Science of Wellness Initiative – Catalyst Seed Grant

The Science of Wellness Initiative (SWI) – Catalyst Seed Grant (CSG) program, which is an initiative of the Provost's Office, provides funds to explore creative, diverse research opportunities in the science of wellness that have strong potential to develop into larger, externally funded research programs.

Grants of up to $80,000 of total funding, as appropriate to the proposed research, are available through this program. The program is expected to conduct funding competitions over the next several years. Augmentation of the grants by the Colleges and Departments, as appropriate to the discipline, is allowed. The CSG is part of the broader goal of the University to position itself as a global leader in the advancement of the new era of human-centered, data-driven healthcare, while prioritizing our commitment to the ethical and equitable treatment of all people by identifying novel implementation strategies. Success will require the integration of efforts from across the broader Notre Dame intellectual community.

BACKGROUND

Much of medicine and healthcare today is predicated on a one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosing, managing, and curing illness. This approach produces inefficiencies that negatively affect patient outcomes and, at the same time, increased costs. These inefficiencies impact the health of all, but particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

Exciting proofs of principle for data-driven, personalized means of treatment and prevention are emerging at a steady rate, but they have not yet revolutionized healthcare. Gaps remain in the science underpinning these breakthroughs and technological and social barriers to clinical translation persist. Patient and physician buy-in are also necessary for these technologies to succeed, but beliefs and behaviors are slow to change. Questions grow about the extent to which these advances will exacerbate the already alarming health disparities between the wealthy and the poor. The broad-scale delivery of transformational new practices to patients also faces challenges inherent in how healthcare is organized, operated, and funded.

Notre Dame's SWI aims to translate the potential of personalized care and data analytics into measurable improvements in wellness and enhanced quality of life. To accomplish this vision, the SWI both:

  1. Sponsors fundamental and applied research that optimizes the potential of data-driven approaches to the enhancement of individual wellness; and
  2. Works with partners to translate the fruits of this research to better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness.

The SWI is built on two motivating principles:

  1. Scientific and technical excellence to identify and characterize those factors that translate to wellness; and
  2. Commitment to a set of shared values, including dignity, compassion, accessibility, affordability, accountability, transparency, inclusively, quality, and innovation.

Because it occupies a unique place in the American academy, Notre Dame is well-poised to address the science of wellness holistically, thereby bringing value to health-care consumers and providers alike.

The activities of the SWI are guided by a matrix of scholarly intellectual drivers and challenges that span fields and problem areas. The matrix promotes advances in wellness that reflect physiological, psychological, technological, economic, ethical, business, legal, architectural, and policy perspectives, and that operate on different scales, including environmental, societal, organizational, individual, cellular, and molecular. It motivates a broad and deep program of academic research and clinical collaborations that are scientifically grounded, translation-focused, and consonant with building new competencies in core areas that determine individual wellness.

PRIORITIES

The projects supported by this grant program are expected to help the University assert a compelling, distinctive, and meaningful role in national and global efforts in the science of wellness. Applicants are encouraged to envision novel applications of their work and to develop partnerships with others on campus and elsewhere. A successful project funded by a SWI Catalyst Seed Grant is expected to position the research team for subsequent competitive extramural funding or other forms of support (including partnerships and investments external to the University) that will continue and accelerate the work supported by the CSG.

PROPOSAL REVIEW CRITERIA

  • Alignment with the themes of the SWI.
  • Novelty: The proposed work should open a new line of inquiry not previously explored with prior funding or should reflect a significant new approach or collaborative effort to addressing a challenging research problem.
  • Excellence/Rigor: The program of research, scholarship, or creative endeavor must be of the highest quality. It is expected that the outcomes of this project will bring recognition to the researcher(s) and the University.
  • Mission Fit: Projects should support the University’s Catholic mission.
  • Collaboration: Preference will be given to collaborative projects.
  • Qualifications of Project Personnel: The committee will consider the ability of the researcher(s) to carry out the proposed project based on the record of past work and/or evidence of future promise.
  • Budget: All funding requests will be evaluated on their level of appropriateness in relation to the proposed research.
  • Clear potential for translation to applied use.
  • Potential for subsequent extramural funding: The proposal should include commentary on the funding landscape for the topic area (federal programs and/or potential partnerships with private organizations).
  • Diversity: When appropriate, proposal will be evaluated on the extent to which the proposed work reflects and incorporates/addresses diversity in a broad sense, including diverse disciplines as well as gender, ethnic/racial, socio-economic, and other kinds of diversity of the research team and proposed research participants.

ELIGIBILITY

Full-time regular members of the University of Notre Dame faculty, including tenured and tenure-track faculty, research faculty, library faculty, and special professional faculty, are eligible to serve as Principal Investigator (PI) on proposals to the program. Research fellows and visiting faculty cannot serve as PIs but are encouraged to join teams led by eligible faculty.

REVIEW PROCESS

SWI Catalyst Seed Grants will be awarded through a two-step review process:

1. CONCEPT PAPER REVIEW

The first step is a review of concept papers of two (2) pages in length or less. These papers should contain the following items:

  1. Project title.
  2. The name and email address of all PIs with the lead PI listed first.
  3. An outline of the project that (i) defines the problem, (ii) explains why the problem is important in the context of the science of wellness, (iii) summarizes key prior work (if any) on the problem and the limitations of that work that motivate continued effort, (iv) describes the proposed research or clinical work, (v) outlines metrics for judging the degree of progress on a solution, and (vi) provides an approximate project budget including any budget augmentation provided by Colleges and Departments.

The concept paper submission should be a single PDF document with naming convention of “<LEAD PI NETID>_CSG Concept_<N>_<YEAR>.pdf” to intprogs@nd.edu. If the same lead PI is submitting more than one full proposal, the digit N should be used to distinguish the submissions; otherwise the digit N may be omitted.

The SWI Catalyst Seed Grant proposal review committee will read each submitted concept paper and invite submission of a full proposal for a subset of the concept papers. Feedback on these decisions will be provided. The committee may, if warranted, recommend discussions and/or potential collaborations between teams that are working in related and complementary ways.

2. FULL PROPOSAL REVIEW

Full proposals will be confidentially reviewed by a panel of scholars chosen from faculty of all Colleges and Schools. The panel will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Research, who will make the final decisions regarding funding.

All phases of the review process will conform to existing conflict of interest policies; review committee members with a current or recent research collaboration with a proposal team member will recuse themselves from review of such concept papers and proposals.

BUDGET REQUESTS

Grants from this program may support the following categories of expenditures:

  • Up to one calendar year of graduate research assistant and post-doctoral scholar stipends and benefits.
  • Undergraduate student support.
  • Partial summer salary for faculty (up to one-ninth of academic year salary for faculty on nine-month appointments and up to one-twelfth of annual salary for faculty on twelve-month appointments).
  • Equipment and supplies necessary for the research.
  • Payment to human subjects.
  • Research travel for conduct of the proposed effort.

The following expenditures will not be supported by grant funds:

  • Faculty academic year course reduction or academic year salary.
  • Travel for the purpose of presenting research results or attendance at conferences.
  • Library acquisitions.
  • Book or article publication costs.

Proposers requesting support in categories not mentioned above (e.g., sub-awards to collaborating organizations outside of the University) must carefully describe and justify the expense.

Proposals requesting support for ongoing research projects funded by another sponsor and/or projects in the final stages of completion will not be considered.

KEY DATES

  • August 21, 2018: SWI-CSG open for applications.
  • August 24, 2018: Prospective proposers’ meeting.
  • September 14, 2018: Concept papers due by 5:00 p.m. EST.
  • October 1, 2018: Concept paper review process completed and lead PIs notified of recommendation regarding full proposal submission.
  • November 20, 2018: Full proposals due by 5:00 p.m. EST.
  • December 14, 2018: Lead PIs notified of the results of the review process.
  • January 1, 2019: Funded projects start date

GRANT PERIOD

The grant period is one year. A one year, no-cost extension may be approved with satisfactory progress on the project.

FULL PROPOSAL CONTENT AND FORMATTING

Because the review panel will contain members from across the University, applicants should write the proposal in clear, non-technical language suitable for a general audience.

If selected to move forward after the concept paper review, lead PIs must submit a proposal that includes the following items in the order listed:

  1. Cover page with the following information: proposal title, name of program (“SWI Catalyst Seed Grant”), and the name, Department and/or center/institute affiliation, phone number, and email address for each listed investigator (with the lead PI listed first).
  2. Abstract of the proposed project (one page maximum).
  3. Description of the proposed project (five pages maximum):
    • The objective of the project.
    • Background, previous work, and/or motivation as appropriate.
    • The project approach and methods.
    • The anticipated outcomes.
    • The anticipated time schedule.
  4. Discussion of how the project will address program priorities (i.e., SWI themes, excellence/rigor, novelty, collaboration, and potential for translation; one page maximum).
  5. A statement that explains the relationship between the proposed project and existing sponsored research projects and/or projects with pending proposals for extramural support.
  6. Description of any project budget augmentation (e.g., cost-sharing) from the proposers’ Department(s) and/or College(s) or School(s).
  7. Budget and budget justification:
    • Please use the interactive excel budget template. For any questions, please review the budget template directions.
    • Itemize and justify equipment purchase necessary to the project.
    • Justify any proposed travel.
    • List budget cost-sharing as a separate line item.
  8. Current and pending grant support:
    • List all current and pending proposals.
    • If applicable, list startup/capitalization and discretionary funds available to the PIs and other faculty participants.
  9. Current curriculum vitae (two pages maximum) for each faculty member listed on the cover sheet as an investigator. CVs for external collaborators may be included if integral to the proposal. If post-doctoral scholars, graduate students, and/or undergraduates are included in the project as collaborators, describe their qualifications using one page or less for all such collaborators.
  10. For projects involving human subjects, a human subjects protocol plan that includes statements regarding the eligible population of subjects, the subject recruitment strategy, the data to be collected and the means of collection, the risks, and the data management and data security strategy to be used.

The submission should be a single PDF document with naming convention of “<LEAD PI NETID>_CSG Proposal_<N>_<YEAR>.pdf” emailed to intprogs@nd.edu. If the same lead PI is invited to submit more than one full proposal, the digit N should be used to distinguish the submissions; otherwise the digit may be omitted. Proposals that do not comply with format and content guidelines may be rejected without review.

ACCEPTANCE CONDITIONS

In accepting an SWI-CSG award, the awardee agrees to:

  • Conform to established practices and procedures concerning sponsored program activity.
  • Submit a final report to Notre Dame Research no later than three months after the end date of the award. The report should summarize the activities funded by the award, list the significant results achieved, and list any press coverage related to the project. It should also include reprints or preprints of papers arising from the research project that have been published, have been submitted, or are in preparation.
  • Act in accordance with the policy that all permanent equipment purchased under a SWI-CSG is the property of the University unless otherwise specified when the grant is approved.
  • Awards will be contingent upon approval of any protocols for research involving the use of live vertebrate animals, recombinant DNA molecules, and/or human subjects. Please obtain guidelines and policies affecting these types of projects from Notre Dame Research Compliance.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?

To view frequently asked questions about the Initiative, visit our SWI-CSG FAQs page.

For information on the SWI Catalyst Seed Grant program, please contact Neal Wozniak, Advisor to the Vice President for Research. For general questions on any of the internal grant programs offered through Notre Dame Research, contact intprogs@nd.edu.