University of Southern California


RFA-ES15-003 – Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award (R01)

Slots:                                                     One
                                                                Only one application per school or college within a university will be accepted.  

LOI:                                                        January 27, 2015                              
Internal Deadline:                           November 24, 2015; 5pm
External Deadline:                          February 27, 2015
Award Information:                        Type:  New; Resubmission
Estimated Number of Awards: NIEHS intends to commit $3.0 million in FY 2016 to fund 5-6 awards.

Anticipated Amount: For most applications, the budget for direct costs should be limited to $250,000 per year, plus the portion of the additional $250,000 budget for career enhancement which will be distributed over a 5-year award period.  Note: the $250,000 career enhancement budget will be distributed over a 5-year period but does not have to be distributed evenly across each year. With strong justification, research projects which have inherently higher costs may request direct costs of up to $400,000 per year, plus career enhancement.  In no year may the total direct cost budget (research plus career enhancement) exceed $475,000 per year. The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period.  The maximum project period is 5 years.

Submission Process:                    Please note the change in application submission process:
PIs must submit their application utilizing the Office of Research’s new Application Portal:  

Link to Award:

Research Objectives
An essential element of the mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is the support and career promotion of the next generation of exceptionally talented and creative new scientists who will further the understanding of the impact of environmental exposures on human health. The NIEHS supports a number of training and fellowship programs for pre and postdoctoral training, and mentored career development awards for faculty in the early stages of their career development.  Along with these training and career development programs, NIEHS initiated a program of research grants for Early Stage Investigators, The Outstanding New Environmental Scientist (ONES) Award, that is designed to identify the best new biomedical investigators across the spectrum of science supported by the NIEHS (i.e., including basic mechanistic, clinical and population based researchers) and facilitate their establishing a vibrant, independent research program in the environmental health sciences.  NIEHS uses this FOA to support the NIEHS goal of assuring a continuing cadre of productive environmental health science investigators.

Research Goals and Scope
The ONES program is designed to identify outstanding scientists at the formative stages of their career and assist them in launching an innovative research program with a defined impact in the environmental health sciences. These R01 research grants are targeted for researchers who are defined by the NIH as Early Stage Investigators (see

The ONES program is designed to be highly competitive, and only a limited number are awarded per year.

Research programs supported by this announcement seek to promote career advancement of the most highly creative and promising new scientists who intend to make a long-term career commitment to research in the mainstream of the environmental health sciences, and bring innovative, ground-breaking research initiatives and thinking to bear on the problems of how environmental exposures affect human health.

The ONES Program is specifically targeted to Early Stage Investigators and program goals include career promotion as well as the scientific project proposed.  Applications for the ONES program differ from standard R01 applications in that applicants must provide information about their career goals in the environmental health sciences, their previous research experience and achievements, plans for the active participation of an external advisory committee to provide consultation and feedback, the commitment by the institution to actively support the research program development of the Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI), and a plan for career enhancement which will provide a strong foundation for future research endeavors.  See Section IV.2 for detailed application instructions.

Research projects proposed in response to this FOA will be expected to have a defined impact on the environmental health sciences and be responsive to both the mission of the NIH and, specifically, to the mission of the NIEHS and the NIEHS 2012-2017 Strategic plan, Advancing Science, Improving Health: A Plan for Environmental Health Sciences Research.  This plan sets out a set of strategic themes and strategic goals that have been identified as priority areas for the field of environmental health sciences.  These reflect both the mission of the NIEHS, which is to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives, and the vision of NIEHS to provide global leadership for innovative research that improves public health by preventing disease and disability.

A variety of scientific disciplines, including basic, mechanistic, clinical, epidemiological, computational, engineering, and/or health risk communication approaches, can be used to advance the NIEHS Strategic Plan.  Applicants should consult the strategic plan and to ensure that the research proposed in their application addresses the goals and priority areas of the NIEHS.

Applications submitted in response to this FOA must have a research focus on exposure -health related responses from environmental agents within the mission interest of the NIEHS.    The Strategic Plan emphasizes that environmental exposures within the primary mission interest of NIEHS may both manifest effects through direct toxicities and as an element in combined exposures in the totality of all types of human exposure experiences throughout the lifespan.

Environmental agents which are considered of primary interest for NIEHS include:  industrial chemicals or manufacturing byproducts, metals, pesticides, herbicides, air pollutants and other inhaled toxicants, particulates or fibers, fungal, and bacterial or biologically derived toxins. Agents that are considered within the primary mission responsibility of other NIH Institutes and Centers include, but are not limited to: alcohol, chemotherapeutic agents, radiation that is not a result of an ambient environmental exposure, smoking, except when considered as a secondary smoke exposure as a component in the indoor environment (particularly in children), drugs of abuse, pharmaceuticals, dietary nutrients, and infectious or parasitic agents.  Applications which focus entirely or primarily on these exposure factors will be considered nonresponsive to this announcement and will not proceed to review. However, it is appropriate to include these factors as part of research to define effects of the exposome, and these factors may be a part of applications focused on the totality of a person’s environmental exposure. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NIEHS Scientific/Research staff prior to submission to determine if their project meets the goals of the ONES program.

It is anticipated that the ONES program will be evaluated on a continuing basis by the NIEHS, to assess the impact of the program on the portfolio of the NIEHS, and on the progression of the awardees’ careers. Metrics to be used include, but are not limited to: publications, including numbers, impact factors, citations of publications; academic promotion of the PD/PIs; invited talks at national/international symposia; students and postdoctoral fellows trained in the PD/PI’s laboratory; honors and awards received by the PD/PI; committee service of the PD/PI; and subsequent grant support awarded. The design of the program evaluation will be determined by the Program Analysis Branch of the Division of Extramural Research and Training.  PD/PIs awarded ONES grants will be requested to provide information for the evaluation during the period of the award.

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