Call for new Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness capabilities (PLP-2)
SciLifeLab has been commissioned by the government to build laboratory capacity to assist in future pandemics (program 2021-2024, in total 130 MSEK). The assignment is to through research (focused on diagnostics, analysis of infection, immunity, and resistance development related to viruses, bacteria and other disease-causing organisms), competence and technology development (focused on sequencing, genetic analysis, immunological methods and management of big data) optimize SciLifeLab operations to support and complement other societal functions such as authorities, municipalities and regions in pandemic laboratory preparedness.
About the call
The aim of this Expression of Interest (EoI) call is to develop services and capabilities that will facilitate laboratory pandemic preparedness and to address big questions within infectious diseases like antimicrobial resistance. Ideally these capabilities will be developed within or in close collaboration with current SciLifeLab infrastructure, but they can also include new proposals that could eventually form future SciLifeLab infrastructure services and units.
The primary purpose of this call is technology development and adaptation to enable comprehensive monitoring and detection of pathogenic organisms, monitoring immune responses, analyzing antimicrobial resistance and studies of virulence mechanisms. The second purpose is to start services and prepare pipelines and practices for PLP data sharing capabilities together with the SciLifeLab Data Centre and national authorities (FoHM and others) that could be deployed in the case of the next pandemic. The third aim is to acquire sustainable support in collaboration with participating institutions to create sustainability of the pandemic preparedness.
What could be applied for?
SciLifeLab solicited suggestions to develop services and capabilities to establish laboratory preparedness for future pandemics via improved technologies or strategies. The applicants should commit to the development and implementation of national research capabilities, similar to previous PLP calls at SciLifeLab (https://www.scilifelab.se/pandemic-response/pandemic-laboratory-preparedness/).
This is not a call for research grants or research support for individual PIs, but we are interested in projects demonstrating utility and deployment of new capabilities within the infection area. Ideally the capabilities are to be developed together with the existing SciLifeLab infrastructure, and could concern e.g. better methods for pathogen detection and typing, serology and other types of immunomonitoring, methods for detection and characterization of antimicrobial resistance and environmental pathogen profiling. The proposals should address capabilities that can form a sustainable long-term service as part of the preparedness for future pandemics.
While proposals are welcome from individual scientists, we expect most of the top-ranked proposals to include team science approaches, existing infrastructure components, and multi-disciplinary collaboration, including access to samples, clinical data, biobanks as well as data handling, analysis and data sharing aspects.
We require research results, data, and methods, including code, to be released throughout the project according to the FAIR principles and as early as possible in the research process. The information sharing must be arranged with SciLifeLab Data Centre (DC), and when possible through the DC operated PLP data portal. In particular, proposals based on patient material are asked to provide information about how samples would be made available for additional molecular profiling, and the efforts taken through consent collection and ethics approval to address data- and sample sharing. Applicants are expected to demonstrate their commitment to FAIR data sharing and open science by concrete examples from previous activities.
This new laboratory preparedness EoI call is about creating a nationally significant infrastructure capability and eventually facilitating the pandemic monitoring and management. The proposals need to have the integration to real-world testing and proof of concept. This should be set up within a reasonable time-scale, such as a single year.
The role of this program is to support health care, clinical laboratories as well as public and commercial sectors, and not to replicate or create competing clinical or commercial testing capabilities. SciLifeLab’s primary role is to act in support of research on national pandemic laboratory preparedness, and not to perform routine clinical diagnostics.
Therefore, efforts that are very close to the routine diagnostics and involve comparisons of e.g. different commercially available testing kits are not likely to receive support. On the other hand, this funding is not likely to be compatible to support multi-year development of an entirely new technology or scientific research projects (outside of the need to validate the proposed capability).
Who can apply?
All PIs and teams of PIs across Sweden who aim to structure their contributions in the form of pandemic preparedness and research capabilities and services. We encourage links with health care units, clinical microbiology laboratories as well as industry. Existing SciLifeLab infrastructure units (or other local or national infrastructure units) are encouraged to apply or act as collaborators in the applications with the goal of bringing a strong infrastructure service mindset and the opportunity to achieve sustainability of the services.
How much can be applied for?
In this call the PLP program will support 4-5 new capability building projects that will become part of the PLP network. The maximum grant size that can be applied for is 4 MSEK (2 MEK/year) and costs can be material, machines and personnel needed for the capability development. The grant should cover all OH costs and LKP (payroll overhead) on personnel costs. Applicants should keep in mind that annual SciLifeLab support to a single well-established unit is 2-5 MSEK per year. Also, almost all SciLifeLab units and platforms also receive other infrastructure funding, and the long-term sustainability of the proposed PLP capability must also rely on a wider funding base. While we do not expect or demand a pre-defined level of co-funding, we would like you to list all other funding sources you have access to and the commitment of your host organization(s) to the proposal. Time period for funding: proposals should cover the period July 2022 to July 2024 as the setup period and proof of concept testing but granted funding can be used until December 31, 2024. The proposals should suggest how this service could potentially be continued as a SciLifeLab infrastructure service after 2024. The possible entry as a SciLifeLab service will need participation in a competitive renewal of all SciLifeLab infrastructure units in the next round.
Processing of EoIs
The submitted EoIs will first be evaluated, and ranked. Top-ranked proposals will then be discussed with the applicants. The proposals may be revised, parts may be changed or deleted, or the proposals may be combined with other EoIs according to comments from the evaluation committee. This will generate final versions of the proposals for new PLP capabilities that will be brought forward for decision by the SciLifeLab and KTH boards.
• March 11, 2022: Opening of call
• May 2 at 14.00, 2022: Application deadline
• May 3, 2022: Start of evaluation of proposals by SciLifeLab Management Group and external evaluators, including selection of prioritized projects
• Mid to Late May, 2022: Discussion of selected EoIs with applicants and final revision of proposals
• Late May and June, 2022: Funding decision by the SciLifeLab and KTH boards
• July 1, 2022: Start-up of selected proposals