Grant Programs Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs are provided to assist applicants with preparing proposals to NCBiotech research grant programs. Please refer to the program web pages for current guidelines and application instructions.
Can fellow candidates living outside of North Carolina apply?
Yes, as long as the faculty mentor’s lab, where the fellow will conduct the proposed research, is located at a North Carolina university.
How can I find a potential mentor?
A list of faculty performing gene therapy-related research at North Carolina universities will be provided upon request.
Can I be named as faculty mentor for more than one fellow candidate?
How much time will it take to complete the professional development training?There will be seven one-day professional development modules and one three-day module over the course of the two-year fellowship. Modules will occur once every quarter.
Are non-U.S. citizens eligible to apply?Yes, as long as they are able to demonstrate the legal right to work in the U.S. upon acceptance of the award, per the awardee institution’s policies regarding eligibility and visa sponsorship.
What are the Intellectual Property requirements for a TRG project?
Eligible projects support inventions that, at a minimum, have been disclosed to the university’s technology transfer office at the time of application.
The applicant must attest that the IP rights are assigned to the applicant’s institution and have not been committed through license, option or letter-of-intent to license to any third party at the time of application.
How do I calculate how much match I have to put into the budget?
The required match amount is a percentage of the amount requested from the Center. For example, if the maximum grant award is $100,000 and the program requires a 10% match, you may request $100,000 and must have an additional $10,000 for the match for a total project cost of $110,000.
Do I need to request the full grant amount?
No, the amounts shown are the maximum you may request for each grant. If you don’t need the full amount or are only able to get a smaller match, then you can request a lesser amount.
What is meant by “percent effort” on the budget form?
Enter the amount (percent) of work time that will be devoted to the project. If you have questions on this we encourage you to contact your sponsored programs office for assistance. “Percent effort” has a very specific meaning according to federal regulations and/or university policies. Universities have to document what’s called “certification of effort” on all federal funding.
What is the definition of "person months?" How do I calculate person months on the budget form?
Person months is the metric for expressing the amount of time funded by the Center that PI(s), faculty and other personnel devote to a specific project. This is not the same as percent effort as defined by federal granting agencies. Only calculate person months for personnel supported by Center funding for your project.
To calculate person months, divide the dollar amount budgeted from the grant for personnel support (salary only) by the total salary that person will receive. Do not include benefits in this calculation. Prorate the resulting value based on the type of appointment that person has (annual, 9 month, summer only). See the example calculations in this PDF. (See separate FAQ regarding benefits).
Can I request personnel benefits as part of my budget?
Yes, personnel benefits are an allowed expense. Benefits can be charged only for the person months requested. In the 12 month appointment example above, benefits can be requested for the post-doctoral fellow only for the 6 person months proposed. IF the amount requested on the budget sheet includes benefits, please indicate the breakdown of salary and benefits in the Budget Justification section for each person supported on the grant.
How do I list supplies?
Supplies should be grouped in categories of approximately $5,000 to $7,500, as reasonable. For example if you have general lab supplies for $1,800, reagents $1700, and solvents $2,000 you could group them as Reagents and supplies $5,500. If you have $12,000 in “tissue culture supplies” you can break it down into broad subcategories such as TC media $7,000, and plastics and disposables $5,000, or whatever groupings that make sense. It is not necessary to list every item separately. If you have a single category that can’t be broken down, such as $10,000 for antibodies, it is OK to list as is.
Is it necessary to have matching funds for each section of the budget form, i.e., salary, equipment, and supplies?
No, we do not require a line for line or section by section match, as long as the total match meets the program requirements. However, in the BIG program in cases where equipment over $40,000 is purchased, a 25% match for that piece of equipment is required in addition to the 10% match for everything else.
Does the Biotechnology Center allow core facility or equipment use as part of the match?
The Biotechnology Center allows facility or equipment use fees directly related to the research project to be included as part of the match for a proposal. The Center does not allow facility or equipment depreciation, overhead, or service contracts to be included in the budget, neither as requested funds or matching contributions.
Can travel expenses be used as part of the match?
No, travel dollars may not be used as matching funds. If allowed by the specific program, travel funds may be requested for travel directly tied to the project, but cannot be used for scientific or business-related conferences. Travel budgets should be modest and reasonable and must be justified.
Does the 10% match need to come directly from the institution or can it come from another funding source the PI has?
The funding must be “institutional funding.” If you have monies you received from a grant, or startup funds etc., that is under control of the institution (i.e., not an outside entity) and is not allocated specifically for another use, then these monies could be used.
Does the match need to come from the PI's department or can it come from another department?
The match may come from a collaborating department.
Does the university’s contribution toward PI salary count as matching funds?
PI salary can be used as matching funds in the BIG program. Salaries for post-docs or technicians can also be used toward matching funds.
Can I request funds to support a graduate student’s salary?
No. Requesting funds for graduate or undergraduate student salary, stipends or tuition is not allowed on any of our grants.
Can graduate student salaries be used as matching funds?
Can I use grant money to pay for a graduate student’s tuition?
What information is required in the Budget Justification?
Justify each line item in the budget. Include how the funds will be used for specific research. Do not simply provide a detailed list of supplies. Show calculations or supporting information on how amount was determined. Include information on matching funds. See example below.
PI: No salary requested; 10% effort. Responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the project. Data collection and purification of compound X.
Co-PI: $7,500 salary course release covers one course release during the first year. This will allow more time to focus on performing experiments, supervising students/technician in the lab; request $4,000 for one month summer salary at 50% effort to conduct sample preparation and data collection.
Technician: $15,000 salary request for two years, 15% annual effort. A technician is necessary for field planting, data collection, sample preparation, pollinator management, and statistical analysis of results.
The department will provide $10,500 in matching funds toward technician salary.
$1,750 - Analytical balance: For precise quantitative analysis of plant alkaloids.
We are requesting funds for basic equipment to increase the efficiency and sample throughput capacity.
$9,500 - Thermal cycler: This will be more rapid than our current machine, and will increase the efficiency and sample throughput capacity of the lab.
$9,500 - Benchtop centrifuge and rotors: This is needed to accommodate up to 30 microcentrifuge tubes or 96-well sample plates.
$17,000 - Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer: Digital visualization and documentation system for purity and quantification analysis of PCR product.
$5,985 - Sample concentrator needed to prepare samples for electrophoresis.
$2,500 - Autosampler that allows for good reproducibility of injections, reducing error and improving precision.
The department will provide $5,000 in matching funds towards the purchase of the equipment.
Supplies and Travel:
Lab reagents are requested to perform DNA extraction, PCR amplification and DNA sequencing. Funds have been requested for enough reagents to generate 360 DNA sequences.
The required reagents and consumables include:
$1,250 over two years - DNA extraction & PCR tubes and pipette tips, Taq DNA polymerase, primers, nucleotides, buffer, adjuvants, QiaQuick PCR purification kit (Qiagen). (Total $2,500)
$4,600 each year - Sequencing supplies, primers, Big Dye® Terminator v3.1 Cycle Sequencing Kit (Applied Biosystems), electrophoresis consumables. (Total $9,200)
Supplies required for analytical HPLC (total $3,500):
- HPLC solvents: 16 HPLC-grade acetonitrile. $250 each year for two years.
- HPLC columns: $1,000 The column is required for the analytical method for quantification of plant compounds. These funds will buy two columns.
- Chromatography standards: $2,000 We are planning on analyzing at least 10 different compounds.
$3,200 - Travel: To allow PI to make two trips for off-site research required by the project ($1600 per trip, airfare, lodging, per diem).
I am concerned about IP issues. How much detail about my research/technology do I have to put into the proposal?
You are not expected to put details about your research or technology that you feel are proprietary or particularly sensitive. However, you should include sufficient information for staff and reviewers to adequately assess your proposal. Also, include a statement indicating that certain information is omitted for that reason so that reviewers will not perceive it as a weakness in the proposal.
Is it OK to use an out-of-state contractor for part of the work?
It depends; if there is not an available in-state source of the work and it is well-justified in the proposal and the budget, then it may be reviewed positively. However, proposals that do not justify out-of-state work will be unfavorably reviewed.
Can someone with fixed-term full-time appointment (non-faculty) qualify to serve as PI?
Depending on the program, a researcher holding a full-time permanent position with an independent laboratory and research program at a university or non-profit organization can qualify. Visiting professors, adjuncts and post-docs are not eligible.
Which Biotechnology Center research grant applications allow co-PIs?
All Center research grant applications are required to be submitted by a single PI from a university or non-profit organization. The electronic application form does not include space for a co-PI. If you have a co-PI, that information can be discussed in the proposal.
I have received information from my co-PIs which I have put into my proposal. Do they still have to write Letters of Support?
Yes. Although you include information about the roles of the co-PIs in your proposal, it is important to see in writing that your co-PIs are committed to the project.
I have a project to develop a new instrument that will be of value in molecular biology research. Which program is most appropriate?
Although projects such as this have excellent scientific merit and commercial opportunity, the Center does not have any programs for the development of new instrumentation. In select cases, we may allow customization and development of special equipment to be used in research projects in the IDG program. You should check with Program Staff to be sure your request is appropriate.
I have preliminary data that I feel must be included in my proposal. Where in the proposal should it go?
It is very important to include preliminary data. It should go in the Background section.
What are you looking for in a timeline diagram?
There are many ways to do a timeline diagram – you may use a Gantt chart, a bar graph, a line diagram, a table, etc. Be sure to include a short description of each aim or objective and the major tasks necessary to accomplish these aims along with the relative start and completion dates. Here are a couple of examples:
May I lease equipment and then apply for an Institutional Development Grant (IDG) to pay for it on a lease to own basis?
No. You must receive the award first, and then purchase the equipment.
The exact equipment we need for our research is not available off-the-shelf. Can we build or customize the equipment we need with support of an IDG?
Yes, this is allowable in select situations. You should check with Program Staff to be sure your request is appropriate.
I have received a fund-if-funds permit award and am waiting to find out if there will be funds. I have a time-sensitive quote – may I order the equipment in hopes of getting the award?
No. If you order the equipment before the grant contract has been signed and activated, your award will be voided and you will not be eligible to receive funds.
What if the proposal deadline falls on a day when there is inclement weather?
If the Center is closed due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, proposals are due at noon on the next business day that the Center is open.
I have been invited to resubmit. Where does my response addressing the reviewer comments go in the proposal? Does it count in the page limitation?
The response should go at the beginning of the proposal and each comment/concern should be addressed directly, although responses to similar concerns can be combined. The response does not count as part of the page limitation; however, it should still be concise and clearly written and submitted as part of the proposal document.
Can I use the same cover sheet and letters of support from my previous submission?
No. We require a new cover sheet and letters of support with current dates and signatures. Also, check the grant program webpage and guidelines for updated instructions and any new forms.
I was notified that I have received funding and I have a question about the award. Whom should I contact?
Contact the Biotechnology Center’s Contracts and Grants Office at (919) 549-8846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have received an award with contingencies. Where do I send my response?
Responses should be sent to the Biotechnology Center’s Contracts and Grants Office at email@example.com.
I have been notified by email (or phone) of an IDG award and have a time-sensitive quote for a piece of equipment. Can I order it right away?
No. You must first receive the official letter from NC Biotechnology Center’s Contracts and Grants Office. Once you receive the letter you must activate the grant to order the equipment. Funds are released as a reimbursement and require the receipt to be submitted to the NC Biotechnology Center's Contracts and Grants Office. However, you may notify the Center of your situation to expedite the process.
Where can I find grant reporting forms?
Reporting forms can be found on our website at this link.
How do I apply for a no-cost extension?
A no-cost extension request should be completed and submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. The no-cost extension form is located here. Please include an overview of the work accomplished to date, an explanation of why the extension is needed, and a justification for the length of the extension period. Include a new timeline showing completion dates for specific aims and objectives for the remaining experiments. Requests are typically granted for periods of around six (6) months. Longer extensions may be granted if found to be fully justified.
For further reference, refer to guidelines at this link.