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Pfizer-NCBiotech Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy (Pfizer-GTF) Program

Fellowships to North Carolina Postdocs and
Faculty Mentors for Gene Therapy Research

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Pfizer and North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech)

Deadline Date:

07/18/18 Noon

Description:

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Fellowships to North Carolina postdoctoral candidates and faculty mentors to support gene therapy research. The focus of this program is on adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene technologies and therapies. Fellows will explore novel applications of AAV-based therapies over a two-year period.

Purpose:

North Carolina is a leading hub for gene therapy research. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech) and Pfizer, Inc. have partnered to create a program intended to expand North Carolina’s gene therapy research and development capabilities and to grow the scientific workforce trained in gene therapy disciplines.

The Pfizer-NCBiotech Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy (Pfizer-GTF) program provides scientific and professional development training to exceptional postdoctoral fellows interested in establishing research careers related to gene therapy. Competitive awards support two- year fellowships that enable early-career scientists to conduct gene therapy research at North Carolina universities.

Fellowship awardees will conduct research in a Faculty Mentor’s laboratory that will:

-Develop adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy platforms or address challenges (e.g., immunogenicity) associated with the use of these platforms; and/or

-Develop AAV gene therapy-enabling technologies/methodologies, such as gene editing, vector delivery, or gene therapy product manufacturing; and/or

-Explore novel applications of AAV-based gene therapies, such as target validation and preliminary testing of AAV constructs in monogenic/rare disease models.

Program Features:

Pfizer-GTF awards support Fellow salary, benefits, project expenses, meeting travel, and professional development for the duration of the two-year appointment.

Professional development is a distinguishing feature of this program. Fellows will be required to participate in training modules coordinated by NCBiotech on topics including FDA regulations related to biological therapies, project management skills, leadership and supervisory development, scalable manufacturing of gene therapy products, and intellectual property. Fellows will also have opportunities to engage with other Pfizer- NCBiotech Distinguished Fellows, as well as with the broader technology development and entrepreneurship communities in North Carolina.

Professional Development:

NCBiotech will provide a series of mandatory professional development modules for Fellows. The Center will directly fund these courses/activities and their costs should not be included in the Application Budget.

Institutional Support:

A full budget for the successful completion of the research project described in the application must be prepared, using the budget form provided. Any research project costs not covered by the fellowship MUST be itemized and committed as match by the institution. See details in the Budget Guidelines.

Evaluation Criteria:

Applications will be reviewed competitively based on an assessment of each Fellow candidate’s potential as a researcher, the match between the Fellow and the Faculty Mentor, the project’s degree-of-fit with the aims of the Program, and the impact that the fellowship will have towards the career development goals of the Fellow.

Specifically, the review criteria will include, but may not be limited to, the following:

A. Fellow Candidate

Has the Fellow candidate demonstrated evidence of potential as an independent researcher in a gene therapy-related discipline, as demonstrated through publications, grants, awards, inventorship, or other measures of scientific productivity?

B. Fellow-Mentor Match:

Does the Faculty Mentor demonstrate a commitment to the success of both the project and the career development of the Fellow?

Does the Mentor have the project-specific expertise and resources to devote appropriate oversight to the Fellow?

Does the Fellow have sufficient scientific understanding and familiarity with gene therapy- related methods to initiate and complete the research project in a timely fashion? If not, has the Mentor outlined a training plan for the Fellow to acquire these skills?

Are all necessary resources for the successful completion of the project available in the Mentor’s lab or elsewhere within the university?

C. Project:

Are the goals of the project consistent with the eligible gene therapy-related research areas outlined in the guidelines?

Is the project innovative? Does it address a current problem? Is the project described in sufficient detail to assess the probability of success?

Is completion of the project feasible within the allotted two-year timeframe and budget?

Allowable project expenditures for GTF funds provided by NCBiotech:
-Research project materials and supplies required by the project
-Core facility or equipment use
-Minor lab equipment
-Contracted research service fees

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 183123

Estimated Size of Grant:

NCBiotech will provide a total of $190,340 per GTF grant award, based on the following:

Salary & Benefits:

NCBiotech provides a total of $78,000 in Year 1 to cover the Fellow’s base salary ($65,000 per year) plus benefits (calculated as 20% of salary). These funds will be provided directly to the university or institution for disbursement to the Fellow. A cost-of-living increase of 3% is provided in Year 2. Fellow salary requests are fixed and non-negotiable. GTF grant funds do not provide salary support for the Faculty Mentor.

Project Expenses:

Funds will be provided to cover project expenses, including project supplies, minor lab equipment, and core laboratory fees at a rate of $15,000 per year.

Use the Budget Form to itemize these expenses, not to exceed a total of $30,000. Enter any other project costs into the university match column.

Travel:

The GTF grant provides $2,000 for approved travel to a scientific conference(s).

Term of Contract:

Funds will be available beginning November 1, 2018 and fellows must be in place by January 11, 2019.

Projects must be completed within two years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Requirements:

Applications shall be developed jointly by the candidate Fellow and the Faculty Mentor.

The fellowship application is submitted by the Faculty Mentor through his/her institution (e.g., a North Carolina university or nonprofit research institute). An authorized representative of the institution’s sponsored programs office must sign the application cover sheet.

Applications lacking a named Fellow Candidate, Faculty Mentor, or evidence of institutional endorsement will not be considered.

The Pfizer-GTF Fellowship requires the following:

-The Fellow and Mentor independently commit to the research project outlined in the application, as indicated by Letters of Interest/Support from each.

-The Fellow becomes an employee of the sponsoring university or research institution and will be subject to institution policies for postdoctoral fellows.

-The Fellow will be offered the institution’s standard benefits package (healthcare insurance, etc.) available to other postdoctoral fellows.

-The Fellow must participate in the professional development modules programmed by NCBiotech and is encouraged to take part in other career development opportunities provided.

-The Fellow and Mentor must submit annual reports and be available for periodic interviews with Pfizer-GTF program staff.

For the Postdoctoral Fellow Candidate:

-The Pfizer-GTF Candidate must have attained a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or equivalent) in a life science discipline relating to gene therapy. (Revision: Restriction has been removed requiring completion of Ph.D. within three years prior to application.)

-Fellow Candidates must show exemplary potential as independent researchers as demonstrated by publication record, letters of support, inventorship, or other measures of research productivity and potential.

-Fellows must be U.S. citizens or must 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. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center does not sponsor work visas.

For the Faculty Mentor:

-The Faculty Mentor must hold a full time tenured, tenure-track, or equivalent full-time research faculty appointment at a North Carolina-based university or non- profit research institute.

-The Faculty Mentor must maintain an active research program relating to gene therapy (preferably adeno-associated viral [AAV] platforms), gene therapy enabling methodologies, or the biology underlying a genetic disease that may be amenable to treatment via gene therapy.

-The Faculty Mentor agrees to provide the Fellow with a positive training environment, access to all necessary project resources, supervision, and career development support in order to maximize the benefit of this experience to the Fellow.

-The Faculty Mentor agrees to provide the Fellow with the necessary time away from the lab to participate in all required professional development modules provided by NCBiotech as part of this fellowship.

Unallowable expenditures from GTF funds provided by NCBiotech:
-Salary or benefits costs for the Faculty Mentor or other research personnel
-Publication costs
-Tuition and/or any other student costs
-Legal fees or patent costs
-Indirect costs/overhead/facilities and administrative costs
-Biotechnology Center grants do not support any type of overhead, F&A or indirect costs.

Pre-Application Information:

It is understood that the research project costs may exceed project funds provided by the fellowship. Project costs exceeding the total grant allocation of $30,000 MUST be itemized and committed as a match by the institution.

Examples of expenses appropriate for institutional support (but not grant funding) include dedicated Faculty Mentor effort, additional project supplies, equipment usage, other personnel required for the completion of the project, or additional salary and benefits beyond that provided by the fellowship.

The Faculty Mentor must be registered in the NCBiotech Funding Portal in order to submit a GTF proposal.

Although not required, a pre-submission consultation is encouraged. Please contact program staff at least two weeks prior to the application deadline if you would like to schedule a consultation.

The deadline to submit applications to the Pfizer-NCBiotech Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship in Gene Therapy (Pfizer-GTF) program for fiscal year 2018-2019 is noon on Wednesday, July 18, 2018.

Award decisions will be announced for the FY2018- 2019 Pfizer-GTF cycle in mid-September 2018.

Funds will be available beginning November 1, 2018.

FAQ:
https://www.ncbiotech.org/funding/grants/grant-faq

Instructions for Submitting an NCBiotech Grant Proposal:
https://www.ncbiotech.org/funding/grants/grant-proposal-submission-instructions

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

To apply, register on the NCBiotech Funding Portal:
https://ncbiotech.fluxx.io

For questions or more information, contact:

Deborah De, Senior Director, Grant Process Operations
919-549-8845
deborah_de@ncbiotech.org

Science and Technology Development Program
North Carolina Biotechnology Center
15 T.W. Alexander Drive
P.O. Box 13547
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3547

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: North Carolina