Pilot Project competition – 2018

The NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (http://nbaf.nerc.ac.uk/) is now in its 21st year. NBAF provision to the UK environmental research community includes access to high-throughput genomics and computational biology capabilities. To help scientists working within the NERC remit to take advantage of these opportunities, NERC is again providing funding for small pilot/development projects that wish to access the latest sequencing technologies (Pacific BioSciences, Illumina). Applicants should consult the web pages of the NBAF–Edinburgh (http://genomics.ed.ac.uk) and NBAF–Liverpool (http://www.liv.ac.uk/genomic-research/) nodes for a fuller description of the technologies and capacities available.

Pilot/development projects should be directed at generating preliminary data or demonstrations in advance of full research grant proposals, particularly when it is necessary to demonstrate the applicability or the technical feasibility of new techniques or approaches to NERC-relevant research problems. Examples could include proposals wishing to demonstrate, within a NERC context, the use of DNA capture technology for subsequent de-novo sequencing of reduced genomes, ‘digital’ transcriptomics using next-generation sequencing, deep metagenomics of environmental samples, or the use of next-generation sequencing as a genetic tool in natural populations. Proposals can also involve a request for support with bioinformatic analysis or software development.

Principal Applicants must not already have sequencing funds for the proposed study and must satisfy at least ONE of the following criteria:
A – Be within 5 years of first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator (taking account of any career breaks).
B – New users, who have not previously used new-generation sequencing as a Principal Investigator on a research grant, or as the supervising or senior author on a relevant publication.
C – Users with experience of new-generation sequencing who propose to pilot a novel application of the technology.

Applicants should note the following:

  • Samples suitable for analysis (i.e. meeting minimum quality and quantity requirements) must be delivered to the relevant NBAF node by 31 January 2019; failure to deliver suitable samples to the relevant node by the submission deadline will result in funding being withdrawn.
  • The PI must be eligible to receive a NERC grant. For more information, consult <http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/application/eligibility/>
  • Only one project per applicant will be considered;
  • PIs in receipt of an award in 2017 are not eligible;
  • The services offered by NBAF-Sheffield (genotyping) are outside the scope of this competition but are available by application throughout the year, and potential users are encouraged to consult this facility in the first instance.

In writing their proposal, applicants should make clear the relevance of the work to NERC’s strategic remit, and the way in which the project will lead to further work and/or proposals for full funding. Proposals for projects associated with PhD students (who do not themselves have to be NERC-funded) will be considered. In such cases, the application should show how the proposed work integrates within the timeframe of the doctoral project.

All proposals should include a clear plan for the bioinformatic analysis of the resulting data, noting that the NBAF–Edinburgh and NBAF–Liverpool nodes can offer bioinformatic and statistical support in-house.

Applications will be graded by the NBAF Steering Committee, following the usual NERC procedures, but with special reference to:

  • scientific excellence
  • the likely importance of the pilot data to a full grant proposal
  • the technical novelty of the proposed methodology
  • whether the applicants have received NBAF pilot grant funding in the last 3 years.

Each successful project will include access to staff and equipment at the relevant NBAF node, and consumables costs, to a total value of up to £6,000.

Potential applicants must contact NBAF (<competitionNBAF@sheffield.ac.uk>) to discuss their specific requirements between Friday 31 August and 28 September. Only applications where initial contact with NBAF–Edinburgh or NBAF–Liverpool has taken place before Thursday 28 September and a formal quotation has been obtained before the closing date will be considered.

Applications should be made via this form: https://goo.gl/forms/PXg3N62BMHo8QUKf2. The closing date for this call is 5.00 p.m. on Thursday 18 October 2018.