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    Program in Accelerated Therapeutics for Healthcare (PATH)

    Overview

    PATH is a partnership that includes the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Medicine to accelerate the translational pathway for researchers to convert their discoveries to new medical therapeutics.  Under PATH, funding will be provided to academic research programs designed to quickly develop novel therapeutic approaches focusing on well validated molecular targets for a specific disease areas with an unmet treatment need in the current commercial marketplace.  Projects focusing on a wide range of therapeutic interventions (small molecule, biologic, antibody, peptide, gene therapy) are eligible for consideration.  Projects related to medical diagnostics, medical devices, and digital health are not eligible.  Two levels of funding will be available through this mechanism: PATH Trailblazer Grants will provide up to $10K for preliminary work in support of treatment development while PATH Ascent Grants will provide $75K-$150K to accelerate the development of promising therapeutics.

    Timeline:

    • Full proposals due Monday, February 25, 2019 March 4 by 12 noon
    • Submissions should be made via the UConn Quest Portal
    • Award notices expected by the end of April with award periods beginning 5/1/2019, pending compliance review

     

    Program/Award Details:

    • PATH Trailblazer Grants
      • Up to 5 awards of $10K will be made each year ($50K total available funding).
      • Award period will be one year. No cost extensions are possible, but are typically only approved when extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the PI exist.
      • IP: UConn will own IP produced by UConn/UConn Health faculty.  Agreements regarding IP for joint projects involving UConn/UConn Health and external investigators will need to be established at time of award.
      • Proposals will be reviewed by external experts and by representatives from the UConn schools and colleges involved. Award decisions will be made by the Vice President for Research.
    • PATH Ascent Grants
      • 1-2 award of $75K-150K will be made each year ($150K total available funding). Funding will be provided in six-month installments (specific amounts will vary according to the needs of the project), pending completion of project milestones.  Additional matching funds from schools/colleges may be provided.
      • Initial award period will be 1-2 years, extendable for up to a total of three years pending completion of project milestones.
      • Proposals should include plans for the full duration of the intended effort (not just the initial one-year award period).
      • Proposed plan/budget should include significant work to be carried out by UConn’s Connecticut Initiative for Molecular Intervention (CIMI) core services. This can include making use of existing services or using the award to fund the extension of those services.
      • IP: UConn will own IP produced by UConn/UConn Health faculty.  Agreements regarding IP for joint projects involving UConn/UConn Health and external investigators will need to be established at time of award.
      • Proposals will be reviewed by external experts and by representatives from the UConn schools and colleges involved. Award decisions will be made by the Vice President for Research.

     

    Eligibility

    • Primary Appointment: PIs must be full-time faculty whose primary appointment is at UConn/UConn Health, CCMC, or who have UConn-JAX joint appointments. Investigators with primary appointments to 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.
    • IP: PATH Projects should have intellectual property at their core. To be eligible, one of the following should be true: a project-related UConn patent or patent application exists, a UConn invention disclosure has been submitted to Technology Commercialization Services , or it is anticipated that IP will be generated and disclosed as a likely outcome of PATH-funded activities.  Agreements regarding IP rights and/or other investment terms may be required prior to receiving PATH Funding.
    • Effort and Salary: Although no minimum effort level is required for PATH projects, a UConn/UConn Health PI/Co-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.  PIs/Co-PIs must each make significant and distinct intellectual contributions to the design and direction of the project. Generally speaking, PATH awards are only available to UConn/UConn Health faculty in tenured, tenure-track, and APiR (Storrs) positions, as well as full-time joint UConn/JAX appointees.  Research Professors / those whose positions are contingent on grant-funding (soft money positions) are not eligible to apply as PI.  Faculty with projects that could involve grant-dependent faculty should contact the OVPR. Questions regarding eligibility should be directed to the OVPR before applying.
    • Eligible faculty may only submit one proposal per year as PI or Co-PI. Investigators may serve as collaborator on multiple projects.
    • Faculty with previous or ongoing continuing PITCH, START, or SPARK awards are eligible to apply for PATH awards for a distinct scope of work (either a clear next-phase of the previously funded project or a new approach or project).
    • Projects based on IP that has already been licensed to an industry partner or startup are generally not eligible for PATH funding.  Please contact the OVPR if you have any questions or concerns about eligibility based on this guideline before applying.

    UConn CIMI Services Available

    UConn’s Connecticut Initiative for Molecular Intervention (CIMI) is a multidisciplinary collaboration across UConn Storrs and UConn Health designed to support academic drug discovery.  CIMI can provide the services listed below (full descriptions are available on the COR2E website) on a fee-for-service basis.  Faculty interested in working with CIMI can contact Dr. Dennis Wright (dennis.wright@uconn.edu) or Dr. Sandra Weller (weller@uchc.edu) for more information. CIMI was established to assist UConn/UConn Health faculty in moving drug discoveries to the commercial marketplace and is well positioned to facilitate PATH projects.  Awards can be used to fund the use of existing CIMI services or to fund the extension of those services as appropriate.

    • Consultation on the Identification and Validation of Appropriate Targets for Drug Discovery
    • Target Protein Expression and Purification
    • Assay Development
    • Biophysical Characterization and NMR
    • Protein X-Ray Crystallography
    • Computer Simulations and Docking
    • High Throughput Screening
    • Hit-to-Lead Studies
    • Medical Chemistry (Lead Optimization)
    • Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics

    Path Trailblazer Proposal Guidelines

    Proposals for PATH Awards should contain the following elements and following 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,
    • Abstract: A lay summary of the project activities and major goals (no more than 1 page)
    • Project Plans: Describe the project, how it will be conducted, and anticipated outcomes. Project plans should address the following areas and shouldn’t exceed 2 pages in length
      • Medical Need: Addressing unmet medical need in drug development is a key criterion for medicine prioritization.  Provide epidemiology on the disease to be treated (disease prevalence and incidence), currently available treatments, new treatments under development (preclinical or clinical trials, limitations of current and developing approaches, and existing obstacles impeding progress in producing effective treatments
      • Overview of Proposed Approach: Discuss the proposed approach to a novel/improved way to for disease intervention, how it addresses unmet needs and overcome current treatment obstacles, and any preliminary data available supporting this approach either through your work or others in the field.  Proposal should explain approach in a non-confidential manner)
      • Proposed Activities: Describe and justify the experiments or other activities being proposed to advance the development of this approach toward becoming a viable treatment. Also provide a timeline for the completion of proposed work.
      • Next Development Steps: Explain how you envision this project moving forward, should it receive PATH Trailblazer funding. What are the next steps should the proposed experiments conclude successfully?  What are alternative strategies you might use if they prove unsuccessful?
    • Budget describing and justifying use of PATH funds.
    • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs

    Path Ascent Proposal Guidelines

    Proposals for PATH Awards should contain the following elements and following 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,
    • Abstract: A lay summary of the project activities and major goals (no more than 1 page)
    • Project Plans: Describe the project, how it will be conducted, and anticipated outcomes. Project plans should address the following areas and shouldn’t exceed 10 pages in length
      • Medical Need: Addressing unmet medical need in drug development is a key criterion for medicine prioritization.  Provide epidemiology on the disease to be treated (disease prevalence and incidence), currently available treatments, new treatments under development (preclinical or clinical trials, limitations of current and developing approaches, and existing obstacles impeding progress in producing effective treatments
      • Overview of Proposed Approach: Discuss the proposed approach to a novel/improved way to for disease intervention, how it addresses unmet needs and overcome current treatment obstacles, and any preliminary data available supporting this approach either through your work or others in the field.  Describe why the proposed treatment will be more successful than other approaches and how it will improve the lives of patients.  (Proposal should explain approach in a non-confidential manner)
      • IP Position: Please note any existing granted patents, patent applications, or invention disclosures related to this project. Please research and note any competing patents.  Describe steps to be taken to protect the proposed approach in the future and/or a patenting strategy you have in mind
      • Proposed Activities: Describe the experiments or other activities being proposed to advance the development of this approach toward becoming a viable treatment. Specify any in vitro cell based models, preclinical models that are available and would be used for testing.  Include a discussion of anticipated scientific or technical hurdles to be faced, how you plan to overcome them, and alternate approaches that may be taken if problems arise.  If activities include a clinical trial now or in the future, describe what that process would look like and what specific patient populations would be tested.  Please include a timeline with project milestones indicated for each six-month period of the project
      • Commercialization Plan: Describe the anticipated process and timeline for bringing this therapeutic approach to market.  Include information about clinical trials needed, regulatory approvals needed, market size, and go-to-market strategy (licensing, start-up etc.).
      • Follow-up Funding plan: If project is successful, what will the follow-up funding targets be? Include all anticipated funded needed and funding that could be applied for at each specific milestone. Please include specific opportunities and mechanisms.
    • Budget describing and justifying use of PATH funds including significant work to be carried out by UConn’s Connecticut Initiative for Molecular Intervention (CIMI) core services. .
    • Biosketches / CVs for all PIs and Co-PIs.
    • Letters of support from any facilities providing support or services during the PATH award period.

    Budget Guidelines

    • Allowable costs include: UConn CIMI services, graduate research assistant salary (AY and Summer), 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, materials and supplies, participant support costs, animal/animal care costs, contractual services
    • Unallowable costs include: 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

    Proposals will be evaluated in relation to these core criteria.  Awards will be made based on the quality of the proposed projects and University funding priorities.

    • 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 – Are available resources/facilities sufficient?
    • 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?

    Postaward Considerations

    • Reporting requirements: Ascent PIs will need to prepare a brief report summarizing project progress every six months.  At the end of each award year, progress will be evaluated to determine if extension of the award is justified.
    • Each time an award is renewed for an additional year, a revised budget will be requested. If significant budget changes (i.e. unanticipated new costs or significant shifts of funding between categories) are needed within an award period, PIs may contact research@uconn.edu to request approval.  Please describe the change and what motivates it and the impact the change may have on the project.

    Program Contacts

    • Administrative contact: Matt Mroz, PhD, OVPR Internal Funding Coordinator. research@uconn.edu; 860.486.6378
    • Program Director: Mark Aindow, PhD, Executive Director for Innovation, External Engagement, and Industry Relations. aindow@uconn.edu; 860.486.1339