Request for Proposals: Derfner Foundation Faculty Research Awards

The Department of Pediatrics is pleased to announce a request for proposals for the Derfner Foundation Faculty Awards. The goal of this program is to support investigators in the Duke Children’s community who are conducting basic, clinical, or applied child health research. This RFP is targeted to faculty who do not already have significant sources of research support, including but not limited to large external funding awards or significant internal/research start-up funds. The funds supplied by this award are intended help investigators take their research to the next stage by providing resources for the development of preliminary data that will support future external grant applications.

Applications are due by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, November 1, 2022.

I. Purpose and Overview

The intent of this RFP is to support faculty investigators in the Department of Pediatrics who are at critical transition points in their careers (those applying for NIH K or first R01 awards, or investigators who are transitioning into a new area of research) and who do not already have substantial external or internal funding. Funding provided by this award is intended to provide resources for the development of pilot data that will support future external grant applications.  The contact PI must have a primary appointment in the Department of Pediatrics, although co-PI(s) may be proposed from any department.

Proposals will be chosen to receive funding of up to $40,000 (direct costs, inclusive of 15% G&A). The proposed research should be feasible within one year, and serve as a pilot project for an external grant submission. Investigators who submit an external grant application within 18 months of receipt of a Derfner Award will receive an additional $10,000 at the time of grant submission. 

In addition to funding, awardees will also be provided with research development and research navigation assistance from the department, including support for any external grant submissions related to the funded work.

Proposals should describe:

  • A clearly articulated research question
  • The clinical and/or study population of interest and any relevant model systems
  • Data required to answer the research question
  • A plan for statistical/data science support, including collaborators
  • A plan for follow-on funding applications

We plan to award up to two grants with a project duration of  1 year, each with a total budget of up to $40,000 (direct costs, inclusive of 15% G&A) + an additional $10,000 contingent upon an external grant submission; awards will be based on the following criteria:

  • Overall impact
  • Significance
  • Innovation
  • Investigators
  • Approach
  • Environment
  • Feasibility
  • Potential for future funding - The proposed pilot work should collect preliminary data or develop tools that will lead to a competitive proposal submitted to an external funding agency. All proposals must specify how data and/or resources generated by the pilot study will contribute to submission of a grant application, including specific funding opportunities.

Proposals will include the following components (see Application Procedure for more details):

  • Cover page that includes the title of the proposal, the names and affiliations of the PIs, and any collaborators, including faculty members and centers/institutes
  • Scientific Abstract (250 words max)
  • Research Proposal: 3 pages or less, formatted according to the accompanying template
  • Budget and budget justification
  • Biosketch or CV for the PI(s)

II. Details and Proposal Preparation

  • If applicants have questions regarding their eligibility (i.e., their existing research support), they should email prior to preparing their applications.
  • Required email of intent to apply deadline: October 3, 2022 via A draft title of the proposal is required along with a list of any faculty collaborators; however, please note that you do not need to send in a full letter of intent.
  • Application Submission Deadline: 11:59pm November 1, 2022 via Qualtrics (see below).
  • Proposals must conform to the page limits and formatting requirements indicated. All components listed are required.
  • Funding: Each award will consist of up to $40,000 (direct costs, inclusive of G&A) with an expected start date of January 1, 2023 and ending on December 31, 2023. An additional $10,000 in funding will be awarded upon submission of an external grant if within 18 months of the original Derfner NOA.

III. Selection Process and Review Criteria

  • Application Review: A Review Committee comprised of researchers from the Department of Pediatrics and other Duke faculty members will perform a detailed review of the applications based on the criteria listed above.
  • Potential for future funding: The proposed pilot work should collect preliminary data or develop tools that will lead to a competitive proposal submitted to an external funding agency. All proposals must specify how data and/or resources generated by the pilot study will contribute to submission of a grant application, including specific funding opportunities that the investigators plan to pursue.
  • Although not contributing to funding decisions, all IRB, animal use, and institutional approvals must be obtained (as applicable) prior to release of funds for awarded projects.

IV. Application Procedure

The Department of Pediatrics uses a Qualtrics online application portal to submit applications:

The following components must be prepared and combined into a single PDF file and uploaded in the Qualtrics survey above. The application sections are:

  • Application Form (Use the template provided below; use half inch margins, single line spacing, and Arial 11-point font)
    • Cover Page (1-page):  The title of the proposal, the names and affiliations of the PIs, and any collaborators, including faculty members and centers/institutes.
    • Scientific Abstract (250 words maximum): The abstract is a summary of the proposal for use by review committee members. Please include the project title, a brief introduction, the aims, and the expected outcomes. 
    • Research Proposal (3-page limit, including tables and figures) formatted according to the accompanying template.  This includes (see template for details):
      • Background and Significance
      • Goals
      • Specific Aims
      • Impact and Translational Potential
      • Benefit of this support to the applicant’s career path (including future grant submission plans)
    • References (please note that references do not count towards the 3-page limit and should be included at the end of the Application Form)
  • Budget with Budget Justification using PHS 398 Form Pages 4 and 5 (Page 5 is for the Budget Justification section only and you may use more pages as needed (no page limit). Please note, provide a budget and justification for up to $40,000 only. A budget for the additional $10,000 contingent upon submission of an external grant application will be requested at that time.
  • NIH Biosketches for the PI(s) (no page limit).

V. Budget Guidelines

Please note the following during budget preparation:

  • Total budget must not exceed $40,000.
  • All funds are subject to G&A of 15%  - this should be included in the budget.
  • Grant funds may be budgeted for:
    • salary support for the PI (not to exceed 10% effort)
    • salary support for students (including prorated tuition remission), post-docs and research support personnel. (Salary for research staff and students must reflect actual institutional based rates supplied to you by your grants managers or business office.)
    • travel necessary to perform the research (please note that approval for travel is subject to institutional criteria)
    • small equipment, subcontracts, research supplies and core lab costs, or
    • other purposes deemed necessary for the successful execution of the proposed project
  • Grant funds may not be budgeted for:
    • effort for post-doctoral trainees or fellows that are already on training grant equivalents
    • capital equipment
    • office supplies
    • professional education or training
    • computers or audiovisual equipment

Awarded funds must be used to conduct the proposed research. The Department of Pediatrics reserves the right to revoke funding in the event it is determined that funds were not spent in accordance with the approved proposal without prior notification and approval.

VI. Terms of the Award

  • Approvals Required Prior to Funding Start Date
    Prior to receiving funds, research involving human subjects must have appropriate approvals from the Duke IRB. If the research includes animals, the appropriate IACUC animal research forms must also be approved before the project’s start date. Failure to pursue approval and notify the Department of the outcome in the requested timeframe may result in cancellation of funding.
  • Project ExecutionInvestigators agree to submit a brief interim report (6-months after project start), a brief report at the end of the funding period, and a detailed written report 12 months after the conclusion of the funding period that includes applications for or acquisition of additional funding, submitted or published manuscripts, presentations, invention disclosures, and other outcomes. The Department may terminate and reallocate residual funds for any team failing to submit required written reports in a timely manner. Proposed aims of funded projects may be changed, added, or deleted during the funding period, pending Investigator and Department of Pediatrics review and agreement. Projects should be completed in the 12-month period; no-cost extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Requests for no-costs extensions must be emailed to 90 days prior to the end of the funding period.  For awardees who submit an external grant application within 18 months of their Derfner NOA (based upon the data acquired from their Derfner Award), please email proof of the submission in order to receive an additional $10,000 in funds.
  • Post-Award Reporting and Requirements
    The Department of Pediatrics tracks significant events resulting from the funding—information will be requested annually, starting at the completion of the funding period, until the awardees notify the department that no additional research products or significant events associated with the award are expected. Examples of significant events include:
    • Abstracts/presentations, manuscripts, published guidelines
    • Additional funding
    • Regulatory meetings and filings
    • Initiation of clinical studies
    • Improved diagnosis or treatment of disease
    • Implementation in clinical practice and community
    • Translation of models to other geographical areas
    • Translation of models to other therapeutic areas
    • Clinical outcomes in practice and communities
    • Agreements with partners and strategic collaborators to translate the research
    • Commercialization (e.g. new intellectual property, license, commercial partnerships, or start-up company)
    • Direct-to-consumer interactions (e.g. apps) 

When requested, all awardees will be expected to provide updates of publications and other successes that originated from the award and will also be required to assist in the development of a report to the Derfner Foundation. Additionally, awardees may be invited to present at Grand Rounds, the Department Research Retreat, and other venues. All manuscripts and other research products supported by these funds must include a note acknowledging the funder as the Derfner Foundation (awardees will be provided with an acknowledgment statement that should be used for all research products).