NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) 2019/20 Pilot Project Grants Competition

The NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility provides access to high-throughput genomics and computational biology capabilities to the UK environmental research community. To help scientists working within the NERC remit to take advantage of these opportunities, NERC is again providing funding for small pilot/development projects that wish to access the latest sequencing technologies (Pacific BioSciences Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Illumina). Applicants should consult the web pages of the NBAF–Edinburgh and
NBAF-Liverpool nodes for a fuller description of the technologies and capacities available.
Pilot/development projects should be directed at generating preliminary data or proof of concept in advance of full research grant proposals, particularly when it is necessary to demonstrate the applicability or the technical feasibility of new techniques or approaches to NERC-relevant research problems. Examples could include proposals wishing to demonstrate, within a NERC context, the use of DNA capture technology for subsequent de-novo sequencing of reduced genomes, ‘digital’ transcriptomics using next-generation sequencing, deep metagenomics of environmental samples, de-novo genome assembly from long-read data, or the use of high- throughput sequencing as a genetic tool in natural populations. Proposals can also include a request for support with bioinformatic analysis or software development.

Principal Applicants must not already have sequencing funds for the proposed study and must satisfy at least ONE of the following criteria:
A – Be within 5 years of first becoming eligible for NERC funding as a Principal Investigator (taking account of any career breaks).
B – New users, who have not previously used new-generation sequencing as the Principal Investigator on a research grant, or as the supervising or senior author on a relevant publication.
C – Users with previous experience of using ‘omics technologies, but who aim to deliver a novel application of technology. This does not extend to use of high throughput sequencing for a new species that has not been previously exploited by an experienced research group.

Applicants should note the following:
• Samples suitable for analysis (i.e. meeting minimum quality and quantity requirements) must be delivered to the respective NBAF node by 28 February 2020; failure to deliver suitable samples to the NBAF by the submission deadline will result in funding being withdrawn.
• The PI must be eligible to receive a NERC grant. For more information, consult here.
• Only one project per applicant will be considered
• PIs supported in the 2018-19 NBAF pilot grant scheme are not eligible
• The services offered by NBAF-Sheffield (training and data generation at the bench in genotyping, metabarcoding and related methods, including bioinformatics) are outside the scope of this competition but are available by application throughout the year; potential users are encouraged to consult the Sheffield node in the first instance.

In writing their proposal, applicants should make clear the relevance of the work to NERC’s strategic remit, and the way in which the project will lead to further work and/or proposals for full funding. Proposals for projects associated with PhD students (who do not themselves have to be NERC-funded) will be considered. In such cases, the application should show how the proposed work integrates within the timeframe of the doctoral project.

All proposals should include a clear plan for the bioinformatic analysis of the resulting data, noting that the NBAF–Edinburgh and NBAF–Liverpool nodes will, by agreement, provide some bioinformatic and statistical support as a supplement to the funded project.

Applications will be graded by the NBAF Steering Committee, following the usual NERC procedures, but with special reference to:
• scientific excellence
• the likely importance of the pilot data to a full grant proposal
• the technical novelty of the proposed methodology
• whether the applicants have received NBAF pilot grant funding as a PI in the last 3 years.

Each successful project will include access to staff and equipment at the relevant NBAF node, and consumables costs, to a total value of up to £6,000.
• Potential applicants must contact NBAF ( to discuss their specific requirements between Monday 2 September and Friday 27 September 2019. Only applications where initial contact with NBAF–Edinburgh or NBAF–Liverpool has taken place before Friday 27 September and a formal quotation has been obtained before the closing date will be considered.

Applications should be made via this form.
The closing date for this call is 5.00 p.m. on Friday 18 October 2019

Deadline: October 18, 2019

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