We would like to tell you about two new technology development initiatives recently approved by our Advisory Council. These programs are part of an ongoing effort that we’ve previously described to facilitate early stage, investigator-initiated work to create or improve tools for biomedical research.
Developing and providing access to technologies that enable biomedical research is a high priority for NIGMS, as expressed in our 2015 strategic plan. Historically, support for technology development has generally been coupled to using the technology to answer a biomedical research question. Although in the later stages of technology development this coupling is often useful, in the early stages it can hinder exploration of innovative ideas that could ultimately have a big impact on research.
We think the two initiatives briefly described below will stimulate early stage technology research and development by allowing scientists to focus on making the technology work before they begin to apply those tools to biomedical research questions.
Exploratory Research for Development of New Technologies: This program will support modest 2-year R21 grants aimed at figuring out how to develop a new technology or radically improve an existing one. Projects will be high-risk and have no preliminary data or immediate biomedical applications. Projects should identify the right approaches to take in developing the technologies further.
Focused Technology Development: This program will support R01 grants that are entirely focused on the development of an emerging technology with a strong potential to impact biomedical research. The program will not allow inclusion of a significant biomedical research problem because the technology will not be ready for that until after the project is over. These grants will be renewable only once.
We will be communicating with you about these initiatives and how they fit into the larger technology development landscape as they are rolled out.
If you have questions or comments about our plans, please email Doug.