The Rapid Response and Pilot Research (RRPR) Core of the Mason Coordination and Translation Center (MCTC) will develop and maintain an effective process that facilitates research of emerging policies and practices related to the opioid use disorder (OUD) among justice-involved individuals, their families, or communities. The RRPR Core has four specific aims: 1) establish an Advisory committee, including those within and outside of JCOIN; 2) develop the infrastructure, policies, and procedures for a rapid cycle pilot research application and grant funding program; 3) monitor funded programs through regular monthly and annual reporting; and 4) create a process that encourages novel research projects. The RRPR Core, led by Dr. Rebekah Hersch, Associate Director for Research Development at George Mason University (Mason), will work alongside NIDA, the Steering Committee (SC), the Administration (Admin), the Dissemination and Stakeholder Engagement (D/SE), and the Research Education (Learning Experiences to Advance Practice [LEAP]) Cores to adopt, adapt, and implement an application submission procedure. Dr. Hersch has extensive experience overseeing funding opportunities, and Mason has the infrastructure to support such initiatives. The RRPR Advisory Committee will consist of NIDA staff, JCOIN organizations, and an External Advisory Panel, including representatives of families or individuals affected by OUD. To identify innovative studies, including time-sensitive ideas and concepts that can be rapidly funded and tested, calls for proposals will occur three times per year. The RRPR Core will work with the Admin and D/SE Cores to publicize the funding announcements and reach broad audiences to promote novel study ideas. Small innovative studies will be encouraged, using various methodologies, to address OUD. Applicants will be required to identify a JCOIN investigator to work with, including teaming with a Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center methodologist. If an applicant is not affiliated with JCOIN, the RRPR Core will assist them in connecting with an investigator interested in their project. This is intended to encourage promising research from outside the JCOIN community. All applications will be reviewed by three individuals from the Advisory Committee, who will provide written feedback along with a numerical score; recommended projects will be submitted to SC and NIDA for input and approval. Funded projects will be limited to a 24-month project period and $100,000 of direct cost funding. The review process will be rapid cycle ensuring that pilot funds of $350,000 are allocated each year. Progress reports summarizing milestones, deliverables, performance metrics, and responses to adverse events will be required monthly. The RRPR Core will work with funded projects that encounter challenges by providing a senior scientist to help correct course. Funded projects will be required to submit a final report within three months after project completion; the results of these studies will be available online for the public. The RRPR Core will be essential to infusing NIDA and JCOIN with novel research ideas, piloting new ideas, and building the research evidence around OUD.
Innovations in OUD policies and practices happen quickly and typical grant processes cannot accommodate funding for these projects. Rapid cycle funding for projects will generate small, pilot research studies to examine innovations and their impacts. Funding can expand research opportunities to expand scientific knowledge.