Clarification of IMAT Program Scope and Criteria for Determining Responsiveness of Proposals Made to the Program
In responding to an IMAT Program RFA, it is important to bear in mind that the IMAT Program is first and foremost a technology development initiative. As such, this program does not support traditional hypothesis-driven research. Rather, the program is aimed at stimulating and accelerating the development, technical maturation, transfer, and commercialization potential of meritorious technologies that can be of benefit to the general scientific and technology communities as well as the R01 research pool.
While technology development encompasses multiple scientific and technical disciplines, the technologies solicited by the IMAT Program are those that represent a significant improvement over state of the art. To this end, the IMAT Program represents a continuum of technology development that begins at the earliest stages of research and synthesis (i.e. at inception) and ends at commercialization. Already commercialized technologies, therefore, represent a stage in development beyond the scope of the IMAT Program, unless modifications are proposed for the technology that allow it to significantly exceed its current capabilities or technical limitations.
It is important to note that the following types of technologies do not fall within the scope of the IMAT Program, and as stated in the RFAs, applications in these areas will be considered non-responsive to the RFAs and will not be reviewed.
- Bioinformatics of any sort, including algorithm and database development or data mining technologies (note: recognizing the necessity for a greater degree of bioinformatic capability commensurate with the continued development of innovative and emerging technologies, bioinformatics may be used as a supporting component of an application to the IMAT Program but must not constitute the predominant or otherwise major component or factor of any application made to the program)
- Drug or therapeutics development (with the exception of molecular technologies to improve drug targeting) of any sort are not included within the scope of the IMAT Program’s solicitations, including the development of predictive or statistical models of or for drug or patient response
- Clinical and diagnostic trials
- Whole-body or in-vivo imaging methods (with the exception of molecular contrast agents)
- Commercialized technologies that will be used without modification
The R61 funding opportunities solicit applications proposing exploratory research projects focused on the inception and early-stage development of highly innovative technologies with transformative potential. These FOAs are meant to support highly innovative projects with high potential impact, even if they involve some level of risk of failure. Applications involving an existing technology must include additional technical modification and development to allow for the proposed cancer-relevant context of use or some significant question of feasibility should exist for achieving the proposed aims. If sufficient preliminary data exist to suggest the feasibility of the approach is established, applicants should consider submitting to the R33 funding opportunities.
All applications must include quantitative performance measures. Performance measures are a means of judging the success of the project and the technical function of the proposed technology. Performance measures should be well-described, quantifiable, and scientifically justified. Critical components for proposed measures include the numerically described target of performance as well as the means by which it will be assessed. An application lacking appropriate performance measures will not be reviewed.
The IMAT Program strongly encourages potential applicants to contact any IMAT Program team member prior to submitting their application to the program, particularly if applicants have any inquiries about the program or the suitability of a potential application. Contacting a program staff member for clarification may be particularly important in the case of first-time applicants to the program.