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UConn COVID-19 Research Seed Funding (COVID-RSF2) Program

Note: The guidelines below are for the second cycle of COVID-RSF funding.  Click here to for the first cycle guidelines.

Purpose

COVID-RSF (Rapid Start Funding) and COVID-RSF2 (Research Seed Funding) are initiatives of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) that support the development of promising projects related to COVID-19.  Given the enthusiastic and high-quality response to the first COVID-RSF cycle (37 white papers were received, resulting in 5 awards of up to $50K each), Vice President Maric has allocated additional funds to support COVID-19 related research.  The OVPR anticipates offering an additional 10 awards of up to $10K each.

This new competition, COVID-RSF2, expands the scope of the previous call to include longer-term projects and additional topics.  In addition to seeking mature projects promising very near-term impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of COVID-19, we also welcome proposals for earlier-stage COVID-19 seed projects, small scale pilot projects, projects related to the social and medical impact of COVID-19, and other related topics.

Applications will be collected and rapidly reviewed in mid-to-late October, with the goal releasing funding by early November.

 

Timeline:

  • Proposals (brief whitepapers, plus budget and biosketches) due Friday, October 16, 2020 by 12 noon.
  • Submissions should be made via the UConn Quest portal.
  • Award notices expected by October 30.  Award setup will begin immediate after notice, pending the completion of compliance review.

 

Program/Award Details:

  • Up to 10 awards of up to $10K will be made
  • Standard award period will be November 2020 through December 31, 2021.

 

Eligibility

The COVID-RSF2 Program is available to UConn / UConn Health faculty members, within the following parameters:

  • UConn Primary Appointment: PIs must be full-time faculty whose primary appointment is at UConn/UConn Health. Investigators with primary appointments to CCMC, Jackson Labs, TIP companies, or other institutions are not eligible to lead projects, but they may be named as Co-PIs, collaborators, or consultants on an eligible PI’s project.  Proposals that include external Co-PIs should be careful to describe how responsibility for the project will be divided between institutions, and ideally they will include cost-sharing commitments from external partners
  • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for COVID-RSF2 projects, a UConn/UConn Health PI/Co-PI must have institutionally-funded research time available during the award period or address in the application how they will handle the time commitment required by the project. PIs/Co-PIs must each make significant and distinct intellectual contributions to the design and direction of the project. Generally speaking, awards are only available to UConn/UConn Health tenure-track and clinical faculty and in-Residence faculty at the Storrs/Regional campuses. UCH in-residence faculty and research faculty are not eligible to apply as PI but can be named as Co-PIs, collaborators, or consultants on an eligible PI’s project.
  • Application Limits: Eligible faculty may submit multiple proposals, so long as each are scientifically distinct. Investigators may serve as collaborator on multiple projects.
  • COVID-RSF Resubmissions:  Faculty who submitted white papers for the previous COVID-RSF mechanism are eligible to resubmit if they wish, provided the white papers and budgets are appropriately reconfigured to be commensurate with a $10K award.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for COVID-RSF2 Awards should contain the following elements and follow the structure and guidelines indicated.  All length guidelines assume 1” margins, 11-12pt fonts, single spacing and single side pages.

  • Cover Page: Title of Project, Principal investigator(s) with contact information, List of other team members, Specific funding mechanism targeted, Target submission date
  • White Paper: Briefly describe the project, how it will be conducted, and anticipated outcomes. White papers should address the following areas and should not exceed 2-3 pages in length:
    • Core Research Questions to be addressed and their significance
    • Currently available resources and personnel and how they will support the project
    • Proposed activities under COVID-RSF2 Award and how they will advance the project towards the goal of impacting the fight against COVID-19.  If you have a specific funding mechanism in mind for follow-up funding, also address how the work under this award will improve competitiveness for that mechanism.
  • Budget describing and justifying use of COVID-RSF2 funds.  You can use this budget template.
  • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs: Please include an updated biosketch consistent with NIH (max 5 pg)/NSF (max 2 pg) format.  If your field is not typically funded by NSF/NIH, please include a brief CV following your discipline’s conventions.
  • NSF/NIH-style Letters of support from any facilities providing support during the COVID-RSF award period

Budget Guidelines

Below are general guidelines regarding allowable/unallowable costs that are consistent with other OVPR internal funding opportunities.  If you have a budget need that does not fit within these guidelines, you may include it, but we ask that you provide strong justification in support of the request.  You can use this budget template.

  • Allowable costs include: graduate research assistant salary, Postdoc or other Research Assistant salary, Undergraduate Researcher salary, Course buyouts (approval letter from Department Head required), Fringe costs, equipment purchases, travel to conduct research or meet with collaborators (Provost approval may be required), materials and supplies, participant support costs, animal/animal care costs, contractual services
  • Unallowable costs include: faculty member / professional staff salaries, clerical or administrative personnel salaries, including personnel whose primary purpose is to explore funding sources and/or prepare grant applications; service/maintenance contracts on equipment; laboratory renovations, or other infrastructure renovations; institutional memberships in professional organizations; travel to professional meetings to present the results of the research; travel to explore extramural funding opportunities; costs associated with the publication of results of the research, including page charges, purchase of reprints, or journal costs.

Review Criteria

  • Significance/Importance – Does this project address a significant scientific question / technical problem?
  • Innovation/Novelty – Does this project approach the problem in a new/innovative way?
  • Feasibility of Approach – Does this project have a clear and methodologically sound approach?  Is the plan of work described likely to succeed?
  • Environment/Resources – Are available resources/facilities sufficient to successfully complete the work?
  • PI/Team qualifications – Who will be working on this project, and how are they uniquely suited to accomplish this work?  Does the team have a strong track record of external grant success?
  • Outcome – Does the project promise to produce significant value / high impact?
  • Assessment – Does the project have a reasonable plan for measuring and determining success?
  • Budget – Are funds to be used efficiently and effectively to achieve project goals?

Post-Award Considerations and Reporting

  • Reporting requirements: PIs will need to prepare a brief report summarizing project progress at the conclusion of the project.
  • Further reports on project outcomes may be requested in the future to track return on investment.

Program Contacts

    • Administrative contact: Matt Mroz, PhD, OVPR Internal Funding Coordinator. research@uconn.edu;
    • Program Director: Mark Aindow, PhD, Executive Director for Innovation, External Engagement, and Industry Relations. m.aindow@uconn.edu