Since 2013 the AAF Research Program has supported only investigators at nonprofit institutions in the United States who are within 10 years of their first independent faculty appointment on the day of the application deadline. Qualified investigators will have already established an independent research program with national-level, independent funding. AAF Scholar Awards are not intended as start-up funds for investigators at the outset of their careers. There is no citizenship requirement. All Awardees will be designated AAF Scholars.
In supporting basic research, the Program seeks to break new ground. To this end, it is particularly interested in attracting investigators from outside the field to apply their expertise to the study of asthma. Prior research in asthma is not required. Investigators from within the field are also eligible for awards, but their proposed work must represent a departure from their current and past research. Because the Program seeks to develop new pathways in asthma research, innovation and risk are strongly encouraged.
The number of AAF Scholars that will be appointed each year is not fixed.
Exceptions to the requirement that the applicant must be within 10 years of his/her first independent faculty appointment. Exceptions to the 10-year rule will be considered in instances where the applicant's institution has officially extended the time for promotion during the first 10 years of the applicant's appointment, for reasons of childbearing, child care, or illness. A leave of absence from the institution is not required. Documentation of the institution's extended promotion policy, and of the extension granted to the applicant, must be submitted along with a request to the AAF for an exception to the 10-year eligibility rule. Applicants should make the request before preparing an application. They can expect a rapid response.
Additional investigators. Although each Award names only one AAF Scholar, the AAF supports collaborative research. Additional investigators may be included either as Co-Investigators, who will play a direct role in the research, or as Collaborators, who will lend assistance and/or reagents, etc.2. Nature of Work to be Supported
The proposed work should be directed toward uncovering basic mechanisms in the pathogenesis of asthma. The ultimate goal is to find new approaches to treat, prevent and cure asthma. We support work from a broad range of investigative fields. Studies may involve laboratory or clinical investigation, including genetic studies, but the Program will not sponsor therapeutic trials. Studies involving human materials must be approved and governed by the Awardee's institution.3. Institution Requirements
Investigators may apply from nonprofit research organizations in the United States that will provide the necessary facilities and infrastructure for the research, will accept the conditions of the Award, will assure compliance with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines for animal and human studies, and will provide proper oversight of the Award funds.
For human studies, Awardee institutions must safeguard the rights and welfare of individuals who participate as subjects by reviewing proposed activities through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) as specified by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office for Human Research Protections, DHHS OHRP (http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/). Approval by the sponsoring institution's IRB on human research must be received in the AAF Research Program office prior to Award activation (i.e., July 1). Furthermore, Awardee institutions must adhere to DHHS guidelines regarding financial conflict of interest, research misconduct and the use of animals in research. The Awardee's institution must assure appropriate governance of animal studies as well as human studies.4. Annual Meeting of AAF Awardees
An important objective of the Program is to promote scientific interaction between Awardees. To facilitate this, all AAF Awardees are required to attend the AAF Annual Meeting, which promotes scientific exchange among the Awardees as well as experts in the field. The meeting is held each May in San Francisco and runs for 2½ days. Awardees are strongly encouraged to bring a fellow or a collaborating investigator to the meeting.5. Institutional Indirect Costs
No funds may be used for institutional indirect costs or for renting space, though limited administrative expenses under the control of the Awardee are allowed (see Award Budgets, Administrative support and computers).6. Award Budgets
Budgets are not required at the time of application. Successful applicants will be asked to submit a budget annually early in June. All expenses must be in direct support of the proposed scientific work. The following restrictions apply:
Investigator salaries. The sum of salaries for investigators (not including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or technicians) is limited to $50,000/year plus fringe benefits. Individuals are generally considered to be investigators if they are appointed in a faculty series and/or are eligible to apply for unmentored grant support. Salaries should be proportionate to percent effort.
Travel. The budget must include the cost of yearly travel to the AAF Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Other travel costs are limited to $4,000 yearly.
Administrative support and computers. Up to 10% of the budget may be used in support of administrative costs that are under the direct signatory authority of the Awardee, such as office supplies for the laboratory and salary for administrative personnel under the direct supervision of the Investigator. Administrative costs may include up to $5,000 over the duration of the Award for office computers to be used in support of the project. The purchase of any additional computers (e.g., for use with laboratory equipment) must be fully justified, and are not included in this limit.
Subcontracts to other nonprofit institutions are allowed, but they must meet the above restrictions, including the lack of institutional indirect costs. Subcontracts must be approved in advance by the AAF Research Program office.
Carryover of funds. Up to 40% of the annual award allocation may be carried over from one year to the next, including beyond the last year of the award. Carryover funds from each year must be spent during the subsequent year; these funds may not be banked. Larger amounts may be carried over with approval from the AAF Research Director. Carryover of more than 40% of yearly funds beyond the last year of the award is subject to review by the AAF Scientific Review Board. If more than 40% of the yearly funds are carried over beyond the last year of the award, the Awardee may be asked to attend the Annual Meeting in the additional year. When funds are carried over beyond the last year of the award, the $50,000 limit on combined salaries for Investigators continues, and the combined salaries for Investigators may not exceed 30% of the amount carried over.7. Expenditure Reports
A completed Expenditure Report form is due at the end of August each year.8. Scientific Reporting and Review of Progress
Awards are initially provided for a period of two years, but renewal for the second year requires satisfactory progress. This will be assessed by a written report, due annually in March, and a presentation to the Scientific Review Board at the Annual Meeting in May. A third year of funding will be provided if, in the opinion of the Scientific Review Board, this will significantly advance the field. It is anticipated that many of the projects will meet this requirement.9. Change in Direction of Work
The Program wishes to encourage innovation and flexibility, but any substantive change in the direction of work should be reviewed in advance by the AAF Research Director.10. Change of Institution
Awards may be transferred to another institution that can provide adequate support for the research and that will accept the Award under the policies of the Program. Permission to transfer an Award to another institution must be obtained from the AAF Research Director. The Awardee shall retain the option to transfer any major equipment (costing $5,000 or more) purchased with Award funds to the new institution.11. Funding of Awards
The American Asthma Foundation Research Program is a not-for-profit program. Awards under the Program are funded by the Sandler Foundation, following the recommendations of the AAF Scientific Review Board. The Sandler Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.
The AAF Research Program office will assure compliance with AAF Program policies and will be responsible for all administrative matters involved in the funding of Awards. The AAF Research Program staff, the AAF Scientific Review Board members and the Sandler Foundation do not assume responsibility for the conduct of the scientific investigation or the acts of the investigators, since the studies are under the direction and control of the Awardee’s institution and are subject to the institution’s medical and scientific policies.12. Acknowledgment and Open Access Publication
Publications should note "This work was supported by an AAF Scholar Award to_____." To expand support for our mission, we require that Awardees credit the AAF Scholars Program in publicity resulting from their Awards.
AAF Scholars are encouraged to publish in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) or other open-access journals. The Program will pay publication expenses for articles in PLoS journals stemming from the Award, provided that this is done through direct billing to the AAF Research Program office by PLoS. Otherwise, publication costs should be paid from the Award.13. Intellectual Property and Unique Research Resources
Neither the American Asthma Foundation Research Program nor the Sandler Foundation claims rights to patents on discoveries sponsored by AAF Scholar Awards, but all relevant disclosures, publications and publicity regarding the work should acknowledge support from the AAF Scholars Program. Prompt disclosure of discoveries to the public is required after measures have been taken to ensure protection of any patentable, copyrightable or trademarkable intellectual property, if appropriate.
Unique research resources developed with funds from the Award must be made available rapidly to the research community after publication, in order to advance the research enterprise and to accelerate the development of products and knowledge that are of benefit to the public. Unique research resources include synthetic compounds, model organisms, cell lines, viruses, cell products, and cloned DNA, as well as DNA sequences, mapping information, crystallographic coordinates, and spectroscopic data. Model organisms are not restricted to mammalian models, and they include genetically modified or mutant organisms and embryos, as well as relevant protocols and genetic and phenotypic data for mutant strains.
To facilitate the availability of unique research resources developed with funds from the Award, investigators may distribute the materials through their own laboratory or organization or may submit them to external repositories. Awardees are expected to submit unique biological information, such as DNA sequences or crystallographic coordinates, to the appropriate data banks so that they can be made available to the broad scientific community. When distributing unique resources, investigators should include pertinent information on the nature, quality, or characterization of the materials.
Awardees are expected to use modest sums from the Award to distribute resources and/or to charge a reasonable amount to defray costs associated with sharing materials or transferring these materials to appropriate repositories. If the costs of distributing materials cannot be met, this should be addressed with the AAF Research Program staff. Awardees are encouraged to confer with their technology transfer office and/or office of sponsored programs for guidance.
In their annual evaluation of progress, the AAF Scientific Review Board will consider, as part of the criteria for continued funding, adequate progress in sharing unique research resources developed with funds from the Award, as well as a demonstrated willingness to make research resources developed during the project widely available to the research community.
Updated October 2015.