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Collaborative engineering and medicine grants offered

Penn State’s College of Medicine and College of Engineering offer Grace Woodward Grants for Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine, supported by generous endowments to the colleges from the estate of Grace Woodward.

The program is designed to encourage collaborations between engineers and clinicians or biomedical scientists that involve either new avenues of biomedical research or the feasibility testing of new medical devices, instrumentation, or other diagnostic or therapeutic modalities.

Applicants may request up to $50,000 total direct costs for a project period of up to two years.

Submission information will be provided when applications are being accepted.

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RFA Details: Grace Woodward Grants for Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine

Eligibility Criteria Expand answer
  • All proposals must include two substantially invested principal investigators who work together to draft and revise the proposal.
  • One of the two co-principal investigators of an application to this program must have a primary academic appointment in the College of Medicine as an assistant professor, associate professor or professor. In addition to the basic science faculty, virtually all physicians employed by Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have a primary academic appointment in the College of Medicine and are thus eligible to apply.
  • One of the two co-principal investigators of an application to this program must have a primary academic appointment and tenure home in the College of Engineering at Penn State University Park. College of Engineering faculty members from other Penn State campuses will also be eligible to serve as a co-PI of an application to this program if the resources to support their participation are provided by their local campus unit.
  • Additional investigators from these and other campuses/colleges are eligible to participate as co-investigators.
  • Proposals representing a new area of collaboration between the Co-PIs that has not previously received support from this or other competitive grant programs are encouraged.
  • Investigators who are currently serving as a co-PI of an active Grace Woodward Grant are not eligible to submit an application in response to this RFA.
  • An investigator may serve as a co-PI on one Grace Woodward Grant application.
Program Guidelines Expand answer

New proposals as well as revised versions of previously unfunded proposals to this program will be considered. Applicants may request up to $50,000 direct costs to be spent over a period of up to two years for proposals that:

  • Generate preliminary data for an extramural research proposal facilitating a productive and sustained collaboration between investigators in both colleges; or
  • Demonstrate feasibility or develop a prototype of a new medical device, diagnostic, instrument or other diagnostic or therapeutic modality that will become attractive for commercial development.

Partners submitting applications in either of these two categories may include either clinical science or basic science faculty members at the College of Medicine.

Although no minimum percent effort is required for the co-principal Investigators, the effort that they and others plan to devote to the project must be specified in the application.  Each Co-PI may charge the grant for a maximum of 10 percent effort. (Should a principal investigator’s full salary exceed the NIH cap, the anticipated percent effort should be indicated and budgeted to reflect the current NIH cap.)

Funds may also be requested for student stipends and tuition, research staff, postdoctoral fellows, small equipment, materials/supplies, and expenses related to the involvement of human subjects.

Funds may not be requested for publication expenses or travel to conferences; however, travel expenses necessary for the conduct of the research project are allowable.

Each application must include separate budgets for the portions of the project that will be conducted in the College of Engineering and in the College of Medicine. Co-PIs are encouraged to develop proposals requesting approximately equal funding to support the activities in each college. Skewing of the budget toward one College requires a statement in the budget justification addressing the need for a skewed distribution and the nature of the involvement of the PI from the other college.

Co-principal investigators of Grace Woodward Grants must also agree to:

  • present a progress report for their project to the Associate Dean for Innovation, College of Engineering, and the Vice Dean for Research, College of Medicine, and members of the Collaborative Research Review Committee in May of the year after the grant is awarded;
  • submit a final written progress report within 60 days of completing the project;
  • report periodically on the impact of this award on subsequent sponsored research activities, on request; and
  • serve as a member of the joint College of Medicine/College of Engineering Collaborative Research Review Committee in future years, on request.
Application Format Expand answer

Prepare the Grace Woodward Grant as a single PDF. The final PDF should include all of the information listed below in the order indicated:

  1. Cover page: Complete the cover page found in Box (Penn State Access ID login required).
  2. Table of contents
  3. Lay abstract: Briefly summarize the objective, specific aims and health-relatedness of the project in terms that will be understood by a non-scientific lay audience.
  4. Introduction: For revised applications only, to address previous reviewer comments (one page).
  5. Program goals: Identify the goal of the program as either:
    • establishment of a new line of research that will likely lead to extramural funding; or
    • proof-of-concept or prototype development for a new medical device, instrument, or other diagnostic or therapeutic modality that will become attractive for commercial development.
  6. Research plan: The research plan should not exceed five pages single-spaced including figures and tables, using 11-point font, and should be organized as follows:
    • Specific aims: List the specific aims of this proposal and explain how their accomplishment will help achieve the program goals identified above.
    • Significance: Explain how the proposal addresses an important problem or clinical barrier.
    • Innovation: How does the proposal challenge or shift existing paradigms? Specifically highlight any novel concepts, approaches, methods, or instrumentation.
    • Approach: Describe the proposed experimental design, preliminary studies and anticipated results.
    • Environment: Describe the research environment and resources that will contribute to this project.
  7. Investigator contributions: This program is designed to encourage genuine collaborations between engineers and clinicians or biomedical scientists and it is anticipated that each co-PI will make critical and meaningful contributions to the project. Use this section of the application to clearly and fully describe the contributions that the co-PI from the College of Engineering and the co-PI from the College of Medicine will each make to this project, both individually and collaboratively. If one co-PI will be more fully involved early and the other somewhat later, the timetable for that should be clearly described in the application. Proposals that require only token or minor contributions from one co-PI or the other (such as obtaining tissue samples or analysis or engineering modest refinements to an existing device or process) should seek support from other more appropriate mechanisms.
  8. Human subjects and/or vertebrate animals: Describe involvement, if any.
  9. Literature cited:
  10. Budget: Each application must include separate SIMS budget forms for the portions of the project that will be conducted in the College of Engineering and in the College of Medicine. College of Engineering faculty should work directly with the Engineering Research Office. Indicate any cost-share from local departments, research centers or university consortia. No indirect costs are to be recovered from these funds. The budget period should be one to two years beginning July 1. There will be no need to initiate an IAF.
  11. Budget justification: Provide a separate justification page for the budget request from each college (one page each). Explain and justify all proposed expenditures so that it is clear why they are essential for the success of the project. Expenditures not fully justified can be removed at any time during the review process.
  12. Biosketches: Include biosketches for both co-principal investigators and all collaborating investigators. Biosketch templates can be found on the NIH website.
  13. Other support: Include all active and pending support for both co-principal investigators. Indicate clearly whether each project listed does or does not overlap with this application and explain the nature of any overlap.
  14. Future plans: Assuming that the project is successful, describe plans to secure continued funding including the most probable sponsor, mechanism and expected receipt date for the first application. For feasibility/prototype projects, describe the most probable licensee, plan for commercialization and summary of intellectual property portfolio. For both types of projects, explain how it is envisioned that the collaboration between the co-PIs and potentially other members of the team will be extended and sustained.
Identification of Collaborators Expand answer

Potential applicants may obtain advice and assistance in identification of potential collaborators with engineering, scientific or clinical expertise in specific areas.

Investigators may contact Dr. Chris Rahn at the College of Engineering (814-865-6237; cdr10@psu.edu) or Dr. Sarah Bronson at the College of Medicine (717-531-6949; researchdevelopment@pennstatehealth.psu.edu) for details and assistance.

Review Process Expand answer

Applications will undergo an initial review for scientific and technical merit by a joint College of Medicine/College of Engineering Collaborative Research Review Committee that will consider the responsiveness of the proposal to this RFA and evaluate the scientific and technical merit of the proposal using the NIH review criteria and scoring metric.

In this regard, the Committee will evaluate the significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach and environment and any additional criteria that are relevant to each proposal including the potential for the project to subsequently attract significant support for research and/or commercial development of a promising new medical device, diagnostic, instrument or other diagnostic or therapeutic modality from an external sponsor.

In addition, the Collaborative Research Review Committee will be asked to identify changes in study design and methodology that would strengthen each proposal and these recommendations will be returned to the applicant with the reviewer’s critique at the conclusion of the review process. The Review Committee will make its recommendations through the Director, Research Development to the Associate Dean for Innovation, College of Engineering, and Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, College of Medicine, who, with the Deans of the College of Engineering and the College of Medicine, will make all final decisions regarding awards.

Awards Expand answer

Contingent upon the receipt of meritorious applications, it is anticipated that two or three awards will be announced on or about June 1 of each year response to this RFA. The anticipated start date for these awards is July 1.

Previous Awardees Expand answer

Previous recipients of funding from the Grace Woodward Grant For Collaborative Research in Engineering and Medicine are listed here.

For Details

Questions regarding this RFA should be referred to Research Development at researchdevelopment@pennstatehealth.psu.edu or 717-531-6949.

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