Research at the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training

The K-CART Discovery Grants Request for Proposals 2011

More on Discovery Grants and previous grantees

This competition is now closed.

1) Purpose

The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training announces a call for proposals for Pilot Discovery Grant Awards. These awards are an internal grant mechanism available to KU investigators who are associated with the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training. The purpose is to encourage researchers to conduct innovative pre-clinical or clinical pilot studies related to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in preparation for submitting competitive grant applications to federal agencies or substantial applications to private foundations. This initiative is made possible by through funding for the Autism initiative from the University of Kansas and University of Kansas Medical Center administration.

2) Research Objectives and Eligibility

This competition is open to KU and KUMC faculty/faculty equivalent Investigators. Pilot projects must be directly relevant to the mission of the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (i.e. responding to the growing numbers of children identified with autism by promoting high quality research on the etiology, nature, and management of ASD) and the Life Span Institute (i.e. creating solutions to the problems of human and community development, disability, and aging). Pilot projects addressing early screening and prevention of ASD are encouraged. Investigations are also desirable for approaches to the amelioration of ASD that are consistent with more basic research about the etiology and nature of ASD and which show promise toward having beneficial effects beyond the domain(s) to which they originally were directed (e.g., social interventions whose beneficial effects are also manifest in cognitive function).

Applications that represent excursions into promising new areas of research and for which any existing grant funds are not available are encouraged. Applications from individuals who are in the process of developing a research program are strongly encouraged. Proposals from investigators and associates with disabilities, women, under-represented ethnic and racial minorities are especially encouraged.

The K-CART Discovery Grant Awards are intended to support original empirical research. This grant mechanism is not intended to support non-research clinical interventions, demonstration projects, training programs, literature reviews, manuscript preparation, conferences, or workshops. The goal is to fund cutting-edge research that will advance scientific knowledge and contribute to the overall competitiveness of the K-CART investigators. Priority will be given to applications that propose innovative, multidisciplinary research, and which are most likely to lead to extramural grant support.

3) Application Procedure

Applications are due to Jessica Black-Magnussen by 5 p.m. on August 15, 2011 ( Applications submitted after that date will not be considered. Applicants must submit an electronic version of their application and one hard copy to Jessica in the LSI central office (1000 Sunnyside, Room 1052). Award decisions will be made by September 15, 2011.

Modified PHS 398 templates (word format) are available from Jessica Black-Magnussen upon request. Applicants should complete the application forms as though they were applying for an R03 Small Grant; however, there is a five-page limit on Research Plan sections (a) through (d).

The following PHS forms (rev 4/06) should be completed:

Face Page (form page 1 only) Abstract (form page 2 and form page 2 continued) Budget (form page 4 only); please include a brief budget justification Four-page NIH formatted Biographical Sketch for each Key Personnel In addition, please complete a modified Table of Contents form (available from Jessica)

Research Plan (The following section headings should be used) (a-d five page limit)

(a) Introduction - Statement of Problem and Life Span Institute Mission Relevance

(b) Specific Hypotheses

(c) Background and Significance

(d) Research Design and Methods

(e) Human Subjects--if applicable

(f) Vertebrate Animals--if applicable

(g) Literature Cited (2 page limit)

Appendices: limited to three reprints, preprints, or other essential documentation.

Period of Awards Awards will be for 12-24 months beginning as early as October 1, 2011, and are non-renewable. (No-Cost Extension is possible.)

Number and Amount of Awards

Two to three K-CART Discovery Grants will be made in 2011, ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the merits of the proposal, demonstrated need, feasibility of accomplishing a significant piece of work with the requested funds, and availability of funds. Only those proposals ranked in the outstanding or excellent categories will be considered for funding.

Specific Instructions Regarding Budget and Allowable Costs

Applicants must provide a detailed budget and brief budget justification. Salaries for part-time research staff (or term appointments) and student assistants, small equipment, consumable laboratory supplies, travel necessary for carrying out research, subject reimbursements, research computer software and supplies, and other miscellaneous costs necessary for carrying out the proposed research are allowable. Examples of costs that are NOT allowable are investigator or co-investigator faculty salaries (tenure or research track), travel expenses to and from conferences (including registration fees, hotels & meals), subscriptions, books, office renovation or equipment and furnishings, local meals with guests, and other non-research costs.

K-CART Discovery Grant Awards are not intended to supplement ongoing grant awards of any kind. However, a spin-off project growing out of a previously funded grant may be allowable. If an applicant is proposing to use remaining funds from another source (e.g., a small grant from an advocacy organization or private foundation), the proposed budget must show what each source of funding would cover.

4) Review Criteria

The review criteria employed in evaluating these applications will be similar to those in evaluating NIH Small Grant (R03) applications. Five criteria will be used in evaluating proposals:

(1) scientific merit & innovation (2) responsiveness to stated criteria and mission of K-CART and the LSI (3) feasibility (4) likelihood the project will lead to external funding, and (5) investigator qualifications.

Scientific merit includes originality and innovative nature of the scientific question, approach and soundness of research design and proposed measurement system. Pilot research typically involves small samples that may preclude an adequate statistical power analysis; however, applicants will be expected to demonstrate how such preliminary findings will be interpreted, given the nature of the anticipated findings. Applicants must describe how they plan to use that information to convince an external funding review committee that findings based on a small sample is likely to be generalizable to a larger group.

Feasibility refers to ability to carry out the research described with the funds provided. Proposals that promise to do far more than can conceivably be accomplished with the limited funds provided will not fare well on this criterion.

It is very difficult to predict accurately whether a given pilot project will lead to a funded federal research grant. However, the applicant will be expected to explain her/his rationale concerning how the findings generated with the proposed K-CART Discovery Grant Award funds would logically lead reviewers to conclude that a subsequently proposed project submitted to a federal agency would likely be successful and makes sense in light of the data generated using the grant funds.

5) Evaluation Process

A Peer Review Committee will be established each year based on the nature of proposals received to ensure a competent and impartial review. The committee will consist of KU or KUMC Investigators, or LSI Center Directors. Researchers at other universities may be asked to serve as ad hoc reviewers to assure that each proposal receives an appropriate peer review.

An NIH Peer Review Scoring system will be used in which applications will be scored on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0 (Outstanding to Disapprove). Mean scores will be rank ordered and submitted to the K-CART Director, Co-Director Director, and LSI Director who will make the final determination regarding funding.

Typically, applications will be funded in ordinal sequence of priority scores. However, other factors, such as the multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of the proposal, may be involved in the final funding determination. In addition, two applications on closely related topics emanating from the same laboratory or program are unlikely to be funded in the same round even if their priority scores are ranked in close proximity.

6) Expectations of K-CART Discovery Grant Award Recipients

It is expected that the findings from this pilot research will be a basis for grant applications to federal agencies or substantial applications to private foundations. At the conclusion of their projects, recipients of funded applications will be expected to provide a brief written summary of their work and findings and to present findings to the K-CART partnering investigators at the spring or fall meeting.

7) Inquiries

Inquiries are encouraged in order to clarify procedures or priorities. Questions regarding procedures should be directed to the Committee Executive Secretary, Jessica Black-Magnussen at phone ext. 864-0597 or e-mail at; substantive questions regarding research priorities should be referred to the K-CART Director, Debra Kamps, at 913 321-3143,, or Co-Director, Matt Reese, at 913 588-5913 or LSI Director, John Colombo, at 864-4295 or


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