Public selection of proposals for research in Advanced Instrumentation and Measurement Techniques related to Synthetic Biology and Food Safety
March 29th, 2013
The São Paulo Research Foundation and Agilent announce this Call for Research Proposals and invite researchers associated to Institutions of Higher Education or Research, public or private, in the State of São Paulo, to present research proposals within the scope of the Agreement between FAPESP and Agilent, according to the following specifications.
The themes of interest shared by Agilent and FAPESP for this call for research proposals are:
Leveraging the understanding of Synthetic Biology is fundamental to transforming industrial applied markets such as bioenergy, biomaterials, and pharmaceuticals. The ability to reprogram microorganisms and plants to transform raw materials into key chemical intermediates, or products via biotechnological routes can result in energy use efficiency gain and reduction of hazardous waste. The goal of the present CFP is to fund research that will help addressing the current bottlenecks and advance methodologies of synthetic biology, including:
- Reducing the time and cost needed to reprogram (design and build) and improve specific organisms for a defined intended function;
- Improving the tools to rapidly characterize the biological performance of each engineered organism at a molecular pathway level (measure).
One specific goal is to promote transfer of the knowledge of living organisms functioning into applied markets. Novel measurement capacities will help advance synthetic biology. Moreover, research in gene assembly, modeling, biodesign tools and complex analysis/bioinformatics are needed to advance the field.
Both local and international food market demand sophisticated techniques to test food for the presence of a variety of contaminants to protect human health. Food is routinely tested for the presence of pesticides, veterinary drugs, mycotoxins and various endocrine disruptors, but better methods are needed as new challenges emerge.
Building the capacity to improve detection of trace metals, veterinary drugs or pesticides is a major goal under the present CFP. Trace metals can be nutritionally beneficial or toxic depending on the type of metal and concentration. Speciation is needed to identify toxic forms of an element and differentiate them from the forms that are non-toxic or of lower toxicity. Also, monitoring of pesticides requires especially the ability to broadly screen panels of chemicals is relevant to this CFP. Finally, due to changes in local and importing countries beef cattle is subjected to monitoring veterinary drugs.
Through this CFP, FAPESP and Agilent intend to fund research on the analysis of contaminants in food, including the development of methods to determine the presence of:
- toxic vs. non-toxic metals in food;
- metal contamination from packaging, processing and production chain;
- screening of multiple pesticides;
- New analytical method for pesticide quantization in complex food matrices;
- Development of methods for screening multiple veterinary drugs.
The general interest of both FAPESP and Agilent is, therefore, to support research projects that advances this key area of food safety through development of innovative methods for the analysis of metals, pesticides and veterinary drugs in food.
2. Request for Academic Research Proposals
There are multiple scientific and technological challenges in making progress with respect to advancing Scientific Instrumentation methods and research techniques in the state of São Paulo. With this request for proposals, Agilent and FAPESP will support academic research and have a keen interest in interdisciplinary approaches to the research issues presented at item 1, Background. The objective of the academic research projects must be to advance the state-of-the-art of technologies relevant to scientific instrumentation methods and techniques challenges, and not develop routine applications using well-known technologies.
Expected outcomes of research projects would include, but not be limited to, academic peer-reviewed paper publications, web sites with information for the academic community, proof-of-concept projects that utilize advances in scientific instrumentation methods and techniques, tools and services for researchers and scientists, and presentation of findings at academic conferences.
Projects will be reviewed specifically for the merit of the following research goals:
1) Bold scientific objectives and sound methodology and goals.
2) Focus on relevant technology advancements, taking into account the technology issues described in the points above, which will provide benefits in such areas as metabolomics in plant and micro biology, mass spectrometry or bioenergy.
It must be emphasized that creativity and novel approaches are strongly encouraged.
The objective of this FAPESP/Agilent Request for Proposals is to identify, select and support world-class research in advanced instrumentation and measurement techniques related to metabolomics in plant and micro biology, mass spectrometry or bioenergy.
For the purpose of this Request for Proposals, academic research has two essential ingredients: creation of new scientific knowledge and communication of results in the world-wide academic community. Both of these ingredients are essential. Projects should have a very high impact through:
1. Interesting, creative, novel work in: advanced instrumentation and measurement techniques related to metabolomics in plant and micro biology, mass spectrometry and bioenergy
2. Publication and dissemination of knowledge and experiences to the world-wide academic community.
Conditions of eligibility listed below will be strictly adhered to, so please read them carefully. Proposals not meeting all these criteria will not be considered.
a) Proposals should be submitted by researchers from higher education and research organizations, public or non-profit, in the State of São Paulo.
b) Proposals that are incomplete, inaccurate, request funds in excess of the maximum award available, or are otherwise not responsive to the terms and conditions of this RFP will, at the sole discretion of the Joint Steering Committee for the FAPESP-Agilent cooperation, be excluded from consideration.
5. Research proposal characteristics
Proposals should target some or all of the following research goals:
a) Novel and Creative Solutions: The intention of the project is not to enable incremental engineering projects with a known outcome, but rather to explore and create new knowledge and technology. FAPESP and Agilent encourage bold, novel, and unconventional approaches to the core science and technology challenges in this area.
b) Immediate Relevance: FAPESP and Agilent are seeking academic research projects that are highly complementary to a broad community need. Goals should be specific, measurable, and results-oriented with tangible metrics.
c) Potential for Economic Impact: An ideal project will have the potential of sustainability beyond the timeframe of the proposed funding. Projects with direct economic impact offer far greater incentive for regional stakeholders to learn and support new technologies.
d) Dissemination and Potential for Academic Publication: Research results should be widely communicated through relevant scientific communities using established academic channels, such as international conferences and refereed journals. All funded projects should result in a detailed Web presence and relevant conference publications or presentations. Other channels for community development include regional workshops, graduate seminars, and curriculum components such as courses or course materials.
The total amount available under this request for proposals (RFP) is US$ 800,000.00, with 50% of this value to be provided by FAPESP and 50% by Agilent. It is anticipated that 3-5 proposals will be selected, with individual values in the range of US$100,000 to US$300,000. The appropriateness of the requested funding amount in relation to the proposal goals and qualification of the proposing team is a primary review consideration. In addition, FAPESP and Agilent reserve the right to propose lower funding levels for projects.
7. Presentation of proposals
Proposals should be for duration of at most three years and under the norms of the modality Research Support Program for Technological Innovation in Partnership (PITE), except when explicitly mentioned, and must contain:
b) FAPESP Biosketch for the Researchers involved in the project. This document should be submitted in two versions, one in English and the other in Portuguese. Please make sure that the English version of your proposal is an appropriate translation of the Portuguese version.
c) Research proposal: Proposals should be submitted in two versions, one in English and the other in Portuguese. Please make sure that the English version of your proposal is an appropriate translation of the Portuguese version. The proposal should cover items from c.1) to c.7) below in no more than 20 pages, using font size 12 and double spacing. Please address the sections listed below, from c.1) to c.7) under separate numbered headings:
c.1) Problem statement: What is the problem addressed by the proposal and why is it important? What is the potential research contribution to the field of the project if successful? Cite relevant work in the field as appropriate.
c.2) Expected outcomes: What new science will be created or produced as a result of the proposed project? How will the results of this project be disseminated to others?
c.3) Scientific and technical challenges and the ways and means to overcome them: This is a critical part of the proposal. Describe the scientific and technical challenges that the project will overcome to reach the proposed goals. Describe the methods and means that will be used for this. Cite references that can help the reviewers to ascertain that such challenges were not yet overcome (or were not overcome in an adequate way) and that they can be overcome with the methods and means proposed in the project.
c.4) Expertise and infrastructure used in the project: List the expertise in your research group and the infrastructure (measurement instruments and facilities) to be applied to execution of the research proposal.
c.5) Schedule: When is the project to be completed? What milestones will be used to measure progress of the project and when will they be completed? If the project described is part of a larger ongoing research program, estimate the time for completion of this project only.
c.6) Dissemination and Evaluation: How will the results of this project be evaluated (if appropriate), and how will they be disseminated to others? Under what general license terms will be the results made available?
c.7) Other Support: List other contributions by the University to this project (cash, goods, or services), if any, but not including such things as use of university facilities otherwise provided on an ongoing basis. Note that authors of winning proposals will be required to present an original letter on university letterhead signed by the institution director certifying the commitment of any additional support.
In addition, each proposal must add as annexes the item below, if applicable (this item is not included in the 20 pages limit mentioned above):
c.8) Work plan for the requested fellowships: The proposed budget may include costs for Scientific Initiation, Master or Post-Doctoral fellowships, which must have a duration equal or less than the duration of the proposed project. For each requested fellowship a work plan with less than two pages (12 point font size, double spacing) must be submitted together with the research proposal. This work plan must include: Title for the Fellowship Project, Summary, and Description of the plan. It is not necessary to nominate the holder of the fellowship. If the proposal is approved the Principal Investigator will have the responsibility to organize a public selection process to select the appointees for the fellowships through an internal merit review process.
d.1) Consolidated Budget Request, classified by types of expense;
d.2) Consolidated Budget Request, for fellowships;
d.3) Budget Request by types of expense:
- Capital and equipment expenses in Brazil;
- Capital and equipment expenses from abroad;
- Consumables acquired in Brazil;
- Consumables acquired abroad;
- Services acquired in Brazil;
- Services acquired abroad;
- Transportation expenses;
- Per diem expenses.
The proposals must be sent printed in one (1) copy and with a CD containing, in a single PDF file, the English versions of all documents described in items 7.b), 7.c) and 7.d.1).
The envelope should be addressed to:
Chamada de Propostas de Pesquisa FAPESP- Agilent
Rua Pio XI, 1500, Alto da Lapa
05468-901, SP, São Paulo
No proposals will be accepted by any other means.
All submitted proposals under this RFP will not be returned to the researchers submitting such proposals. For record-keeping and administrative purposes a copy will be archived by FAPESP.
8. Analysis and selection of the submitted proposals
An international and multidisciplinary team of scientists will review the proposals; therefore, it is very important to write the proposals in clear and well-structured English. Proposals that are difficult to understand in English might be poorly understood and receive poor ratings.
The selection process will use a merit review and comparative analysis. These will use reviewer’s reports and the FAPESP’s Area and Adjunct Committees, following the criteria used for the selection of Joint Research for Technology Innovation selected by FAPESP, plus the Joint Steering Committee for the FAPESP-Agilent cooperation.
Researchers participating in any submitted proposal will not take part in the analysis and selection process.
All proposals will be analyzed and selected using the following criteria:
a) Adherence to the terms of this RFP
b) Novelty and Ambition of the proposed academic research project, as it relates to the goals of this RFP.
c) Qualification of the research project, in the specification of clear goals, of the challenges to be overcome and the scientific, technical and material means and ways for this, in relation to the state-of-the-art in the field.
d) Engineering diligence, including interface definitions, testing methodology, and plans for experimental deployment.
e) Qualifications of principal investigator and his team, including previous history of work in areas relevant to this RFP, successful completion of previous funded projects, teaching awards, and publications, all of those items being demonstrated in the Biosketches of the principal investigators.
f) Ability to complete the project, including the adequacy of resources available, institutional support, reasonableness of timelines, and number and qualifications of identified contributors; value, which encompasses the efficient use of requested resources and funding.
g) Potential for wide dissemination and use of intellectual property created, including specific plans for publications, conference presentations, web sites, as well as plans to distribute content in multiple formats or languages.
h) Formation of new researchers and professionals, as a result of the execution of the project.
Launching of the RFP at FAPESP Web site
April 01, 2013
Last date for receiving proposals
June 14, 2013
Publication of results of the selection process
September 27, 2013
10. Project duration
The selected projects will have duration of up to 36 months.
11 Announcement of results
The results of the selection process will be announced in FAPESP’s Web Site at www.fapesp.br and by communication to the proponents.
12 Cancellation of the award
The award might be canceled by FAPESP, in the event of justifiable cause, on the basis of evaluation by the Scientific Director of FAPESP. Cancellation does not preclude other measures that might be deemed necessary.
13 Awarding, Follow-up and Evaluation
For the selected proposals there will be a FAPESP Award Term, which will be signed by the Principal Investigator, by the authority in charge of the hosting institution and by a legal representant of Agilent.
Results must be demonstrated in Scientific Reports, as well as Expense Demonstration, according to the specified in the FAPESP Award Term.
14 Operational Matters
If the proposal is selected, there will be a Grant Award Term to be signed by Principal Investigator, by FAPESP, by the Hosting Institution and by a legal representant of Agilent regarding the rights and obligations of each part. This is similar to the standard FAPESP Grant Award Agreement, with some modifications to allow for the compromises of the FAPESP – Agilent cooperation. The full Term of Agreement can be found at www.fapesp.br/en/6578 to be specified. The main points of the Term are:
a) The concession of support for a project by FAPESP does not create any type of labor relationship between the researchers involved in the project and FAPESP.
b) The timing and amounts of funds disbursement will be mutually agreed upon between the Principal Investigator and FAPESP.
c) Funds will be held in a joint account and may only be used for the research project.
d) Any equipment or materials you wish to acquire to assist you in your research will be subject to standard Brazilian laws and concession of use requirements.
e) You are required to provide FAPESP with yearly progress reports. These reports will be shared with the joint FAPESP/Agilent steering committee.
f) The PI for each selected proposal and his team of researchers and students are required to participate in a yearly scientific workshop with the colleagues from all other selected projects.
g) The PI will notify and obtain approval from FAPESP prior to publication of any details about the research project, in the cases for which the publication might jeopardize the protection of the intellectual property.
g.1) In these cases, FAPESP and the Host Institution will work together to obtain timely protection for any Intellectual Property generated by the project and to allow for the publication of scientific results.
h) The PI will acknowledge FAPESP and Agilent’s support in any approved publication or press release regarding your research project.
14.1 Intellectual Property Rights
a) According to Brazilian law Hosting Institution is the owner of any intellectual property you create as a result of the research project.
b) The PI and the Hosting Institution are responsible for safeguarding that intellectual property.
c) If the PI and Agilent engage in any joint research activities, the Hosting Institution and Agilent will jointly own any inventions. Terms of that Joint Intellectual Property will be mutually agreed upon between the Hosting Institution and Agilent through a separate agreement.
d) In consideration of the funding being provided, the institution that employs the PI will grant to both FAPESP and Agilent a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to any intellectual property arising from the funded research project.
e) If the research project results in patentable inventions, you must notify FAPESP so that Agilent can decide if it wants to engage with you for an exclusive license. Terms of that exclusive license (fees, etc.) will be mutually agreed upon. The PI and his institution will retain the right to use the technology for research and teaching purposes.
f) If the Hosting Institution receives royalties for technology created as a result of the research project, FAPESP will receive a percentage of those royalties. This will be documented by a separate agreement.
14.2 Intellectual Property Limitations
a) If you wish to use any pre-existing intellectual property in the research project, you must obtain adequate rights from the owner so that you can grant the licenses to FAPESP and Agilent as stated above.
15 Information and clarification
Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use “RFP FAPESP-Agilent” in the subject line of your e-mail message to ensure a prompt and proper response.
For technical information please contact:
1. Synthetic Biology
Agilent technical contact:
Dr. Darlene Solomon
Senior Vice President and Agilent Chief Technology Officer
2. Food Safety
Agilent technical contact:
Food Market Development Manager