>>> Click here to watch the September 13 S-GATS Program information session <<<

>>> Click here to view slides from the September 13 S-GATS Program information session <<<

Overview

The Tufts CTSI seeks proposals for innovative and collaborative projects aimed at advancing the science of translation. Applicants are expected to help identify translational methods and processes relevant across a range of diseases, treatments, and interventions. The key objective of the projects should be to develop methodological innovations and/or produce crosscutting solutions for common and persistent challenges to reduce, remove, or bypass significant bottlenecks across the continuum of translation. The application process involves an initial submission of a competitive Letter of Intent (LOI), due on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, and, if invited, a full proposal, due on Thursday, December 22, 2022.

Award Information

Number of Awards: Up to eight projects (depending on award budgets)

Award Ceiling: $50,000 in direct costs only. Cost sharing is not allowed.

Project Period: May 1, 2023 through April 30, 2024. Project extensions are not allowed.

Key Dates:

  • Letter of intent submission period begins: Monday, September 5, 2022
  • Information webinars: Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 4:30 PM and Thursday, September 15, 2022 at 8:30 AM. Register at sgats@tuftsmedicine.org.
  • Translational science consultations: through Tuesday, October 4, 2022 (by appointment only). Sign up at sgats@tuftsmedicine.org.
  • Competitive Letter of Intent due: Wednesday, October 5, 2022 at 11:59 PM
  • Invitation to submit full proposal: by Monday, November 14, 2022
  • Proposal due: Thursday, December 22, 2022 at 11:59 PM (by invitation only)
  • Award announcement: March 2022

About the Program

Established in 2022, the Small Grants to Advance Translational Science (S-GATS) Program is a new funding opportunity of Tufts CTSI supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), one of 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NCATS has the unique charge of examining the translational research ecosystem at a systems level to determine where common pitfalls exist in the translational process and developing innovative solutions that will benefit research across a range of diseases and conditions. It supports a national network of medical research institutions, including Tufts CTSI, to help enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of all translational research known as translational science.

As defined by NCATS, a key tenet of translational science is to understand common causes of inefficiency and failure in translational research projects (e.g., incorrect predictions of the toxicity or efficacy of new drugs, lack of data interoperability, ineffective clinical trial recruitment). NCATS believes that many of these causes are the same across targets, diseases, and therapeutic areas. Therefore, advances in translational science will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of translational research to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. To help guide not only investigators but everyone who enables, facilitates, and supports translation, NCATS identified seven initial principles of effective translational science. They are:

  • Prioritize Initiatives that Address Unmet Needs: Pursue scientific goals that address unmet scientific, patient, or population health needs
  • Produce Crosscutting Solutions for Common and Persistent Challenges: Develop innovations that address challenges across multiple research initiatives, projects, or diseases and conditions
  • Emphasize Creativity and Innovation: Focus on increasing the impact of research through innovations in research processes, structures and methods
  • Leverage Cross-Disciplinary Team Science: Engage all relevant expertise across disciplines, fields and professions to produce research that advances translation
  • Enhance the Efficiency and Speed of Translational Research: Implement evidence-informed practices and scientific and operational innovations to accelerate the pace of translational research.
  • Utilize Boundary-crossing Partnerships: Leverage cross-disciplinary research teams and patient and/or community engagement to advance translation.
  • Use Bold and Rigorous Research Approaches: Develop research questions and implement transformative approaches that match the complexity of the translational problem being addressed.

Learn more about NCATS-identified scientific and operational principles here. Watch its I Am Translational Science video series here.

In alignment with the mission and priorities of NCATS, the S-GATS Program seeks proposals for high-impact translational science projects that focus on building the evidence base for effective scientific and operational approaches in translational research. The program is designed to advance cross-disciplinary team science, with the goal of helping research teams identify generalizable principles and scalable solutions that can be applied across a range of diseases, research initiatives, and translational processes. It prioritizes actionable research that addresses unmet scientific needs and/or improves health outcomes of the community and advances health equity for traditionally marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented populations. Consistent with the NCATS mission and local priorities, the program funds translational and clinical science projects across the full translational spectrum (T.5 to T4) rather than basic discovery or translational research. Learn more about translational science spectrum here.

All applicants should have a preliminary hypothesis underlying the research and a defined plan and timeline for future dissemination and/or implementation activities. In support of collective action for health improvement, they should also have an integrated strategy for engaging stakeholders relevant to their proposed projects. Stakeholder engagement should be broadly conceived to support inclusion in one or more parts of the research process and dissemination and implementation efforts.

Applicant Eligibility

Applications must designate a Principal Investigator (PI) with a primary appointment or position at one of the Tufts CTSI partner or collaborator organizations listed below. Medical residents, fellows, post-doctoral fellows, or medical students are not eligible to serve as PIs. However, they may be included in key personnel along with collaborators not affiliated with Tufts CTSI.

Eligible Sites:

  • Action for Boston Community Development
  • Asian Community Development Corporation
  • Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
  • Asian Women for Health
  • Authentic Caribbean Foundation
  • Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
  • Brandeis University
  • Broad Institute
  • Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation
  • Cooperative Services Inc. Support & Development
  • Critical Path Institute
  • Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center
  • Greater Boston Section of the National Council of Negro Women
  • Health Resources in Action
  • Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies
  • Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
  • Lahey Hospital and Medical Center
  • Maine Medical Center
  • Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation
  • Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Medical Legal Partnership, Boston
  • Museum of Science, Boston
  • New England Quality Care Alliance
  • Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • Northeastern University
  • Phillips Research
  • Point32Health
  • RAND Corporation
  • Rounding The Bases, Inc.
  • The Jackson Laboratory
  • The People’s Academy
  • Tufts Medical Center/Tufts Medicine
  • Tufts University
  • Union Capital Boston
  • Urban College of Boston

Project Eligibility

Applicants must propose projects that are focused on advancing translational science and not just be translational in nature. They must seek to understand a scientific or operational principle underlying a step of the translational process, thereby laying the scientific foundation for improvements in translational efficiency that will accelerate the realization of interventions that improve human health. Although critically important, projects focused on crossing a particular step of the translational process for a particular target or disease, are not allowed. This represents a marked change from the now-discontinued Pilot Studies Program that primarily supported translational research projects aimed at establishing preliminary data needed to apply for a larger federally-funded grant.

Proposed budgets must be between $25,000 and $50,000 in direct costs. The projects must be fully supported with the Tufts CTSI funds awarded through the S-GATS funding mechanism. They cannot be add-ons to a parent project supported by another funding source. Cost sharing, including the use of supplemental funding or third party in-kind contributions, is not allowed. If research space is provided by the institution for inpatient and or outpatient participant evaluations, the applicant will be asked to describe the space, its potential availability, and if applicable, hourly or overnight rates to be charged to support research activities.

If proposed, clinical trial activities must not go beyond the end of Phase IIB with the exception of Phase III clinical trials for treatment of rare diseases. Any research projects or research activities that involve a foreign component, as defined by NIH (e.g., performing a specific element or segment of a project outside of the U.S., with assistance of a collaborator employed by a foreign entity or a non-U.S. vendor, and/or with support or resources from a foreign entity), must be disclosed during the LOI stage and be well-justified.

Examples of Projects that May Be Supported

  • Clinical Research Efficiency-focused Projects: Development or validation of feasibility of new or existing effective research methodology, procedures, and collaborative approaches to tackle scientific uncertainties and operational inefficiencies that limit the ability to test new treatments in humans and deliver interventions to patients more quickly.
  • Data Science, Informatics, and/or Artificial/Machine Intelligence-focused Projects: Development of applications and/or integration of data science, informatics and/or artificial intelligence/machine learning-based analytic tools to make data more meaningful, open, and accessible to the scientific community and/or to provide rational, informatics-based guidance to physicians and patients to make more informed care decisions or to achieve better medical outcomes. Data sources and applications that will be considered include (but are not limited to) improved analysis of medical imaging, electronic medical records data to improve medication adherence, and development and evaluation of clinical decision support tools.
  • Dissemination and Implementation Science-focused Projects: Development of tools, methods, processes, and training paradigms or making a meaningful contribution to the existing body of generalizable knowledge to inform how innovations, scientific discoveries, and evidence-based interventions can be successfully and widely disseminated for use by the scientific community and/or adopted, integrated, and maintained in health care delivery and community settings, with a particular emphasis on health equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Predictive Efficacy and Toxicology-focused Projects: Development of model systems for drug and toxicity testing that more closely resemble human physiology to prevent patients from being exposed to potentially harmful or ineffective candidate drugs in clinical studies and/or to provide useful information about the basic biology of disease and serve as improved testing platforms for predicting toxicity or other physiological processes or evaluating environmental chemicals.
  • De-risking Therapeutic Development-focused Projects: Development of technologies and/or development and management of drug discovery programs to reduce the risks, time delays and costs of advancing basic research breakthroughs into treatments.
  • Network Capacity Building-focused Projects: Development and implementation of collaborative approaches across disciplines and research sectors to reduce, remove or bypass significant translational bottlenecks and/or identify and fast-track particularly promising translational research projects using broadly-applicable, inclusive, and equitable strategies.

Application Process

The inaugural S-GATS Program will accept full proposals by invitation only. To be considered, all applicants are required to submit a competitive LOI presenting a concise and thought-out description of their ultimate proposal. The LOI should describe the project and its proposed methods of study in adequate detail so that their merit may be assessed. Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with the S-GATS Program support team prior to submission of the initial LOI. Sign up for a virtual consultation at sgats@tuftsmedicine.org.

How to Apply

The 2023 S-GATS Program has a two-step application process that includes a competitive LOI and, if invited, a final proposal. Both must be submitted via Tufts CTSI’s REDCap online submission portal. Incomplete and late submissions will not be accepted.

  • Competitive Letter of Intent: To be considered for a full proposal, applicants are required to provide a research synopsis, specify the translational problem to be addressed, and detail the composition of the research team. The LOI narrative should provide a well-communicated summary of the proposed study, including a statement of the translational relevance and significance, a description of potential benefits, a list of specific aims, and an overview of research procedures. The LOI should total no more than two pages in length. Applicants must use Arial at a font size of 11 points and keep all margins at 0.5 inches. The LOI submission should also include a biosketch of the Lead Principal Investigator. LOI submissions will be accepted starting Monday, September 5, 2022 through Wednesday, October 5, 2022. View LOI instructions, download templates, and apply here.
  • Proposal, by invitation: All LOI applicants will be notified whether or not their projects are chosen to move forward to the proposal stage and provided a summary of the reviewer comments. For applicants submitting full proposals, detailed proposal instructions and program-specific form templates will be available in REDCap upon invitation before or on Monday, November 14, 2022. Full proposals must be submitted by no later than Thursday, December 22, 2022.

Letter of Intent Review

The LOI review process is designed to help identify the most promising and scientifically sound translational science projects to move forward and to support further project development. All compete LOIs will be assessed and scored by at least two scientific peer reviewers for their alignment with the program objectives, translational relevance, scientific rationale and rigor, feasibility, potential for impact, and clarity. Successful projects will be selected in consultation with the Tufts CTSI Research Collaboration Team,  Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design (BERD) Center, Dissemination and Implementation Core, Evaluation and Continuous Improvement, Stakeholder and Community Engagement, and Integrating Underrepresented Populations in Research Programs, as appropriate.

Proposal Review and Funding Decisions                                                

All complete proposals will be assessed and scored on the basis of the following criteria: significance, innovation, approach, team and organizational environment, and future plans. Key funding considerations include the overall impact score, project feasibility, clear strategy and intentional focus on health equity, budget justification, available funds, and distribution across the translational spectrum. Please learn more about the application review criteria and funding decision here.

Questions?

We are here to help. Please contact us at sgats@tuftsmedicine.org with any questions or to schedule a virtual translational science consultation.

Aviva Must, PhD, Director of the Small Grants to Advance Translational Science Program

Daniel Jay, PhD, Associate Director of the Small Grants to Advance Translational Science Program

Nadia Prokofieva, MSSc, Senior Project Manager