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Research Request for Applications and Program Announcements

Learn more about the available VA awards and funding mechanisms.

Deadlines, submission cycles and program announcements are available on the United States Department of Veterans Affairs websites below or contact the Pre-Award Administrator for information.

Merit Review Award

The VA Office of Research and Development’s (VA-ORD) primary intramural funding mechanism is the Merit Review award. Merit Review awards fund eligible VA investigators (both M.D. and Ph.D.) whose proposals have been approved for submission by the local Research and Development (R&D) Committee to the VA Central Office. This award is similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 and requires a similar depth of study design and preliminary data. If funding is awarded, the principal investigator must agree to at least a 5/8ths VA-paid appointment (i.e., contribute 62.5 percent work effort to the VA).
 

March and September submission cycles for eligibility to apply as PI or MPI for Merit Review awards to these services; an investigator must be a VA-paid clinician with an appropriate doctoral degree, or a non-clinician (Ph.D.) applicant endorsed by the VA Houston R&D Committee and who has been granted eligibility by VA Central Office. Some BLR&D and CSR&D program announcements require an accepted Letter of Intent (LOI) or waiver request, which are due three-four months prior to the submission deadline. 

For more information on the BLR&D/CSR&D program, including non-clinician eligibility, partial off-site waiver requests, LOIs, and application submission timelines contact Dana Boykins or Christine Eriks.

June and December submission cycles for eligibility to apply as PI or MPI for a Merit Review or Investigator Initiated Research (IIR) to this service, an investigator must be a VA-paid clinician with an appropriate doctoral degree, or a non-clinician (Ph.D.) investigator must have an accepted Intent to Submit (ITS). ITSs are typically due one-two months prior to the submission deadline.

For additional information or for an HSR&D submission timeline, contact Katherine Bay.

June and December submission cycles for eligibility to apply as PI or MPI for a Merit Review to this service; March and September submission cycles for eligibility to apply as PI for a Small Projects award (SPiRE) to this service, a VA M.D. or Ph.D. investigator must have an accepted Letter of Intent or Pre-Application. LOIs and Pre-Applications are typically due one month prior to the submission deadline and are required for resubmissions. In addition, non-VA investigators must include an Associate Chief of Staff for Research support letter with their LOI. 

For more information on the RR&D program, partial off-site waiver requests, LOIs, Pre-Applications, and application submission timelines contact Dana Boykins or Christine Eriks.

Cooperative Studies Programs (CSP)

The Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program is a division of VA Research and Development that is responsible for the planning, funding, and conducting of large multi-center clinical trials and epidemiologic studies in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Read about the largest Cooperative Studies Program study, Million Veteran Program (MVP), and watch a video overview.

For more information, visit the CSP national website.

Director: Panagiotis Kougias, M.D.

The VA Houston Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES) is one of ten NODES centers funded throughout the country. Established in October 2012, the NODES mission is to increase the efficiency of local coordination of studies in the VA CSP at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The VA NODES team aim to enhance the execution, logistics, efficiency, management, experience, networking, teamwork, and success of VA CSP in six key areas. These are:

  • CSP collaboration: NODES works with key stakeholders throughout the life cycle of a study.
  • Study design and planning: NODES provides recommendations from the site perspective.
  • Study start-up: NODES helps identify ways to reduce logistical and staffing barriers.
  • Active study phase: NODES provides guidance to CSP study teams to achieve site success.
  • Study close-out: NODES provides direction on local site facilitation of closing a study.
  • Community networking: NODES strives to build a stronger clinical research environment.

For more information, please visit: Network of Dedicated Enrollment Sites (NODES) or contact the Houston NODES Team.

Career Development Award (CDA)

Career Development Awards (CDAs) are mentored awards designed to allow post-doctoral researchers protected research time, intended to advance the awardee towards independence as a Merit Review-funded Veterans Affairs researcher. The VA CDA is similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) K- award. 

If funding is awarded, clinician principal investigators may request a minimum of 6 calendar months to a maximum of 9 calendar months protected research effort; non-clinicians may request an 8/8ths VA appointment for 12 months of salary support.

Implicit in all CDA applications is the understanding that the applicant plans to continue their career within VA.

Submission Timeline

You may submit career development proposals to all four branches of the Veterans Affairs Central Office of Research. Rehabilitation (RR&D) and Health Services (HSR&D) have June and December submission cycles, while Biomedical Laboratory (BLR&D) and Clinical Science (CSR&D) have March and September submission cycles.
 

A Letter of Intent (LOI) to the appropriate research service is required for all CDA applications five months prior to the application submission deadline. Any applicant nominated by a VA, with an appropriate doctoral degree, an academic rank of at least assistant professor, and a VA-funded mentor or co-mentor, may submit an LOI. Eligibility to apply for a CDA is project-specific and granted by VA Central Office per the potential applicant's LOI.

If you are planning to submit a career development award or your first “big grant” please contact Dr. Drew Helmer, Deputy Director for IQuESt or Ivy Myers to discuss how the internal review process may help you prepare a more competitive submission.

Pilot and seed awards

Pilot and Seed awards fund eligible VA investigators (both M.D. and Ph.D.). Budget limits vary according to the program. Contact Pre-Award Administrators for guidance.
 

In recent years, VA Houston has locally offered small project awards to further the mission of research. Calls for applications are typically disseminated via the Research Service Line’s monthly newsletter.

To be added to the RSL monthly newsletter email Ashley Motter.

Some BLR&D pilot awards require an accepted Letter of Intent. Likewise, some BLR&D pilot awards require non-clinician eligibility into the BLR&D Intramural Program prior to submission, while other BLR&D pilot awards do not require acceptance into the Intramural Program but require a 5/8th VA-paid appointment at the time of submission. All BLR&D pilot awards exclude the salary of non-clinicians from the budget cap.

For eligibility to apply as a principal investigator for a pilot award to this service, an M.D. or Ph.D.

investigator must have an accepted Letter of Intent. LOIs are due five months prior to submission deadlines (March and September).

For more information on the BLR&D pilot program and application submission timelines contact Dana Boykins or Christine Eriks.

For eligibility to apply as a principal investigator for a pilot award to this service, an M.D. or Ph.D. investigator must have an accepted Intent to Submit (ITS). ITSs are due one month prior to submission deadlines (June and December).

In addition, eligible applicants must 5/8th VA-paid appointment at the time of funding.

For additional information or for an HSR&D submission timeline, contact Katherine Bay.

For eligibility to apply as a principal investigator for a pilot award to this service, an M.D. or Ph.D. investigator must have an accepted Pre-Application. Pre-Applications are due one month prior to submission deadlines (March and September).

In addition, non-VA investigators must include an Associate Chief of Staff for Research or Care Line Executive support letter with their Pre-Application. Non-clinician salary support is included within the budget cap.

For more information on the RR&D SPiRE program and application submission timelines contact Dana Boykins or Christine Eriks.

Pre-award administrative contacts

Katherine Bay, MPH
Service: HSR&D
Email: katherine.garrett2@va.gov
Phone: 713-440-4457

Dana Boykins, MBA
Services: BLR&D, CSR&D, RR&D
Email: dana.boykins@va.gov
Phone: 713-791-1414, ext. 26714

Christine Eriks, MHA, MBA
Services: BLR&D, CSR&D, RR&D
Email: christine.eriks@va.gov
Phone: 713-794-8096

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