It has been nearly five years since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last released a funding opportunity for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) research. Three days ago, we received word that the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a subset of the NIH, would be officially announcing two RFAs for ME research in December 2016.
An RFA is a Request for Application; the NIH has allocated a distinct amount of funding for specific research projects, and is requesting applications that meet their criteria.
This is an opportunity for researchers to get the funding they need to make advancements in much-needed ME research. These two RFAs have been announcd in advance so that researchers have time to prepare their applications, which will be accepted beginning in April 2017. Funding will likely be awarded no sooner than September 2017.
The first RFA aims to establish Collaborative Research Centers (CRC), and the second a Data Management and Coordinating Center (DMCC) to oversee them all. The proposed Collaborative Research Centers would be based in existing academic centers, and would work independently and collaboratively to identify disease mechanisms of action and to improve treatment options. They would have the added benefit of establishing a patient base for further clinical trials, and would aim to improve the quality of information available to researchers, clinicians, and the public.
The DMCC would be the mechanism through which the Collaborative Research Centers would coordinate their research. They would aid in management, data collection, and data sharing. For example, a listed goal of the CRC RFA is to conduct long-term studies on patients within each center and across the network. The DMCC would be instrumental in organizing this effort.
Combined, these two RFAs will attempt to organize and optimize research efforts for the ME community by creating a strong research infrastructure. The investigators involved in the CRCs are encouraged to work with members of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program who are at their institutions, as it is designed to translate research into treatment options as quickly as possible.
This December, when the RFAs are released, we will find out more about how much funding is being offered to researchers. The NIH will also release the date of a planned teleconference designed to give stakeholders more information about these RFAs and their plans and actions regarding ME going forward.