Frequently Asked Questions: Shared and High-End Instrumentation Grant Programs

Overview

Are there active S10 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs)?

Yes, the active FOAs are:

  • Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) Program: PAR-18-600
  • Shared Instrumentation for Animal Research (SIFAR) Grant Program: PAR-18-599
  • High-End Instrumentation (HEI) Grant Program:  PAR-18-598
The receipt date is May 31, 2018 by 5:00PM your local time; these FOAs expire on June 1, 2018.
The FOA title now includes: “S10 Clinical Trial Not Allowed”. What does it mean?

The NIH is launching a series of initiatives that are rolling out in 2017-2018 to enhance the accountability and transparency of clinical research. The additional text in the FOA title stems from this initiative and indicates that a grant awarded under the S10 mechanism does not fund clinical trials. Since the S10 mechanism does not directly fund research activities itself, including clinical trials, an S10-funded instrument is not subject to the NIH reporting requirements for clinical trials, even if the projects it supports include clinical trials.

This additional phrase in the FOA title does not alter (from previous years) the S10 application requirements or the management of an S10 award.

A request for an S10 instrument must be justified by the needs of already funded NIH research projects. In particular,  these projects may fund human subject research, including clinical trials. Similarly, it is permitted for an S10-funded instrument to be used for the conduct of NIH-funded human subject research, including clinical trials.

I. Preparing the Application

Instruments and their Administration

Is there a list of eligible instruments for S10 applications?

Because of the evolving nature of the S10 program, there is no list of all eligible instruments. Detailed information on types of supported instrumentation and on requests that will not be considered for funding are provided in Section I (Funding Opportunity Description) of the FOAs. We encourage applicants to contact the Program Officer with questions on instrumentation eligibility (see contact info at the bottom of this page).

Can our institution lease the equipment before our S10 application is funded? How does this work?

Your institution may lease an instrument before the award is received, but only without obligation to buy. If the leasing agreement was executed more than one year prior to submission of the S10 application, the applicant should provide additional information demonstrating that the instrument remains state-of-the-art and the need for requested Federal funds remains. If the application is funded, the award will be adjusted based on the remaining balance required to purchase the instrument, as specified in the lease buyout table (which should be included in the lease agreement). The award will not exceed the fair market value of the instrument. An application will be eliminated from eligibility for an award if a purchase order or agreement is executed or a down payment or other formal commitment to purchase the equipment is made prior to award.

Should the instrument be placed in a core facility?

Whenever practical, the S10 funded instrument should be integrated in a centralized core facility, to encourage optimal sharing among individual investigators, research groups, and departments, and to foster a collaborative multidisciplinary environment.

To reduce user costs for the shared equipment, can an awardee allow any billable clinical use of the instrument?

Instruments awarded under the SIG program are awarded exclusively for use in biomedical research and cannot be used for billable clinical services.

Under the HEI program, a Special Use Instrument (SUI) application can be considered in rare circumstances. The applicant institution may contribute a portion of the cost of the requested SUI commensurate with the proposed use of the instrument for uses other than biomedical research. The applicants should carefully check the current FOA for details about the SUI requirements. In addition, we strongly encourage the applicants to contact the Program Officer and Grants Management Staff before requesting an SUI as SUIs must meet special administrative rules to be eligible for funding.

What should I consider when planning a budget for new instrumentation?

In order to improve the cost-effectiveness of the S10 program, the applicants are advised to employ the best economical approaches when planning the purchase and negotiating the price of an instrument, including securing academic discounts, if applicable.

Principal Investigator, Other Users

Does the PI of an S10 application need to have a funded NIH grant?

No, the PI of an S10 application does not need to have NIH-funded grant(s) or any other research support. However, the PI should demonstrate in the application that he/she has the relevant instrument expertise and can perform the necessary scientific and administrative oversight responsibilities for the requested instrument.

Who can be considered a Major User?

A Major User is an individual who has the substantial need for the requested instrument, demonstrated by relevant research grant support as a Principal Investigator. Eligible support mechanisms are not limited to NIH grants but Major Users must be engaged in biomedical research. However, there is an eligibility requirement for an S10 award of a Major User group with at least 3 Principal Investigators on NIH-funded research awards (see the answer to the next question below for an additional stipulation). Principal Investigators on grants supporting infrastructure, scientific meetings, training and other non-research activities are not eligible to be Major Users.

Does a Major User need to have an R01 grant?

It is not mandatory that a Major User is a PI on an R01 grant. A Major User must be a biomedical researcher with the substantial need for the instrument and commensurate support to fund research using the instrument. An R01 grant is a leading example of an NIH award which offers multi-year support for research activities and may justify funding for the use of an S10 instrument. A PI on an R01 grant may be identified as a Major User. The NIH uses numerous other award mechanisms which offer substantial multi-year funding for the conduct of research; examples include some of the D, K, P, R, and U mechanisms.

Can a PI of a center grant be listed as a Major User?

The PI of a center grant can be listed as a Major User. However, only one PI of a research-related center grant (such as P01) can be counted as a Major User for the purposes of meeting the eligibility criteria.

How is the need for a specific instrument demonstrated? What are the eligibility requirements for the Major User group?

The need for a specific instrument is demonstrated by the cumulative level of the Accessible User Time (AUT) requested by NIH-funded Principal Investigators. NIH-funded Major Users should demonstrate a combined need of the instrument at the level of at least 35% of the AUT. In addition, the projects supported by active NIH research grants should together require 75% or more of the AUT.

How should the Accessible User Time (AUT) be reported?

AUT should be reported in hours per year.

Note that the S10 Program Announcements defines the AUT as “the number of annual hours the instrument can be used for any research purpose”.

NIH recognizes that various instruments require different regular maintenance and calibration schedules. Also, different technologies dictate different experimental timelines or assistance needs of a qualified operator. Hence, AUT hours may be limited by the times an instrument operator is available (if an operator is required), site or building access schedules, estimated or scheduled maintenance, start-up and standardization, and any other factors that take time away from use of the instrument for research.  

Justify (table format is suggested) the AUT for the proposed instrument based on the individual situation at the applicant institution. AUT for the same instrument may differ among different institutions.

Can the instrument be used by a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization?

Yes. For-profit organizations are eligible to apply for research awards such as R01 or R21; hence, for example, a PI who is employed by a for-profit organization and is a recipient of an R01 can be a Major User of an S10 instrument. Also, a biomedical researcher employed by a for-profit organization who does not have NIH funding may have access to an instrument funded by an S10 award, depending on specific management and administrative arrangements at the grantee institution. However, NIH-funded researchers have the priority to use an S10-funded instrument.

Institution Eligibility

Can for-profit, Federal or foreign organizations apply for an S10 award?

No, for-profit, Federal and foreign institutions are not eligible to apply.

Institutional Letter of Support: Table of Previous S10 Awards

Is the Institutional Letter of Support with a table describing performance and status of previously awarded S10 instruments for the entire institution, or can the list encompass just the department or division requesting a new instrument?

S10 grants awarded to the submitting institution (i.e., all departments or divisions with the same DUNS number) must be included in the table listing the previous awards.

How far back should the S10 awards table go?

As indicated in the FOA, any S10 instruments awarded within the previous five years must be included in the table. For example, for the receipt date in May 2018, the table should list all S10 awards received in FYs 2013 – 2017. 

What is the structure of the S10 Awards Table?

The Table should have 9 columns with the headings as outlined below. For items 6 and 8, please use one of the provided categories:

  1. Grant Number (e.g., S10OD023456)
  2. Fiscal Year of Award
  3. Installation Date of the Instrument
  4. Name of the PI
  5. Generic Name of Instrument (e.g., Mass Spectrometer, NMR, Confocal Microscope)
  6. Instrument Status (please enter one of the following options): Active (instrument in use), Pending (order placed but instrument not delivered, instrument received but not installed or not calibrated for general use), Upgraded (or replaced), Not Available (sold, decommissioned, transferred)
  7. Actual Usage Time (Actual Accessible User Time); Report actual total time in hours per year the instrument was used for research. If the instrument has been installed less than a year ago, the hours can be extrapolated for an estimate of hours per full year.
  8. Maintenance Agreement (please enter one of the following options): Active (Warranty in place), In-House (or Self-Insured), None (Fee for Service, Pending), Not Available (no longer supported by manufacturer)
  9. Number of publications that reference this S10 award. Publications that cite the S10 award or publications that have been linked with the S10 award in My NCBI should be included.

 

Grant Number

Fiscal Year of Award

Installation Date of the Instrument

PI/PD’s Name

Generic Name of the Instrument

Instrument Status

Actual Usage Time

Maintenance Agreement

Number of Publications Referencing this S10 Instrument

S10 OD023456

2011

11/15/2011

Jones

Mass Spectrometer

Active

4000

Active

32

S10 OD023788

2010

05/7/2011

Lee

NMR

Active

8000

Fee for Service

65

S10 OD023654

2014

8/15/2014

Smith

Confocal Microscope

Pending

2000

In-House

96

S10 OD023653

2010

12/01/2010

Clark

Robotic Assay System

Upgraded*

N/A

N/A

74

 

* This instrument was traded-in for an updated robotic assay system purchased with institutional funds.

There is a reference in the FOA to providing supplementary text related to this table. When is this text required?

Supplementary text is only required if the awarded instrument is currently non-functional. Occasionally, other explanatory text may be added if the applicant deems it appropriate (i.e., if there is no maintenance contract since expert self-maintenance is available or if the number of citations is unusually low for the instrument, etc.). Please keep any explanatory text to a minimal length of a sentence or two.

What if the S10 is not cited in any publications, but users have published with data obtained through the S10 instrument?

Note that the NIH requires an acknowledgment of an NIH award in each publication, press release, and other documents which report results generated with NIH funding (see the Notice of Award). If there was an oversight in citing the S10 award, the authors should acknowledge NIH support by liking the S10 grant award with these publications in My NCBI.

Institutional Letter of Support to Back-up the Financial Plan

Are matching funds required?

Matching instrument purchase funds are not required by the FOA. However, the institution may decide to provide additional funds towards the purchase of the instrument as part of its institutional support. The institutional commitment letter of support to back-up the financial plan for the operation of the awarded instrument for its expected lifetime is described in the FOA and may include, but is not limited to, preparation of the instrument site, instrument operation, maintenance, and supplies.

How is “the effective lifetime” of an instrument determined?

It is expected that “the effective lifetime” of an instrument will depend on the type of instrument. The FOA asks an institution for a commitment to back up the financial plan for support of the instrument for five years or “the effective lifetime”. A Study Section will evaluate whether the commitment period is appropriate.

II. Submission and Review of the Application

Submission

When should I submit my application?

We encourage you to submit your application electronically several days prior to the receipt deadline so that you have sufficient time to check the completeness and correctness of your submission, and fix any errors or omissions (if found). It is not possible to make such corrections after the receipt date has passed.

My application is going to be late for the receipt date. What can I do?

The S10 program FOAs set a receipt date and the NIH expects that applications will be submitted on time. However, according to NIH Policy for Late Application submissions (NOT-OD-15-039), NIH may consider applications submitted within a two week window after the submission deadline but only under the conditions defined in this Notice. The applicant should check the eligibility requirements in the Notice for late submission before considering sending the application late.

Before Review

Who will review my application?

The Center of Scientific Review (CSR) will convene a Special Emphasis Panel. The applicants can access the name and contact information of the Scientific Review Officer (SRO), the date of the meeting, and (30 days before the meeting) the roster on their eRA Commons account.

Can I submit supplemental materials before the application is reviewed? To whom should I send the documents?

Late submission of application material is severely restricted. No missing pages or sections will be accepted as late submission materials. Please see NOT-OD-13-030 for additional information. 

III. Post-Review and Post-Award

Post Review

Is there a percentile for S10 applications?

There is no percentile rank for S10 applications.

I saw my score on eRA Commons yesterday. When can I call or make an appointment to discuss the status of my application with the Program Officer?

Do not make an appointment before the release of your application Summary Statement. The Summary Statement, which provides detailed critiques of your application, will be available on the eRA Commons portal 2-4 weeks after the review meeting. You are strongly advised to read your Summary Statement before contacting the Program Officer. The Program Officer will not be able to provide information to you prior to release of your Summary Statement.

I want to appeal the review for my application. What should I do and how late can I submit the appeal document to be included in the Council meeting?

If you have specific concerns about the review of your application, you are encouraged to contact your Program Officer as soon as you read your summary statement and identify concerns to discuss your options. After such discussion, you may choose to submit a written appeal to the Program Officer, signed by the Authorized Official for your Institution. The NIH policy statement on the Appeal Process is defined in the NIH Director Notice NOT-OD-11-064. According to the ORIP procedures, an appeal letter must be received at least 21 calendar days before the Council of Councils meeting at which your application will be reviewed. 

I received a Just-in-Time (JIT) request and see a JIT link on my eRA Commons. Does this mean my application is under funding consideration?

Just-in-Time notifications are automatically generated by eRA Commons and do not apply to the S10 program. You do not need to submit any information in response to that automated JIT email message. Applicants under consideration for funding will be contacted by Program Officers for updated information from the e-mail address s10reports@od.nih.gov. S10 updated information includes a (new) valid quote, justification of any modifications of the instrument requested, responses to the weaknesses cited in the summary statement and the need of the instrument to support Users’ research projects. The eligibility requirement to support NIH-funded research projects must be met at the time an application is submitted and when an application is considered for funding, based on the JIT update. This update should also include information about HIV/AIDS related projects, if any.

What if the updated quote is higher than the quote in the application?

Typically, an award is made at the level approved by the Study Sections, provided that other budgetary constraints are met.

My application was not funded. What can I do next?

The applicant may consider resubmitting an application, after addressing the reviewers’ comments. Alternatively, the applicant may submit a new application. In such case the narrative must not refer to the previous review.

Post-award

What documents must I prepare and who should I contact to initiate a Change of PI request?

A letter signed by the current PI and Authorized Institutional Business Official, including reasons for the change and the proposed effective date of change, and the biosketch of the new PI are needed to initiate the process. These documents should be sent to the Grants Management Specialist and copied to the Program Officer listed on your Notice of Award.

The PI of the S10 grant is moving to another institution. Can the S10 grant/equipment move with the PI?

The PI must contact the Program Officer and the Grants Management Specialist assigned to the award to discuss the possibility of relocation of the instrument. The Internal Advisory Committee, as well as both institutions involved, must approve such relocation. Considerations must include the needs of the user group noted in the application and those of the proposed new user group at the accepting institution.

What types of changes require pre-approval from the NIH?

Pre-approval from both the Program Officer and the Office of Grants Management is required for the following changes: relocation of the instrument inside the institution (i.e., assigned to a different core facility or different school within the institution); relocation of the instrument to another institution; change of PD/PI; trade-in, sale or other disposition of the awarded instrument; shut-down of an instrument within less than five year of its installation. Any of these changes also require approval of the Internal Advisory Committee for the instrument.

IV. Introduced in FY 2018: SIFAR (Shared Instrumentation for Animal Research)

What is special about SIFAR?

The SIFAR Program focuses on the needs of NIH-supported animal researchers for access to state-of-the-art instruments. All SIFAR requests must be justified by how they’ll advance animal research through novel workflows or streamlined procedures.

Under SIFAR, only clusters of instruments may be requested. Such clusters should be configured as specialized integrated systems or as series of instruments to support a thematic well-defined area of research.

Note that SIFAR is an S10 Program; hence, requested instruments must be used on a shared basis and be supported long-term by the applicant institution. ORIP will manage the SIFAR program based on the same rules and practices which apply to SIG and HEI, as outlined in Q&As on this webpage.

What is the meaning of “animal research” in the context of the SIFAR requirements?

Many NIH-supported investigators rely on various animal species, both invertebrate and vertebrate (e.g., roundworms, fruit flies, African clawed frogs, zebrafish, mice, rats, and rhesus macaques) or materials that are drawn from animals such as germplasm, cells, or tissue. To meet the SIFAR requirement, the application narrative must clearly explain how the requested instruments will advance specific experiments, protocols, or procedures which use or rely on animals or animal-derived materials. 

Can biomedical researchers who don’t rely on animals for their work have access to a SIFAR instrument?

Yes, but only after the requirement of the use of the entire cluster configuration by Major Users for their by animal-related research projects at the level of 35% of AUT is fulfilled.

Each instrument in the cluster should be used for NIH-funded projects at the level of at least 75% of AUT.

What is a specialized integrated system or a series of instruments allowable under SIFAR?

SIFAR supports requests for multiple complementary instruments which will serve as an integrated cluster to enable a thematic research area or a series of instruments to support a specific research workflow. Requests for a collection of instruments bunched together without a common scientific theme or a shared specific research purpose are not appropriate and won’t be considered. An integrated instrument cluster will perform a function that no single component could provide. Series of instruments will enable experiments which require consecutive steps using different technologies. Of special interest are configurations to support innovative and potentially transformative procedures and investigations.  

Are single instruments allowed under SIFAR?

SIFAR does not support requests for single instruments. If a request for a single instrument is submitted to SIFRA, such request will not be considered for funding, For single-instruments requests, applicants are encouraged to consider applying to the SIG or HEI Programs.  

What is an allowable budget for SIFAR requests?

A cluster of instruments must include at least one instrument whose individual cost is at least $50,000. A cluster or a series of instruments may include an item which costs less than $50,000 but such item must cost at least $20,000. There is no upper limit on the cost of the instrument but the maximum award will be $750,000.

Is general purpose equipment or an assortment of instruments to furnish a research facility or equipment for routine sustaining infrastructure allowable?

No. General purpose equipment or an assortment of instruments to furnish a research facility and equipment for routine sustaining infrastructure such as standard machine shop equipment, standard computer networks, autoclaves, hoods, ventilated cages, and other equipment to upgrade animal facilities are not allowed.

V. S10 Contacts

SIG : Alena Horska, Ph.D.      e-mail: SIG@mail.nih.gov

HEI: Abraham Levy, Ph.D.       e-mail: HEI@mail.nih.gov

SIFAR: Willie D. McCullough, Ph.D.     e-mail: SIG@mail.nih.gov

Division of Construction and Instruments (DCI)
Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI)
The Office of the Director, NIH (OD)
6701 Democracy Boulevard
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4874

Phone: 301-435-0772