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Frequently Asked Questions

We appreciate your interest in the Illuminating the Druggable Genome Program Request for Application (RFA-RM-21-012) and hope that you and your team will choose to submit an application. In order to maximize your chances of success, we would like to provide some guidance that may be helpful as you put the finishing touches on your application.

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General Questions

1. What is the NIH Common Fund?

The NIH Common Fund was enacted into law by Congress through the 2006 NIH Reform Act and is managed by the Office of Strategic Coordination within the NIH Office of the Director. The Common Fund supports cross-cutting trans-NIH initiatives to catalyze new areas of science. Common Fund programs address emerging scientific opportunities and pressing challenges in biomedical research that no single NIH Institute or Center (IC) can address on its own but are of high priority for the NIH as a whole. The Common Fund is a unique resource at NIH, functioning as a “venture capital” space where high-risk, innovative endeavors with the potential for extraordinary impact can be supported. Common Fund programs are short-term, goal-driven strategic investments, with deliverables intended to catalyze research across multiple biomedical research disciplines. More information is available at https://commonfund.nih.gov/.
 

2. What is the goal of the Illuminating the Druggable Genome (IDG) Program?

The overall goal of the IDG Program is to catalyze research in areas of biology that are currently understudied but that have high potential to impact human health by:

  • Identifying biochemical, cellular or animal model phenotypes for understudied proteins from druggable gene families.
  • Enabling further investigation of those proteins by providing reagents and tools.
  • Generating, maintaining and facilitating the use of a minable knowledge base.

More information is available at https://commonfund.nih.gov/idg.
 

3. What are the experimental approaches being taken in the IDG Program?

The IDG program is focused on three families of proteins, protein kinases, G protein-coupled receptors and ion channels. Detailed information about the goals of each of these projects along with milestones and experimental workflow can be found here

Please email DruggableGenome@mail.nih.gov if you have additional questions.

R03 Objective Questions (RFA-RM-21-012)

1. What kind of research falls under this FOA?

This FOA is intended to fund small research projects on eligible proteins that can be carried out within one year and are limited to $100,000 direct costs. These projects should focus on generation of preliminary data and tools around eligible understudied protein(s) identified by the IDG Program with the intent of elucidating the function of these proteins in the context of human disease and obtaining sufficient preliminary data and/or research resources for subsequent R01 applications or drug discovery projects. See also FOA Objectives and Scope.
 

2. The FOA mentions that applicants are strongly encouraged to use IDG-generated resources either to develop their project or to assist in completing the proposed studies. What does this mean?

All applicants should leverage available IDG-generated resources when developing their application. All IDG-generated resources can be found either via the IDG Program's data repository and search engine Pharos, which includes all relevant data associated with understudied proteins collected by the IDG Program or through the Druggable Genome Protein Illumination Timelines on the IDG Consortium website, where applicants can explore available tools developed by the IDG Consortium. As a part of the Research Strategy, each application should include a brief statement describing how IDG program resources are used to develop the project or to assist in completion of the proposed studies. This statement should provide adequate information concerning why (or why not) IDG resources were used. If the appropriate resources are not available, the applicant should indicate how their work will add value to the IDG program.

Applicants should not propose work identical to that currently being performed by the IDG Consortium (consult the DruggableGenome.net website for current IDG Consortium projects).
 

3. Can I propose to study proteins that I wish to work with that are not on the list in the FOA?

Projects that propose work on proteins not listed in the FOA will not be responsive and will not be reviewed. Proteins included on the IDG-eligible protein list have been found to be of the highest priority to the IDG program and are the focus of this FOA. IDG-eligible proteins listed in the FOA meet at least two of the following three criteria: the protein (1) has a low number of publications/citations, with a Jensen Pubmed score of <50, (2) has minimal or no NIH funding and/or (3) has reagents developed by the IDG Consortium available for characterization of the protein in the context of disease. Additional proteins, including well studied proteins, may only be used as controls for experiments involving IDG-eligible proteins from the approved list. The control proteins may not be the focus of experimental work.
 

4. Is it acceptable to use an approach that explores more than one protein from the IDG-eligible list?

This is acceptable. However, sufficient justification should be provided to indicate why particular protein(s) were chosen for study. Those projects employing methods that identify multiple proteins for study from the IDG-eligible lists require justification as to why those proteins were chosen, beyond the fact that they are on the eligible protein lists provided.

In addition, applicants should remember that their project must be achievable within one year and that direct costs are capped at $100,000. Applicants should not propose an overly ambitious project that proposes the study of more proteins or methods than would be feasible for this award budget.
 

5. Who is the NIH contact for RFA-RM-21-012 and should I contact them before applying to this FOA?

While not mandatory, contacting NIH early in the process will help you to determine if you are eligible to apply and if you are proposing something that would be responsive to this FOA . The NIH contact for RFA-RM-21-012 is:

Karlie Sharma, Ph.D.
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

Email: DruggableGenome@mail.nih.gov

R03 Application Budget and Submission Requirements (RFA-RM-21-012)

1. R03 project periods are typically 2 years. If I submit an application for $100,000 direct costs to be spent over a two-year period, will NIH accept it?

No. For this FOA the project period is limited to 1 year and $100,000 direct costs.
 

2. Can an institution/research team submit more than one application to the RFA?

Yes, there is no prohibition on the number of applications an institution may submit, provided the applications are scientifically distinct.
 

3. Do I need to send a letter of intent?

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows NIH to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.
 

4. Is collaboration with IDG investigators required to submit an application?

This is not required.
 

5. Can work be performed outside the US?

Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are not eligible to apply. Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are not eligible to apply.
 

6. Are resubmissions accepted for RFA-RM-21-012?

Yes, resubmissions will be accepted for applications originally submitted on eligible protein(s) listed in RFA-RM-20-019. This includes those few proteins that were listed as eligible in RFA-RM-20-019 that are no longer included in this FOA. New submissions will only be accepted for proteins listed in this funding opportunity.
 

7. What are the requirements for data and resource sharing for this FOA?

All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan. The Plan should include the type of data to be shared, the timeline for sharing data and a statement indicating that the data will be shared with the Resource Dissemination and Outreach Center (RDOC), which will be responsible for ensuring collected data, technical protocols and any other metadata collected under this FOA is made available through Pharos.

Resources resulting from this work should be submitted to an appropriate repository and this information provided to the Resource Dissemination and Outreach Center (RDOC) consistent with the IDG Consortium's Policy for Resource Sharing. The Resource Sharing Plan must include a list of expected resources from the project and how they will be provided to the RDOC.
 

8. How will applications submitted to RFA-RM-21-012 be reviewed?

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by a Special Emphasis Panel convened by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), NIH.

Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the NCATS Advisory Council. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • Increasing the diversity of approaches applied to the study of understudied proteins.
  • Evidence that the project will contribute to the understanding of understudied proteins.
  • Usage of IDG-generated resources in developing and/or conducting proposed studies. 
Cutting Edge Informatics Tools Questions (RFA-RM-21-020)

1. What are some of the technical/software requirements for making tools and software available in Pharos?

You can find more details about the expectations for any tools/models developed and its accessibility within Pharos and other details about the software used in developing Pharos here.
 

2. Who can I contact to ask questions about Pharos?

You can contact the Pharos team at pharos@mail.nih.gov or you can contact NIH program staff at DruggableGenome@mail.nih. with your questions.
 

3. Are experimental components required when applying to this FOA?

Yes, experimental validation is required. The specific details of which/what experiments are needed depends on the overall proposal, the IDG program goals, and experiments being undertaken within the three centers of the IDG Program. Please email DruggableGenome@mail.nih. if you have additional questions.
 

4. What are cooperative agreements?

A cooperative agreement funding mechanism supports discrete, specified, circumscribed projects to be performed by investigators in an area representing their specific interest and competencies and is used when substantial NIH programmatic involvement is anticipated. In addition to a Program Officer from the administering Institute, each award will be assigned a Project Scientist from NIH who will participate with the Principal Investigators on a Steering Committee.
 

5. Are there other funding opportunities available within the IDG program?

Yes! There are two other active funding opportunities. These are, (1) Administrative Supplements opportunity for incorporating single cell data into the IDG Knowledgebase; (2) Pilot (R03) projects to further study understudied Kinases, GPCRs and Ion Channels.

6. Can an institution/research team submit more than one application to the RFA?

Yes, there is no prohibition on the number of applications an institution may submit, provided the applications are scientifically distinct.
 

7. Who is the NIH contact for RFA-RM-21-020 and should I contact them before applying to this FOA?

While not mandatory, contacting NIH early in the process will help you to determine if you are eligible to apply and if you are proposing something that would be responsive to this FOA. The NIH contact for RFA-RM-21-020 is:

Jerry Li, M.D.,Ph.D.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Telephone: 240-276-6210

Email: DruggableGenome@mail.nih.

8. Are resubmissions accepted for RFA-RM-21-020?

Resubmissions are not accepted for this FOA.
 

9. How will applications submitted to RFA-RM-21-020 be reviewed?

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH.

Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • Inclusion of new investigators and experienced investigators that are new to IDG consortia.
  • Evidence that the applicant and investigators are committed to policies as established by the IDG SC including with regard to confidentiality, sharing of information and resources, and cooperative interaction.
  • Evidence of previous productive, cooperative, collaborative interaction.
  • Evidence that the project will contribute to the diversity of technical and intellectual approaches within the KMC and across the IDG Consortium.

This page last reviewed on January 25, 2024