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Clinical Research and Innovation Seed Program (CRISP)

Purpose

UConn’s Clinical Research and Innovation Seed Program (CRISP) is a targeted seed funding program for FY22 created to: 1) help unlock the research creativity of UConn/UConn Health faculty who serve in clinical roles and 2) to support faculty who are doing human subjects research and working with clinical populations.

CRISP aims to support faculty in clinical roles who have compelling research ideas they would like to pursue.  Clinical faculty at UConn and UConn Health are world-class practitioners in their areas of expertise, but due to their clinical and teaching responsibilities, they often do not have the resources or opportunity to develop research programs that can lead to external funding.  CRISP is designed to provide the seed funding or development resources needed for clinical faculty to get exciting research projects started.

Faculty who work with human subjects and clinical populations know that this work can be challenging and sometimes cost-prohibitive, particularly for those who are in the early stages of projects or who are seeking pilot data to support large-scale external submissions.  CRISP also aims to provide the support needed to launch significant human subjects/clinical research projects and to move them towards external funding success.

While not a requirement of all proposals, the CRISP program supports collaboration across disciplines and between UConn and UConn Health faculty.  Given external funders’ growing interest in supporting interdisciplinary and convergent research, the demonstrated excellence of our faculty, and the complementary expertise available across disciplines, proposals that include novel interdisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships are particularly encouraged.

To assist faculty who are considering creating new cross-campus partnerships, OVPR is sponsoring a panel discussion on UConn/UCH Cross-Campus Research Collaboration on Thursday, March 3 from 12-1pm.  This panel aims to address UConn/UCH system and procedural questions and challenges that arise in cross-campus research by sharing our faculty success stories.  Register for this event!

Program Timeline

  • Program opens 2/16/22. Applications can be submitted through the UConn Quest Portal
  • Proposal deadline Friday, 4/1/22 (12 noon)
  • Awards expected in June 2022

The CRISP program offers awards in three different tracks, one focused on clinical faculty-initiated research, and two open to both clinical and non-clinical faculty that is focused on human subjects and clinical research.

Track 1 (Clinical Faculty-Initiated Research) Details and Eligibility – $10K

  • Awards available: up to 10 awards of up to $10K are anticipated to support projects initiated by clinical faculty members
  • Eligibility: limited to full-time UConn/UConn Health faculty serving in clinical roles.  Open to those at any campus with Assistant/Associate/Full Professor titles (including titles such as Clinical Assistant Professor), within the following constraints:
    • UConn Health – open to faculty who spend at least 60% of their time on clinical or teaching responsibilities.
    • UConn (Storrs and Regional Campuses) – open to faculty who have Assist/Assoc/Full Clinical Professor titles or faculty with other titles who have clinical credentials and who spend at least 60% of their time on clinical or teaching responsibilities.
    • Investigators from JAX or CCMC are eligible to participate providing they have affiliate status with either UConn Health or UConn.
  • Award Period: Awards will be made for activities that can be completed during a one-plus year award period (anticipated 6/1/2022-6/30/2023).
  • Anticipated outcomes: Track 1 will fund activities that support/enable clinical faculty to engage in their own research projects and to prepare them for seeking NIH (K- or R-series) awards and/or external funding from foundation, industry and other sponsors
  • Sample activities: Track 1 funds could be used for:
    • Project-related materials and supplies
    • Student Research Assistant salary (Graduate or Undergraduate. If you’d like to promote a student research position to undergraduates, please take advantage of services offered by UConn’s Office of Undergraduate Research.)
    • Participant incentive costs
    • Facility / instrumentation use costs
    • Training programs designed to enhance research-related skillsets
    • Programs to facilitate collaboration or mentorship
    • Please see budget guidelines for further detail about what is and is not allowable
  • Faculty Salary: Salary support for any faculty PIs/co-PIs/collaborators is not allowable.
  • Submission limits: Eligible faculty may submit only one proposal to CRISP as PI, across all tracks. There are no limits to how many proposals an individual may participate in as a co-PI or collaborator.
  • Additional approvals: Release of awarded funds will be contingent upon approval/confirmation of appropriate IRB protocols.

Track 2 (Human Subjects and Clinical Populations Research) – $30K-$60K

  • Awards available: 6-8 awards between $30K and $60K are anticipated to support pilot/exploratory human subjects and clinical research.
  • Project focus: Projects in Track 2 should be primarily focused on work with human subjects that has clinical focus (e.g., clinical populations, clinical phenomena, clinical training, clinical trials, etc.).
  • Anticipated outcomes: Awards at this level are intended to seed early career investigators, established investigators looking to change research directions or re-establish research programs, feasibility studies, or to explore novel collaborations among established investigators.
  • Eligibility: PIs must be full-time UConn/UConn Health faculty. Open to those at any campus with Assistant/Associate/Full Professor titles (including titles such as Clinical Assistant Professor).
    • Investigators from JAX or CCMC are eligible to participate providing they have affiliate status with either UConn Health or UConn.
  • Award Period: Awards will be made for activities that can be completed during a one-plus year award period (anticipated 6/1/2022-6/30/2023).
  • Team Composition: Projects that include cross-campus and clinical faculty involvement are especially encouraged, but not required.
  • Faculty Salary: Salary support for any faculty PIs/co-PIs/collaborators is not allowable.
  • Submission limits: Eligible faculty may submit only one proposal to CRISP as PI, across all tracks. There are no limits to how many proposals an individual may participate in as a co-PI or collaborator.
  • Additional approvals: Track 2 finalists may be asked for additional information about human subjects research plans before awards are finalized. Release of awarded funds will be contingent upon approval/confirmation of appropriate IRB protocols.

Track 3 (Human Subjects and Clinical Populations Research) – $60K-$100K

  • Awards Available: 1-4 awards between $60K-$100K each are anticipated to support larger-scale human subjects and clinical research projects.
  • Project focus: Projects in Track 3 should be primarily focused on significant work with human subjects research with clinical populations.
  • Anticipated outcomes: Projects should target specific external follow-up funding, from the NIH (R21, R01, etc), foundations, industry, or other sponsors. Awards at this level are intended to catalyze activities that are larger/more ambitious than what is currently being done by a particular PI/Team.
  • Eligibility: PIs must be full-time UConn/UConn Health faculty. Open to those at any campus with Assistant/Associate/Full Professor titles (including titles such as Clinical Assistant Professor).
    • Investigators from JAX or CCMC are eligible to participate providing they have affiliate status with either UConn Health or UConn.  For Track 3, teams lead by JAX or CCMC investigators must include a collaborator from UConn or UConn Health.
  • Award Period: Awards will be made for activities that can be completed during a one-plus year award period (anticipated 6/1/2022-6/30/2023).
  • Team Composition: Projects that include cross-campus and clinical faculty involvement are especially encouraged, but not required.
  • Faculty Salary: Salary support for any faculty PIs/co-PIs/collaborators is not allowable.
  • Submission limits: Eligible faculty may submit only one proposal to CRISP as PI, across all tracks. There are no limits to how many proposals an individual may participate in as a co-PI or collaborator.
  • Additional approvals: Track 3 finalists may be asked for additional information about human subjects research plans before awards are finalized. Release of awarded funds will be contingent upon approval/confirmation of appropriate IRB protocols.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals for CRISP 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 (including department, title, area of expertise), Specific follow-on funding mechanism targeted (if applicable).
  • Project Description: Proposals should address the following areas (adapted from general NIH Research Plan guidelines). Track 1 proposals should be 2-3 pages in length; Track 2 and 3 proposals should be no more than 5 pages.  Page totals include the specific aims page but do not include references, which do not count against the page limits.
    • Specific Aims (Track 1, half page max; Tracks 2 and 3, 1-Page max): Provide a summary of the goals of the project, the need being addressed, expected outcomes, and anticipated impact of the work.  Include a brief description of the specific objectives of the project.
      • For Track 1, the project can either be focused on research aims or on training/career development aims in support of research goals.
      • For Tracks 2 and 3, the aims must be focused on human subjects research.
    • Significance: Describe the research problem being addressed, the rationale behind the proposed work, how the proposed work relates to existing work in the field, and the significance of the work for the field.
      • Track 1: If training/career development activities are being proposed, this section can be used to address the applicant’s scientific background and how the proposed activities advance the applicant’s career goals.
      • Track 3: Include discussion of how the work you are proposing will position you/your team to be competitive for your targeted external funding mechanism.
    • Innovation: Describe and justify the novelty (of approach, population, research question/problem, etc.) of the work proposed
      • Track 1: If training/career development activities are being proposed, this section may be omitted.
    • Approach: Describe the research strategy and methodology to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project, including project timelines and key milestones.
      • Track 1: If training/career development activities are being proposed, use this section to provide details about the specific activities proposed
      • Tracks 2 and 3: applicants should ensure that sufficient information is provided about proposed human subjects studies so that plans and strategies can be evaluated.  Additional information may be requested of finalists before awards are finalized.
    • Environment: Describe the facilities and other resources available that are necessary for the completion of the project. If there are any commitments needed to access spaces or resources, letters of support are needed to demonstrate that appropriate approvals have been obtained.
  • Budget describing and justifying use of CRISP funds. Please use this budget template.
  • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs: Please include an updated biosketch consistent with NIH format.
  • NIH-style letters of support from facilities providing specific support during the CRISP award period.  Given that these are internal awards, letters of support can be quite brief, and serve only to demonstrate that PIs have made any necessary arrangements needed to secure access to facilities and other resources.  If no specific arrangements need to be made to gain access to a resource, no letter of support is needed.

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.  Please use this budget template.

  • Allowable costs include: graduate research assistant salary, postdoc or other research assistant salary, undergraduate researcher salary, fringe costs, equipment purchases, travel to conduct research or meet with collaborators (travel approval may be required), materials and supplies, participant support costs, animal/animal care costs, contractual services, costs related to training (Track 1 only).
  • Unallowable costs include: subawards to other institutions; faculty member 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:
    • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
    • Is there a strong scientific premise for the project?
    • If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved?
    • How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  • Investigators:
    • Are the PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project?
    • If the project is collaborative or multi-PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise?
  • Innovation:
    • Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies?
    • Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense?
    • Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?
  • Approach:
    • Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Have the investigators presented strategies to ensure a robust and unbiased approach, as appropriate for the work proposed?
    • Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented?
    • If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?
    • If the project involves human subjects and/or clinical research, are those plans justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?  Are there appropriate plans to protect human subjects from research risks?
  • Environment:
    • Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?
    • Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed?
    • Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?
  • 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 end of the award period.
  • 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; 860.486.6378

 

  • Program Director: Michelle Williams, PhD, Associate Vice President for Research Development and Executive Director of Operations. Michelle.Williams@uconn.edu.