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Program Project (P01) Policies and Guidelines

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): PAR-16-358

Resubmission and Revision applications (FOA): PAR-16-359

As the FOAs instruct, use the ASSIST technology to submit applications. The ASSIST site provides extensive training materials and a detailed user guide to help submit the application. Plan to submit well ahead of the deadline because the deadline is exactly that and the later the application is submitted the less chance there is to overcome glitches or fix errors. That buffer time is especially important for complex applications such as program projects.

NIA now accepts both RESUBMISSION and REVISION (competing supplement) applications on the September 25 date. NIA does not accept original submissions (new or renewing P01s) on the September 25 date. Use PAR-16-359 if submitting on September 25. New, renewing, and resubmitting applications may use PAR-16-358 for the January 25 and May 25 submission deadlines. Revision applications should use PAR-16-359 for all deadlines.

Two-Stage Review of Program Project (P01) applications

Program Project Grant (PPG) applications now undergo a two-stage review process in order to provide a broader context than previously in which to score these applications.

  • The first stage is a special emphasis panel comprised of experts in the subject area who provide a written critique and final score for individual projects and cores. This stage is substantially similar to our prior model for reviewing program projects.
  • The second stage review is by a parent program project committee including current and recent program project directors and other senior researchers. This committee provides an overall impact score taking into consideration assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved. A member (usually the chair) of the first stage review panel reports the summary of the proceedings of the initial panel at the beginning of this second stage review. The overall impact score will be released following the second stage review.
  • Every effort will be made to review the applications within the given Council round. On rare occasions some of the applications may be deferred to the following council, but still within the same fiscal year.
  • As the two-stage review process is unique to program project applications and will likely generate a broader distribution of scores than in prior cycles, these program projects will appear on a separate funding list with an allocation linked only to these applications. Guidelines for funding decisions within this line will continue to be primarily the quality of the science as determined by peer review.

As stated in PAR-16-358 and PAR-16-359, NIA rarely funds program project awards with any annual budget of more than $1.5 million, in direct costs (F&A costs of subcontracts excluded). Budget increases in non-competing years will reflect NIH policy in effect for the year of the non-competing continuation and may be requested to reflect an anticipated inflationary 3% annual increase only. P01 applications requesting more than $1.5 million in any year must be nominated for acceptance by an NIA program division and approved by an NIA senior committee to be accepted.

Revision applications (see PAR-16-359) may request costs that would increase the total direct costs of the awarded P01 to more than $1.5 million in a single year. Revision applications may be submitted only after the parent P01 has been awarded and may not propose costs beyond the end of the parent award.

NIA has implemented cost control measures for applications requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs in a single year.

It is particularly important for applicants considering program project submissions to contact program division staff as early as possible in the development of the project and at least six weeks before the intended submission.

Changes in the Content of Submissions with the Transition to Electronic Submission

  • NIA permits multi-P.D./P.I. submissions both for the overall program project and for the individual cores and projects within the P01. The FOAs give guidance on how to add a leadership plan for the particular elements which have multi-P.I.s.
  • Personnel may now submit only one biosketch even though the same individual may serve multiple roles on the overall program project. Therefore the paragraph describing the capabilities of the individual must address all roles proposed in the program project.

Change in NIA Review Policy concerning Investigator Presence in Review Meetings

NIA has previously followed a practice in review of arranging for the investigator team who submitted a program project application to be on call during the review meeting for the application. Reviewers had the opportunity to ask questions of investigators during the meeting. Reviewers rarely took that opportunity. Also, perhaps unfairly NIA had extended this practice to review of program project applications but not to review of other large applications considered singly. For these reasons NIA has terminated the practice of having investigators be on call during the review meeting. Details of the relevant new policy are available on our web site.

Note on differences between U19 (Complex cooperative agreement awards) and P01 (Program project awards) at NIA

The U19 and P01 funding opportunity announcements (FOA) are causing some confusion in the research community. Program projects remain opportunities for multiple complementary individual projects to collaborate around a common theme. A distinguishing feature of program projects is that individual sub-projects can frequently stand alone and sometimes are submitted separately as independent research grants. The NIA U19 FOA is designed for complex projects with highly integrated components. These components are building blocks of the overall enterprise rather than stand-alone projects. The loss of any of these components would be critical. These integrated components would not stand alone as independent projects.

Because of the complexity of these projects we are using a cooperative agreement mechanism (U19) to support them. A cooperative agreement necessitates a role for an NIA staff member to serve substantively on the project. It is important for investigators planning a U19 award to obtain the agreement of a staff member to serve in that substantive role prior to submitting the application. It is expected that most of the U19 applications would request a Direct Costs budget of $500,000 or more and NIH policy requires applicants who seek research support of at least $500,000 (direct costs) in a single year to seek permission to submit the application from an Institute or Center at least six weeks before the intended submission date. Also, NIA policy limits the proportion of the competing budget that may be awarded to large grants.

NIA expects to make only a small number of U19 awards.