Synergy Paper Request for Applications

Review Current Application Deadline: October 02, 2019


Cross-network translational research Synergy Papers are designed to focus on substantial challenges in clinical and translational research, address gaps in research, and convene new, innovative writing teams. Synergy Paper topics will be of high relevance and import to translational science, addressing specific methodological and/or content areas. These papers will present new or transformed assessments and perspectives, with emphasis on increasing capacity and further developing collaboration. A manuscript might focus on the status of translational science in a domain where cross-disciplinary teams are needed (e.g. modernizing clinical trial design and use of real world data; closing the translational gap for a specific disease) and review the state of the field, identify translational gaps and opportunities, and outline recommendations for advancing the field.


The goal of Synergy Papers are to advance the field of translational science and build collaborations within and external to the CTSA Program consortium, while meeting the academic needs of co-authors to produce high quality scientific publications. In addition, the process of working on a joint manuscript forges new relationships and teams around shared goals, develops a common vocabulary across translational stages, and serves as a springboard for career development and further collaborations.

The selected application and final Synergy Paper will be recognized and highlighted by the CTSA Program consortium as identifying key opportunities and needs for continued translational science focus. In addition to expanding existing collaborations and fostering new ones, the Synergy Paper will help inform future CTSA Program research and training priorities. This may lead to new working groups, Un-Meetings, CTSA Program meeting topics and collaborations to pursue other funding opportunities.

RFA Information

Call for Applications

RFA 2019003 is a rapid response call for topics related to machine learning and/or artificial intelligence.

Collaborative teams are invited to apply for CLIC assistance for a paper that focuses on either:

  • A new approach to a significant translational science process or method roadblock and how to address this challenge to advance translational science; or
  • A content/knowledge review of a pressing translational science topic across several stages of the translational continuum, identifying gaps and approaches to move the field forward (that would also include a section on relevant process gaps as well).

For example, a topic/manuscript that focuses on a narrow area such as the development of a specific immunotherapy and its mechanism of action would not be responsive, while a manuscript that more comprehensively assesses barriers and opportunities to advance immunotherapies from the bench to preclinical and then to clinical (with specific examples) would be viewed as responsive. In this particular example, the manuscript would likely address areas of emerging science, regulatory aspects, implementation, and policy considerations, among other issues.

Application Requirements

Translational Science Continuum Image
  • The proposal identifies important translational science gap(s)/barrier(s) and will recommend innovative approaches/methods that could address this gap.
  • The proposed topic is time sensitive, addressing a current or emerging public health issue or involving an emerging technology or approach of significant importance to translational science.
  • Multidisciplinary team involves at least three (3) CTSA Program hubs collaborating on a critical translational science area, with complementary and diverse team members representing multiple stages (two or more) of the translational science continuum. Teams should include a combination of senior, mid-level, junior, and trainee investigators. 
  • The resulting Synergy Paper should inform future CTSA Program areas of research and training, and will advance a component of the field of translational science.
  • The application identifies new and diverse collaborative teams, potentially building on existing collaborations while including new partners from academia, industry, government, foundations, or patient groups.
  • The specific proposal topic and collaboration are not currently supported via a Domain Task Force (DTF) or other related Working Group, NCATS CTSA Collaborative Innovation Award or other related NCATS or CTSA Program Coordinating Center support.
  • Proposed team and application demonstrate capacity (with CLIC support) to develop and submit a collaborative manuscript for publication within 1 year. 

Application Review Process

CLIC will initially triage proposed topics and review applications for completeness and responsiveness. CLIC will present the applications to a review committee that will consist of the CLIC Principal Investigators, a representative from NCATS, and 2-3 additional external reviewers. The committee will review the proposed topics based on the criteria above, providing a final selection and approval to receive support as a Synergy Paper.

Support for Accepted Applications

  • Provide logistical project management support to the writing team similar to support provided to DTF working groups. This will include organizing monthly videoconferences (anticipated 18 meetings total for the year), distributing meeting notes, assisting with document management (including providing access to web-based collaboration spaces), assisting with logistics of manuscript submission (e.g. obtaining co-author signatures and COI statements), covering all or a portion of publication costs (up to $3,000), and disseminating publications through traditional and social media outlets. Publications are required to acknowledge partial support from CLIC (grant U24TR002260).

Note: all writing and editing of the manuscript will be the responsibility of the Synergy Paper writing team.

Application Process

Please send a brief summary (no more than three (3) pages, single spaced, minimum 11 point font and ½ inch margins) of the proposed topic, highlighting its relevance to translational science and how it is responsive to the criteria noted above. Include NIH bio-sketches of the proposed team members/authors as separate attachments.

Please use the following outline/key elements when developing the submission narrative (no more than three pages, not including references):

  • Statement of the translational science problem
  • Brief background and rationale
  • Current challenges/gaps/roadblocks
  • Approach writing team will pursue to develop proposed solutions, innovations, and/or needed research roadmap. Include a succinct timeline of key process milestones.
  • Brief overview of writing team members and description of how they meet the criteria for a multidisciplinary Synergy Paper team (include NIH bio-sketches as separate attachments)


Available Synergy Paper RFAs

RFA #2019003

Application Timeline

Application Deadline October 02, 2019
Notification November 19, 2019
Support Initiated January 02, 2020
Support Concluded December 31, 2020
Twitter logoFollow CLIC
Twitter logoFollow NCATS