Again in 2019, the TSC Alliance is announcing a funding opportunity for Biosample Seed Grants to support research using blood, tissue, and buccal cells from the TSC Biosample Repository. The award may support laboratory supplies, personnel costs, services, or equipment necessary to conduct the proposed research.

The TSC Biosample Repository houses human biological materials linked to detailed clinical data in the TSC Natural History Database. High-quality biosamples and their associated clinical data enable researchers to discover biomarkers, establish human cell lines or tissue arrays for drug testing, and search for clues to understand why TSC is so different from person to person.

As of September 4, 2019, the TSC Biosample Repository contained:

  • 350 buccal cell samples for DNA isolation
  • 247 blood samples from which plasma and white blood cells have been isolated
  • 10 tissue samples, frozen (5 also have a matched fixed, paraffin-embedded samples)
    • 3 kidney
    • 2 brain
    • 1 liver
    • 3 soft tissue
    • 1 tooth
  • 295 blood samples from TSC Clinical Research Consortium projects, some of which may be available via application to the projects’ Biosample Use Committee

Because biosamples are linked to data in the Natural History Database, applicants may request subsets of biosamples based on clinical phenotypes, age, sex, etc., to compare, for example, samples from individuals with TSC who developed angiomyolipomas at different ages or not at all. Additional data from the Natural History Database relevant to the project may be requested for each sample, as well. Please note the TSC Biosample Repository does not contain “unaffected control” samples from individuals without TSC, although it does include some samples from one or both parents without TSC.

If you would like to utilize TSC biosamples but do not require seed funding to do so, please submit only the Application for Biosample Access, principal investigator’s NIH-style biosketch or CV, and an IRB approval or exemption letter.

Duration and Budget

  • Expected duration is 12 months. Can be longer or shorter if appropriate for the project.
  • Maximum total costs of $20,000 per year, applications for less than the $20,000 maximum are encouraged and appreciated to enable TSC Alliance to fund as many seed grants as possible.
  • The TSC Alliance allows no more than 10 percent of the total costs (up to $2,000) to be applied to indirect costs.

Requirements and Eligibility

  • To build the dataset associated with each biosample and avoid duplication of work in the future, applicants will be required to share data generated on each sample back to the TSC Biosample Repository. Data can be embargoed for a period of time to be defined in the Material Transfer Agreement to provide time to publish, protect intellectual property, etc.
  • This opportunity is open to all investigators at established academic or research institutions worldwide. Researchers at start-up pharmaceutical or biotech companies are eligible if they are unable to utilize TSC biosamples in absence of seed funding.
  • Researchers residing in the United States need not be U.S. citizens to apply.
  • We welcome applications from tenure-track faculty or equivalent, non-tenure-track faculty, and postdoctoral (PhD or MD) fellows.

Components of the Application

Compile the following into a single PDF file and send as an email attachment to Zoë Fuchs and Jo Anne Nakagawa at zfuchs@tscalliance.org and jnakagawa@tscalliance.org no later than 11:59 PM Eastern Time (US) on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. If the file is prohibitively large, it may be submitted by emailing a link to a Dropbox or similar location to Zoë and Jo Anne.

  1. Complete the Application for Biosample Access. The “Study Information” section may be up to two pages in length to fully explain the rationale, objectives, and experimental
  2. Include a “Statement of Impact” up to a half-page in length describing how this seed funding will advance your research. For example, where will this lead if the experiment is successful, or how will these results be used to apply for a larger grant?
  3. Include a one-page budget and justification for direct costs. Limited salary support may be included if required by the institution, but salary support must be strongly justified given the short-term nature of seed funding.
  4. Principal investigator’s NIH-style biosketch or CV.
  5. IRB approval letter, exemption letter from an institutional official or department chair, or statement that the project has been submitted to your IRB and is awaiting a decision.

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria used to evaluate and prioritize applications for seed funding will include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Relevance to TSC. Biosamples may be used in studies together with samples from individuals with related disorders for the mutual benefit of multiple disorders, including TSC. However, biosamples will not be provided for use as “control” samples in studies primarily focused on other disorders.
  • Impact on TSC research and the TSC community.
  • Leveraging data from the Natural History Database linked to each biosample to enhance experimental design, interpretation of results, and impact of the study.

Successful applicants will be notified by Friday, November 15.

Please contact Zoë Fuchs (zfuchs@tscalliance.org) or Steve Roberds (sroberds@tscalliance.org) with any questions on the process.