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Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Scientific Forum (U19)

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Frequently Asked Questions

The following set of questions and answers features responses from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to questions from the public submitted about the Agency's funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for RFA-HS-11-003: Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Scientific Forum (U19).

These Frequently Asked Questions were updated on May 4, 2011.

The following questions are derived from individual questions submitted to about the Request for Applications (RFA) HS-11-003: Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) Scientific Forum, and relevant questions from the companion RFA-HS-11-004. The questions and answers are shared here for all potential applicants. We encourage applicants to review all replies and to monitor this site as well as (RFA-HS-11-004 FAQs) for newly added questions and answers that may be relevant to them; future updates will preserve these questions and answers but may renumber them in order to preserve their organization within broad categories.

  1. Renewal or New Applications.
  2. Eligibility/Who Can Apply.
  3. Investigator Qualifications, Titles, and Other Designations.
  4. Letters of Intent.
  5. Collaborative Activities
  6. CERTs Web Sites

A. Renewal or New Applications

Question A1: Can currently funded CERTs institutions (such as a Research Center or Coordinating Center) submit a renewal application to RFA-HS-11-003?

Answer A1: Renewal applications are not permitted to RFA-HS-11-003. This is a new FOA, with a new mechanism of support, new requirements, and updated research objectives. All applications to RFA-HS-11-003 will be processed as new applications. Current CERTs grantees must submit a new application and follow the referenced PHS 398 application form instructions in the RFA.

RFA-HS-11-003 erroneously states that renewal applications are permitted. In addition to posting this correction here as a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ), AHRQ is disseminating a correction through the National Institutes of Health Guide for Grants and Contracts (available at

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B. Eligibility/Who Can Apply

Question B1: According to RFA-HS-11-003, applicants may only submit one application to this FOA. Does that limit apply to individual applicants or institutions as a whole? In other words, can a university submit multiple applications, as long as they come from different Principal Investigators (PIs)?

Answer B1: While grant awards are made to institutions rather than individuals, RFA-HS-11-003 and its instructions are written to inform individual researchers and facilitate submission of grant applications by their organizations. An institution/organization is identified and distinguished from others by its unique U.S. Employer Identification Number.

AHRQ has indicated that an organization may submit only one application to RFA-HS-11-003. If you believe exceptional circumstances apply to your institution, E-mail

Question B2: Can an institution submit applications to both RFA-HS-11-003 and RFA-HS-11-004?

Answer B2: Yes, an eligible institution may submit one application to RFA-HS-11-003 and one or more scientifically distinct applications to RFA-HS-11-004. For additional clarification and details on RFA-HS-11-004, go to the FAQs for that RFA at RFA-HS-11-004 FAQs.

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C. Investigator Qualifications, Titles, and Other Designations

Question C1: What qualifies a senior investigator to be a CERTs PI? Is it years of experience, academic rank, number of publications, or prior research grant experience?

Answer C1: There are no specific guidelines of what qualifies a senior investigator to be a CERTs PI; this determination is made upon review by the Special Emphasis Panel. Applicants should make the best case for their abilities within the application. The RFA clearly describes what the PI must be able to provide in terms of leading these large, complex 5-year grants.

Question C2: Can applicants propose more than three Associate Co-Investigators?

Answer C2: The FOA requires a minimum of one Associate Co-Investigator, with a minimal level of effort of one full-time employee (FTE) annually. The FOA describes the option of dividing the one FTE level of effort among two to three Associate Co-Investigators, but this is not a requirement or limit. Applicants may apportion the effort among as many Associate Co-Investigators as they consider appropriate. Whatever is proposed, a clear explanation and rationale for the proposed number should be provided.

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D. Letters of Intent

Question D1: What specific information should be in the letter of intent? Is there a particular format or length?

Answer D1: As stated in the RFA, the letter of intent allows AHRQ staff to estimate the potential peer review workload and plan the review accordingly (that is, anticipate the nature of reviewer expertise that will be required). Prospective applicants may submit a letter of intent that includes an acknowledgement of interest in this funding opportunity (referring to the number and title of the funding opportunity), a few comments on the subject of the proposed research, background expertise of key personnel, the nature and role of participating institutions, and the name and E-mail address of the PI. This letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and is not considered in the review of a subsequent application. AHRQ requests that letters of intent be E-mailed to by April 20, 2011.

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E. Collaborative Activities

Question E1: Should applicants describe their capabilities in the five priority areas or should applicants propose five collaborative projects/activities (drawing on the priority areas)?

Answer E1: The RFA requests that applicants describe their capabilities in the five priority areas. The Scored Review Criteria found in Section V.2 ask the following questions: Does the proposed CS Forum demonstrate awareness and substantive knowledge of strategically important and high priority problems in therapeutics and the 5 programmatic interest areas? Is/are the proposed associate co-investigator(s) who will lead and support the 5 programmatic interest areas appropriately qualified and budgeted sufficiently to enable the conduct of multiple trans-CERT collaborations?

Question E2: How many major collaborative projects will the CERTs Scientific Forum support annually?

Answer E2: The CERTs Scientific Forum will develop and support a minimum of one major collaborative multi-CERTs project or activity (e.g., special conference, position paper, or educational outreach) annually. The CERTs Scientific Forum provides leadership and coordination in developing and refining which annual major project/activity will be undertaken based on input from the CERTs Steering Committee or its Executive Committee. The annual project/activity will be based primarily, but not exclusively, upon proposed concept briefs of important and common concepts for collaborative activities submitted by the CERTs Research Centers under RFA-HS-11-004 and which have undergone peer review as to their scientific merits, potential impact, strengths, and limitations.

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F. CERTs Web Sites

Question F1: Who will have the responsibility for the two CERTs Web sites?

Answer F1: The RFA stipulates among other program communication and dissemination requirements, the CS Forum shall assume responsibility for continuing the function and contents of two established CERTs Web sites:, which is an official program website describing the Program activities, and Exit Disclaimer, which seeks to directly engage stakeholder and users of CERTs research and to showcase CERTs accomplishments, educational activities, and expert opinion pieces.

Question F2: Where will the CERTs Web sites be hosted?

Answer F2: The official CERTs Program Web site is currently hosted, and will remain hosted, on an AHRQ server, but the CERTs Scientific Forum will be responsible for updating the Web site. AHRQ does not currently host, nor does it plan to host, the Web site Exit Disclaimer; funding for the organization that manages its content and hosting will end at approximately the same time that the CERTs Scientific Forum will be funded. Applicants must either describe their plans for transitioning the content, as well as the domain name, to the applicant's own proposed platform and information technology resources, or describe and document any planned arrangements with the current host organization for continuing some or all aspects of the site's content or hosting.

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Current as of May 2011


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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