2021 Developmental Core Request for Applications

UNMC Chronic HIV infection and Aging in NeuroAIDS (CHAIN) Center (NIH P30 MH062261)

Developmental Core
2021 Request for Applications - Note: Application process will open November 20, 2020

The Developmental Core grant program is designed to mentor and support new investigators and new ideas in HIV/AIDS research related to effects of chronic HIV infection, co-morbidities, and aging on the central nervous system (CNS) including sex differences and viral reservoirs. 

Research must fall into NIMH Division of AIDS Research high priority categories – we suggest applicants review the NIMH DARS web site):

Applications are accepted from junior investigators and from established investigators in other fields applying their expertise to HIV/AIDS. Post-doctoral scholar applications are encouraged; however, the submission must be as co-investigator with his/her mentor. Applicants must have faculty-level appointments within the University of Nebraska system and/or a current subcontracting institution included in the CHAIN award. Applications must adhere to several criteria and will undergo a rigorous, objective review process.

Developmental grant recipients gain rapid financial support for their studies and access to many CHAIN Center core resources. The success of the Developmental Core, and continued National Institute of Mental Health funding, depends on subsequent grants and publications arising from work supported by the CHAIN Center Developmental Grants.

Applications must adhere to several criteria. Review the information in the below links. 

2021 application due date:

5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Monday, December 21, 2020

Earliest start date:  April 1, 2021

All applications will undergo a rigorous, objective review process.

Funding Objectives - Eligibility - Preferences  

DEADLINE: Monday, December 21, 2020; 5 p.m. CST

Overview/Objective: The Developmental Core grant program is designed to mentor and support new investigators and new ideas in neuroHIV research related to effects of chronic HIV infection, co-morbidities, and aging on the central nervous system (CNS) including sex differences and viral reservoirs. Research must fall into NIMH Division of AIDS Research High Priority Categories. We suggest that all applicants review these categories.

Developmental grants can be awarded for up to *$50,000 direct costs for one year. 

*An application from Scripps Research, a CHAIN sub-contracting institution, can request up to $76,250 in total costs.  Please direct any questions to Johna Belling, research administrator.

Eligibility: The CHAIN Center offers developmental grants in the above research categories to investigators who meet the below criteria. If you have any questions about these criteria, please contact us.

Credentials: To be eligible for a development grant, applicant must possess a doctoral-level degree and must have faculty-level appointment within the University of Nebraska Medical Center and/or current subcontracting institutions (University of Nebraska-Lincoln or Scripps Research) included in the CHAIN award. Post-doctoral scholar applications are encouraged; however, the submission must be as co-investigator with his/her mentor. Applicants must be capable of submitting an independent NIH "R" application.

Preferences: To meet the requirements of the NIMH, which funds the CHAIN Center, grants are awarded to applicants whose research focuses on the NIMH Division of AIDS Research High Priorities as mentioned in this RFA and in the following categories, with the first category receiving the highest preference:

  1. New investigators seeking to establish research programs in the area of neuroHIV, chronic HIV infection, aging and mental health. These are junior-level investigators who do not yet have their own NIH or similar funding.
  2. Established investigators in other disciplines who are new to neuroHIV research. One of the CHAIN Center’s goals is to foster interdisciplinary research among our members. We welcome the infusion of new ideas from specialists in other fields.
  3. Post-doctoral scholar as a co-investigator with his/her mentor.

The Developmental grants' rapid funding process helps investigators test new ideas and concepts relatively quickly and use the results to apply for larger, more competitive peer-reviewed grants.

Applicants may submit only one application per cycle. Review Grant Forms and Submission Information section for required documents and guidelines.


Core Services  

CHAIN Center Cores (Cell/Tissue/Animal, Omics, Imaging, and Therapeutics) can help applicants design the study, collect and process specimens, and even help analyze results.

Applicants are encouraged to use the cores. 

Depending on the need and available resources, developmental grant recipients can receive CHAIN Center core services at a subsidized cost; some of our services are offered at no charge.  Please contact the Center directors and Core PIs for information.

Identify a Mentor  

For junior investigators, we strongly encourage the identification of a mentor prior to development/submission of the proposal. The mentor can assist with preparing the proposal and, if funded, with the conduct and publication of the study.

For those who would like help identifying a mentor, please contact one of the following:

CHAIN Center Core Directors are also available to discuss projects and mentorship.

Grant Forms and Submission Information  

Note: Applicants may submit only one application per cycle.

Please submit the following documents (*required documents):

    • *Front Sheet
    • *NIH Form page 1 (note: signature of official signing for applicant organization not required)
    • *Applicant's NIH Biosketch with instructions
    • *Mentor's NIH Biosketch, if applicable
    • Detailed Budget (NIH format-form page 4) - Developmental grants can be awarded for up to $50,000 for one year. 
    • Budget Justification
    • *Research Proposal: divided into Specific Aims (one page), Research Strategy (Significance, Innovation, and Approach; three pages), and References. References do not count against the three pages.
    • Letters of support. Letters of support from mentors and/or collaborators are welcome. Up to two letters of support can be submitted with the application.

Convert and combine the final documents into one PDF file and email to Dr. Raj Dave, PhD before 5:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday, December 21, 2020.

Funding Requirements and Restrictions  

Developmental grants can be awarded for up to $50,000 for one year. Earliest funding start date:  April 1, 2021. 

Requirements and restrictions

    • Funds cannot be used to support tenured faculty salary.
    • Travel funds are only available for unfunded junior investigators for travel to a relevant scientific meeting to present the results of the CHAIN Center Developmental grant.
    • Developmental grants cannot support studies involving new drugs, treatments, or devices, or off-label use of a licensed drug.
    • If an awarded grant includes work with humans or animals, Institutional Animal Care Use Committee, Institutional Review Board, and/or other regulatory approvals, approvals must be submitted to the CHAIN Center grant administrator before awarded funds may be spent. 
    • Awardees are responsible for working with their department grants administrator to monitor and manage funds available/spent on this award.
    • All awardees must generate written progress reports: first report due six months after start date; also, a report for the CHAIN Center annual report to NIH. Submit reports to Dr. Raj Dave, PhD.
    • Awardees are required to present the grant progress at a regular CHAIN meeting.
    • As part of their grants, awardees must provide documentation of publications and peer-reviewed funding that result from their award. They are also required to cite CHAIN Center support in publications and presentations that are generated by or related to research performed using CHAIN Center Developmental funds. See CHAIN Helpful Tools page for suggested wording.

Direct and indirect costs: The budget should list direct costs only. If the application is funded, the UNMC CHAIN Center will pay for indirect costs (overhead) per NIH guidelines. 

Duration: Developmental grants awarded by the UNMC CHAIN Center are funded for up to one calendar year from the award date. If you have questions, please contact us.

Competitive awards: If the developmental grant has been awarded and is currently within the award period, awardee may apply for a one-year supplement up to the maximum amount listed above ($50,000). Supplemental applications will be evaluated on the basis of scientific progress to date and the potential for publications and independent grant funding beyond those of the originally funded project. Supplemental applications will be competitively reviewed along with new applications received for the same funding cycle. The same procedures, award amounts, and due dates apply for both new and supplemental applications.

Fund management and other responsibilities of successful applicants:  Successful applicants have several responsibilities, including fund management. Please see the Fund Management and Responsibilities section or contact us if you have any questions.

Regulatory Approvals  

If the developmental grant application requires approval by an Institutional Animal Care Use Committee, Institutional Review Board, or other regulatory approvals, please note on front sheet. Approval is not needed at the time of submission; however, if the application is funded, awardee will not be allowed to spend the award until a copy of the approval notice(s) is received by Johna Belling, grants administrator.

If a supplemental grant is awarded, awardee must renew these regulatory approvals per awardee's institution's requirements and send copies of the renewal notices to Johna Belling, grants administrator.

Grant Evaluation  

All applications are evaluated on a number of criteria, including investigator eligibility, scientific merit, relevance, and potential for generating subsequent publications and funding.

UNMC CHAIN Center Developmental Core grant applications are evaluated by experienced reviewers. Reviewers are selected based on expertise and lack of conflict of interest. These reviewers rate each application on a number of criteria, including the applicant's eligibility and the application's scientific merit, relevance to neuroHIV research, chronicity, aging, and potential to generate subsequent grants and publications. After review, the Developmental Core Director and CHAIN Center Directors select the top applications and forward these to the NIMH program officer for final approval.

Scientific merit: Each application is reviewed for its innovation, feasibility, and potential contribution to the current body of knowledge (NIMH priorities).

Relevance: Developmental grant applications must address an aspect of current neuroHIV research related to aging and mental health as defined by the NIMH High Priority Areas that have yet to be studied in depth or propose a new concept. Studies will be considered in virtually any area of basic science, clinical, behavioral, or public health research.

Use of CHAIN Resources: We encourage applicants to use services from our CHAIN Center Cores when appropriate for the application, though use of CHAIN Center Cores is not required. In addition, many of the CHAIN investigators have animal and/or cell culture systems that may be used in collaboration with Developmental awards, via samples or data from such studies.

Human Subject research: For studies on human subjects, data or samples from human subjects, we encourage the use of the UNMC HIV program. Please contact Prof. Susan Swindells, MBBS, Medical Director of the UNMC HIV clinic and CHAIN Center Development Core Director for information and assistance.

Potential: The UNMC CHAIN Center is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH). Our continued funding requires proof of our overall contribution to neuroHIV research. Consequently, each grant application is evaluated on its potential to generate subsequent publications and peer-reviewed funding.

Notification:  Applicants are typically notified of the decision within two months of the submission deadline. 

Junior faculty members whose studies are not funded are strongly encouraged to work with their CHAIN Center mentor and submit a revised application in a future funding cycle. Mentors are available to senior investigators upon request.

Publications and Presentations  

If studies funded by the UNMC CHAIN Center Developmental Core result in presentations, abstracts, and/or publications, please remember to acknowledge the CHAIN Center grant (P30 MH062261). For suggested wording, please visit CHAIN Helpful Tools page.

A PDF file of your published papers/abstracts should be emailed to Dr. Raj Dave, PhD.

To include the CHAIN logo in your presentations or web site, please contact Dr. Raj Dave, PhD (402-836-9717) for a low and/or high resolution copy.

If you need additional information, please contact us.

Independent Funding  

If you receive independent NIH or equivalent institutional funding for a project that is currently funded by a CHAIN Center Developmental grant, congratulations!


Please notify the CHAIN Center Developmental Core immediately so that funds allocated to your grant can be returned to the CHAIN Center. NIH regulations prohibit simultaneous funding.

Fund Management and Responsibilities  

Developmental grant recipients are responsible for managing their projects' funding.

Awardees are responsible for working with their departmental fund manager to manage the award. If any funds are left over at the end of the award period, funds will be returned to the Developmental Core. Overspending is not allowed. Also, see Independent Funding section. 

Payments: If awardee is based at UNMC, a cost center number will be established for the developmental grant. If awardee is not based at UNMC, a subcontract will be set up with that institution. Awardee's department's fund manager will be the best source of information for dealing with the subcontract.

If you have any questions, please contact us.


Developmental Core Contact Information

CHAIN Center Directors
Prof. Shilpa Buch, PhD

Prof. Howard Fox, MD, PhD

Developmental Core Director
Prof. Susan Swindells, MBBS

Project Coordinator

Dr. Raj Dave, PhD

Grants Administrator
Johna Belling