Programs

Epigenetics 2016

Request for Proposal (RFP) Letter of Intent (LOI)
Epigenetics – 2016 

RFP LOI release date:  November 28, 2016
RFP LOI submission deadline: January 5, 2017
Funding is anticipated to start June 1, 2017

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Purpose 

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group seeks to select investigators to pursue pioneering research that opens new directions and answers broad scientific questions. The most promising concepts will incorporate novel, creative, and ambitious approaches. For this reason, the program is especially interested in approaches that are unlikely to receive funding from traditional government sources.

We request letters of intent for proposals focusing on in vivo epigenetic editing, assessment and visualization technology development.   There will be up to 3 awards made, and awards are anticipated to range from $1-1.5M in total funding over three years.  The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group has a 0% indirect cost policy. 

Topic Details 

Progress in the field of epigenetics has been hampered by a dearth of refined tools that would enable the measurement and manipulation of epigenetic phenomena over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Especially lacking are the tools that enable targeted cell type-specific manipulations and read-out at the single cell level and with high temporal resolution. Additionally, the field would benefit from the capability to visualize and follow such changes as they occur in real-time in vivo.

While single cell RNA-seq and DNA methylome sequencing technology has advanced, there has been less progress on measuring other molecular phenotypes at single cell resolution. In addition, methods to enable measurement of more than one of these phenotypes/properties at the same time in many single cells could be quite powerful for defining relationships between various types of cellular properties.

One example would be the ability to exert manipulations on populations of cells, followed by single cell resolution measurements to define causality and identify the cells in which those manipulations were successful, and what other changes (in chromatin landscapes etc.) occurred as a consequence.

We seek technology development that enables capabilities that currently are not possible, which include:

  • Creation of locus-specific epigenetic modification at the cellular level with minimal off target effects
  • Creation of precise combinatorial epigenetic manipulation with minimal off target effects
  • Characterization of the effects of manipulation at the single cell level by measuring one, or preferably more than one, single cell phenotype (single cell DNA methylation, etc.)
  • Following such changes in real time in vivo
  • Delineation of factors (chromatin structure, methylation, etc.) and their relative weight of impact on epigenetic regulation

The strongest approaches are likely to utilize a multidisciplinary approach and integrate innovative computational/statistical tools (e.g. machine learning, deep learning, pioneering statistics to analyze variance).

Letter of Intent Format       

We request that all LOI submissions be on 8 ½ x 11 paper, using Times New Roman, 12 point font, single spaced, with 1” margins top, bottom, left and right.  Submissions will have the following information:

  • Cover page: Research title, PIs, institution affiliation
  • Project description*: Maximum length (up to 700 words)
  • Biographical sketch**: 3 pages (for each PI and co-PI) 

*Up to ten references are allowed; references are not included in the word count of the project description. Up to 2 figures are permitted within the length noted.

**NIH format is allowed, maintaining the 3 page limit.

Program Goals 

The primary goal of this program is to advance the state of the art and increase human knowledge and understanding in epigenetics. The program also seeks to have a lasting impact on the direction of research, aiming to serve as a catalyst upon which future research is founded. 

This program seeks to enable scientists to take risks with new ideas and approaches, and strongly believes in interdisciplinary approaches that allow scientists to look beyond their own disciplines, and to explore approaches with colleagues in other disciplines in order to bring new perspectives to challenging problems where traditional approaches within a discipline may be ‘stuck.’ 

Methodological and technological advances are often necessary complements to scientific advance and yet these are often difficult to fund through traditional sources.   This program encourages and supports researchers including novel methodological, theoretical and technological elements in their proposals.

Eligibility Requirements 

Scientists at any stage of their career may apply, domestic or international. The includes but is not limited to both supporting the careers of exceptional young scientists showing particular promise as thought leaders in their fields and supporting more established researchers with ambitious, high-risk ideas that could have a revolutionary impact in the field but remain outside the scope of traditional funding sources. 

Letters of Intent are due by 11:59 p.m. PST on January 5, 2017 and can be submitted at frontiers@alleninstitute.org.

The Letter of Intent must be sent as a single PDF file with the following filename:
Investigator name (first initial.last name)_Institutionname_2017Epigenetics.pdf
Example: J.Smith_University_2017Epigenetics.pdf

Questions 

Please submit questions to frontiers@alleninstitute.org. Subject: 2017 Epigenetics Question. 

Questions must be submitted by midnight PST on January 2, 2017. Questions received after this date may not be answered.   

Selection Process  

Letters of Intent and subsequent invited proposals are confidentially reviewed by a panel of experts tailored for each RFP topic, and this panel will make recommendations to The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group. The Frontiers Group has the final decision on the awards.

Members of the panel of experts and any advisors serve anonymously. Their identities as well as correspondence, evaluations and deliberations are kept confidential. This policy enables advisors and evaluators to provide their honest impressions independent of outside influence. Past awardees may be asked to act as future evaluators and advisors.

Post-award Activities 

The Frontiers Group will announce awards and release biographies of investigators along with summary descriptions of their projects to the press and on the Frontiers Group website and other communication channels. 

The Frontiers Group believes post-award engagement is important and seeks to build a relationship with investigators. We strive to promote interaction among awardees to stimulate idea exchange around the broad scientific question asked of the team. Recipients may be required to participate in an annual symposium.   

Reporting Requirements 

Recipients are required to provide annual reports describing progress towards milestones and anticipated outcomes as well as any barriers encountered since the last report and how they are being addressed.  

The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group will typically conduct annual site visits of current awardees to gain first-hand understanding of the research progress, team engagement, and institutional support.

A final report must be submitted at the end of the grant period describing the results of the project, including successes, barriers encountered and anticipated next steps.  The final report should also include a discussion of how the outcomes attained ‘moved the needle’ towards answering the question posed for the cohort. 

We require recipients to provide annually updated budget information as well as identify and explain any major deviations (>10%) from previously reported budgets.