH support. The policy will address the data sharing needs of the Consortium while safeguarding the privacy of research participants and protecting confidential and proprietary data and resources. NIH does not own your data, nor does the DS-I Africa Open Data Science Platform—you maintain control of the inflow and outflow of data that you either currently possess or develop during the award. Please note, though, the data reporting requirements of any NIH-funded clinical trial, which involves registration and data reporting through clinicaltrials.gov.
Q1. Who can serve as the applicant institution for a DS-I Africa Research Training Program?
The applicant institution can either be a U.S. or African public or private institution of higher education or other non-profit organization. U.S. applicant organizations must apply in partnership with at least one African institution.
Q2. Does the proposed training program have to create a new masters or PhD degree program and new curriculum?
Proposed programs can either enhance, build on, or leverage existing degree programs or establish new degree programs. Regardless of the approach, new capacity should be established either through the development of completely new curriculum or through the revision and enhancement of existing curriculum and courses.
Q3. Can training occur in the United States or other non-African countries?
Some aspects of the training may occur in the United States or other non-Africa countries or through online mechanism that incorporate faculty from outside Africa. However, the program should increase training capacity at least one African institution.
Q4. How many trainees should be supported in the programs?
The number of trainees proposed should reflect the needs of the institution and capabilities of the proposed program within the designated budget cap.
Q5. Is there a limit on mentor compensation?
The salary for the PD(s)/PI(s), other key personnel, training faculty/mentors and administrative staff must be commensurate with the salary structure and benefits at the institution where they are employed and within the limits described in the NIH Grants & Funding Salary Cap Summary. Collaborators may receive appropriate compensation for significant activities on the program. The administrative, training or teaching responsibilities and time commitment for personnel receiving salary should be thoroughly described and justified. Applicants will have to ensure that sufficient costs are allocated to support the trainees in the program.
Q6. What are the expectations for the timeline of trainee recruitment?
Trainee recruitment must occur within the first year of the award so that training can begin no later than the second year of the award.
Q7. Does a trainee already need to be affiliated with the institution before the appointment or can the affiliation happen after they are appointed?
Trainees do not need to be affiliated with a specific institution before they are recruited into a training program, but they should be affiliated by the time financial support is provided.
Q8. The funding opportunity asks applicants to describe the history of collaboration between partners, but I’d like to collaborate with someone that I met through the DS-I Africa symposium. How do I demonstrate that our partnership is feasible?
Applicants are encouraged to include any information that can help demonstrate that a partnership is feasible. This may include publications, grants, research training activities, joint meetings, workshops or other activities. Strong and detailed letters of support within an application from partner institutions can also be very beneficial to describe the strength of new partnerships where there is no joint funding or publication history.
Q1. Who can serve as the primary applicant institution for a DS-I Africa Open Data Science Platform and Coordinating Center?
The primary applicant institution must be an African public or private institution of higher education or an African non-profit organization.
Q2. Does NIH intend for the Open Data Science Platform (ODSP) to interoperate with other platforms under the NIH Data Commons umbrella? And do you expect it to run in "the cloud"?
As stated in the funding opportunity announcement, the ODSP must provide Application Programming Interface (API) access to data, tools, and computation as well as to support interoperability with other relevant Systems, including those not funded by the NIH.
Q3. Does the requirement for the use of FAIR principles mean Open Source?
Any software developed under this award must be released under an Open Source Initiative-approved, non-viral, open source license. For an understanding of FAIR principles, see doi: 10.1038/sdata.2016.18.
Q4. Are applicants allowed to work with the private sector/for-profit companies for developing research platforms or infrastructure?
As stated in the funding opportunity announcement, proposed multisectoral partnerships with investigators/organizations outside the applicant institution are highly encouraged and can include all types of organizations in Africa, the U.S., or other countries, including for-profit and government entities. For more details, please see eligibility criteria.
Q5. Will the ODSP be a database?
Q6. Since the Open Data Science Platform & Coordinating Center have distinctive components, can an application have two multiple PIs from different organizations?
Yes, multiple PI applications are encouraged.
Q7. Is the ODSP expected to conduct automated analysis/data mining of the data uploaded by users or is it primarily intended as a research data management and publication platform?
The ODSP must have the ability to search and browse federated data within and across scientifically relevant studies to support common use cases. The ODSP must provide a user-workspace to store, manage, compute on and share user’s own data and analysis results with collaborators or the larger research community. The goal is not to serve as a data coordination / management center(s) but instead to serve as gateway to the assets and outcomes of the DS-I Africa Research Hubs and other related data science research resources. Please read the funding opportunity Research Objectives and Scope for more information.
Q8. Does the Open Data Science Platform and Coordinating Center award include funding for the infrastructure to run the platform?
The award primarily includes funding for the platform infrastructure. The applicant is required to provide plans for a sustainable cost model for the operations of the platform including storage and computes.
Q9. What mechanism will be in place to prevent misuse of data in the ODSP?
The applicant must address data security and privacy in the proposed architecture of the ODSP, as discussed under the Scope section of the funding opportunity.
This page last reviewed on October 6, 2020