CPRIT releases a Request for Application (RFA) via the website, subscribers to CPRIT’s email newsletter and the Texas.gov eGrants Application site. It includes important information on submitting the proposal, applicable deadlines, requirements, evaluation criteria, and special considerations, such as institutional limits.
Applicants submit proposals using CPRIT’s online application receipt system (www.cpritgrants.org). Applicants must include information about all sources of funding, including private investors. Only applications submitted via the designated electronic portal are eligible for consideration of a grant award and applications are eligible only for the grant mechanism under which the grant application was submitted. An applicant creates a user account and designates an individual at their institution or organization with the authority to approve the submission of the proposal.
Applications submitted by the deadline are checked for compliance against the application’s administrative requirements and may be withdrawn at this step.
Experts and advocates in cancer research and prevention and control are recruited by panel chairs, provisionally appointed by CPRIT’s CEO and approved by the Oversight Committee. The reviewers access a non-confidential summary, a list of key personnel and sources of funding for every application. Reviewers flag potential COI. Some categories of COI may excuse a reviewer from reviewing any application submitted under the same grant mechanism.
Peer reviewers are assigned to panels in their area of expertise. At least one advocate reviewer is assigned to each panel. All reviewers live and work outside of the state. A list of members by panel can be found on CPRIT’s website. A reviewer with a conflict does not participate in the discussion, presentation, or scoring of the application at any point in the process.
A rigorous two-stage peer review process is used to evaluate grant applications: A) evaluation of grant applications by peer review panels and B) prioritization of applications by the Scientific Review Council. Each proposal is evaluated by (usually three) primary reviewers who provide an individual overall score. Individual overall scores are averaged to produce a single initial overall score for the application.
The full peer review panel (12-15 reviewers) meets by teleconference and discusses the applications. After discussion, the primary reviewers may adjust their initial scores. The primary reviewers’ individual overall scores are then averaged to provide an overall evaluation score for the application; the score and summary statement of the reviewers’ comments are generated for each application that does not move forward for further review. A reviewer with a conflict of interest for an application recuses themselves from the discussion and scoring of that application.
Applicants with sufficiently positive scores after the panel discussion are invited to present their proposal to the full review panel and answer reviewer questions. Following the presentation, the reviewers discuss the application and all reviewers individually submit an overall score for the application. The individual overall scores are then averaged to provide a final overall evaluation score for the application; the score and a summary statement of the reviewers’ comments are provided to each applicant. A reviewer with a conflict of interest for an application recuses themselves from the discussion and scoring of that application.
The applications that score sufficiently well after the in-person presentation undergo due diligence review conducted by outside contractors hired by CPRIT and overseen by the Chief Product Development Officer. Due diligence involves an in-depth evaluation of the proposal’s underlying intellectual property, clinical trial design, regulatory affairs, manufacturability of product, marketing, etc. The due diligence reports are provided to the primary reviewers and the Product Development Review Council for consideration.
Following a discussion of the due diligence reports, the Review Council conducts a programmatic review and decides which applications should be recommended for CPRIT grant funding. Criteria considered during programmatic review are spelled out in the RFA. All Product Development applications recommended for grant funding are numerically ranked by the Review Council and submitted to the Program Integration Committee (PIC). The Council specifies and explains changes, if any, to the applications’ goals, objectives, budget or timeline and these are provided to both the CEO (as Chair of the PIC) and the OC. Once the review process is complete, all reviewers sign a statement that they have followed the CPRIT COI agreement terms.
The PIC composed of the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Scientific Officer, the Chief Product Development Officer, the Chief Prevention Officer and the Commissioner of State Health Services considers the prioritized list of applications submitted by the Program Review Councils and approves by a majority vote a final list of applications to be recommended to the OC. The PIC includes an explanation for its recommendations. The PIC’s decision to not recommend a grant application is final.
The CPRIT CEO forwards the PIC’s recommendations and provides an affidavit that each application complied with CPRIT’s submission and review process. Two-thirds of the Oversight Committee members present and voting must approve each grant award recommendation submitted by the PIC. The CPRIT Compliance Officer also certifies each recommended award.
The total amount approved for a multiyear project must be specified and the CEO’s recommendation, if any, for an advance of grant award funds must be approved by a majority vote of the Oversight Committee. If the Oversight Committee does not approve a grant award recommendation made by the PIC, the explanation must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
All CPRIT grants are awarded through a contract that specifies the responsibilities and obligations of the award recipient and reflects certain reporting and legal requirements.