The New England Regional Center of Excellence will use the Developmental Projects program to promote innovative, cutting edge research in areas that may yield discoveries that would translate into the creation of new vaccines, therapeutics and/or diagnostics to combat NIAID priority pathogens and agents of emerging infectious disease. The Developmental Projects resources will be invested in research projects with the greatest potential to grow to full NERCE research programs or to projects that would be competitive for traditional NIH funding. Given the relatively short duration of support (one or two years) and the relatively small investment, the Developmental Projects will be more risky and require less preliminary data than conventional "RO1"-like grants. Developmental Project funds will also be used to help established New England investigators develop projects to the stage where they can take advantage of the NERCE core facilities. The fund will be used to attract investigators who are not working in the area of biodefense to begin research programs on priority pathogens and to attract investigators from institutions and companies that are not participating in NERCE. Finally, the Developmental Projects program will be used to encourage collaborations among investigators, particularly between basic and clinical research laboratories and between traditional microbiology laboratories and investigators in other basic science disciplines (e.g. immunologists, cell biologists, chemical biologists, bioinformaticists). In order to create the most fertile environment for discovery, developmental funds will be used to make strategic investments in projects of high risk but potentially high return preferentially over conventional small grants that are more likely to attract traditional NIH funding.
The Developmental Projects program will support early stage projects related to biodefense and emerging infectious disease pathogens. These projects will have a relatively high risk / reward profile and will also serve to attract new investigators to the field.
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