Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Grant Application Process.
Q: What is the review process for the Letters of Intent (LOI)?
A: Following receipt of the LOIs, the Scientific Evaluation Committee (SEC) Chair assigns the reviewers, based on the reviewers’ expertise. Applications are first judged for their relevance to patient safety and whether the methods that will be employed to study the primary hypothesis (i.e., that used for the power analysis) are sound. All applications are then reviewed based on specific criteria:
- Technical Merit
- Investigator Qualifications
- Budget Appropriateness
Each LOI is scored by the reviewers, and the scores are tabulated by the SEC Chair. Along with numerical scores, reviewers also provide to the SEC Chair written comments based on the review criteria. These comments are then circulated to all of the members of the SEC for further evaluation and discussion. Members of the SEC determine the highest scoring LOI’s and choose those to be invited for submission of a full proposal. Investigator’s invited for full proposal submission will be provided written feedback by the SEC that must be addressed in the full proposal.
Investigators that are not invited to submit a full proposal at this stage will receive brief feedback from the SEC if solicited.
Q: What is the review process for the full proposals?
A: Following receipt of the full proposals, the SEC Chair assigns the applications to members of the SEC based on their interest and expertise. Again, all applications are reviewed based on specific criteria:
- Technical Merit
- Investigator Qualifications
- Budget Appropriateness
Each application is scored by the reviewers, and the scores are tabulated by the SEC Chair. Along with numerical scores, reviewers also provide to the SEC Chair written comments about the applications, based on the review criteria. These comments are then circulated to all of the members of the SEC for further evaluation and discussion, if necessary. The committee members select those applications that attain the greatest priority for funding based on the reviewer scores and comments. The highest scoring applications undergo a final discussion and review at the full committee meeting during the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA Annual Meeting). The top-ranking applications are then selected for funding and presented to the APSF Executive Committee for approval. Grant awardees are announced to the public at the APSF’s Board of Directors Meeting on the Saturday of the ASA Annual Meeting. Reviewers’ comments are made available to the investigators who submitted full proposals.
Q: Many organizations look for the PI to commit a certain amount of time to a project (usually 20% effort or greater). Recognizing that different research projects will require substantially different time commitments, is there a “ballpark figure” that the review committee expects to see?
A: The amount of time devoted to different projects is variable, but in most instances, 10-30% effort (research time) is appropriate. There should be concordance between what is written in the grant and what is written in the Chairperson’s letter.
Q: Is salary support for the principal investigator permitted in the budget?
A: The revised guidelines do allow salary support (see NIH guidelines for salary lines at the US Department of Health and Human Services website): http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/salcap_summary.htm
Q: I did not see anywhere in the grant application guidelines where it states what APSF will require from grant recipients in terms of progress/final reports and/or financial reports. What will an awardee be required to provide to the APSF in terms of those items?
A: Applicants who are invited to submit a full proposal will receive further instructions which detail the APSF requirements from grant recipients. In this form, specific requirements are listed, including the following statements:
- “I will acknowledge the award of this APSF grant in any publication presenting work that results from this grant support.
- I agree to submit a written progress report six months after the starting date of this project; this report will include major changes in the research plan, if any, and a summary of data collected to date.
- I further agree to submit to APSF a written final report within two months after the end of the grant period.”
Q: Since our submitted application involves humans, do we need to submit our institutional approval to APSF before the October 1 deadline even without knowing if we are receiving an award? If so, to whom/where do we send the approval?
A: It has always been the policy of APSF to ensure that all proposals undergo evaluation by the local Investigational Review Board (IRB) before being considered for funding. This institutional review assures members of the APSF Scientific Evaluation Committee that the patients’ safety was considered and assured. A statement that the proposal was reviewed (or that it is, at a minimum, in the approval process by the local IRB), must be received by the APSF prior to the October 1 deadline. No disbursement of awarded funds will be made to any application that does not have the institutional IRB approval.
The IRB approval letter should be uploaded to the website (where the original application was submitted) as an Adobe PDF file.
Q: We are anticipating that the investigator will need to request a no-cost extension from APSF. What documentation is required? Is there a deadline for making the request? Is an institutional signature required?
A: Under extreme and rare circumstances, the applicant may submit a written request for a no-cost extension. While there are no specific deadlines for requesting these extensions, the request should be submitted prior to the originally-scheduled study end. No institutional signatures are required, but a copy of the APSF approval extension, if granted, should be forwarded to the applicant’s sponsoring institution. Please address the request letter to the Chair of the Scientific Evaluation Committee, and include the following information and supporting documentation:
- description of any deviations from the original protocol to date, and if any future deviations are anticipated;
- an explanation of the reasons for the extension request;
- a description of the actions that the investigator plans to implement in order to avoid future barriers to project completion.
Q: I have a funded study, and I have some questions about the possible need to re-budget the funds:
- What is the guideline/procedure for requesting permission to re-budget funds?
- What dollar amount or percentage of total budget would require APSF approval?
- To whom should the request be directed?
A: The procedure for requesting permission to re-budget funds is the same as the procedure for requesting a no-cost extension (see above). Please address all requests for re-budgeting in writing to the Chair of the Scientific Evaluation Committee. There is no absolute dollar amount, but if the re-budgeting request involves more than 25% of the total award, the proposal must be reviewed and approved by the Scientific Evaluation Committee.
If you have additional questions that are not answered above, please contact:
Steven K. Howard
Chairman, APSF Scientific Evaluation Committee
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Associate Professor of Anesthesia
Stanford University School of Medicine
3801 Miranda Avenue, 112A
Palo Alto, CA 94304