Facilitating grant applications 1. LOIs and Templates statements

Facilitating grant applications 1. LOIs and Templates statements

 

Dear all

 

We are increasingly aware of the need to simplify grant application procedures, particularly in light of the changing dynamics of Grant Awarding bodies and increasingly tight deadlines.

 

At FPG this week we discussed the following proposal with a view to facilitating staff wishing to apply for funding, in particular research council funding.

 

We will discontinue the requirement to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) for research grant proposals from 01mar15.

 

In return for the time saved we request that you take due care when submitting your pFact to ensure that everything is correct, adheres to requirements and matches your grant submission form. In particular consult colleagues to review your applications. If you put rubbish in, you will get rubbish out, and waste everyone’s time.

 

This proposal will be piloted for 3 months and then reviewed.

 

Concurrent with this proposal we will continue to streamline the research grant application process and in particular how to support new researchers applying for funding.

 

Attached are template that can be used in particular for grant applications to research councils (these are largely lab based). These statements will evolve over time.

 

They include the following statements

1) Impact statement

2) Pathways to impact

3) Academic beneficiaries

4) Data management

5) Environment

 

Further guidance will be given on what to cost in for proposals and the justification of costs statement.

 

There will be a further update after the next FPG in Feb.

 

We welcome any comments regarding removal of the LOI, comments on template statements and any further suggestions to facilitate the grant application process.

 

Best regards

 

Brendan

 

 

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Professor Brendan W. Wren, PhD, FRCPath.

Dean of Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases,

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine,

Keppel Street,
London WC1E 7HT.
United Kingdom.
Office +44 [0]207 927 2288
Sec +44 [0]207 927 2639
Fax +44 [0]207 637 2131
E.mail brendan.wren@lshtm.ac.uk
Web http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/people/wren.brendan

******************************************************************

 

 

Pathways to Impact (up to 2 pages)

 

The primary objective of this project is the acquisition of new knowledge and scientific advancement. In later phases of the research programme, we will be at a favourable stage for commercial development and the proposed study is likely to generate numerous biological and data resources.

 

  1. Exploitation

We place strong emphasis on the early exploitation of research and our groups have been successful at doing this. Exploitation of our research will continue to be delivered though our respective Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs), with which the principal applicants (PIs) have forged strong links. The PIs have over xxx patent applications between them and are experienced in spotting commercial opportunities from basic research and delivering potential licensing agreements as and when opportunities arise.

 

The PIs have wide collaborations internationally in both basic and applied research and have been involved in clinical trials of novel antimicrobials. They have worked with companies ranging from fledgling SMEs such as Discuva, Domainex, Glycovaxyn, BioControl, VaxAlta and Malicisbo to major pharmaceutical companies such as GSK, Pfizer (Zoetis), Roche and Merck as well as the Dstl. Through our many contacts in these organisations we will identify potential collaborations as our work programme progresses. Prior to opening these channels, we will place legally binding agreements, aimed at capturing all relevant IP, with potential partners through our respective TTOs. Our priority will be to maximise financial benefit for our institutions through licensing agreements that will have local, national and international rewards. LSHTM will support this project through world-class research facilities.

 

  1. Engagement

With respect to the current project, we will continue to exploit our media contacts, and will promote new findings from the current project by issuing press releases in conjunction with our press offices which will ensure dissemination through our Institutional web sites and in the local and national press.

 

Members of the consortium regularly present to the media including national newspapers, BBC, ITN, Sky, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and BBC Radio 5 live. Recent examples include an interview on the BBC 1 program “Food Detectives”, the BBC 1 “One Show” on issues relating to antimicrobial resistance, BBC Newsnight, Sky News on novel antibiotic approaches and, most recently, BBC Breakfast TV on the government report into antimicrobial resistance.

 

We have links with a number of local schools. xxxx have lectured to children from several Schools in the South East and over twenty school children have undertaken work experience in laboratory-based projects at the LSHTM. LSHTM regularly hold events to allow schools to bring groups of interested students to perform experiments that are not possible in schools settings.

 

As the program of research develops we will exploit social media for publicising the project to bring it to the attention of the public, policy makers and industry. We will use web analytics to help shape future industry engagement, research and public dialogue. The LSHTM have proactive external relations offices with dedicated video facilities and social media to communicate complex science ideas and engage with the public. Figures from press office at LSHTM have doubled in 18 months. Xxx in 2014 approx 2.5 interview for each academic

 

We will also engage with specific stakeholder groups to gain acceptance and support through our numerous contacts in the NHS, Public Health England and Dstl, in addition to the industry. Thus, we will disseminate key findings from the proposed work programme to these organisations.

 

In addition to the Institute program, the ITD Faculty is developing an engagement policy and practise procedure through a recent Wellcome Trust award…..

 

  1. Data dissemination

In addition to publication in peer-reviewed, preferably web-based open access scientific journals, the results of the planned experiments will be disseminated by abstract and invited speaker presentations at scientific meetings, and by seminars to interested research groups. We fully concur with the Toronto recommendations for rapid release of pre-publication data (Nature 461:168-170; 2009) and the Rome proposals regarding post-publication sharing of data and tools (Nature 461:171-173; 2009); we will therefore make available to interested parties the data from this research as rapidly as possible and we welcome collaboration based on the outcomes of our work with appropriate third parties.

 

  1. Postdoctoral development

A key objective of the research program will be to train a high caliber group of scientists with diverse expertise to add to the UK science base. This project will provide unique training for postdoctoral researchers involved in the program as well as PhD students associated with the research. The LSHTM have dedicated Postdoctoral Development programmes. We plan to use these programmes to train and develop the PDRAs associated with the proposed research, to diversify their skills and encourage professional development.

 

It is planned that the cohort of researchers will meet regularly to learn from each other. The group of postdoctoral researchers will organize local events to discuss, for example, publication in high impact factor journals, becoming an independent researcher and networking skills. Other examples will include, public engagement and the development of business, management, commercialization and interpersonal skills. We will also rotate the four PDRAs between laboratories and facilitate them to develop their own network meetings. Already, several PDRAs regularly transfer between the LSHTM, UCL etc. We envisage that this will continue and through the new Bloomsbury Research Institute (BRI, due to open in Jan 2018) where co-location of our groups will further enhance integration and postdoctoral development. Through the Centre for Antibiotic Innovation within BRI, the PDRAs will directly work with other scientists and clinicians in a dedicated thriving work environment.

 

  1. Deliverables and milestones
  • P. and Commercialization: Three annual Meetings of PIs/CIs/PDRAS with the technology transfer officers from each Institution will be held to evaluate any potential intellectual assets, determine measures to protect the IP and develop an exploitation strategy.

 

  • Public Engagement and publications: We propose to issue press releases via our press offices to coincide with the publication of the research in the scientific literature, to contribute to at least one annual outreach event. Where possible we will publish outcomes from our research in popular journals.

 

  • Training: Within 3 months of the project start date, we will agree a training programme for the PDRAs (as outlined above) with respect to technology transfer and public engagement.

 

Impact Summary (please refer to the help for guidance on what to consider when completing this section) [up to 4000 chars]

 

The economy

The knowledge generated in the program and application of the research would clearly benefit the poultry and livestock industry as well as farming communities. Ultimately, through reduced occurrence of food poisoning, the knowledge gained in this study will improve the health and wealth of the nation. The reduction of serious infections in livestock coupled with the development and manufacture of novel vaccines will provide significant benefits to the UK economy. The impacts of the research program are potentially enormous and manifold. Vaccines are proven for the control of infectious diseases in both humans and in animals, and suitably designed vaccines will reduce our reliance on antibiotics. With the UK livestock industry (including cows, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish) estimated to have an annual value of over £14bn in 2013, smart design vaccines will have direct benefits for the UK economy. Chickens alone are the world’s most popular food animal with global poultry production tripling in the past 20 years and will continue to increase. Therefore, farmers and the agricultural industry will significantly benefit from cheaper more effective vaccines that target livestock.

 

The general public

The general public will benefit from less food poisoning in the reduction of C. jejuni and C. coli in the food chain, with the resultant economic benefit to the UK economy in terms of improved productivity. C. perfringens is major cause of disease in domesticated livestock ranging from enterotoxaemia in sheep, goals and calves to necrotic enteritis in poultry, a disease which is emerging following the EU ban on the use of antibiotics to promote growth. An effective poultry vaccine would also discourage the indiscriminate use of antimicrobials in livestock and contribute to reducing antimicrobial resistance. Thus a significant impact will be the reduction in antibiotic use, a key government policy and priority https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-5-year-antimicrobial-resistance. Coxiella is a zoonotic agent therefore an effective animal vaccine would reduce transmission of Q fever to humans. Additionally, there would be a market for a human Coxiella vaccine to protect workers likely to come into contact with infected animals and where Q fever is endemic as well as for defense purposes. Therefore, the proposal will considerably enhance the quality of life and improve the economic competitiveness of the UK.

 

Academic and industrial organisations

The development of PGCT would enhance the commercial private sector for the production of vaccines and potentially for glycoengineering human therapeutics. We have close links with Zoetis, Merck, Glycovaxyn, VaxAlta and Malicisbo and will use licensing agreements through our respective technology transfer offices to ensure pipelines to vaccine production and exploitation are in place. Developing a basic understanding of the glycobiosynthetic pathways for the pathogens in this study will not only be important for understanding pathogenesis and vaccine production, but has other practical applications. The inhibition of bacterial glycosyltransferases is a useful target to disable the pathogenic bacteria providing a novel approach for antimicrobial development termed “glycobiotics”. Additionally, bacterial glycans are often surface exposed and specific to individual species or virulent clones providing improved diagnostics benefitting human and veterinary health. The technology developed through may have enormous implications for policy makers to future disease outbreaks and impact on exports.

 

Training opportunities

The consortium will employ and train and develop a cohort of scientists with diverse experience with a “one health” mentality that can be applied in academia, the public sector and industry. The multidisciplinary team will add to the UK science base in an important and economically vital research area.

Data management plan (maximum 1 page)

 

Data management: All laboratory experimental data will be recorded daily in dedicated laboratory notebooks. These data will be scrutinized at weekly laboratory meetings and during regular one to one meetings with PIs. Further critical evaluation of data will be carried out at regular meetings within institutional laboratories and between institutional laboratories at network meetings. Computer-readable data will be stored on institutionally-maintained networked file systems with regular automatic backup.

Curation and storage of biological material: Details of all bacterial strains, attenuated strains, DNA vectors generated as part of this project will be entered into existing computerised databases stored on supported network file systems. All strains will be stored in glycerol at -80oC and made available to other researchers on demand, subject to a charge to cover costs. The xxxx resource facility at the LSHTM will keep duplicate samples as an emergency backup provision.

Data sharing (biological): All published strains, mutants and plasmids will be made available, subject to a standard MTA, to the community free of charge. We expect overseas recipients to cover the shipment costs. However, we will cover such costs to developing countries.

Methods for data sharing: All DNA sequence data and transcriptome data will be deposited with EMBL/Genbank. New information relating to genes and genomic features will be used to update genome annotations in public databases, including those in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov), xBASE (xbase.bham.ac.uk) and the Enteropathogen Genome Resource Centre (www.ericbrc.org/). A dedicated facility for Clostridium difficile data and materials will be set up at the LSHTM. This will be modelled on the successful Campylobacter Resource Facility at the LSHTM (http://crf.lshtm.ac.uk) that also acts as a source for bacterial mutants and strains.

 

Patentable data: We anticipate that this project will generate patentable data and we will do this via the well-established and successful LSHMT-based technology transfer offices. This will be done as soon as feasible so as not to unduly delay publication or release of data longer than is absolutely necessary.

Publications: As the standard route for dissemination, we will present our findings in posters and oral presentations at national and international scientific meetings. We will publish our work in appropriate peer-reviewed journals of high standing. Where possible we will publish in Open Access journals to ensure they will have the widest possible readership. Funds have been requested for this purpose. Publications arising from this proposal will also be deposited in UK Pubmed Central. A sentence stating our data sharing policy will be included in any publications arising. Schedules and outlets for publication and public release will be decided, with the goal of releasing all data in a timely and complete format. Publications will acknowledge the support received from the Research Council, quoting the grant reference number. If we obtain results that are of broad public interest, we will seek to disseminate our findings through interactions with the MRC Media Office and Communications/Press Offices associated with our host institutions.

 

Academic beneficiaries – Who will benefit from the research [up to 4000 chars]

 

In this programme of research the applicants will exploit a number of recent technical innovations, many of which have been developed in the applicants’ laboratories through BBSRC support. These include the production of recombinant glyco-modified proteins, glycoengineering for the production of vaccines, development of the glyco “tool box” and “synthetic glycobiology” (using gene cassettes for known glycostructures). Validation and development of this methodology will benefit the wider scientific research community as a technology platform for numerous glycoengineering applications in the laboratory sciences, healthcare services and biotechnology-based industry.

 

Knowledge of the ability of glyoconjugate vaccines to potentiate T cell-dependent responses relative to separate glycan and protein antigens mostly derives from mice and humans. The basis of immune priming in poultry is ill-defined by comparison, and the project has the potential to inform strategies for control of diverse avian diseases.

 

Of broader scientific interest a detailed understanding of the glyco-biosynthetic pathways involved in key bacterial structures will benefit scientists studying host pathogen interactions and pathogenesis. The development and analysis of toxoid vaccines will provide new constructs for counteracting clostridial species. Biological materials (e.g. novel plasmid constructs, strains and antiserum) generated during the project will be made available for the benefit of the wider scientific community.

 

  1. Research team and environment

 

The LSHTM is ranked in the top 10 of all UK universities on overall performance, and ranked second for impact in the 2014 REF. The LSHTM is a unique multidisciplinary infectious diseases institute and its excellent infrastructure makes it the ideal environment in which to carry out the proposed collaborative Yersinia research.

 

There are numerous ongoing interactions between the members of our team, who are members of the Bloomsbury Research Institute (BRI), a joint initiative between UCL and LSHTM to establish a centre of excellence for research into medically important pathogens. BRI will move into a purpose-built research centre in early 2018 where much of the proposed work will be undertaken.

 

The xxx group has recently moved into purpose-built laboratories dedicated xxx and a £3.2-million genome resource and bioinformatics centre.

Dedicated cat 3 facilities. Recent £11 million BSF facilities

Specialised equipment in individual labs (anaerobe chambers x 3) in joint labs Eg Next gen sequencing, Imaging, confocal, BiaCore…

 

The team will be led by xxx. S/he has xxxxx years experience in academia, and has substantial experience of translating basic research into targets and lead compounds. The main aim of his/her laboratory is

 

xxx is an internationally-recognised clinician scientist working on the interactions of respiratory pathogens with the host and whose clinical practice includes patients with….

 

xxx is a molecular microbiologist with strength in next-generation sequencing bioinformatics

 

 

List the main objectives of the proposed research in order of priority [up to 4000 chars]

 

Our overall goal is to establish a multidisciplinary approach to advance Protein Glycan Coupling Technology for the development of a new generation of veterinary vaccines.

 

Specific objectives will be to:

(i)                     Construct, develop and test triple poultry vaccines against Escherichia coli, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens, and against Salmonella, Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens.

 

(ii)        Produce a dual Coxiella and Clostridium perfringens vaccine.

 

(iii)       Improve the utility, efficacy and applicability of Protein Glycan Coupling Technology for glycoconjugate vaccinology and for further glycobiotechnological applications.

 

(iv)       Develop a more detailed understanding of glycobiosynthetic pathways in Coxiella and other pathogenic bacteria.

 

(v)        Establish a cohort of UK scientists with multidisciplinary expertise related to veterinary vaccinology.

 

(vi)       Advance the principles of “One Health Medicine” to benefit both human and animal health.

 

Summary – In simple terms please describe your proposed research in a way that it could be publicised to a general audience [up to 4000 characters].

A healthily maintained livestock is essential for the economy and prosperity of the UK. Additionally some infected livestock are the source of human diseases, particularly through foodborne infections. Historically, vaccines have been the most successful and effective intervention to reduce the burden of infectious diseases in humans. By contrast, the application of vaccines in veterinary medicine is rudimentary, mainly due to the economic necessity for reduced costs to vaccinate animals and because our knowledge of the pathogens that cause animal diseases lags behind that of human counterparts.

 

A defining characteristic of a successful vaccine is the ability to evoke long-lasting protective immunity with minimal side effects. Many of the most successful human vaccines are glycoconjugates, a combination of a protein coupled to a glycan, which induces both a T-cell dependent and independent immune response generating a protective and lasting immunity. Examples of currently licensed human glycoconjugate vaccines include those against Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae, in which glycans (lipopolysaccharides or capsular polysaccharides) are chemically coupled to immunogenic carrier proteins. However, the production of these vaccines requires multistep procedures that are often complex and expensive, and can exhibit batch-to-batch variation.

 

We recently developed Protein Glycan Coupling Technology (PGCT) that can overcome the complex procedures required for chemically synthesising glycoconjugate vaccines by expressing the vaccine in an Escherichia coli cell in a single-step procedure. The advantages of applying PGCT to veterinary vaccines are (i) glycoconjugate vaccines can be produced at low cost, (ii) the flexibility of coupling “any glycan” with “any protein” facilitates the production of vaccine combinations providing the opportunity to evaluate a greater variety of vaccine candidates, and (iii) combination vaccines against more than one disease can be produced, further reducing cost and obviating the need to administer multiple vaccines (or antibiotics).

 

In this study we will use PGCT to produce inexpensive triple combination poultry vaccines to reduce infection from E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni/coli and C. perfringens. This will not only protect poultry flocks from severe disease but would also protect the human population from the most common foodborne infections including those caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter. In addition we will construct and evaluate a dual Coxiella/C. perfringens vaccine to protect cattle, sheep and goats against severe disease. This vaccine would also prevent the spread of Q-fever to humans, which is caused by the highly infectious Coxiella burnetii pathogen. The principles developed in this proposal could subsequently be widely applied to produce inexpensive efficacious vaccines against most animal species and promise to break new ground in veterinary vaccine production.

 

Technical summary – Describe proposed work in a manner suitable for a specialized reader [up to 2000 characters].

 

An unmet need in veterinary vaccinology is the production of low cost effective vaccines that can protect against multiple infectious agents. We will aim to capitalise on our recent characterisation of a novel N-linked general glycosylation system in Campylobacter jejuni that can be used to engineer multiple combinations of glyco-modified proteins in different bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella species. This protein glycan coupling technology (PGCT) is proven in the production of human vaccines, but has yet to be applied to veterinary vaccines. We propose to use PGCT to construct dual and triple combination vaccines to reduce the carriage of Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli and Clostridium perfringens in poultry. The engineered constructs will also be used to investigate basic immunological responses in chickens to these pathogens, and will be tested for protection in chickens against infection. To expedite the application of PGCT we will develop a more detailed understanding of glycobiosynthetic pathways in pathogenic bacteria including Coxiella burnetii. The novel LPS biosynthetic pathway will be thoroughly characterised by genetic, chemical and structural analyses. We will clone and express the LPS from C. burnetii in E. coli and couple this to genetic toxoids from C. perfringens including deactivated NetB to produce a dual vaccine. We will assess vaccine candidates produced by examining markers for humoral and cellular immunity, and the ability to induce protective immunity against C. perfringens toxins and C. burnetii in mice. In parallel with the development of the stated veterinary vaccines, we will use the opportunity to further innovate PGCT. We aim to improve the utility, efficacy and general applicability of PGCT for glycoconjugate vaccinology and for further glycobiotechnological applications. Additionally, we will foster our industrial collaborations to fully exploit the vaccines and innovations derived from this research.

 

 


Young Scientists Programme – information session for prospective mentors

Friday 23 January at 12:45 pm, LG6, Keppel Street

Did you know that the School runs an award-winning work experience scheme? Come along to find out how you can guide the learning of a secondary school researcher.

 

 

Tuesday 27 January at 12:45 pm to 1:15 pm, Jerry Morris B, Tavistock Place

The Bloomsbury Festival 2015 – the Year of Light

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