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UConn Microbiome Research Seed Grants

The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is pleased to announce the UConn Microbiome Research Seed Grant program. In support of the Provost’s Academic Plan Award for the UConn Microbiome Initiative, the OVPR will provide $150,000 per year for 3 years to support innovative and collaborative research proposals that will lead to new proposals for extramural funding in microbiome research.

The program provides short-term (one year) seed funding to encourage novel research projects and spark fresh research collaborations with the goal of growing the capacity of microbiome research community to obtain federal research grants or generate intellectual property in the area of microbiome research. The competition is divided into two tracks: individual and collaborative. Individual proposals are innovative, high-risk research projects that require critical preliminary data to succeed; collaborative projects are those that pursue innovative research and involve faculty members from at least two different disciplines. Collaborations between faculty members of different schools and campuses, including between UConn/UConn Health, are especially encouraged. The award size is up to $25,000 and $50,000 for single PI and collaborative projects, respectively.

The first cycle of this competition prompted an exciting response from UConn/UConn Health microbiome researchers, with proposals submitted by 19 teams (including a total of 27 faculty members), leading to three collaborative project awards totally $150K. As we begin the second cycle, we look to build on this momentum. Projects encompassing any aspect of the microbiome, which we define broadly to be a community of microorganisms living in a defined environment, are invited for submission. This includes microbiomes in agricultural, environmental, or clinical systems, and basic research projects. Special notice will be taken of well-revised resubmissions from previous competitions, strong and innovative projects by early career or new-to-microbiome researchers, and proposals that help establish new research collaborations. We also invite participation in the competition as reviewers, particularly by faculty who have received funding for microbiome research in the past.

Timeline:

  • Proposals due on Friday, 9/7/2018 by 5PM through our new Competition Portal (coming soon) See below for proposal guidelines and further instructions.
  • We anticipate that reviews will take place between mid-Sept and mid-November.
  • Result notifications are expected at the start of December.

Proposal Guidelines:
The proposals will follow NSF-IOS or DEB Preliminary Proposal guidelines, and must include the following:

  • a one-page summary
  • a one-page list of personnel
  • a four-page research plan
  • PI biosketches, including current & pending support
  • Budget
  • Budget Justification
  • If proposal based on a previous submission, please provide the reviews so the committee can assess how the proposed research addresses the comments.
  • If a PI would like to include a NSF-style broader impacts statement, it will be reviewed for the purposes of feedback, but it will not be used for evaluation/scoring purposes.

Eligibility:
The Microbiome Seed Grant program is available to UConn/UConn Health faculty members, within the following parameters:

  • UConn Primary Appointment: PIs must be faculty whose primary appointment is at UConn / UConn Health. Faculty with primary appointments to CCMC or Jackson Labs are not eligible to apply. PIs with a primary appointment at a TIP company are also not eligible. Individuals who are not eligible to apply as a PI may be able to serve as a collaborator/consultant on an eligible PI’s project.
  • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for Microbiome Seed Grant projects, a PI must have departmental research time available during the award period or address in the application how they will handle the time commitment required by the project. PI and Co-PIs must each make significant and distinct intellectual contributions to the design and direction of the project. Generally speaking, Microbiome Seed Grants are only available to tenure-track, clinical, and APiR (Storrs) faculty. Research Professors / those whose positions are contingent on grant-funding (soft money positions, including UCH in-residence faculty) are not eligible. Faculty with potential projects that involve grant-dependent faculty should contact the OVPR before applying.
  • Eligible faculty may only submit one proposal per year as a PI. Investigators may serve as collaborator on multiple projects.

Budget Information:

  • Proposals will be funded for a one-year period. The award size is up to $25,000 and $50,000 for single PI and collaborative projects, respectively
  • Allowable costs: materials, supplies, collection trips, equipment, equipment usage fees, software, summer support for graduate students (up to $3.5K for individual projects, up to $7K for collaborative), and other reasonable project-related costs. Postdoc support may be allowed if sufficient justification is given that such support is necessary for reaching the goals of the project.
  • Unallowable costs: graduate student support during the academic year or faculty summer support.

Review Criteria:
Seed Grant proposals will be reviewed with an eye toward how proposals address the following criteria:

  • Significance/Importance – why does this project matter?
  • Innovation/Novelty – how is this project new?
  • Feasibility of Approach – how will the work be done?
  • Environment/Resources – what resources/facilities will be used
  • PI/Team qualifications – who will be working on this project, and how are they uniquely suited to accomplish this work?
  • Outcome – what value/impact will this work promise to return?
  • Assessment – how will success be determined?
  • Budget – are funds to be used efficiently and effectively to achieve project goals?

Microbiome Research Seed Grant Winners:

Contact:
If you have questions about this competition, please contact Dr. Matt Mroz at research@uconn.edu/(860) 486-6378