NIH Announces SHIFT SBIR Grants to Help Academic Researchers Get Jobs in Biotech

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) just announced a new type of Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grants. Called SHIFT SBIR, these grants are designed to “(1) to foster research that is translational in nature and (2) to transform academic scientific discoveries into commercial products and services,” according to the NIH announcement, and to also facilitate licensing of intellectual properties from academic institutions as well as promote better access to academic resources. The PI transitioning from the academic institution must be primarily employed by his/her research institution at the time of application and must be primarily employed (more than 50% time) by the company by or at the time of award.

One very attractive aspect of these grants is that they mean more money than standard SBIR grants. Up to $200,000 total costs per year and time periods up to 2 years may be requested for Phase I. Well-justified budgets up to $750,000 total costs per year and time periods up to 3 years may be requested for Phase II. That is sufficient for a good researcher to build a team to do research in one direction within pretty much any small company setting.

A little background about SBIR grants: SBIR programs sponsored by federal funding agencies including the NIH, NSF, DOE, FDA, the military departments, etc. have been a major source of funding for many biotech companies like Allele Biotech during their startup phases. SBIR grants can also be used to facilitate continued research and help business expansion even as the company grows. As an example of the effects of SBIR grants, Allele Biotech obtained 5 such grants from 2000 to 2003 and built a company from just ideas to one with a patent in RNAi, an out-licensing deal with Promega, a product line in oligo synthesis, and a structure that helped launch currently ~1,500 products since 2004. We then carried out 2 more SBIR contracts for the NIH from 2007 to now, which moved us into the field of special antigen production, iPS using Bacmam systems, viral packaging services, and hopefully more advanced antibodies in the pipeline.

The link to the full NIH announcement is here.

To read more blogs on SBIR related topics, click here.

The current topics of SHIFT SBIR solicitation is listed below for Allele Blog viewers’ convenience:

• Applying opportunities in genomics and other high throughput technologies to understand fundamental biology, and to uncover the causes of specific diseases
• Translating basic science discoveries into new and better treatments
• Development of diagnostics, preventative strategies and therapeutic tools
• Development and clinical evaluation of biomarkers for alcohol exposure and alcohol-induced tissue injury
• Therapeutic development for alcoholism treatment
• Diagnostic assessment and treatment of alcohol use disorders and comorbidity
• Alcohol biosensors and data analysis systems
• Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and alcohol-related birth defects
• Minimal dose post-exposure vaccine for rabies
• Immunotherapy to kill HIV-infected cells
• Asthma therapeutic vaccine
• Novel antifibrotic therapies for progressive liver failure
• Diagnostic measurement devices or methods for assessment of urinary leakage and incontinence
• Therapeutics for diabetic wound healing
• Pediatric formulations
• Robust diagnostic biosensors for infants
• mHealth tools for assessing and addressing health in children and families
• Wearable diagnostic and therapeutic devices for physiologic monitoring and interventions
• Wearable biosensors for persons with genetic sensitivity to environmental factors
• Therapeutic interventions for persons with physical and developmental disabilities
• Advancement of novel botanical therapies for effective symptom management of non-life-threatening conditions
• Development of interactive technologies to improve and expand delivery of mind/body interventions
• Discovery of improved methodology for the characterization of plants and their secondary metabolites
• Development of standardized, objective methods to assess patient adherence to specific CAM treatment interventions;
• Development of devices/tools to assess consistency and fidelity of practitioner approaches and other aspects of protocol implementation
• Virtual settings or online tools for clinician training and implementation of fidelity monitors
• Development and validation of enhanced patient-reported outcome assessment tools for CAM (e.g. new user (clinician, researcher, and/or patient/study volunteer)–friendly interfaces, methods to improve compatibility with research and health informatics systems currently in use)
• Development of measurement tools for assessing expectancy for effects of CAM mind-body medicine, acupuncture, and manual therapy interventions
• Novel technologies that enhance/track/monitor “real time” adherence to drug abuse (and HIV+) treatment regimens
• Technology to improve the efficacy of substance abuse treatment, treatment adherence, and reduce recidivism among criminally-involved patients
• Mobile and/or internet technology based treatment interventions to augment traditional substance use disorder (SUD) treatments and their outcome
• Technologies and/or devices to boost medication adherence for SUD patients
• Technology-based treatment platforms to standardize interventions and to make them more community-friendly
• Integrate item response theory and computer adaptive testing in measures of addiction liability.
• Brief screening tools to assess relapse risks in and out drug treatment settings
• Use of the internet to link community based outreach and HIV testing services to facilitate access by drug users and their sex partners in neighborhood settings.
• Development of novel therapeutics, diagnostics, and devices for treating heart, lung, blood and sleep diseases and disorders
• New or improved measures, analytical methods, and instruments for gene expression in individuals with heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders and diseases
• Health-care systems and outcomes research, including development of new quality measures for evidence-based heart, lung, blood, and sleep health care
• Models of behavior modification and other approaches to behavior change related to heart, lung, blood, and sleep diseases and disorders
• Devices and technologies to prevent cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury
• Vaccines for the prevention or treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases
• Non-invasive methods to diagnose DVT and PE
• Technologies and strategies to advance cellular therapies for heart, lung and non-malignant blood diseases
• Therapies to treat hematologic diseases and cytopenic states
• Technologies for in vitro reduction, inactivation or removal of microorganisms and other infectious moieties from blood, blood components, and plasma derivatives
• Development of products, technologies and services to diagnose, treat and/or prevent skin and rheumatic diseases, muscle disorders, and joint and bone diseases

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Friday, April 9th, 2010 NIH Budget and You, SBIR and Business issues

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June 18, 2010

Nature Biotechnology cited comments by Allele’s CEO Dr. Jiwu Wang on this issue.
originally at

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