2021 Multi-Investigator Seed Grant RFA

The Academic Integration program aims to advance the research and discovery efforts across the Cornell community by promoting and enhancing collaborations between the Cornell Ithaca campus, and the Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) and Cornell Tech campuses in New York City. By drawing on the outstanding and diverse work of Cornell colleagues based in Ithaca and New York City, the strength and impact of research across Cornell will be elevated to the next level of eminence. Fostering such collaborative interactions between research units will leverage expertise across the three campuses to align the scientific and educational activities of the greater Cornell community, resulting in improved research and training opportunities. Creating synergies among Cornell investigators will also enable laboratories to transform individual projects to larger programs with increased impact and visibility. The Office of Academic Integration supports faculty interested in building intercampus programs aimed, in particular at achieving extramural support from foundations or federal granting agencies.

Multi-Investigator Seed Grants catalyze collaborative interactions among Cornell faculty based in Ithaca and New York City, with a particular eye towards building trans-disciplinary, multi-investigator programs that will be competitive for external support from any funding agency, but with particular emphasis on the NIH, NSF, DOD, other federal funders, and major foundations. Applications are being solicited for:

  • Track 1 projects: groups of at least four faculty aiming to submit large proposals, for example Center Grants or Multidisciplinary University Research Initiatives (MURI) within 2 years, and
  • Track 2 projects: groups of at least two faculty aiming to submit collaborative grants (for example standard NSF, NIH multi-PI R01, DOD CDMRP, or similar) within one year of receiving MISG funding.

Multi-Investigator Seed Grants provide two stages of longitudinal support per funded project including:

1. Letters of Intent
Teams supported at the LOI stage may access a $2,000 Travel Award, upon request, when travel between campuses on the Campus-to-Campus bus resumes. These funds are intended allow to investigative teams to plan and execute face-to-face meetings to facilitate planning of full submissions. The Travel Award will cover transportation via the Campus-to-Campus bus and hotel accommodations.
Successful Letters of Intent (LOI) are a prerequisite for submission of full proposals.

2. Seed Grants

  • Track 1 projects: up to $100,000/year for up to two years.
  • Track 2 projects:  up to $75,000 for one year.

TRACK 1
Track 1 project teams are composed of groups of at least four faculty aiming to submit large proposals to external funders for center-type awards (such as NIH program project, NSF center, or Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grants) within 2 years. This call is designed to build new collaborative research programs between the campuses that have significant promise for future success and to help propel developing collaborations to reach the level that extramural support can be obtained.

Eligibility Requirements

  • All proposals must include at least four co-principal investigators with representation from both WCM and Cornell Ithaca. Additional collaborators, in particular, those from Cornell Tech are encouraged.
  • All PIs must meet University PI eligibility requirements
  • One individual must be named as the contact Pl for the proposal.
  • At least three of the Co-Pls must each hold at least one active federal grant award at the time of full application submission and seed grant launch.
  • Evidence of collaborative work being done among members of the team will be viewed favorably. This can be demonstrated by co-authored papers and/or jointly funded grants, as well as other scientific interactions (e.g., regular meetings by videoconference, intercampus seminar exchanges, etc.).
  • It is recognized that an investigator from outside of Cornell might bring a unique feature to a program being considered by a Cornell-based team. If the team chooses to include a faculty member from another institution, this should be discussed in advance with the Office of Academic Integration.
  • Each proposal should include at least four projects/thrusts.
  • While potential cores for an eventual proposal that will be submitted to an external funder should be described (see below), this call for applications is not designed to provide support for such cores.
  • All awardees are expected to submit a Program or Center grant application for competitive review to a federal funding agency within 24 months of initiating the seed grant

Application Guidelines

Letter of Intent (LOI) – Due March 26, 2021

The following items should be submitted, in the order listed, as a single PDF:

  • A note that the application is being considered under Track 1.
  • Contact information for Contact Pl and for each Co-PI. Must include:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Title        
    • Department or division
  • Briefly, describe the anticipated focus of the seed grant and the ultimate Program/Center grant application (two-page maximum, excluding references) using the following distinct headings:
    • Project Personnel: The anticipated projects and the lead Pl(s) on each
    • Project Synergies: The synergies, between the research groups that the team plans to realize:
      • How does the sum add up to more than the parts?
      • Description of past and ongoing collaborations among the team members
    • Innovation: What novel areas of research does the team plan to explore?
    • Potential Funding Source: What Program/Center grant applications could the seed grant culminate in and offer support?
  • NIH/NSF-style biographical sketch for each investigator

LOIs will be assessed by a peer review committee and successful teams will be notified in April 2021. Recipients will be encouraged to request and use the travel money for face-to-face meetings to hone their full applications should conditions allow.

Full Application – Due October 4, 2021

The following items must be submitted as a single PDF in the following order:

Cover Page: Must include:

  • A note that the application is being considered under Track 1.
  • Contact information for Contact Pl and for each Co-PI. Must include:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Title        
    • Department or division
  • An abstract of up to 250 words
  • A list of relevant approved or pending IACUC/IRB protocols for both campuses

Overall Program Research Description: (two-page maximum, excluding references) including :

  • A brief description of the component projects and how they work synergistically
  • Details of planned cores or other shared resources
  • A one paragraph description of how extramural funds will be sought: include funding agency, grant type, and projected date of submission
  • A description of past and ongoing collaborations among team members

Individual Research Projects/Thrusts: (two-page maximum, excluding references)
For each component project, provide a description of the research plan including:

  • Aims
  • Significance and Innovation
  • Preliminary Results, if any have yet been obtained
  • Experimental Design
  • Explicit plans for experiments to be performed with seed grant funds

Overview of How Seed Funds Would be Used: (one-page maximum) including:  

  • Clear details around how seed funding will be efficiently utilized during the pilot funding phase to create additional synergies between projects and increase chances of garnering center grant funding. Examples of such activities might include generation of a key resource that can be used by the group to further the science, support for a trainee whose work would bridge component projects of the program, travel between campuses for team meetings or travel to meet with program staff at federal agencies to discuss potential applications.

Bios: NIH/NSF-style biographical sketch and other support for each investigator.

Budget: (one-page maximum) Overview of budget and budget justification anticipating an allocation of up to $100,000 for the first year of funding. Note, resources cannot be used for indirect costs, faculty salaries or travel except as stipulated above.  

Selection Criteria

A peer review committee will be convened to evaluate each full proposal. The committee will make recommendations about funding priority using the following criteria:

  • Quality of the collaborative research proposal
  • Potential to lead to intercampus program/center grant applications
  • Focus on emerging areas of science that constitute high priority funding areas for the NIH, NSF, DOD, other federal funders, and large foundations
  • Creative bridging of divergent scientific niches that have either not traditionally come together or have not done so effectively
  • Track record of funding by the applicants including assessment of past and current funding
  • Evidence for collaborative research among the team members
  • Potential to create clear synergies and long-term collaborations
  • Maximizes training opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and students across the campuses

N.B. Well justified Core facility(ies) is an essential component of most center grant applications. The selection committee will review the needs for, and justification of, the proposed core(s) to ensure that it would align with any potential NIH (or other) RFA.

Funding Terms

  • To maximize use of these resources to obtain data for a Program/Center grant application, no indirect costs will be allowed. Seed grant funds may not be used for Pl salary support or travel, except between Cornell campuses and/or to meet with program officials to prepare for grants submissions. If a non-Cornell faculty member is named as part of the team, any resources directed towards that individual or his/her institution must be discussed in advance with the Office of Academic Integration
  • All awardees are expected to submit a Program or Center grant application for competitive review to the NIH or another funding agency within 24 months of initiating the seed grant
  • Funding will be contingent on obtaining the appropriate IACUC/IRB protocol approvals for the projects (if applicable)
  • Awardees must inform the Office of Academic Integration when an application for external grant funding is submitted and the outcome of the review
  • Awardees must also inform the Office of Academic Integration of any papers or awards attributable to research discoveries advanced through the seed grant

Evaluation of Progress

Awardees must file a progress report one year after funds are dispersed. This progress report will determine whether second year funding will be made available. A final progress report at the end of the funding period is requested within six months of completion of funding.


TRACK 2
Track 2 project teams are composed of groups of at least two faculty who aim to pursue a collaborative grant (such as Multi PI R01 or standard NSF collaborative grant) within a year. This call is designed both to build new collaborative research programs between the campuses that have significant promise for future success and to help propel developing collaborations to reach the level that extramural support can be obtained. Hence, investigator teams that have not collaborated before, as well as those already working together are encouraged to submit applications. The Office of Academic Integration encourages applications that maximize training opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and students across campuses, are comprised of a junior faculty member and at least one senior colleague as a partner, and/or include Tech Campus participation.

Eligibility Requirements

  • All proposals must include at least two co-principal investigators with representation from both WCM and Cornell Ithaca. Additional collaborators, in particular, those from Cornell Tech are encouraged
  • All PIs must meet University PI eligibility requirements
  • One individual must be named as the contact Pl for the proposal
  • Each PI must bring a unique set of skills and experience to the overall project with the combined efforts of the PIs resulting in a cohesive joint project
  • At least one of the Co-Pls must hold at least one active federal grant award
  • Awardees are expected to submit a collaborative grant application for competitive review within 12 months of initiating the seed grant

Application Guidelines

Letter of Intent (LOI) – Due March 26, 2021

The following items should be submitted, in the order listed, as a single PDF:

  • A note that the application is being considered under Track 2
  • Contact information for Contact Pl and for each Co-PI. Must include:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Title        
    • Department or division
  • Briefly, describe the anticipated focus of the seed grant and the ultimate collaborative application including (two-page maximum, excluding references):
    • An overview of the project and the synergies between the PIs’ research groups that the team plans to realize
    • What novel areas of research does the team plan to explore
  • A leadership plan (one-page maximum) (instructions and examples for multiple PI R01s and a description of what each PI brings to the project can be found here)
  • NIH/NSF-style biographical sketch and NIH/NSF-style other support (current and pending) for each investigator
  • NIH/NSF-style biographical sketch for each investigator

LOIs will be assessed by a peer review committee and successful teams will be notified in April 2021. Recipients will be encouraged to request and use the travel money for face-to-face meetings to hone their full applications should conditions allow.

Full Application – Due October 4, 2021

The following items must be submitted as a single PDF in the following order:

Cover Page Must include:

  • A note that the application is being considered under Track 2.
  • Contact information for Contact Pl and for each Co-PI. Must include:
    • Name
    • Email address
    • Title        
    • Department or division
  • An abstract of up to 250 words
  • A list of relevant approved or pending IACUC/IRB protocols for both campuses

Research Strategy: (three-page maximum, excluding references):

  • Anticipated specific aims/thrusts of the collaborative proposal
  • Significance and Innovation
  • Preliminary data
  • Experimental design

Overview of How Seed Funds Would be Used: (one-page maximum) including:  

  • Explicit plans for how seed funding will be efficiently utilized during the pilot funding phase to position the work for submission of the extramural grant proposal

Leadership Plan: (one-page maximum) Describing the contributions of the participating PIs

Bio's: NIH/NSF-style biographical sketch and other support for each investigator

Budget: (one-page maximum) Overview of budget and budget justification anticipating an allocation of $75,000 for up to one year. N.B. resources cannot be used for indirect costs, faculty salaries or travel, except for travel (Campus-to-Campus bus and lodging) for investigators on the project to visit collaborators on the other Cornell campus.

Selection Criteria

A peer review committee will be convened to evaluate each full proposal. The committee will make recommendations about funding priority using the following criteria:

  • Quality of the collaborative research proposal
  • Potential to lead to competitive cross-campus multi-PI grant application
  • Focus on emerging areas of science that constitute high priority funding areas for the NIH
  • Creative bridging of divergent scientific niches that have either not traditionally come together or have not done so effectively
  • Track record of funding by the applicants including assessment of past and current funding
  • Evidence that the individual PIs bring unique strengths and skills to the overall project
  • Potential to create clear synergies and long-term collaborations
  • Maximizes training opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and students across the campuses
  • Tech Campus participation, if appropriate, would strengthen an application
  • Thoughtful pairing of junior and senior investigators would strengthen an application

Funding Terms

  • To maximize use of these resources to obtain data for a multi-PI grant application, no indirect costs will be allowed. The seed grant funds may not be used for Pl salary support or travel, except for that stipulated above.
  • All awardees are expected to submit a multi-investigator grant application or similar type of collaborative grant for competitive review within 12 months of initiating the seed grant.
  • Funding will be contingent on obtaining the appropriate IACUC/IRB protocol approvals for the projects, if appropriate.
  • Awardees must inform the Vice Provost for Academic Integration Office when an application for external grant funding is submitted and the outcome of the review.
  • Awardees must also inform the Office of Academic Integration of any papers or awards attributable to research discoveries advanced through the seed grant.

Evaluation of Progress

Awardees must file a progress report one year after funds are dispersed.