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Common Issues Arising in EDGE Inquiries

Since the EDGE track was announced in the IOS Core Programs solicitation (NSF 16-505), the EDGE Working Group has entertained single page, informal inquiries about potential EDGE projects (note these inquiries are not Letters of Intent).  Individuals or groups intending to submit a Letter of Intent for the 29 April, 2016 deadline, but who are unsure if their project fits the EDGE program, are welcome to send inquires to the Working Group Chair, Dr. William Zamer.

In appraising inquiries from PIs, the EDGE Working Group has noticed some shortcomings in responsiveness to the solicitation that could hinder competitiveness at the full proposal level. We encourage all applicants to read the solicitation carefully, paying special attention to EDGE-specific special review criteria found towards the end of the solicitation.  Below we highlight some essential features of EDGE-track research that have been overlooked in some inquiries.

Program Focus:

Proposals submitted to the EDGE track should emphasize tool, approach, and/or infrastructure development to enable functional genomics in diverse, emerging, or non-model organisms. Principal Investigators may use taxonomic, question-based, and/or technology-based strategies to develop functional genomic tools that will be used by larger communities of researchers. Projects should focus on proof–of-principle testing for the tool(s) rather than on specific questions in the PI’s research program.  The development of an entirely new approach or technology is not required.  Extension and implementation of existing experimental strategies to interrogate genome-phenome cause-effect relationships in diverse organisms falls within the scope of this program.  However, genome sequencing per se and bioinformatics tool and pipeline development per se are NOT appropriate goals for a proposal submitted to the EDGE track.

The tools, approaches, and infrastructures to be developed in the EDGE track should target bottlenecks in testing genome-phenome cause-effect relationships in diverse organisms.  A competitive proposal should articulate clearly the current impediments in testing gene function, as well as the strategies that will be deployed to address or overcome these impediments. EDGE-track proposals should focus on the development of compelling approaches and technologies that will lead to the elucidation or establishment of gene function consistent with advancing research in organismal biology.  Thus, EDGE-track proposals should be aimed at accelerating advances in areas of research in organismal biology supported by the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (see cluster descriptions on the IOS home page for areas supported by IOS).

Model versus Non-Model Organisms:

The objective of the EDGE program is to spur development of technologies, approaches, and infrastructure for investigations of gene function in diverse organisms.  Thus, an essential component of a competitive proposal will be the identification of organism(s) for which genomic tools, approaches, and associated infrastructure currently are limited in the context of testing gene function.  Proposals that use an already established model organism to develop a novel genomic tool AND demonstrate extension of the technology to non-model organisms are acceptable.

Need for Community Enablement and Rapid Dissemination:

EDGE-track proposals are expected to have a catalytic effect on a large number of organismal biologists.  Therefore, competitive proposals should address broad applicability of the proposed tools, approaches, and infrastructure, and identify the research communities in organismal biology that will benefit from them.  EDGE proposals should also include well-developed plans for training and rapid dissemination of new technologies and approaches to the relevant research communities.

Number of Senior Personnel and Sub-awards:

Although the number of senior personnel (PI and co-PIs) listed on the Letter of Intent and on the Cover Page of a full proposal is limited to a total of 5, additional senior personnel can be added in the project description. There is no limit to the total number of participating senior personnel. EDGE proposals may not be submitted as multi-institutional collaborative proposals, instead full proposals may contain one or more sub-awards and/or service contracts to support the needed expertise. Full proposals for multi-institution projects should include a Management Plan describing the plan for project coordination.

Reminder: EDGE LOIs are due on 29 April, 2016. LOIs will NOT be reviewed and are not binding, but a LOI must be submitted prior to submitting a full proposal.  Full proposal submissions are due on 1 June, 2016.