The National Palliative Care Research Center

Without research, palliative care is an art, not a science.

Funding Opportunities

Pilot and Exploratory Project Support Grant

The National Palliative Care Research Center funds palliative care research initiatives through four different funding mechanisms.

Purpose

The Pilot/Exploratory Project Support Grant Program provides funding for investigators performing pilot/exploratory research studies that focus on improving care for seriously ill patients and their families. Investigators must conduct research projects whose purpose is to test interventions, develop research methodologies, and explore novel areas of research that are directly related to the Center's core mission and stated 3 areas of interest. A condition of funding is a clearly defined plan as to how the investigator will use the results of the project to develop larger, extramurally funded research projects.

Award Information

Awards may be for one to two years in duration and for as much as $70,000 per year (direct costs), plus 10% allowable indirect costs. Start date for all awards will be July 1.

*Please note that the NPCRC pilot/exploratory research grant is parallel to the recent American Cancer Society's request for applications (RFA), but that the NPCRC grant is not restricted to projects focusing on cancer patients and eligible candidates may apply to both organizations for consideration of funding.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a pilot/exploratory project grant under the NPCRC Program, applicants must meet the general eligibilty requirements of the Center as well as the following specific requirements for the award:

  1. Applicants must hold a doctorate degree (M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent);
  2. Applicants must have a full-time faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical or nursing school, or other fiscally responsible organization within the United States by the time of the award start date;
  3. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  4. Applicants should have a minimum of five years postdoctoral research experience, although promising junior investigators—as identified by a statement from their research mentor—will be considered;
  5. Preference will be given to applicants that meet at least one of the following conditions:
    a) Have an established track record as a mentor; OR
    b) Have a history of successful peer reviewed research funding.

Applicants uncertain about their eligibility are strongly advised to contact the NPCRC before preparing an application.

Note: Only one Principle Investigator is allowed per project; no Co-PIs should be listed on the application.

How to Apply

The NPCRC requires that eligible applicants first submit a letter of intent. Full proposals are accepted by invitation only. All eligible candidates who would like to be considered for the Pilot/Exploratory Project Suppport Grant should follow the NPCRC guidelines on how to apply.

Proposal Preparation

Full proposals must include all of the items and sections outlined below. Items are either entered directly through the NPCRC website or are uploaded to the online application in PDF format. The Application Data Sheet and the Applicant's Biosketch are submitted during letter of intent process (Step 1), while the remaining documents are submitted with the full proposal (Step 2). Download the Request for Applications below for complete information on what to include in the proposal.

Budget: In preparing the budget for the proposed project, please utilize the template available online. Project expenses should be in accordance with the NPCRC budget guidelines and justified if necessary.

Requirements

Each recipient of a NPCRC grant, as a condition of accepting the award will agree to the following:

PEER REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS

Proposals will be reviewed by the NPCRC Scientific Review Committee (SRC). The SRC is composed of internationally prominent scientists with expertise in palliative care, patient-oriented research, health services research, communication, research design, epidemiology, and biostatistics.

AWARD CRITERIA

Applications will be scored and reviewed using the following review criteria:

  1. Significance - Does the study address an important problem? If the aims of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of this study on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  2. Approach - Are the conceptual or clinical framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately developed, well integrated, well reasoned, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?
  3. Innovation - Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms or clinical practice; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?
  4. Investigator – Is the investigator appropriately trained and well-suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal investigator?
  5. Environment - Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Is there evidence of institutional support?
  6. Future Directions – Does the investigator have clear plans for how the pilot data will be used for future projects? Is there a high probability that the resulting work will receive funding?

Application scores, comments, and funding recommendations will be forwarded to the NPCRC Scientific Advisory Committee who will make the final decision regarding funding and allocation of resources.

RESUBMISSIONS

Applications that are not funded may be revised and resubmitted for the next NPCRC funding cycle. However, only two resubmissions are allowed. Resubmitted applications will be reviewed in the same detail and will compete on an equal basis with all other new applications and competing renewals. For more information, see the Center's section on resubmissions.

Download:

RFA Pilot Award 2015

Junior Faculty Career Development Award

Purpose

One of the major barriers to the growth of the field of palliative care is the lack of a pipeline for the development of scientific investigators.  Given the low levels of support for research focusing on the care of people with serious and complex illness, new investigators are at a significant disadvantage in competing for larger, externally funded project and career development awards because of an absence of pilot data to support their grants and the absence of a publication track record in research.  Historically, externally funded research by senior investigators has cross-subsidized mentoring and pilot studies for their mentees, however, downwardly negotiated budgets, the expectation of contributed time on the part of funders, reduced indirect costs, and the reluctance of institutions to support contributed time, have all made such cross-subsidization increasingly difficult.

The National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC) is providing Junior Faculty Career Development Awards to allow junior faculty to have the protected time required to develop and conduct the pilot research necessary to be competitive for larger, extramurally funded awards. Proposed research must focus on improving care for patients with serious illness and their families in one of  the three NPCRC key areas of interest: pain and symptom management, communication, and models of care for palliative care delivery.

Award Information

The Junior Faculty Career Development Award provides two years of support for salary and/or research activities to junior faculty in the amount of $70,000 per year (direct costs), plus 10% allowable indirect costs. Awards are not renewable. Start date for all awards will be July 1.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a career development award under the NPCRC Program, applicants must meet the general eligibilty requirements of the Center, as well as the following specific requirements:

  1. Applicants must hold a doctorate degree (M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent);
  2. Applicants must have a full-time faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical or nursing school, or other fiscally responsible organization within the United States by the time of the award start date;
  3. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  4. Applicants must be no more than 5 years out of their post-doctoral or post-graduate fellowship training. Exceptions to this policy will be made on an individual basis and potential applicants who would like to request consideration should contact the NPCRC;
  5. Applicants must be able to commit a minimum of 60% of full-time professional effort conducting patient-oriented research and relevant career development activities;
  6. Applicants must NOT be current or past recipients of a career development award (e.g. NIH K-Award, VA career award, foundation-funded career award). If an active recipient of a NPCRC career development award is selected to receive—and accepts—a career development award from another source during his/her grant period, then the individual must relinquish salary and research support from the NPCRC. The NPCRC will continue to support the investigator's travel to the NPCRC Annual Retreat and Research Symposium in order to allow him/her to attend and present;
  7. Applicants should have a mentor or co-mentors who together have extensive palliative care research experience. If the applicant is unable to identify a palliative care researcher for his/her mentor, then he/she should contact the NPCRC prior to submitting an application.

Funding priority will be given to qualified and promising junior investigators early in their faculty careers who wish to establish themselves in areas that reflect the NPCRC mission goals. Applicants uncertain about their eligibility are strongly advised to contact the NPCRC before preparing an application.

How to Apply

The NPCRC requires that eligible applicants first submit a letter of intent. Full proposals are accepted by invitation only. All eligible candidates who would like to be considered for the Junior Faculty Career Development Award should follow the NPCRC guidelines on how to apply.

Proposal Preparation

Full proposals must include all of the items and sections outlined in the Request for Application PDF document below. Items are either entered directly through the NPCRC website or uploaded in a PDF file and attached to the online application.  The Application Data Sheet and the Applicant's Biosketch are submitted during Step 1 of the application process, while the remaining documents are submitted in Step 2.  Download the Request for Applications below for complete information on what to include in the proposal.

Budget: In preparing the budget for the proposed project, please utilize the template available online. Project expenses should be in accordance with the NPCRC budget guidelines and justified, if necessary.

Mentoring

Recipients of the career development award will work with a mentor / co-mentor who has extensive palliative care research experience. The goal of the advisor is to ensure that funded junior investigators receive appropriate mentoring, that projects move forward in an efficient and timely manner, that projects continue to address the core mission of the Center, and to connect junior faculty with other investigators in the field of palliative care.
 

Requirements

Each recipient of an NPCRC grant, as a condition of accepting the award will agree to the following:

Peer Review of Applications

The NPCRC Scientific Review Committee (SRC) will review the proposals. The SRC is composed of internationally prominent scientists with expertise in palliative care, patient-oriented research, health services research, communication, epidemiology, research design and biostatistics.

Award Criteria

Applications will be scored and reviewed based upon the Candidate's qualifications and career development plan; the research plan; mentor(s) and mentorship plan; and the institutional environment using the following review criteria:

Candidate:
  • Quality of the candidate's academic and clinical record;
  • Potential to develop as an independent researcher in palliative care; and
  • Commitment to a career in palliative care research.
Career Development Plan:
  • Likelihood that the career development plan will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate;
  • Appropriateness of the content and duration of the proposed didactic and research phases of the award;  and
  • Consistency of the career development plan with the candidate's career goals and prior research experience.
Research Plan:
  • Scientific and technical merit of the research question, design and methodology;
  •  Relevance of the proposed research to the candidate's career objectives; and
  • Appropriateness of the research plan to the stage of research development and as a vehicle for developing the research skills as described in the career development plan.
Mentor/Co-Mentor:
  • Appropriateness of mentor(s) research qualifications in the area of this application;
  • Quality and extent of mentor's proposed role in providing guidance and advice to the candidate;
  • Previous experience in fostering the development of more junior researchers;
  • History of research productivity and support; and
  • Adequacy of support for the proposed research project.
Environment and Institutional Commitment:
  • Adequacy of research facilities and the availability of appropriate educational opportunities;
  • Quality and relevance of the environment for scientific and professional development of the candidate;
  • Applicant institution's commitment to the scientific development of the candidate and assurances that the institution intends the candidate to be an integral part of its research program; and
  • Applicant institution's commitment to an appropriate balance of research and clinical responsibilities including the commitment of 60 percent of the candidate's effort to research and research related activities.
Budget:
  • Justification of the requested budget in relation to career development goals and research aims.

Application scores, comments, and funding recommendations will be forwarded to the NPCRC Scientific Advisory Council who will make the final decision regarding funding and allocation of resources.

RESUBMISSIONS 
Applications that are not funded may be revised and resubmitted for the next NPCRC funding cycle. However, only two resubmissions are allowed. Resubmitted applications will be reviewed in the same detail and will compete on an equal basis with all other new applications and competing renewals. For more information, see the Center's section on resubmissions.

Download:

RFA CDA 2015

Transition to Independence Award

Purpose

Millions of Americans are living, often for years, with serious illnesses that significantly affect their quality of life and independence. Multiple national initiatives have focused attention on the need for improved quality of life for patients and families living with serious illness. Reports from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have cited the lack of trained investigators and established research groups as a major impediment to the development of the needed knowledge base to improve the quality of life for persons with serious illness and their families.  Continued cutbacks in federal funding for research and shrinking medical school budgets have combined to make the path to a successful research career increasingly difficult for junior investigators.  Whereas the period of vulnerability for early stage investigators has traditionally been the years between training and the first NIH award (the target of the NPCRC Career Development Award program), data suggest that another vulnerable period for early stage investigators has emerged:  Specifically, recent data demonstrate that only 23% of investigators who complete an NIH career development award go on to compete successfully for their first independent research award.  Indeed, these data suggest that over 75% of career development awardees will face an NIH funding gap following their first research award.  Whereas in the past, medical schools and mentors were able to provide bridge funding while promising applicants revised and resubmitted their research applications, shrinking budgets have made this bridge funding increasingly scarce – particularly in a new field such as palliative medicine.

To promote the development of successful independent researchers working to improve the care of patients with serious illness, the NPCRC is requesting applications for its Hearst-NPCRC Transition to Independence Award (TIA). The aim of the TIA is to expand the cadre of palliative care researchers by extending research support to promising investigators completing a federal career development award whom have not yet achieved independence as measured by successful receipt of an NIH R01 award or equivalent.  The TIA assures a continuum of support for turning promising junior investigators into independent researchers. 

Award Information

The TIA will provide one year of bridge research funding to investigators to support their R01 applications. Awards are $50,000 to $100,000 per applicant plus 10% allowable indirect costs. Awards are not renewable.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Transition to Independence Award under the NPCRC Grants Program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Applicants must hold a doctorate degree (M.D., Ph.D., or equivalent);
  2. Applicants must have a full-time faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical or nursing school, or other fiscally responsible organization within the United States by the time of the award start date;
  3. Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  4. Applicants should be a MINIMUM of five but a MAXIMUM of ten years post-fellowship (physicians) or post-doctorate (others); Exceptions to this policy will be made on an individual basis and potential applicants who would like to request consideration should contact the NPCRC;
  5. Applicants must be within 2 years of completing an NIH career development award or equivalent and propose a clear plan as to how research under the TIA will support an application for an independent research award.
  6. Applicants must not have received an NIH R01 award or equivalent.

Funding priority will be given to qualified and promising mid-career investigators who wish to establish themselves in areas that reflect the NPCRC mission goals. Applicants uncertain about their eligibility are strongly advised to contact the NPCRC before preparing an application. 

How to Apply 

The NPCRC requires that eligible applicants first submit a letter of intent. Full proposals are accepted by invitation only. All eligible candidates who would like to be considered for the Transition to Independence Award should follow the NPCRC guidelines on how to apply. 

Proposal Preparation 

Full proposals must include all of the items and sections outlined in the Request for Application PDF document below. Items are either entered directly through the NPCRC website or uploaded in a PDF file and attached to the online application.  The Application Data Sheet and the Applicant's Biosketch are submitted during Step 1 of the application process, while the remaining documents are submitted in Step 2.  Download the Request for Applications below for complete information on what to include in the proposal.

Budget: In preparing the budget for the proposed project, please utilize the template available online. Project expenses should be in accordance with the NPCRC budget guidelines and justified, if necessary.

Peer Review of Applications

The NPCRC Scientific Review Committee (SRC) will review the proposals. The SRC is composed of internationally prominent scientists with expertise in palliative care, patient-oriented research, health services research, communication, epidemiology, research design and biostatistics. 

Award Criteria

Candidate:


  • Quality of the candidate's academic and clinical record,  
  • Potential to develop as an independent researcher in palliative care; and   
  • Commitment to a career in palliative care research.
Transition to Independence Plan:
  • Likelihood that the independence transitional award will contribute substantially to the scientific development of the candidate;
  • Consistency of the independence transitional plan with the candidate's career goals and prior research experience. 
Research Plan:
  • Scientific and technical merit of the research question, design and methodology;Relevance of the proposed research to the candidate's career objectives; and
  • Appropriateness of the research plan to the stage of research development and as a vehicle for developing an independent research award

Environment and Institutional Commitment:

  • Adequacy of research facilities and the availability of appropriate educational opportunities;
  • Quality and relevance of the environment for scientific and professional development of the candidate;
  • Applicant institution's commitment to the scientific development of the candidate and assurances that the institution intends for the candidate to be an integral part of its research program; and
  • Applicant institution's commitment to an appropriate balance of research and clinical responsibilities including the commitment of 60 percent of the candidate's effort to research and research related activities.

Budget:

Justification of the requested budget in relation to the research aims.

Application scores, comments, and funding recommendations will be forwarded to the NPCRC Scientific Advisory Committee who will make the final decision regarding funding and allocation of resources.  


RESUBMISSIONS 

Applications that are not funded may be revised and resubmitted for the next NPCRC funding cycle. However, only two resubmissions are allowed. Resubmitted applications will be reviewed in the same detail and will compete on an equal basis with all other new applications and competing renewals. For more information, see the Center's section on resubmissions.

Download:
RFA TIA 2015 



Research Design / Statistical Support Grant

Purpose

One of the major challenges of palliative care research is not only conceptualizing and posing important research questions, but also in designing the studies, developing the instruments, and employing analytic techniques that will accurately answer the questions being posed. Many institutions conducting research in palliative care lack faculty and colleagues with the expertise in these key areas of research infrastructure.

Rigorous palliative care research may require sophisticated methodologies that are beyond the experience of most investigators, such as alternatives to the randomized controlled trial. As is true in the clinical practice of palliative care, there are challenges specific to palliative care research (such as variable and short periods of survival; the burden of surveys and investigations among seriously ill patients, and their families; missing data due to an inability of seriously ill patients to complete study instruments; multiple illnesses and comorbidities) that will require the active and ongoing collaboration of clinician scientists, health services researchers, and statisticians, each of whom brings specific and targeted expertise to the complex and multifaceted problems faced by our patients and their families. These challenges are also present in other areas of research but typically are overcome by having investigators conducting related research within the same division or department sharing the support of the needed consultant (e.g., biostatistician).

Given the relative isolation of palliative care researchers, it is only the largest programs that can adequately support the interdisciplinary faculty necessary to conduct high quality palliative care research.  In recognition of this fact, the NPCRC provides funding to investigators to employ as consultants experts in instrument design, research design, and analytic techniques specific to palliative care. Awarded applicants have the option to employ consultants who are at their own designated institution or they can utilize the services of consultants associated with the NPCRC who are available to, and shared by, Center investigators across the country.

How to Apply

Please contact the NPCRC for details on the Research Design/Statistical Support Grants.

Infrastructure Support for Collaborative Studies

Purpose

A major barrier to the conduct of collaborative research is the lack of funding to support the required infrastructure for multi-site studies – particularly for studies in palliative care in which a large number of sites -each recruiting a handful of patients - are required to conduct meaningful research. The National Palliative Care Research Center accepts proposals requesting infrastructure support for collaborative studies.