Pilot Project competition – 2017

The provision of NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility includes access to high-throughput genomics and computational biology capabilities for the UK research community (http://nbaf.nerc.ac.uk/). 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 –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.

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 2018; failure to deliver suitable samples to the relevant node by the submission deadline will result in funding being withdrawn.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/>.
  • This scheme is particularly aimed at assisting new users to exploit these technologies and at developing new uses of the technology.
  • The services offered by the other nodes (metabolomics and genotyping) are outside the scope of this competition but are available by application throughout the year, and potential users are encouraged to consult those facilities 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 Thursday 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/1X6veIqROzTmh8CI2. The closing date for this call is 5.00 p.m. on Wednesday 18 October 2017.