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In response to applicant feedback, we are making constructive changes to the PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs) programming for 2021. We are excited to share these updates, which should streamline the application process while simultaneously diversifying the array of funding opportunities we offer. On the heels of PCORI’s reauthorization in late 2019, we expect to increase the funding available for PCORI research opportunities over the next few years. The changes we are introducing are in support of this increased activity.

PCORI will again offer three funding cycles in 2021, opening in January, May, and September, respectively (see "PCORI’s 2021 PFA Schedule" below). In addition to sharing our PFA program schedule for the year, PCORI is streamlining elements of the application process.

New for 2021, on January 5, PCORI will open the Broad and Methods PFAs, including submission instructions and applicant templates, for the entire 2021 calendar year. The Letter of Intent (LOI) phases for all three cycles of these standing PFAs will also open on January 5, rather than on various dates throughout the year as in the past.

PCORI's 2021 PFA Schedule

PCORI also anticipates opening Targeted PFAs (tPFAs) to respond to urgent healthcare issues in Cycle 2 and Cycle 3 2021. Offering the Broad, PLACER, PCS, and tPFAs across multiple cycles in the same year provides a powerful combination of funding opportunities to advance patient-centered research. Implementation and Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards PFAs will continue to be offered throughout the year. For a full list of planned PFAs, visit our funding opportunities page.

PCORI is committed to making as few changes as possible to these PFA materials throughout the year, and instead will aim to hold substantive updates to its Broad and Methods PFAs until 2022.

Finally, to give researchers additional flexibility and to reduce repeat documentation, PCORI is piloting an application deferral process for the Broad and Methods PFAs in 2021.

Special Areas of Emphasis

While we are excited to post our PFA schedule and the Broad and the Methods PFAs for the year, PCORI must remain responsive to research needs that arise or are of particular interest to the healthcare community.

To accomplish this, we may include Special Areas of Emphasis (SAE) in a Broad and/or Methods PFA. SAEs aim to encourage applications on a particular research topic—not to restrict applications to only the SAEs. Some funding opportunities may include SAEs with specifically devoted funds, as well as SAEs without devoted funds. However, funding will never be limited to SAEs.

SAEs will be posted publicly four weeks before the LOI deadline for a particular cycle. Specific language will be added to the PFA, submission instructions, and other communications citing the potential for SAEs to change during the cycle year. Likewise, any changes to PCORI interests within the PFA (e.g., refinement of inclusion or exclusion of specific study designs relevant to responsiveness of applications to the PFA) will also be posted publicly four weeks prior to the relevant cycle’s LOI deadline.

Though PCORI will strive not to make changes to the administrative requirements during the year, exceptional issues might arise (e.g., related to costs or other issues) that need immediate attention. These changes will be implemented as appropriate.


Piloting a Process for Application Deferrals

PCORI will pilot a new application submission deferral process starting with Cycle 1 2021 only for the Broad and Methods PFAs. The deferral option will be available to applicants who submitted a LOI and were then invited to submit a full application. Applicants will be limited to two deferral requests, which may cross cycle years. For example, if an applicant submits a successful LOI for Cycle 2 2021, the applicant could defer submitting a full application to the Cycle 3 submission deadline and then request a second deferral to Cycle 1 2022, if desired.

To request a deferral, the principal investigator must email [email protected], copying the institutional administrative official prior to the application deadline. If the deferral request meets these requirements, the request will be granted, and the applicant will be notified within one business day.

Under this pilot program, applicants will not need to upload their LOI again or recomplete application fields for the next cycle to which they deferred within PCORI Online. Deferral requests received after the deadline will be rejected and applicants will be encouraged to submit their LOI to meet the deadline for the next posted cycle.

Of course, an applicant with a project that falls under an SAE will be taking a risk if they decide to defer their submission, because PCORI may decide to remove that SAE by the time their application is submitted. However, the application would still be welcome. If PCORI has updated the information posted about PCORI research interests (e.g., refinements relevant to application responsiveness to a given PFA), it is possible that an application might not be appropriate for consideration under that PFA at the later date and the application could be declined.

More Information to Come

Preannouncements are posted for Cycle 1 2021 PFAs, and we will begin accepting LOIs when the PFAs open on January 5, 2021.

Applicant town halls (see "Cycle 1 2021 Applicant Town Halls" above) are scheduled for each of the PFAs in January. In the meantime, email [email protected] with any questions. And be sure to sign up for PCORI funding announcements and funding updates.

What's Happening at PCORI?

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute sends weekly emails about opportunities to apply for funding, newly funded research studies and engagement projects, results of our funded research, webinars, and other new information posted on our site.

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