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Last Updated: 11/19/19
Quantitative Imaging Network (QIN)

QIN Program Announcement

The Quantitative Imaging Network has two different grant support announcements. The first calls for a two-phase research project to develop and then validate quantitative imaging tools designed to provide clinical decision support to measure or predict therapy response during clinical trials. In the first phase (a UG3 mechanism), investigators will develop software tools and methods to measure or predict therapy response from medical images recorded during clinical trials or standard of care. The development phase can construct and test phantoms or calibration kits for scanner evaluation, use retrospective image data to test and train algorithms, or any other activity that will prepare the research for eventual validation in clinical trials. The second phase (a UH3 mechanism) will be dedicated to validation testing in one or more clinical trials. Please refer to the program announcement PAR-18-248 for complete details.

A frequently asked question from investigators interested in applying to the Quantitative Imaging Network is about this "U" mechanism of support. It differs only slightly from the traditional "R" mechanism for research support, but the differences are worth explaining. Most research support from the NIH is in the form of a research grant, using the letter "R" in the mechanism name. Here, investigators are expected to propose a well-defined research addressing a topic of national healthcare. In the past, hypothesis-driven research was a requirement for applications directed at research, but today this has been modified so that applications dealing with device fabrication and demonstration, data archiving, statistical analyses, and other research directions can be accommodated by a research grant mechanism of some type.

Of course, there are several important restrictions the federal government places on research. Rules such as proper use and care of animals, approvals for the use of human subjects in research, the regulation of any chemical or biological hazards, and many other conditions must be followed. In addition, proper reporting of progress and use of funds is monitored. The NIH Award Conditions and Information for Grants provides information to applicants.

U awards, called cooperative agreements, differ from their R award counterparts in the degree of NIH program intervention placed on the research in the program announcement. A U01 award, for example is very similar to the R01 award in its duration and call for circumscribed research addressing topics of national healthcare. The difference between the U01 and the R01 comes with the additional terms and conditions placed on the U award. These are specified in the program announcement for the cooperative agreement. For the QIN UG3/UH3 two-phase award, program participation is defined in the QIN Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of PAR-18-248. Please refer to this section for details.

The program staff of NCI recognizes that research groups with well-developed clinical decision support tools do not need a two-phase approach that begins with a comprehensive development stage. Instead, these teams are looking to advance their tools into clinical workflow and need support to bring the tools or methods into clinical trials for testing and validation. The Quantitative Imaging Network has research support in the form of a traditional R01 mechanism for these investigators. Please refer to PAR-18-919 for the details of competing for research support when well-developed tools are already functional.