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Frequently Asked Questions



No. Projects must be focused on developing novel technologies. The IMAT program is first and foremost a technology development initiative. Applications proposing research projects centered on hypothesis-driven research, no matter how novel, will be deemed non-responsive to the program.

In general, technology refers to instruments, devices, platforms, tools and associated techniques or methods.

The IMAT Program seeks to foster the development and technical maturation of highly innovative, emerging, and potentially transformative next-generation technologies. As such, technical innovation is a key component of the program and technologies that are already in widespread use or commercially available are not supported by the program. Applicants should note the FOA-specific review criteria related to innovation described in the RFAs.

No. The IMAT Program solicits molecular and cellular analytical and characterization technologies across a wide-range of cross-cutting disciplines. The program encourages collaborative approaches to overcome technical barriers. The program solicits projects to develop robust technologies appropriate for basic, clinical, epidemiological, or translational research. Additionally, the program solicits applications to develop technologies to preserve sample integrity, establish quality assessment/quality control criteria, and improve handling of cancer-relevant biospecimens under diverse conditions.

The R21 and R61 mechanisms are meant to support research projects in which proof-of-principle has not yet been established. The aim of such an award is thus to acquire, through the completion of a series of quantitative performance measures, sufficient data to demonstrate proof of principle. IMAT R21s and R61s are intended to encourage new exploratory and pilot research projects. The technology proposed should be at the inception, conceptual stage and may involve considerable risk but could lead to a breakthrough in a particular area that could have a major impact on cancer research. IMAT replaced the R21 grant mechanism with the R61 to support early stage projects beginning in 2022. On January 25th, 2022, IMAT program staff held a pre-application webinar to introduce the R61 grant mechanism. A recording of the webinar is available to be viewed through vbrick. The IMAT R61 FOAs limit direct costs to $150,000 per year for up to 3 years.

The R33 mechanism is meant to support research projects that are more developmental in nature and should be predicated upon the establishment of proof-of-principle through prior research. An IMAT R33 project may or may not have been previously supported by an exploratory IMAT R21 or R61 grant. IMAT R33s are expected to generate sufficient data to fully validate the technology in a biologically relevant setting and demonstrate its full utility in addressing biological, translational, clinical, and/or epidemiological questions. The IMAT R33 FOAs limit direct costs to $300,000 per year for up to 3 years.

Specific requirements for each of these types of grants are outlined in the funding overview section of this website and in each of the relevant RFAs.

No. Applicants may apply directly for an R33 provided they have sufficient data to adequately demonstrate or establish proof-of-principle. R33 applications based on previously funded IMAT R21s, however, should describe the extent to which performance measures from the R21 have been achieved.

Yes, applicants who have questions concerning suitability of a potential proposal are strongly encouraged to contact a program staff member prior to submission.

Yes. Specific eligibility criteria are stipulated in each RFA.

Yes. Please refer to the eligibility criteria stipulated in each RFA.

Read through the Responsive and Non-Responsive Criteria that is described in every RFA. The most common reasons an application is found non-responsive are because (1) the project is pursuing hypothesis-driven research rather than developing a technology, (2) the application does not contain quantitative performance measures, or (3) the project is too far along (i.e. the technology is already developed and there is no question of feasibility) for the R21/R61 grant mechanism. If you have any questions about whether your proposal is responsive, please reach out to the IMAT program team and we would be happy to advise you.

Performance measures are quantitative metrics by which to judge the success of the project. They are the target of performance that you aim to achieve once you have completed your aims (not what has already been accomplished). Performance measures are technology-specific. Investigators may choose the metrics that would convince an end user that the technology is functional and offers advantages over currently available methods. It could be a measure of sensitivity, specificity, how rapid the assay is, a price point, or any other quantifiable target of performance. There should be performance measures for every aim, and there may be intermediate metrics if appropriate.

No, you cannot resubmit an R21 application as an A1 submission to the R61 funding opportunities because they are different grant mechanisms.

IMAT applications are not reviewed by standing study sections. IMAT applications are reviewed by a special emphasis panel. A new panel is recruited after each receipt date with the specific expertise to evaluate the applications received that round.

Currently funded NCI grantees can submit a competitive revision application to accelerate or expand the aims of the parent project by incorporating an IMAT-funded technology into their research. These awards are meant to incentivize independent validation of these technologies and promote interdisciplinary collaboration.

No. Competitive revisions are intended to promote independent validation of IMAT technologies and spur collaborations, so applications proposing to incorporate a technology that was developed by the applicant are considered non-responsive.