RFA-CA-21-003, Early-Stage Innovative Molecular Analysis Technology Development for Cancer Research, focuses on the preliminary development of new, highly technically innovative molecular and cellular analytical technologies and platforms. Thus this RFA is suitable for very early stage technology development projects that have a high degree of technical innovation (and therefore a corresponding degree of technical risk) associated with them but that also have the potential for high payoff should the technology be successfully developed to fruition. This funding opportunity allows for the use of an emerging technology that requires significant modification for utility to cancer-relevant researchers and/or clinicians. The application, refinement, or use of commercially available (already-established) technologies are not considered responsive to this RFA, however.
In contrast, RFA-CA-21-004, Validation and Advanced Development of Emerging Molecular Analysis Technologies for Cancer Research, focuses more on the validation of a new molecular technology to a cancer-related topic or problem, as it pertains to its advanced development. The focus of the proposed research should be to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology under development to make targeted molecular and/or cellular measurements. The application of established technologies to a new research problem is not considered responsive to these RFAs.
The above RFA's are suitable for projects developing broadly innovative and emerging technologies. IMAT also offers a targeted solicitation in the area of biospecimen science / sample preparation technologies (RFA-CA-21-005, RFA-CA-21-006). For projects proposing to develop these technologies/methodologies, the goal should be to maximize the utility of a human specimen, or samples derived from a human specimen (such as DNA, RNA, etc) for downstream molecular analysis.
Thus, if the predominant strength of an application lies in its technical innovation, RFA-CA-21-003 may be most suitable. Conversely, if the major strength of the proposal lies in the application or use of a new technology to a given problem within the realm of cancer with the intent of demonstrating its capabilities and/or improvement over current state of the art, RFA-CA-21-004 would be most appropriate. In either event, the aspects of the application that represent 1) technology development, 2) innovation, and/or 3) the manner in which a given platform can be considered an "emerging" technology should be emphasized. IMAT does not support traditional hypothesis-driven projects whose main emphasis is the pursuit of discovery biology unless such biology is also tied to the development of improved, novel technologies.