Research in Space Life Sciences on the International Space Station

Announcement of Opportunity

Publication date: February 28, 2014

Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Notices of Intent (NOIs) due: April 4, 2014

Full Proposals due for submission to NASA Research and Education Support Service (NRESS): May 23, 2014

1. Introduction

A. Summary

The objective of this international Announcement of Opportunity (AO) is to solicit proposals for scientific studies to be conducted onboard the International Space Station (ISS) between 2017 and 2020. Proposed research must target increased understanding or improved characterization of the risks to human health from space flight, as listed in Table 3.1. Proposals can also be submitted for the validation or testing of novel countermeasure strategies against these risks. Through this AO, Canadian scientists who are Principal or Co-Investigators (Co-Is) can apply via their institution for CSA funding and logistical assistance through the Class Grant and Contribution Program to support their role in the development, implementation, operation, and data analysis of the proposed research.

This AO is coordinated by the International Space Life Sciences Working Group (ISLSWG). The members of ISLSWG are Canada (CSA), US (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA), Europe (European Space Agency, or ESA), Japan (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA), Germany (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt or DLR), France (Centre nationale d'études spatiales or CNES), and Italy (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana or ASI). Each participating agency releases this AO individually and simultaneously. For more information, see:
www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/slpsra/islswg.html.

The CSA requires that Canadian Principal Investigators and Co-Is in non-Canadian proposals submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to the CSA; this is required if any CSA resources are needed. For proposals with Canadian Principal Investigators, only one NOI is required per project. The CSA will review Canadian NOIs and will issue Letters of Support to proposals that pass the review. Full Proposals that lack a Letter of Support from the CSA will not be evaluated further and will therefore be ineligible for support.

For Full Proposals, NASA will execute an integrated peer-review process through the NRESS, using the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) online submission system. More information on this can be found in the Flight Experiment Information Package (FEIP).

ISLSWG will implement a Flight Feasibility Review of proposals that pass the peer review.

The CSA will then rank Canadian proposals for funding and other support according to the results of the CSA NOI review process, the NRESS peer review and the ISLSWG Flight Feasibility Review. CSA funding depends on the availability of funds and other resources.

B. Context

Space life sciences utilize the extraordinary conditions of space to gain scientific knowledge to enable space exploration and to advance knowledge and its application. Representing the life sciences programs of space agencies of the US (NASA), Europe (ESA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and some of the European national space agencies, namely CNES (France), ASI (Italy) and DLR (Germany), an ISLSWG was established in 1991 with two main goals:

  • To strengthen space research by establishing an international framework for enabling optimal utilization of space for life sciences
  • To enhance knowledge and information exchange among scientists and agencies.

This group focuses on the exchange of information, planning for development of new hardware, and ensuring that the science community is aware of existing hardware resulting in a common pool of research equipment on the ISS. In addition, ISLSWG regularly issues joint International Life Sciences Research Announcements (ILSRA), with the evaluation of proposals by an international peer group. The Canadian national announcement is released simultaneously with announcements by the ISLSWG partners to ensure that Canadian projects successful in the ILSRA 2014 review process will be supported by the CSA, subject to the availability of funds and other resources.

Canada participated in the 2001, 2004 and 2009 ILSRA competitions. Most Canadian life science activities performed on the ISS were selected from these highly competitive announcements.

By the end of 2010, ISS assembly was considered complete and this international space laboratory was ready for full utilization. In mid-2009, crew size doubled from three to six, which significantly increased the crew time available for scientific activities. Nevertheless, it is important for scientists who plan to submit proposals to the 2014 ILSRA to be aware that crew-time and transportation of research equipment and materials imposes significant limitations on the research that can be completed on the ISS. Also, the transport and storage of materials (e.g. cells, reagents) under refrigeration, freezing, or other special temperature requirements is highly constrained on the ISS. Proposals should minimize or eliminate such "conditioned stowage" requirements. For details, consult the FEIP.

Limitations regarding physiological experiments on human test subjects i.e. astronauts, or for biology experiments are stated in the FEIP. Experiments need to be defined in a way that takes these constraints into account. The feasibility of a flight experiment increases dramatically if available facilities and devices described in the FEIP are used to collect and record experimental data. Thus, it is recommended that applicants propose experiments which use the facilities already onboard the ISS.

Please read the following AO thoroughly before submitting your application. It has been prepared to assist applicants through the application process and it outlines important elements including mandatory criteria for eligibility, details on eligible projects and the four-step selection process. In the event of any discrepancies between this AO and the individual funding agreements governing a project(s), the latter document(s) will take precedence.

2. AO objectives

Through this AO, the CSA is seeking scientific experiments to be conducted onboard the ISS in space life sciences that will identify, characterize or mitigate risks associated with human spaceflight. The purpose of coordinating an international announcement of opportunities is to promote the highest quality of scientific investigation and scientific return from space experiments, optimize the utilization of resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of equipment, and, by sharing equipment and flight opportunities, to maximize the access to space by international scientists.

More specifically, through this AO, the CSA seeks to:

  • Provide an opportunity for new space life science experiments to be conducted on the ISS including those that may use astronauts as subjects;
  • Foster international collaboration and scientific partnership in space life sciences;
  • Facilitate Canadian scientist leadership or participation in international space life sciences studies on the ISS;

Proposals selected in this competition will have as objective to increase the scientific knowledge on health risks of space mission, contribute to the development of specific countermeasures against health issues during human space exploration, and generate scientific insights that will also contribute to applications on Earth.

The total financing amount given in contribution for each project should be no more than $800,000, over a period of three to five years.

3. Eligibility

3.1 Eligible recipients

Eligible recipients (beneficiaries) for contributions will be:

  • Canadian universities and post-secondary institutions;

3.2 Eligible projects

A project may consist of several activities to attain its objectives or results. Any logical breakdown or combination of these activities can constitute a funded project. However, breaking down a project into numerous activities or sub-activities to obtain more than the maximum grant or contribution funding is not allowed for what is considered to be one project. Furthermore, even if the total funding for one project is not reached, the completion of a funded activity does not automatically guarantee funding of the remaining activities of the project. Details of eligible costs of the projects financed under this AO are listed in Section 7.2.

Projects selected in response to this announcement will be performed on the ISS and must require the ISS environment (this is particularly relevant for studies on radiation or environmental stressors – see Table 3.1). Research projects involving human subjects, as well as non-human subjects (model animals, cells, microorganisms) are eligible. Flight experiment proposals must represent mature studies, strongly anchored in previous or current ground-based or flight research. Ground-based research may represent one component of a flight experiment proposal but must be limited to activities that are essential for the final development of an experiment for flight, such as definition of flight procedures, testing of experiment hardware, and control activities for the flight experiment. National and international collaboration are strongly encouraged and will result in more competitive proposals.

3.3 Links to CSA priorities

The most important health risks associated with human space flights (i.e. future long-duration human spaceflight missions) have been identified and are listed in Table 1. Only proposals that address one or more of the risks listed in Table 1 will be considered for CSA support.

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must be aligned with CSA priority outcomes, as stated in the Reports on Plans and Priorities 2013–14. At the highest level, the contribution of Space Exploration "to the strategic outcome is expected to generate advances in space exploration creating knowledge, technologies and expertise, as well as an increased exploitation of this knowledge and know-how both in space and on Earth." Canadian activities on ISS activities involve "testing novel technologies and conducting scientific studies in the unique environment of the ISS, leading to a better understanding of long-duration space missions and to potential terrestrial benefits." The Space Life Sciences group of the CSA is sponsoring this AO and will only consider relevant those activities that are "necessary to identify, understand, mitigate or eliminate health risks associated with human space flights, and to understand and address the needs of humans during those missions." The most important health risks associated with human space flights (i.e. future long-duration human spaceflight missions) have been identified and are listed in Table 1. Only proposals that address one or more of the risks listed in Table 1 will be considered for CSA support.

Table 3.1 Eligible Human Health, Behavioural and Performance Risks

Musculoskeletal

Mission risk resulting from reduced muscle strength and aerobic capacity, and increased bone fragility

Long-term health risk of space-induced osteoporosis.

Sensorimotor Mission risk of sensory changes/dysfunctions reducing performance.
Ocular Syndrome Mission and long-term health risk of microgravity-induced visual impairment and/or elevated intracranial pressure.
Nutrition Mission risk due to inability to provide appropriate quantity, quality and variety of food to meet nutritional requirements and maintain morale
Behavioural Health and Performance Mission and long-term behavioural health and performance risks, for example, associated with stress, issues with team dynamics, long-term risk associated with integration into post-space flight career phase.
Radiation Mission risk due to health and performance impairment associated with radiation damage. Long-term risk of carcinogenesis and degenerative tissue disease due to radiation exposure. Studies of radiation risk must require the ISS environment, and must not be feasible using ground facilities.
Hypogravity Mission risk associated with adaptation during transit (i.e. long duration exposure to microgravity) and extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) on the Moon, asteroids, or Mars (vestibular and performance dysfunctions) and long-term risk related to post-flight rehabilitation.
Environmental Stressors Mission risk of exposure to a toxic environment in the spacecraft, during EVAs or while on extraterrestrial bodies without adequate monitoring, warning systems or understanding of potential toxicity (planetary dust, chemicals, infectious agents, microbial contamination).

The following types of studies are examples of projects:

  • Physiological, psychological or other studies using ISS crewmembers as research subjects. Data collection can occur before, during, and after ISS habitation, although there are many constraints that affect the timing and duration of crewmember participation in research before, during and after flight (see FEIP). Proposals must be directly applicable to improving understanding, characterization, or mitigation of the risks of human space-flight.
  • Biological studies that require the ISS environment, using model animals such as fruit flies, nematodes, or rodents; proposals must be directly applicable to improving understanding, characterization, or mitigation of the risks of human space-flight.
  • Studies using cells or microbes that require the ISS environment; proposals must be directly applicable to improving understanding, characterization, or mitigation of the risks of human space-flight.
  • Studies can incorporate biophysics research if the relevance to spaceflight health risks is very clear; however the primary study focus must be on living organisms, model systems for cells, or biological model systems.

3.4 Links to Grants and Contributions (G&C) Program objectives

To be eligible, projects supported under this AO must contribute to the achievement of at least one of the following objectives:

  • To support the development of science and technology relevant to the priorities of the CSA;
  • To support information-gathering, studies and research related to space;

4. Submission process

This section contains general instructions for submission of a CSA NOI followed by a full proposal. The purpose of the NOI is to ensure that:

  • CSA evaluates the eligibility and compliance of beneficiaries and proposals to CSA scientific priorities and to G&C Program priorities
  • Selected proposals receive a letter of support from the CSA which must be submitted with their proposal to the international competition
  • Selected Canadian proposals, complete with a letter of support from the CSA (Step 1 in this AO, Table 1.1) which pass the international scientific and technical review will be ranked for financial support by the CSA through contributions.

Canadian principal investigators as well as Co-Is in an international proposal who require CSA funding must submit to the CSA the information and documents described in Section 4.1. Full proposals must be submitted by proponents directly to NRESS through the NSPIRES. Note that NSPIRES submission requires pre-registration by proponents. Do not leave this to the last minute; pre-registration should be done at least two weeks before submission.

4.1 CSA NOI

The objective of this step is to verify the eligibility of the applicant and the project to be supported by the CSA through a contribution. Applicants whose projects meet the eligibility criteria will receive the necessary documentation (CSA Letter of Support) to submit a full proposal. Furthermore, this step will improve the review process by enabling space agencies to identify scientific and technical expertise required for proposal review.

Note that the CSA NOI is distinct from the NASA NOI described in the FEIP. Submission of the CSA NOI is mandatory for Canadian applicants seeking Canadian support. The NASA NOI is optional.

The documents evaluated in this first stage should include:

  • Information necessary to verify eligibility of the applicant according to the criteria mentioned in Section 3.1 of this AO.
  • A description of the project comprising between 1000 and 1500 words that allows the CSA to assess the project's eligibility under the criteria listed in Section 3.2 of this AO.

To satisfy CSA requirements, the CSA NOI must include the following:

It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application complies with all relevant Canadian legislation and bylaws (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal). Applications sent by email will not be accepted and incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions about their NOI. Applicants whose projects meet the eligibility criteria will receive the necessary Letter of Support to be included with the full proposal.

Documents relating to the first step should be mailed to the CSA at the following address:

Perry Johnson-Green
Canadian Space Agency
6767 Route de l'Aéroport
Saint-Hubert
, Quebec J3Y 8Y9

All documents must be received at the CSA no later than April 4, 2014, 5:00 p.m. (EDT).

4.2 Full Proposal

Proponents will submit Full Proposals directly to NRESS, using the NSPIRES online system, for peer review and technical review. The CSA Letter of Support, obtained specifically for the AO, must be submitted with the Full Proposal. For more details on the content, format, and standards for submission of proposals, please refers to FEIP Section 5.2. Applicants are also required to fill the Space Flight Experiments Requirements Summary forms as instructed in the FEIP (following Section 5).

Full proposals submitted will have to respect standards established by the NRESS as specified in the FEIP. The Full Proposal must be consistent with the submitted NOI; however, minor changes in budget, team membership, or experimental approach may be permissible pending full explanation and CSA approval before establishment of the contribution agreement.

Applicants selected for funding will be required to submit to the CSA an updated budget in January, 2015, with an explanation of any variation from the CSA NOI.

5. Service Standards – Complete Applications

Applicants will be notified in writing of decisions regarding their application. Applications that have been selected will be announced on the CSA website at the CSA Proactive Disclosure webpage (www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/transparency/disclosure.asp). The CSA has set service standards related to delays in processing requests, the acknowledgement of receipt, funding decision and payment processes; these refer to the phases of the process under the CSA's responsibility.

Acknowledgement: The CSA's goal is to acknowledge receipt of the NOI within 4 weeks of receiving the completed NOI package. The acknowledgment will be accompanied by a Letter of Support or a letter stating that the project is not eligible or has not been selected.

Decision: The CSA's goal is to respond to the Full Proposal within 10 months of closing date of the AO's closing date for receipt by NRESS of the Full Proposal (May 23, 2014), and to send a contribution agreement for signature within 8 weeks after formal approval of the proposal.

Payment: Contribution: The CSA's goal is to issue payments within 6 weeks of the successful fulfillment of requirements outlined in the contribution agreement.

Compliance with these service standards is a shared responsibility. Applicants must submit all required documentation in a timely fashion. Service standards may vary by AO.

6. Evaluation

6.1 Multi-step Evaluation process

Applicants should be aware that flight experiment implementation is a multi-step process. To elaborate, this AO consists of four steps:

I. Step 1: The submission of a NOI to the CSA. This NOI will be reviewed by the CSA. Proposals that pass this first step of the review process will receive a CSA Letter of Support that must accompany the Full Proposal. For this reason, a NOI to the CSA is mandatory for Canadians participating in this AO and who require CSA resources in support of their scientific study. The due date for CSA receipt of this NOI is April 6, 2014. Furthermore, proposals that lack this CSA Letter of Support will not be compliant to the requirements for submission of Full Proposals to the NRESS peer review (Step II). Letters of Support will be granted to proposals that pass the CSA NOI review, i.e. have scores greater than or equal to 70/100.

Note that the CSA may transmit information on Proposal titles, summary information, and fields of study in a confidential manner to NASA, to aid in the organization of the peer-review process. The CSA may also transmit information on projects during their lifetime to the ISS partnership, as part of payload integration and operations of the ISS.

For this AO, NASA also requests submission of a NASA NOI in support of their announcement; this NASA NOI has a different due date and requests different information than the CSA NOI. The NASA NOI (due March 28, 2014) is optional for Canadian applicants.

II. Step 2: Applicants will then submit Full Proposals (including the CSA Letter of Support), to NSPIRES, the online submission site of the NRESS. Note that Canadian investigators are not obliged to submit additional budgetary information to NASA as part of the NASA NOI (if submitted) or the Full Proposal.

Selected proposals by the CSA (Step 1) will undergo an intrinsic Scientific Merit Review. Proposals that receive a passing score in this review will then undergo an additional Flight Feasibility Review.

The Scientific Merit Review will be conducted by a panel of international scientific or technical experts. The number and diversity of experts required will be determined by the response to this research announcement and by the variety of disciplines represented in the proposals. The merit review panel will assign a score from 0 to 100 or a designation of "not recommended for further consideration" based upon the intrinsic scientific or technical merit of the proposal. This score will reflect the consensus of the panel.

The following will be used to determine the merit score: Significance, Approach, Investigator and Environment.

Applicants must fully adhere to the instructions and standards given in the FEIP concerning preparation and submission of Full Proposals.

Note that each member of an International team is required to submit a letter that acknowledges awareness from their associated funding agency with their proposal. For Canadian applicants, the CSA-issued Letter of Support will fulfill this requirement.

Proposals that receive a score in the NRESS Scientific Merit Review that is less than 70/100 will not be further evaluated.

III. Step 3: Full Proposals that are successful in the NRESS peer review will undergo an international Flight Feasibility Review by ISLSWG members (representatives of the space agencies of Canada, the US, Japan, Europe, Germany, France, and Italy) to determine if they are feasible for the ISS. This technical review will result in a numerical score (maximum score = 100) for each proposal that will identify each proposal as "low risk," "medium risk," or "high risk." The main elements of the Flight Feasibility Review are:

  • Functional Requirements
  • Operational Feasibility
  • Environmental Health and Safety

The Flight Feasibility Review will be conducted for each flight experiment proposal that receives a scientific merit score greater than 70%. An international team of engineers and scientists experienced in the development, integration and operation of space flight experiments will conduct this review. For this reason, experimental requirements and procedures should be clearly and succinctly explained in terms that a layperson can understand.

Note also that completed Space Flight Experiment Requirements Summary (Section 5.10 of the FEIP) must be submitted with the Full Proposal. This summary will be the main part of the Full Proposal that is evaluated during the Flight Feasibility Review.

The Full Proposal and the Space Experiment Flight Requirements Summary (Form C) submitted to NRESS in Step 2 will be shared in a confidential manner with a small number of agency personnel of NASA, ESA, CNES, DLR, ASI, and JAXA, to enable the Flight Feasibility Review.

IV. Step 4: Proposals with a Letter of Support that pass the peer and technical reviews will be considered for funding by the CSA, subject to the availability of funds and other resources. Proposals will be ranked for funding priority based on ranking derived from an average of the scores from the NOI evaluation, the NRESS peer review, and the ISLSWG technical review. Applicants selected for funding will be required to submit to the CSA an updated budget in January 2015 with an explanation of any variation from the CSA NOI, and with an explanation of any other changes in methodology, team membership, or other substantive differences between the CSA NOI and the Full Proposal. If the CSA concludes that these explanations are satisfactory, then the CSA will proceed to negotiate Contribution Agreements with the beneficiaries (institutions). Before funding can be transferred, applicants will be required to submit to the CSA evidence of approval from the appropriate institutional ethical review committee, if relevant.

Table 1.1 Application Process Overview

Step Applicant's Responsibility Due Date Notes to remember
1. CSA NOI Send application to the CSA April 4, 2014 CSA NOI is mandatory; the NASA NOI is optional.
2. Full Proposal to NRESS Send application to NSPIRES (NASA online submission site). Remember to include the Space Experiment Flight Requirements Summary (Form C) must also be submitted with the Full Proposal. May 23, 2014 Make sure that you register on NSPIRES at least two weeks before proposal submission. Instructions for application are found in the FEIP document.
3. ISLSWG Flight Feasibility Review N/A but see Step 2. N/A Read carefully FEIP, Section 4.2, on feasibility during preparation of the Full Proposal. The Full Proposal and the Space Experiment Flight Summary (Form C) will both be used for the Flight Feasibility Review.
4. CSA Consideration for Funding and update information Applicants selected for funding will be required to submit an updated budget and associated explanations. January 2015 The NOI and the Full Proposal should be consistent with each other, particularly in reference to budget, team members, methodology, and other sources of funding. Any differences should be minor, and should not affect the overall objectives.

6.2 Evaluation criteria

The CSA will develop a ranked list of proposals that have passed the NOI review, the Peer Review, and the Flight Feasibility Review. The overall score will be derived from a numerical average of the NOI Review, the Peer Review, and the Flight Feasibility Review. The CSA will fund development and implementation of the proposals, starting with the top-ranked proposal and progressing in order down the list, to the extent of available funding and other resources.

Only applications that have passed the NOI review process in Section 6.1 (eligibility of the applicant, etc.) will be given further consideration.

Once the NOI screening process is completed, CSA evaluators will assess the screened NOIs according to the criteria listed in Section 6.1.1.

To determine the amount of funding to be allocated consideration will be given to the availability of CSA funds, the total cost of the project, as well as the other confirmed sources of funds provided by other stakeholders and the applicant.

Before a final decision is made, the CSA's Program Managers responsible for this AO may seek input and advice from other organizations including (but not limited to) federal, provincial, territorial and municipal government agencies and organizations and members of ISLSWG.

6.2.1 Evaluation criteria for the NOI

All NOIs will be evaluated using the following criteria. They must receive a score greater than 70/100 to confirm eligibility of the proposal in order to receive a letter of support from the CSA.

6.2.1.1 Eligibility of the applicant

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the application has been submitted from an eligible recipient.

Scoring

Pass
Definition: The organization is an eligible recipient for a contribution as described in Section 3.1 of this AO.
Fail
Definition: The organization is not an eligible recipient for a contribution as described in Section 3.1 of this AO.
6.2.1.2 Alignment with priorities of the G&C Program

Description: This criterion evaluates how the project will contribute to the G&C Program objectives.

Scoring

Pass
Definition: The NOI clearly demonstrates how the project will contribute to support the development of science and technology relevant to the priorities of the CSA, or to support information-gathering, studies and research related to space.
Fail
Definition: The NOI does not demonstrate how the project will contribute to support the development of science and technology relevant to the priorities of the CSA, or to support information-gathering, studies and research related to space.

Table 6.1 Summary of scoring for graded evaluation criteria of the CSA NOI

Criteria Maximum points for evaluation Minimum points to pass Poor Average Good Excellent
Alignment with program priorities 20 5 0 5 15 20
Benefits to Canada 35 30 0 15 25 35
Potential to provide novel insights into health issues on Earth 15 5 0 5 10 15
Fostering of international scientific collaboration 15 0 0 5 10 15
Leadership of Canadian scientists 15 5   5 10 15
Total 100 70Footnote 1        
6.2.1.3 Alignment with Canadian Space Life Science program priorities

Description: This criterion evaluates whether the proposal includes a research project aligned with the priorities of the Canadian Space Life science program.

Maximum: 20
Minimum: 5

Poor: The research does not address a risk of human space flight as described in Table 3.1 (Score: 0)

Average: One of the objectives addresses a risk of human space flight as described in Table 3.1, but overall, the proposal only indirectly addresses this risk. (Score: 5)

Good: One of the research objectives directly addresses a risk of human space flight as described in Table 3.1. Overall, the proposal addresses this risk (Score: 15)

Excellent: The proposed research as a whole is targeted to directly address one or more risks of human space flight as described in Table 3.1. (Score: 20)

6.2.1.4 Benefits to Canada

6.2.1.4.1 Advancement of the understanding or characterization of the risks of human space flight, or development of novel mitigations strategies against the risks of human space flight

Description: This criterion evaluates the originality of the research and its likely impact and potential to advance our knowledge of the field of space life science. Does the proposed research have the potential to result in long-term, groundbreaking advances in the field of space life sciences, specifically with regards to increased understanding or characterization of the risks of human space flight? Will the research lead to new approaches to mitigate the risks of human space flight?

Maximum: 35
Minimum: 30

Poor: The research is not expected to have a significant short- or long-term impact, and/or is a reapplication of previous work. The project lacks novel concepts and will not contribute to advancement of new knowledge. (Score: 0)

Average: The research could advance knowledge in the field of space life sciences. The work is largely derivative of previous work. (Score: 15)

Good: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space life sciences. The new ideas in space life sciences to be developed are likely to be integrated into future mitigation strategies. The proposed research involves new or original concepts or methods, and/or builds on previous work. (Score: 30)

Excellent: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of space life sciences and have a broad, long-term impact beyond the immediate field of study. The new ideas in space life sciences to be developed are likely to be integrated into future mitigation strategies. The proposed research stands out because of its highly innovative or original scientific or technical concepts or methods, and/or builds significantly on previous work. (Score: 35)

6.2.1.4.2 Potential of the work to provide novel insights into health issues on Earth

Description: This criterion evaluates the potential of the research to lead to improved understanding or characterization of disease processes on Earth, or to the development of novel treatment or prevention strategies with application on Earth.

Maximum: 15
Minimum: 5

Poor: The research is not expected to lead to improved understanding or characterization of disease processes on Earth, or to the development of novel treatment or prevention strategies with application on Earth. (Score: 0)

Average: The research could lead to improved understanding or characterization of disease processes on Earth, or to the development of novel treatment or prevention strategies with application on Earth. (Score: 5)

Good: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of life sciences in its broader application, i.e. not solely with regards to space life sciences. The results are likely to lead to improved understanding or characterization of disease processes on Earth, or to the development of novel treatment or prevention strategies with application on Earth. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The probable results will advance knowledge in the field of life sciences in its broader application, i.e. not solely with regards to space life sciences. The results are likely to lead to improved understanding or characterization of specific disease processes on Earth that are important to Canadians, or to the development of novel treatment or prevention strategies of specific diseases important in Canada. (Score: 15)

6.2.1.4.3 Fostering of international scientific collaboration in space life sciences

Description: This criterion evaluates the potential of the proposed research to enhance the level of cooperation and collaboration between Canadian and international space life scientists.

Maximum: 15
Minimum: 0

Poor: The team is solely made up of Canadian scientists. (Score: 0)

Average: There is one international scientist role in the proposed research, but the role of this scientist is unclear. (Score: 5)

Good: There is one international scientist with a clearly defined role in the proposed research. (Score: 10)

Excellent: There are at least two international scientists having clearly defined roles in the proposed research. (Score: 15)

6.2.1.4.4 Leadership of Canadian Scientists in ISS Research Proposals

Description: This criterion evaluates the leadership of the Canadian investigator in the proposal.

Maximum: 15
Minimum: 5

Average: The Canadian scientist is a Co-I but the role of this scientist is unclear. (Score: 5)

Good: The Canadian scientist is a Co-I with a clearly defined role in the research. (Score: 10)

Excellent: The Canadian scientist is the Principal Investigator. (Score: 15)

6.2.2 Evaluation criteria for the Proposal

The Full Proposal will undergo an international scientific merit process managed by NRESS for the benefit of the ISLSWG. The criteria used and the process requirements and specifications used in these reviews are detailed in Section 4 of the FEIP.

Table 6.2 Summary of Process Leading to Ranking of Proposals

Step Review Process Process is led by Basis of evaluation Maximum Score Calculation
1 CSA NOI CSA Programmatic relevance and impact 100 (minimum 70) Convert to percentage
2 Peer Review NRESS Scientific quality 100 (minimum 70) Convert to percentage
3 Flight Feasibility Review ISLSWG Feasibility on ISS 100 Convert to percentage
4 Final CSA ranking CSA CSA NOI, Peer Review, and Flight Feasibility Review scores 100

(Step 1 score + Step 2 score + Step 3 score)/3

Proposals are prioritized for implementation starting at top-ranked proposals

7. Funding

7.1 Available Funding

The total financing amount given in contribution for each project will be under $800,000, over a period of 3 to 5 years. The overall number of contributions awarded under this AO and their level will depend on the availability of funds. The CSA reserves the right to not accept any proposals or to reduce the amount of the contributions at its entire discretion.

Approved proposals will be eligible for a total amount of Canadian government assistance (federal, provincial, territorial and municipal) of up to 100% of total project costs.

Recipients must identify all sources of funding in their applications and confirm this information in a funding agreement if the project is selected for funding. Upon completion of a project, the applicant must also disclose all sources of funding. To determine the amount of financial support it will offer, the CSA will consider the total project cost as well as funding obtained by the applicant from other organizations, sources.

7.2 Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are direct expenses associated with the delivery of the approved project and that are required to achieve the expected results of the project. Applicants are not responsible for costs of integration, launch, and operation of their study on the ISS; however, the beneficiaries will be responsible for supplying extensive documentation to support the development, integration, and operation of their study. Typically, a minimum of 0.5 Full Time Equivalent is required for this.

Applicants to this CSA AO cannot include as eligible costs any costs related to non-Canadian Co-Is or non-Canadian Principal Investigators or their work within the proposal. These costs should be submitted to the appropriate national agency for funding.

Expenses will be covered subject to the applicant signing a funding agreement, in the form of a contribution, with the CSA.

The eligible costs for contributions under this AO are the following:

  • access fees;
  • accommodation and meals allowances;
  • acquisition, development and printing of materials;
  • acquisition or rental of equipment;
  • bursaries;
  • costs related to obtaining security clearance;
  • data acquisition;
  • data management;
  • laboratory analyses services;
  • licenses and permits fees;
  • material and supplies;
  • overhead (administrative) costs (not to exceed 20% of eligible costs for universities)
  • participation fees at conferences, committees and events;
  • PST, HST and GST minus any rebate to which the recipient is entitled to and the reimbursement of any taxes for goods and services acquired in a foreign country minus any rebate or reimbursement received in the foreign country;
  • publication and communication services;
  • registration fees;
  • salaries and benefits;
  • training;
  • translation services;
  • travel; and
  • tuition fees.

8. Funding agreements

8.1 Payments

The CSA and each of the successful applicants (the recipients) will sign a funding agreement which is a condition for any payment made by the CSA with respect to the approved project.

Payments for contribution agreements (including advance payments) will be made in accordance with the process and the reporting requirements described in the signed funding agreement. Upon notice of a successful application, the CSA will have no liability until a funding agreement is signed by both parties. Only eligible costs incurred after the funding agreement is signed and indicated in the agreement will be paid and/or reimbursed.

Contribution agreements will have the following structure, including de-selection processes:

  1. Year 1: Development of requirements. A comprehensive feasibility assessment will be done, during the first year of the project, by the CSA and possibly, if deemed useful by the CSA, such review may involve ISS partners. At the conclusion of Year 1, the CSA will make a decision on proceeding to Years 2 to 5. The CSA may decide to stop the project at this stage, for reasons of feasibility, lack of resources, lack of Co-I funding by an international partner, or changes in programmatic direction. The CSA may also decide to limit subsequent funding to a shorter operational period.
  2. Years 2 to 5: Integration and Operations. During years 2 to 5 the CSA may integrate the activity into ISS planning, and then operate the study on the ISS. The CSA will, in December of each year, reassess the feasibility of completing the project. The CSA, at its discretion, may terminate the project's funding without paying compensation or damages whatsoever to the proponent after giving Notice to this effect. Reasons motivating such termination may include, but are not restricted to, feasibility being compromised, operational constraint changes, and programmatic priority changes.

8.2 Conflict of interest

In the funding agreement, the Recipient will certify that any former public office holder or public servant it employs complies with the provisions of the relevant Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Code for Former Public Office Holders and the Value and Ethics Code for Public Servants respectively.

8.3 Intellectual Property

All intellectual property developed by the recipient in the course of the project shall vest in the recipient.

When applicable, the funding agreement will include a provision granting to the CSA a non-exclusive, irrevocable, world-wide, free and royalty-free licence in perpetuity to use or sublicense the use of any such intellectual property contained in recipient's reports for non-commercial governmental purposes.

Canadian applicants who are part of international teams should refer to the applicable intellectual property policies of the relevant international partners. Canadian applicants should be aware that intellectual property generated under this initiative will be subject to the ISS applicable international agreements.

8.4 Organizations in Quebec

An organization in Quebec whose operations are partially or fully funded by the province of Quebec may be subject to the An Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif, L.R.Q., Chapter M-30.

Under Sections 3.11 and 3.12 of this Act, certain entities/organizations, as defined in this Act, such municipal bodies, school bodies, or public agencies, must obtain an authorization by the Secrétariat aux affaires intergouvernementales canadiennes du Québec (SAIC), as indicated by the Act, before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada, its departments or agencies, or a federal public agency.

Consequently, any entity that is subject to this Act is responsible for obtaining such authorization before signing any funding agreement with the Government of Canada.

Quebec applicants must complete, sign and include the M-30 Supporting Documentation Form with their application.

8.5 Performance measurement

The CSA will ask the recipients to report on certain aspects of their projects such as:

In Knowledge

  • Knowledge Production (including publications)
  • Presentations
  • Intellectual Property (including patents)

In Capacity

  • Project's Research Team (including Highly Qualified Personnel supported)

In Collaboration

  • Partners contributions
  • Partnerships
  • Multidisciplinarity

9. Privacy notice statement

The CSA will comply with the federal Access to Information Act and Privacy Act with respect to the phase 1 of the application process and Letter of Intention received under this Component (for the other portions of the processes please refer to the NASA). By submitting personal information, an applicant is consenting to the collection, use and disclosure of that information in accordance with the following Privacy Notice Statement which explains how the applicant's information will be managed.

Necessary measures have been taken to protect the confidentiality of the information provided by the applicant. This information is collected under the authority of the CSA Class Grant and Contribution Program in order to support the Research, Awareness and Learning in Space Science and Technology – Research Component, and will be used for the evaluation and selection of proposals. Personal information (such as contact information, biographical information, etc.) included in the rejected proposals will be stored in a CSA Personal Information CSA Bank for 5 years and then destroyed (Personal Information File no. ASC PPU045). Personal information included in the successful proposals will be kept along with the results of their proposals for historical purposes. These data are protected under the Privacy Act. According to the Privacy Act, the data linked to an individual and included in the proposal being evaluated can be accessed by the specific concerned individual who has rights with respect to this information. This individual may, upon request, (1) be given access to his/her data and (2) have incorrect information corrected or have a notation attached.

Applicants should note that for all agreements over $25 000, information related to the funding agreement (amount, grant or contribution, name of the recipient and project location) through this Component and the purpose of the funding will be made available to the public on the CSA website.

For additional information on privacy matter prior to submitting a proposal, please contact Danielle Bourgie, Coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy, at the CSA.

Telephone: 450-926-4866
Email: danielle.bourgie@asc-csa.gc.ca

10. Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

It is the responsibility of the applicants to obtain clarification of the requirements contained herein, if necessary, before submitting an application. At any point of the process, applicants are invited to share with the CSA their comments or suggestions regarding the AO, the program or the process. Applicants can use the anonymous web-based Comments and Suggestions Box.

For any questions related to the AO, applicants may either use the web-based Comments and Suggestion Box or the email address (sc-gc-centrexpertise@asc-csa.gc.ca). Both methods are anonymous. Questions and answers related to this AO will be posted on the CSA website in the FAQ section of this AO. For specific questions related to the CSA NOI, please note that the CSA will respond to questions received before 5:00 p.m. (EDT), March 28, 2014.

For other questions related to the AO, questions received before 5:00 p.m. (EDT), May 16, 2014, will be answered.

Question 1: For the "Detailed Project Description" section of the Notice of Intent Form, does the word count include references? Would it be acceptable to include a "references cited" section for this?

Answer 1: Regarding the "Detailed Project Description" in the NOI, the word count does not include references. References can be included in a "References Cited" section.

Question 2: Regarding experiments in mice that propose to use the Mouse Drawers System, is it possible to rotate mice in and out of the drawers (in other words, exchange mice on ISS with mice that just arrived to ISS)? Is there a schedule for transport to ISS that would enable this rotation? How many drawers can be accommodated at one time in ISS?

The reason for asking is that we would like use the results from the first set of experiments to modify the plan for later sets of experiments. This would also allow a series of different dietary/stress manipulations.

Answer 2: There are currently two flight-qualified Mice Drawer Systems each able to accommodate 6 mice for 180 days (maximum) on-orbit. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) confirms that in theory, they can be installed sequentially, which would then enable the exchange of one group of mice for another. However, results from the first experiment would not be available when the second group of mice would be launched. Therefore, exchanging mice groups may not be more advantageous than planning experiments separated in time.

In order for Canadian scientists to use the Mouse Drawer System, the CSA is responsible (if possible, within CSA resource constraints) for provision of transport and other necessary ISS resources. This requirement and its feasibility will be assessed during the ILSRA 2014 Technical Review.

Note that other systems (e.g. the Rodent Research Habitat) are also available for mouse research.

The CSA reminds all applicants that researchers planning to do animal research on the ISS must conform to Canadian regulations on animal research as defined by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

Question 3: Can we have an American scientist as a partner? Or will this individual be expected to apply individually to NASA? Can they be involved in more than one project/contribution?

Answer 3: Yes, you can have an American scientist as a Co-I. This Co-I will have to apply to NASA for all funding related to the project. Any individual can be involved in more than one project/contribution agreement.

More information from NASA concerning American Co-Is on Canadian proposals: Yes, you can have an American scientist as a Co-I. This Co-I must obtain a letter of interest from NASA indicating interest in the proposed topic should it pass peer review and be selected by CSA. Once selected, additional information may be required from the US Co-I in order to issue a NASA grant for funding. Funding of the Co-I cannot happen without the letter of interest. Requests for Letter of Interest should be addressed to Dr. David Tomko for non-human investigations or Dr. Mark Shelhamer for human investigations.  Any individual can be involved in more than one project. See the FEIP for contact information for Drs. Tomko and Shelhamer at http://tinyurl.com/ILSRA2014

Question 4: Is it possible for one person to be a PI or Co-I on more than one NOI?

Answer 4: Yes, one individual can be Principal investigator or Co-I on more than one NOI. Each NOI will be evaluated independently.  Note that a Canadian Co-I, must submit an NOI to the CSA; however, he/she is not required to submit a full proposal to NRESS, since full proposal submission is the responsibility of the Principal investigator.

For Canadian-led proposals, the budget provided in the NOI submitted to the CSA must cover all costs related to activities undertaken by the Principal investigator and any Canadian Co-Is. Moreover, the limit ($800,000 total) on each Canadian-led proposal applies to the total Canadian costs (Principal investigator+ Canadian Co-Is).

For proposals led by an international Principal investigator with Canadian Co-Is, the Canadian Co-Is must only include Canadian costs in the budget of the NOI submitted to the CSA.

Question 5: In the Canadian announcement, the NOI deadline is April 4, 2014, whereas in the international announcement on the NSPIRES web site, the deadline for NOI from non-US investigators is March 28, 2014. Do Canadian investigators have to submit an NOI on NSPIRES (for March 28) and to the Canadian Space Agency (for April 4)?

Answer 5: Submission of the CSA NOI is mandatory for Canadian applicants seeking Canadian support. All documents must be received at the CSA no later than April 4, 2014, 5:00 p.m. (EDT). For non-US investigators, submitting a NOI to the NASA web site is optional.

Question 6: For the Notice of Intent, is it mandatory for the international co-investigator to provide CV information in a NSERC Form 100 or is it possible to simply attach a short CV? A complete form F100 will be submitted with the full proposal.

Answer 6: A complete NSERC Form F100 for international investigators is not mandatory for the NOI or the full proposal. It is possible to submit a CV containing the required information in a suitable academic format. Instructions for the full proposals can be found here:
http://tinyurl.com/ILSRA2014

Question 7: Is it possible to propose experiments requiring the use of a new device for on-board cellular biology analysis that would then be validated as an outcome of the research? In the FEIP document, it is stated that "Experiments requiring new dedicated experiment hardware development that has significant complexity and / or low technology readiness for flight implementation" may be considered "difficult to accommodate" on the ISS. Would that preclude successful funding of my application?

Answer 7: The objective of this international AO is to solicit proposals for scientific studies to be conducted onboard the ISS. As stated in the FEIP, "Development of experiment-unique equipment (EUE) will require additional funding, and individual agencies will factor this into their overall assessment of the feasibility of a proposal. Design, construction, and flight of major EUE hardware items or facilities usually require the commitment of large quantities of resources (power, crew time, volume). In the event that such items are proposed, they should be clearly identified". Therefore , it is possible to submit proposals requiring flight qualification of new hardware. The complexity and likelihood of successful hardware development and its qualification within the schedule and resources identified in the AO will be assessed during the feasibility review and certainly impact the scoring in this category. More information can be found in the FEIP at the following address: http://tinyurl.com/ILSRA2014.

Question 8: According to the announcement, the CSA does not intend to fund non-Canadian Co-Is on a Canadian-led proposal. Is I correct that funding for those individuals must come from their home agency? Will this require a separate NOI and then full proposal to each agency for whom funding will be requested (i.e. one to NASA for a US co-I, one to ESA for a European co-I, etc.?)?

Answer 8: Please refer to answer to question #3 and #4.

Question 9: Instead of the NSERC F100 CV form, is it possible to send another form such as the NSERC Researcher CV from the Canadian Common CV server?

Answer 9: In case a NSERC F-100 form would not be available, another official CV such as the CCV form would be acceptable. Please prepare a pdf version of the form and include it in the Notice of Intent, since the CSA does not have access to data on that server.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The minimum score of 70/100 is greater than the sum of the individual sub-total minima.

Return to footnote 1 referrer