Principal Investigator Initiative
Call for Applications

The Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) leads scientifically outstanding and innovative research in improving the health and well-being of children and adolescents worldwide. 

The BRCCH is pleased to open a Call for applications for research projects for its new Principal Investigator Initiative (PII). The PII aims to drive interdisciplinary research that addresses critical challenges in global paediatric health and medicine.  The Call seeks translational research projects that deliver novel innovations across paediatric health diagnosis, disease treatment and prevention. The Call also welcomes projects that aim to advance the implementation and uptake of step-changing paediatric health interventions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Research proposals are expected to be scientifically outstanding, highly translational and relevant to BRCCH’s mission to deliver the best science to young people most in need. Proposals are required to align with the scope of at least one of the following research areas:

RESEARCH FOCAL AREAS

This research area seeks projects focused on developing innovative and scalable digital health approaches that address key challenges and unmet needs in global paediatric health and medicine. We welcome projects involving eHealth, mHealth, Big Data, AI and computational-based approaches that will lead to improved health and well-being for children and adolescents.

Topics of interest, with a particular focus on relevance for LMIC settings, include but are not restricted to:

  • Novel digital health interventions for paediatric patients.
  • Advanced computational and Big Data approaches to disease prediction, treatment or prevention.
  • Improved paediatric healthcare delivery and access through digital tools.

This research area welcomes novel biomedical, biotechnology and systems biology approaches that will significantly advance paediatric medicine. Technologies that will lead to novel medical interventions and diagnostic tools for conditions that cause significant disease burden in children and/or adolescents in LMICs are highly sought. Similarly, approaches that have strong potential for use and scale-up in LMIC settings are of interest.

Topics of interest, with a specific focus on paediatrics, include but are not restricted to:

  • Molecular biotherapeutics and drug delivery systems.
  • Biodiagnostic platforms and technologies.
  • Novel vaccine technologies.

Projects with a strong translational focus and that involve studies that will be conducted in a clinical or public health setting are of particular interest. Proposals solely focused on in vitro-based and small animal studies will not be considered.

This research area welcomes projects focused on developing medical devices/technologies that are tailored to improving the diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases affecting children and/or adolescents. Projects focused on developing robust, low-cost medical technologies that can be directly applied in LMICs are of particular interest.

Topics of interest include but are not restricted to:

  • Innovative devices for treatment & management of acute and chronic paediatric diseases.
  • Point-of-care / point-of-need diagnostic devices.
  • Technologies for paediatric critical and emergency care.

Projects involving technologies that have reached proof-of-concept stage or beyond are particularly sought.

This research area welcomes innovative projects focused on addressing outstanding ethical, regulatory and economic challenges associated with paediatric health interventions. It also aims to address how these factors influence the implementation and uptake of interventions in different settings (e.g. resource-rich versus resource-limited countries).

Topics of interest include but are not restricted to:

  • Ethics of paediatric digital health interventions – from the perspective of the patient, clinician and/or caregiver.
  • Ethics of paediatric clinical trials, with a particular focus on new and emerging intervention strategies and on trials conducted in LMIC settings.
  • Novel approaches to socio-economic evaluation that assess the sustainability of economic costs of implementation and the scale-up of paediatric health interventions in different settings.

BRCCH invites applications from researchers from its four partner institutions: University of Basel, ETH Zurich, University Children’s Hospital Basel and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. Only Principal Investigators who hold a primary affiliation with these BRCCH partner institutions are eligible to be Lead (or Co-) Investigators. 

The PII enables consortia-based projects with a concise focus led by Investigators based within the BRCCH partner institutions. The PII Call will support 4-year research projects with up to 1 million CHF in funding per award.

Please note, since the BRCCH previously launched a Call in 2020 specifically enabling COVID-19 research, COVID-19 related proposals will not be considered in the PII Call.

Application Deadline

Letter of Intent deadline: Friday, October 1st, 2021 @ 17:00 CET.
*The Letter of Intent is used for administrative and organisational purposes and will not be evaluated for scientific content.

Full Application deadline: Friday, November 5th, 2021 @ 17:00 CET.

Important application documents can be downloaded below.

 

Application & Review Process

August 2: PII Call Launch
August 24th: Grants Clinic (optional)
October 1st: Letter of Intent deadline
November 5th: Full Application deadline
November-January: Applications out for external review
February 2022: Interview workshop for top applications
Spring 2022: Application decisions announced
Summer 2022: Projects launched on a rolling basis

Questions?

Check out our FAQs section below. For further questions, email us at contact@brc.ch.

How to Apply

The Letter of Intent and Full Application should be submitted by the designated lead Principal Investigator. All applications need to be submitted online using BRCCH’s secure application portal at https://brcch.optimytool.ch/en/Applications sent via email or post will not be considered.

For the Full Application, you will be prompted to provide the following:

  • Cover page
  • Principal Investigator details
    • CV / biosketch and publications list
  • Co-Principal Investigator details (if applicable)
    • CV / biosketch and publications list
  • Collaborator(s) details (if applicable)
    • CV / biosketch and publications list
  • Research proposal
  • Budget overview

Once submitted, you will receive an email confirmation of receipt.

FAQs

Please see below in the drop-down menu for additional details about the PII.

APPLICANT REQUIREMENTS

  • Applications are required to be led by at least one Investigator (tenured, tenure-track or non-tenure) from one of the four partner institutions: University of Basel (UniBas), ETH Zurich (ETHZ), University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB) and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). Cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary consortia are strongly encouraged. Applications involving one sole Investigator (i.e. without Co-Investigators and/or Collaborators) need to provide written justification for this decision.
  • Applicants will be required to submit a written application encompassing a detailed research proposal, relevance of the project to the remit of the BRCCH and the Call’s scope, strategy plan for translation to the clinic/public health setting within a realistic time frame and importance of the project for LMICs.
  • Consortia are expected to have one Investigator that is designated as the project lead (e.g. for reporting requirements). Further Co-Investigators from the four BRCCH partner institutions are welcome.
  • Collaborators are expected to provide a defined scientific contribution and to enable the consortium to deliver immediate impact. Researchers may be listed as a collaborator on multiple PII applications.
  • Applications can include Collaborators based within the BRCCH partner institutions and/or external organisations. Such organisations include Swiss and international institutions, hospitals and/or industry/start-up partners. In such cases, research contracts will need to be developed with the support of Unitectra and/or ETH transfer for approved projects.
  • The research proposal must clearly define the unique contributions brought by each co-applicant involved in the project and to provide detailed information on the aspects of the work that will be conducted within the respective institutions.
  • In cases where research activities are proposed to be conducted abroad, it is essential to clarify the situation with the personnel department of your home institution (social security, accident insurance, etc) at an early stage. Please contact the HR department responsible for your team.
  • Applications need to be submitted by the Lead Principal Investigator (PI) via the BRCCH grant management system. PII funding will be allocated directly to the main PI and Co-Investigator(s) (if applicable).
  • Important note for current BRCCH consortia: Awardees of previous BRCCH research initiatives (i.e., MIP 2019, FTC for COVID-19, and PEP 2020) are only eligible to submit an application if the aims and context of the proposed work are entirely independent of previously funded projects.
  • Please note regarding COVID-19 research: Since the BRCCH previously launched a Call in 2020 specifically enabling COVID-19 research, COVID-19 related proposals will not be considered in the PII Call.

ELIGIBILITY OF APPLICANTS

  • PIs (Investigator and Co-Investigator) are required to hold a primary affiliation and in-house research/laboratory activities within one of the four partner institutions: University of Basel (UniBas), ETH Zurich (ETHZ), University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB) and Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH). PIs affiliated outside of these institutions cannot be considered as a designated Investigator on a project application.
  • PIs affiliated outside of the four BRCCH partner institutions cannot be considered as a designated Investigator on a project application.
  • A PI is required to be an experienced senior researcher (e.g. independent group leader, professor) and to be affiliated with the respective BRCCH partner institution for the entire duration of the funding period. Salaries of Investigators and Co-Investigators need to be ensured for funding to be awarded, and cannot be covered by PII project funding.
  • Consortia are expected to designate one Investigator as the project lead (e.g. for reporting requirements). Further Co-Investigators from the four BRCCH partner institutions are welcome.
  • Successful applicants (Investigators and Co-Investigators) are responsible for acquiring a letter of confirmation from their institution that confirms guarantee of their salary and access to the necessary infrastructure for the entire funding period of the PII grant. Important Note: Successful applicants will be notified by the BRCCH prior to receipt of awarded funding to request letter submission.
  • An applicant can only submit one application as an Investigator (lead or Co-).
  • Any senior researcher affiliated with a department at UniBas, University Hospital Basel, UKBB and Swiss TPH who can guarantee employment at one of these institutions for the entire duration of the grant.
  • Members of spin-off companies and of other affiliated institutions (e.g. Friedrich Miescher Institute) cannot be Investigators/Co-Investigators but may participate as Collaborators.
  • Any senior researcher from an ETHZ department who can guarantee employment at ETHZ for the entire duration of the grant.
  • Members of spin-off companies and of other affiliated institutions (e.g. EMPA, Paul Scherrer Institute) cannot be Investigators/Co-Investigators but can participate as Collaborators.
  • A Collaborator is expected to provide a defined scientific contribution and to enable the consortium to deliver impact.
  • The contributions of Collaborators need to be essential for the overall success of the project (i.e., if one were to remove the Collaborator in mind, the project would be seriously weakened).
  • Collaborators do not necessarily need to have a permanent contract with UniBas (including hospitals and Swiss TPH) or ETHZ.
  • Collaborators can be affiliated with institutions other than UniBas and ETHZ, including Swiss and international institutions and organisations, hospitals and/or industry partners.
  • An applicant may be listed as a Collaborator on more than one PII application.
  • If external Collaborators (national or international) will be involved in the project, research contracts will need to be developed with the technology transfer offices of UniBas/ETHZ.
  • Up to 10% of the total requested budget can be allocated to Collaborators. This applies to Collaborators based within the BRCCH partner institutions; external academic institutions, industry and other external organisations.
  • Collaborators will be able to invoice eligible project costs related to the designated Investigator (Lead or Co-Investigator). The budget-share for each Collaborator must be indicated in the detailed project budget.
  • Cost related to the employment of Collaborators and their personnel are not covered by awarded funding.
  • Funding can only cover direct costs (e.g. no overhead costs) for Collaborators.
  • The contributions of industry collaborators (e.g. private sector, non-academic organisations) need to be scientific.
  • BRCCH cannot transfer funding to the industry collaborator.
  • Industry collaborators are expected to submit invoices to Investigators (based on research contracts between Investigator and Collaborator) reflecting costs that are not-for-profit or gain. The costs generated by Collaborators must not exceed 10%.
  • Please note, all PII applications must be led by an Investigator from one of our four partner institutions. The BRCCH will not consider applications that only include Industry researchers.

RESEARCH PROJECT

  • Projects are expected to deliver novel innovations across paediatric health diagnosis, disease treatment and prevention.
  • Projects aiming to advance the implementation and uptake of step-changing paediatric health interventions, particularly in LMICs, are also welcome.
  • Applications must provide a strong rationale for the project’s potential for translation and adoption into medical practice or in a public health setting.
  • Collaborative efforts with researchers in LMICs are highly encouraged. Projects with a clear description of a genuine path or a realistic potential for translational and uptake in LMICs will be given priority for funding.
  • Progress of approved projects will be regularly monitored, and written reports will need to be submitted annually.

Each PII application must be aligned with at least one of the following four research areas:

    • Paediatric Digital Health
    • Advanced Bioengineering for Paediatric Medicine
    • Essential Paediatric Medical Devices
    • Ethics, Policy and Implementation Research in Paediatric Health

Please note, since the BRCCH previously launched a Call in 2020 specifically enabling COVID-19 research, COVID-19 related proposals will not be considered in the PII Call.

FINANCES

  • PII research projects are intended to be 4-years in duration.
  • PII funding can only be allocated directly to Investigators and Co-Investigators (if applicable via the financial departments of the respective home institutions.

Direct costs include

    • Consumables.
    • Fee-for-service infrastructure use.
    • Software and computing resources.
    • Costs for materials of enduring value where justified.
    • Field expenses.
    • Travel costs.
    • Third-party charges.

Personnel

    • PhD students, postdoctoral scientists, senior scientists, technicians, coordinators, etc. can be hired by Investigators and Co-Investigators using PII funding.
    • Personnel salaries must follow the guidelines of the four BRCCH partner institutions.
    • Collaborators cannot hire personnel using PII funding.
  • Indirect costs such as, but not limited to, HR expenses, overheads including space charges, administration and costs that would exist whether or not the submitted project occurs.
  • Salaries of Collaborators and of Collaborators’ personnel. Cost related to the employment of Investigators and Co-Investigators at the four BRCCH partner institutions.
  • Salaries of Collaborators and of Collaborators’ personnel.
  • Infrastructure.
  • The PII Call supports research projects with up to 1,000,000 CHF funding per award. The BRCCH reserves the right to adjust allocated funding budgets.
  • In general, the budget should proportionally reflect the scientific contributions of each Investigator and Collaborator. All costs must be justifiable against the scope of the project and be auditable/traceable.
  • The main budget must be dedicated to research activities at the four BRCCH partner institutions.

MISCELLANEOUS

No, BRCCH does not currently provide any lab or office space.

BRCCH adheres to the IP regulations of its four partner institutions.

Applications are required to be written in English.

Please email contact@brc.ch or attend our virtual Grants Clinic on August 24th (registration here).

GRANTS PORTAL

  • All applications have to be submitted via our grants portal https://brcch.optimytool.ch/en/.
  • First time users have to create a new user account at https://brcch.optimytool.ch/en/. You will receive a confirmation email with a link to set your password.
  • The leading Investigator can give access to the application to other co-applicants through "Manage invitations" function on the left-hand menu in the Grant Portal. This allows multiple people to work on the same application.
  • The proposal should be uploaded as pdf file.
  • In case you do not receive an automated email from the Grants Portal, please check your Spam email folder.