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PCORI is always looking for ways to respond to stakeholder feedback and enhance our processes to achieve our mission more effectively. I am pleased to report on some recent and upcoming changes in PCORI funding opportunities that will accomplish these goals.

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PCORI Leadership by PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH.
Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH
Executive Director, PCORI

Perhaps the most significant change begins with Cycle 1 2022, when PCORI will merge two funding opportunities into one: The Pragmatic Clinical Studies (PCS) and Broad funding opportunities will be combined into the renamed Broad Pragmatic Studies. This streamlining will simplify the PCORI submission process for applicants, reduce confusion about which funding opportunity is most appropriate for a given study, and assist applicants in their long-range research planning.

We know from applicant feedback and inquiries that applicants sometimes experience confusion about which PCORI Funding Announcement (PFA) to apply for, and in each cycle, several applications are typically rerouted from the PCS PFA to the Broad PFA and vice versa. Additionally, the new nomenclature of Broad Pragmatic Studies will provide further clarity across all PCORI funding opportunities.

Combining the PCS and Broad funding opportunities will have the added benefit of allowing PCORI to more efficiently leverage the specific expertise of particular merit reviewers for similar submission topics and enhance the overall quality of reviews, while also enabling PCORI to offer submission opportunities for the full spectrum of relevant research proposals each cycle.

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To add

Applicants to the Broad Pragmatic Studies opportunity can propose projects in two categories: (1) up to five years in duration and up to $5 million in direct costs, and (2) up to five years and up to $10 million in direct costs. The total funding available for this new opportunity will remain at $162 million.

This funding opportunity will also include a new pilot program—a fast-track resubmission process that will allow submissions that meet eligibility criteria to be resubmitted through a streamlined process. Past application data reveals that resubmitted applications are 30 percent more likely to be awarded funding. Our aim in piloting this program is to explore whether and how it might help PCORI shorten the application timeline for promising proposals based on the initial review processes and increase the number of high-quality awards funded.

As we approach 2022, PCORI looks forward to further dialogue with all stakeholders as changes are implemented and progress can be assessed toward achieving a more highly effective and efficient funding infrastructure to serve applicants and PCORI’s research priorities.

In addition, this PFA will continue two pilot programs introduced in 2021: the ability to request coverage of patient care costs under certain criteria and the deferral of application submissions following accepted letters of intent for up to two subsequent funding cycles.

The ability to request coverage of patient care costs in letters of intent, both for the intervention being studied and clinical personnel costs for those providing care, gives applicants greater time to secure evidence of commitment by one or more key stakeholders to support the uptake of the study results as expressed via letters of support, supplementary funding, or contribution of other resources. Applications will need to justify proposed patient care costs according to the criteria outlined in the PFA. 

The application deferrals pilot program will be continued, based on very positive stakeholder feedback we have received. Applicants who took advantage of this pilot program and responded to a survey unanimously supported this innovation, which they said gives them more time to submit the strongest possible application during a period when the COVID-19 pandemic has often disrupted their professional and personal lives.

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Leadership Perspective: Innovations in PCORI Application and Funding Processes Will Increase Clarity, Opportunities for Applicants

We expect these evolutions and refinements to increase efficiency and reduce the administrative burden for applicants and reviewers, and to streamline PCORI processes. They will also increase the visibility of PCORI’s commitment to pragmatic clinical study designs and enhance the potential for applications using this approach—across the spectrum of study size and complexity—to be submitted across all PCORI funding cycles. As always, we will be evaluating these new programs over time and making adjustments as indicated.

Finally, I would like to highlight three timely topics recently approved by PCORI’s Board of Governors for development of targeted funding announcements in January 2022; these are mental health in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, delirium, and adolescent alcohol use. We hope that the awareness of PCORI’s research interests in these general areas will give researchers working with patients and communities on related conditions time to work on potential research questions that could facilitate readiness to apply for future funding opportunities.

As we approach 2022, PCORI looks forward to further dialogue with all stakeholders as changes are implemented and progress can be assessed toward achieving a robust and more highly effective and efficient funding infrastructure to serve applicants and PCORI’s research priorities.

Read the latest Leadership Perspective from PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, which outlined recent and upcoming changes in PCORI funding opportunities that respond to stakeholder feedback and enhance processes to be more effective. https://pcori.me/3pFq9Gf

Published: December 16, 2021

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