FAQs

  • Q:

    Can you clarify the purpose of the Planning Award?

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    A:

    The aim of the Planning Award is to spend nine months bringing together the potential participants in the network and allowing them to work together on assembling a plan for the four-year project. This time period for planning is intended to gather together the most effective multidisciplinary team to achieve the objective of the research project. As such, the team will need to provide an outline and general direction of the research project in the Planning Award application. Planning Awards should include a hypothesis, general aims, scope, components and relevance/alignment to the request for applications of the long-term proposed project/s. These items will be refined and fully fleshed out by the time of the full award application.

  • Q:

    Is it necessary to complete a planning application in order to apply for the full award?

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    A:

    The planning application, the first stage of the Collaborative Network Awards application process, is required. Full Collaborative Network Awards will be chosen from the pool of recipients of the Planning Awards.

  • Q:

    Is there a limit to the number of applications? Is it possible to submit more than one proposal? Can an individual investigator be part of more than one network?

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    A:

    Applicants may submit or be involved in multiple applications but can only be the principal investigator on one.

  • Q:

    If a consortium/network already exists, do we need biographies for all the members?

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    A:

    It would be helpful to reviewers to have a complete understanding of all the members who you expect to play a role in the proposal being put forward. Biographies should be submitted for co-principal investigators and other investigators who will have a substantial role in the network.

  • Q:

    Does the budget for the Planning Award allow for costs associated with preliminary data acquisition?

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    A:

    Planning awards may include preliminary research/data acquisition to support the full proposal.

  • Q:

    How many groups can participate? Will it be looked at more favorably if more groups are part of the network?

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    A:

    The minimum number of sites/groups is three. No maximum has been established. Applicants are encouraged to assemble the disciplines and experts that are needed to effectively execute the work. The Alliance recognizes that there are many ways to establish a network and that the Alliance is seeking optimal collaboration, based on the needs of the work proposed.

  • Q:

    How many Collaborative Network Awards are available?

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    A:

    The Alliance intends to fund two to three awards based on merit and availability of funds.

  • Q:

    Please clarify the expected outcomes of the collaborative network?

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    A:

    Applicants should refer to the request for applications for a definitive answer. Expected outcomes are: a) Development of one or more pre-clinical drug candidates within the four-year funding period b) Development of a meaningful outcome measure that could be integrated into early clinical development within the four-year funding period c) Initiation of clinical trials of new interventions for progressive MS within the four-year funding period

  • Q:

    In aim 2 (Discovery, advancement and validation of new or existing biological or imaging biomarkers) - can these also be behavioral and/or other types of markers?

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    A:

    Yes, this goal might include markers in the broadest sense. The Alliance’s goal is to identify markers that could be used in clinical trials to measure outcomes, and that could be incorporated into early clinical development within the four-year funding period.

  • Q:

    I previously received a Challenge Award from the Alliance. How can I tee up my work to submit for this round of funding? How does this round of grants relate to the earlier request for applications phase?

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    A:

    The Challenge/Infrastructure Awards and the new Collaborative Network Awards are distinct from each other (the goals, criteria and eligibility are different). However, it is possible that the work conducted under the Challenge/Infrastructure Awards may be amenable to application for a Collaborative Network Award. Applicants are encouraged to speak with the Alliance scientific staff about their ideas prior to submission. The current Planning and Network Awards are a unique two-stage funding opportunity where funding in stage 1 (Planning Awards) is necessary in order to apply for the major stage 2 funding (Network Awards). Previous Challenge Award recipients will still need to apply for a stage 1 Planning Award in order to be eligible to apply for a stage 2 Network Award.

  • Q:

    How will Planning Awards be distributed across the three priorities listed in the request for applications?

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    A:

    No set quotas for distribution have been established. The Alliance expects to fund the most meritorious and relevant proposals that are received.

  • Q:

    Can the principal invesitgator be in a company?

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    A:

    The principal investigator cannot be from a company, since the award must be administered through a non-profit research organization. However, companies are welcome and encouraged to be part of a network.

  • Q:

    Can you provide more information about the expected role of a commercial partner?

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    A:

    A commercial partner may be listed as a co-investigator on the application, and is not expected to contribute financially but may contribute in a number of ways, for example via expertise, in-kind support, tools, equipment, infrastructure, reagents, etc. The specific details of how a commercial partner may contribute will depend on the structure of each individual network.

  • Q:

    What is the total funding for the award?

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    A:

    The full Collaborative Award will be up to a total of €4M. This would reflect an award for a four-year project at €1M per year.

  • Q:

    How should non-published data be handled in an application?

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    A:

    Investigators should use their judgment in submitting non-published data, but are encouraged to supply data to strengthen their application. The Alliance conflict of interest policies are robust and will be in place, as with any other granting organization, and reviews will be done ensuring compliance with these policies.

  • Q:

    What general economic categories could be included in the Planning Awards? Can you give some examples of how the Planning Award funds may be spent?

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    A:

    The budget for the planning award may contain expenses related to bringing the team together and working on the proposed plan of research, e.g. travel, program management, generating preliminary or additional supporting data (salaries and supplies), understanding that the team will have only nine months to generate the full research proposal. The Planning Award is intended to support the time and effort required to prepare a full Network application. There are many ways in which the Planning Awards funds may be spent, for example - facilitating meetings or conferences for collaborators to plan the project proposal, for travel costs for principal investigators to attend these meetings, administrative costs involved in the creation of a management plan, and where applicable on the collection of pilot data to support the application.

  • Q:

    What is the anticipated length of the full Network application?

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    A:

    As this is a major funding application, it is expected the Network award application will be around 20-25 pages. Note, though, that full applications are not due until early 2016 and applications for the full awards will only be accepted from Planning Award recipients.

  • Q:

    What is the main focus of the Network Awards? Are they primarily focused on translational and clinical work?

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    A:

    The Collaborative Network Awards are designed to support pre-clinical and/or clinical translational research that address major obstacles and focus on three key research areas: 1. Drug discovery programs that identify and validate molecular and cellular targets and screen and characterize drug candidates, which may be either repurposed or first-in-human drugs 2. Discovery, advancement and validation of new or existing biological or imaging biomarkers 3. Proof-of-concept trials and proof of concept trial designs, including, but not limited to trials in remyelination, neuroprotection, enhanced plasticity or other first-in-human, exploratory clinical trials for progressive MS, including both pharmacological and rehabilitative strategies/interventions. Please refer to the request for applications for complete information.

  • Q:

    Will purely preclinical work be considered eligible in the application round, e.g. developing a biomarker, or does preclinical work need to be integrated into the clinical arena within the four-year grant period?

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    A:

    This depends on the work in question and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Including clinical collaborators or showing evidence of initial translational attempts is likely to make the application more competitive, showing intent or justification for clinical translation. However, a strong preclinical application may still be considered competitive. In the case of biomarkers, applications are calling for the clinical validation of a potential biomarker, so advanced preclinical work with a clear line of translation would be considered eligible.

  • Q:

    For drug discovery applications, will funding be prioritized to the identification of ‘new’ targets, or are existing targets for which a better molecule may be developed also eligible?

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    A:

    These applications are not exclusively aiming to identify new drug targets, as repurposing or improving existing drug targets would also be considered competitive.

If, after reading these questions and answers, you still have questions, you are encouraged to contact an Alliance representative for further discussion:

Italian Multiple Sclerosis Society
Gabriele Dati, Ph.D.
Coordinator Biomedical Research and Grant Office
[email protected]
+39 010 2713259

National Multiple Sclerosis Society
USA
Douglas S. Landsman, Ph.D.
Senior Director, International Programs
[email protected]
212.476.0536

UK Multiple Sclerosis Society
Susan Kohlhaas Ph.D.
Emma Gray, Ph.D.
Head of Biomedical Research
[email protected]
+44 (0)20 8438 0700

MS International Federation
Dhia Chandraratna, Ph.D.
Head of Scientific and Medical Research
[email protected]
+44 (0) 20 7620 1911

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada
Karen Lee, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research
Managing Director, endMS Research and Training Network
[email protected]
416-967-3024

MS Research Australia
Lisa Melton, B.Sc., Ph.D.
Research Development Manager
[email protected]
02 8484 1306 • 1300 356 467

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