FAQ- Grant Applications

 1. How much should I request in my budget?
There is no formal limit but it would be unlikely for a research project to be funded for more than $150,000 in direct costs per year. To date, most awards have averaged around $100,000. The purpose of the grants is to provide seed funding and we aim to support as many worthwhile projects as possible. Please go to our website at www.ocascr.org to see what grants were successful in the past.

2. For how many years are the grants awarded?
In general, grants have been approved for 1 year.  The committee has agreed to consider a longer interval for exceptional projects. That is, scientists that have been funded for stem cell research by OCASCR, NIH, or the NSF can request support for 2 years although that does not guarantee receiving the award for 2 years. If the award is for 2 years, there would be a requirement to report on progress in the interim to ensure continued funding, but no competitive review after the first year.

3. Should I include indirect costs in my proposal?
The OCASCR Governing Board authorized 12% for indirect costs. Don’t include indirect costs in your budget request inasmuch as this will be automatically added for non-equipment costs on research proposals.

4. What kinds of grants are awarded?
We award grants for research projects, shared instrumentation, travel/education and enabling technology. The latter represents a kind of supplement to OCASCR funded investigators.

5. Who is eligible?
Any Oklahoma Principal Investigator working with adult stem cells is eligible to apply. Applications from universities, research institutions and private industry are welcome. Thus far, all successful applicants have been experienced PIs. However, the funds might be appropriate for establishing new labs, provided that there is evidence of independence and all criteria listed below are satisfied.
To be eligible to receive an OCASCR grant, the principal investigator must meet the following criteria:
• Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
• Be a professional or faculty member (Professor, Associate Professor or Assistant Professor) at an appropriate educational, medical or research institution; Research track investigators or trainees are not eligible.
• Be qualified to conduct and mentor a program of original research within their own independent laboratory;
• Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant; and
• Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project.

6. What is the procedure of submitting a proposal?
Submit the application form and supporting documents as one PDF file via email to cascr@ocascr.org with subject line “grant request”. Do not send the proposal to any other email. You will receive a return email indicating delivery. If you do not receive a return email with 24 hours, please contact Kelly Gentry at kelly-gentry@ocascr.org- 405-271-7473.

7. Do I need to get signatures from my research office?
You need to determine what the procedure is for your organization. If your organization requires a “routing” sheet, it is your responsibility to obtain it. OCASCR will accept all proposals that are sent to the email with or without a “routing sheet”. Signatures will be obtained if funding is approved.

8. How are the proposals evaluated?
The applications are evaluated in periodic meetings of the Steering Committee, when they are prioritized for funding solely on the basis of scientific merit.

9. If I do not receive funding, will I get feedback?
No. In general, most successful proposals had:
Direct relevance to adult stem cells
Historical success of the PI in the proposed area of research
Clear evidence of independence and sound training
Ability to communicate significance to a lay audience
Likelihood of obtaining support from a major funding agency

10. What should I include in the proposal?
All applications should include the application cover sheet. Below is a list of what should be included in your proposal depending on the type of request. In all cases, the total number of pages should be no more than 10 pages- this includes the application cover sheet, CVs, budget, etc. If you would like the committee to be aware of other supporting information (copies of articles, etc.), please indicate that in your proposal and provide a web link to the information. There is no guarantee that any information over 10 pages will be reviewed.
a) Research Grants- For these purposes, adult human stem cells are defined to include those obtained from umbilical cord blood as well as other adult samples. Studies involving experimental animals and model systems will also be considered. Reprogramming of adult cells for use in tissue regeneration and stem cell-based reconstruction are of particular interest as are studies devoted to a better understanding of tissue-specific stem cells. These are not inclusive examples, and exciting advances are possible in many areas of adult stem cell research. For Research Projects, up to five pages of narrative (Arial, 11 pt font) are permitted and can be described with your format of choice (eg. Aims, preliminary results, rationale, research plan) In addition, you may attach highly selected references. The application will include the following:
Application cover page
NIH Biosketch form(s)
PHS 398 Budget form- Do not include indirect costs (see # 3)
No more than 5 pages of narrative
Highly selected references
Other supporting documents

b. Equipment Grants- Equipment requests should include a manufacturer’s quote and information about users. The instrumentation should be part of a core facility and available to investigators in other institutions. Please include an explanation of that in your proposal. The budget should only include the cost of the equipment. It is assumed that personnel or supply costs will be absorbed by the institution or charged to users. See category f below. The application will include the following:
Application cover page
NIH Biosketch form(s)
No more than 5 pages of narrative
Highly selected references
Other supporting documents
Manufacturer’s quote- It is understood that the length of the quote will cause the proposal to be more than ten pages.

c. Education and Travel Grants- Requests can be made for support to attend educational opportunities regarding stem cells, participate in courses or train in other laboratories. State if you are an invited speaker and whether other funds are available. Links to web site announcements should be provided, along with exceptional justification for foreign travel. Support will also be considered for “mini-sabbaticals” to learn stem cell technology. The application will include the following:
Application cover page
NIH Biosketch form(s)
No more than 5 pages of narrative-
Other supporting documents- Include the announcement of the meeting and or a letter from the scientist that will be doing the training. Providing information about what you hope to learn and how it would apply it to your work in Oklahoma would be helpful.

d. Enabling technology -This category was introduced in 2012. Investigators with ongoing studies may apply for help in obtaining enabling technology. For example, commercially obtained animal models, monoclonal antibody preparation or genetic assays might propel the work and make Oklahoma scientists more competitive. The application will include the following:
Application cover page
NIH Biosketch form(s)
PHS 398 Budget form-
5 pages of narrative
Highly selected references
Other supporting documents. Include the abstract and budget pages for ongoing NIH, NSF or OCASCR grants that currently support your stem cell studies.

e. Other- OCASCR is aware that there may be other valuable ways to support adult stem cell research and inquiries are welcome. For example, partial salary support might be requested for personnel in core facilities that are heavily used by OCASCR grantees. A successful proposal would have to document need and show how this funding mechanism would be uniquely valuable. The application will include the following:
• Application cover page
• NIH Biosketch form(s)
• PHS 398 Budget form-
• 5 pages of narrative
• Highly selected references
• Other supporting documents

11. That is a lot of information to include in 10 pages. Can I include more pages so the committee will understand my research?
No. In general, the most important part of your proposal is the 5 pages of narrative. The application cover page should only be one page. Signatures will be obtained if you are awarded a grant.
Only include highly selected references. Provide a link to other references if absolutely needed.

An example of the page count is as follows:
Cover page- 1 page (All the extraneous information and spaces can be deleted to ensure that the cover page is only one page.)
NIH Biosketch- 2 pages
Budget- 1 page
Narrative – 5 pages
Selected references- less than 1 page

12. My research is very complicated and it is hard to put in lay language on the grant cover sheet. Does it really need to be at an 11th grade level?
The committee feels strongly that the one paragraph should be in lay language that is understandable by the average person. Please have someone review the paragraph for clarity prior to submitting your proposal. “If your mother doesn’t understand it then you need to rework it.” The paragraph should include what your project is , how you will do it, and how it will ultimately benefit the community. An example of an appropriate lay paragraph follows.

Our bodies have the capacity to repair themselves through an intricate process that closes the wound
and returns the damaged tissue to a functional state. This works remarkably well when we are young,
but not as well when we age. Non-healing chronic wounds commonly occur in the elderly and those who
have poor circulation due to diabetes or immobility. There is a tremendous need for new technology to
solve the medical problems of non-healing wounds, and this can only come through a better
understanding of the repair process. Injured or stressed tissues produce a small protein signal called
platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Some cells have specific PDGF-receptors located on the cell
surface that allow them to sense PDGF in the wound environment. PDGF stimulates wound repair, but
too much PDGF causes scar tissue. Therefore, our bodies must maintain a careful balance for proper
healing. Some adult stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), have PDGF-receptors. It is not
known why MSCs have PDGF-receptors or if they are important in the overall wound-repair process. We
hypothesize that MSCs may hold the key to optimal tissue repair via their response to PDGF in the
wound environment. The studies in my laboratory are designed to understand how PDGF works in
wound repair and how MSCs are involved. We study genetically engineered mice with altered PDGFreceptors
in their MSCs to understand how they are involved in wound repair. By understanding the
function of MSCs we hope to improve therapies for chronic wounds.

13. Will you buy equipment for my lab? OCASCR only awards shared instrumentation grants. All of the equipment that is bought with OCASCR funds becomes part of the OCASCR Core Facility. A list of the equipment is on our website at www.ocascr.org. All OCASCR equipment must be available to all Oklahoma scientists. Some equipment grants have been complemented with matching funds. If there are matching funds for the equipment, please indicate that on the application cover sheet.

14. What is a travel/education grant? OCASCR will provide funding for scientists to attend training/meetings. Some awards have been  to attend a scientific meeting while others have been to pay for travel and lodging while working with a scientist in another city. We want to facilitate knowledge for Oklahoma scientists. When you write your proposal, tell us explicitly about the training opportunity and how it will facilitate your work with adult stem cells. In addition, please explain how you will pass on the information gained to others. As detailed below, all awardees must be regular faculty members.

15. How is OCASCR funded? The funding is from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). The funding began in April 2010, was increased in 2011 and is expected to continue as long as progress is being made. We have made a commitment to the board of TSET to be good stewards with the funds. Hence, the administrative costs for OCASCR are merely 8%.

16. What if I want to do stem cell research but I do not meet the above criteria?
We want to encourage new scientists in stem cell research. However, support for those without appropriate academic rank must come via grants awarded to an independent principal investigator.

17. What if I receive funding and then leave the state? The funds are exclusively for research conducted in Oklahoma. Transfer of a project to another PI is theoretically possible, but would be considered on a case-by-case basis and would not be guaranteed. Formal collaborations with investigators elsewhere are encouraged. Teamwork between scientists within the state could also be helpful.

18. What if I don’t use all the funds in the specified time frame?
Any funds remaining at the end of the time frame are forfeited by the scientist.  On very rare occasions, a no-cost extension may be approved if the project ends in December.

19. What about the paperwork? We believe that the application and grant administration processes are simpler than for other funding agencies. Our aim is to free up your time and promote research. However, certain procedures are required by State law and necessary to ensure good stewardship of these precious funds. An explanation of procedures and required forms are posted on: www.ocascr.org. Kelly Gentry is available to answer your questions and help with compliance.

20. What criteria are used to select proposals for funding?
The steering committee uses procedures typical for other review groups, e.g. NIH study sections. An important difference is that we do not expect these to be mature projects, and they must have merit that the public can understand. As is always the case, applications are ranked relative to each other with respect to scientific merit and feasibility, and must be applicable to adult stem cell research.

21. Again, how important is the lay language paragraph?
It is very important. This will become public information if an award is made, and continued support for OCASCR is contingent on accountability. Furthermore, your proposal will be evaluated by highly qualified scientists, but not necessarily ones familiar with your field. Please have several non-scientists review the language in your paragraph so that it is easily understood. If the lay language is difficult for the average person to understand, the proposal may be administratively denied.

22. If I receive information that might be germane to the proposal, can I submit that information after the application deadline?
No supplemental information will be entertained after the application deadline.

23. What if I am applying for continued funding?
You must apply as before and your application will be evaluated relative to the other applications received. You will want to clearly state in your proposal what, if any, progress was made with previous OCASCR support. Failure to state clearly what was previously achieved will diminish your chances of future support. Use up to ½ page additional space to provide this information. Outline plans for continuation or revision of the study, and your strategy for obtaining future funding.

24. I received an award that will have started 6 months prior to this award. Can I apply for increased funding?
Yes. You can apply for increased funding. If your request for increased funding is accepted, the prior award will be complete and you will begin a new funding cycle. If your request for increased funding is not accepted, it will not affect your prior award. In general, a request for increased funding would be for projects that have been established and have shown progress. In your proposal for an increase in funding, you would want to explain how the increased resources will propel your projects.

25. Do I have to use the cover sheet?
Yes. The cover sheet was updated in November 2014 so be sure to use the one that has those dates at the bottom of the page.

25. What if I have other questions?
Kelly Gentry is available to help at cascr@ocascr.org or at 405-271-7473. She will not “put a finger on the scales” for you, but wants to make sure the application process is a positive experience.