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Grant Review Committee

In order to enhance the scientific quality of research as well as encourage collaboration among faculty members, the Department of Plastic Surgery has established a Grant Review Committee (GRC). This committee, consisting of surgeon-scientists and basic scientists at the University of Pittsburgh, will review proposals prior to submission to federal agencies, industry and foundations.

download the GRC submission form

Both the technical and scientific merit of all research proposals will be reviewed, and final submission will be approved by the department chair. Additionally, faculty who are collaborating with researchers outside of the department are also required to submit their proposal abstracts prior to submission to the funding agency. The purpose of this committee is to provide proposal reviews prior to formal submission, resulting in a highly competitive application. The GRC will work closely with the faculty, answering questions as needed and providing guidance and input throughout the process. Department faculty members are required to submit a “Planning to submit form” at least one month prior to the grant due date. If approved by the Department Chair, the full proposal will be due 14 days prior to the due date to the GRC. A review will be conducted within five business days, allowing the researcher time to abide by the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Research proposal submission policy timelines (see

Requirements of the GRC

  1. What types of applications DO need to be submitted to the GRC?
    • All applications to NIH, DOD, NSF and other federal agencies on which the PI is from
      the Department of Plastic Surgery
    • All applications to PSF, ASERF and other foundation agencies on which the PI is
      from the Department of Plastic Surgery.
    • Federal and Foundation applications on which a Co-Investigator from the Department of Plastic Surgery receives salary support
    • Proposals for pilot studies funded by the investigator or other internal (noncompetitive) funds. In this case, only the abstract needs to be submitted to the GRC.
  2. What types of applications MAY be submitted to the GRC at the Investigator’s discretion?
    • Federal or foundation applications on which the Plastic Surgery Co-Investigator has salary support. This typically involves applications in which the PI is from another Department, School or Institution.

Grant Review Committee Process

Two types of review are used by the GRC, Standard (Type A) Review and Expedited (Type B) Review.

  1. Standard (Type A) Review
    • What is Standard (Type A) Review?
      • Standard Review involves written reviews of an application from three faculty members.
      • Standard (Type A) Review is the default review type, and is appropriate for the majority of submissions.
    • What applications require Type A Review?
      • All new (A0) and revised (A1) applications to NIH, DOD, NSF and other federal agencies on which the PI is from the Department of Plastic Surgery.
      • All applications to foundations on which the PI is from the Department of Plastic Surgery.
      • Federal and foundation applications (new or revised) on which a Co-Investigator from the Department of Plastic Surgery receives salary support.
    • Submission Materials
      • If you have any questions about what should be submitted, please contact the GRC Coordinators at
      • New applications (e.g., applications to the DOD and A0 applications to NIH)
        • GRC Cover Sheet (available at website)
        • Research Project Applications (R series grants), current draft of the following:
          • Introduction (if applicable)
          • Research Plan (Specific Aims, Research Strategy [Significance, Innovation, Approach])
          • Progress Report (if applicable)
          • Human Subjects Section (or equivalent)
        • Individual Post-Doctoral Fellowship Applications (F32), current draft of the following:
          • Introduction (if applicable)
          • Fellowship Applicant Section (Applicant’s Background and Goals for Fellowship Training)
          • Research Training Plan Section (Specific Aims, Research Strategy,
          • Respective Contributions, Selection of Sponsor and Institution, Training in Responsible Conduct of Research)
          • Sponsors, Collaborators, and Consultants Section (Sponsor and Co-Sponsor Statements, Letters of support from Collaborators, Contributors, and Consultants)
          • Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training Section
        • Institutional Training Grants (T32), current draft of the following:
          • Introduction (if applicable)
          • Program Plan: Background, Program Plan (Program Administration)
          • Program Faculty, Proposed Training, Training Program Evaluation,
          • Trainee Candidates, Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training, Qualifications of Trainee Candidates), Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity
          • Plan for Instruction in the Responsible Conduct of Research
          • Plans for Instruction in Methods for Enhancing Reproducibility
      • Resubmissions applications (e.g., DOD resubmissions or A1 applications to NIH)
        • GRC Cover Sheet
        • NIH summary statement from the previous review
        • Introduction to the revised application
        • All other applicable sections, as described above for A0 applications
      • NIH A0 applications based on previously twice-reviewed submission. These applications require prior approval from Dr. Rubin. Please see below. Once approval is obtained, submit the following:
        • GRC Cover Sheet
        • NIH summary statement from the immediately previous review
        • All other applicable sections, as described above for A0 applications
      • Foundation grant applications
        • GRC Cover Sheet
        • Text sections of application (equivalent to research plan and, if applicable, training plans)
        • Funding announcement, if available
        • Review criteria, if available
    • Procedure
      • Prior to submission, the Principal Investigator should recommend three faculty as reviewers and determine their ability and willingness to review in a timely fashion. In most cases, reviewers are faculty members in the Department of Plastic Surgery. However, reviewers from other departments, schools and universities may also serve as reviewers if their specialized expertise is required, with at least one faculty member from the Department of Plastic Surgery as a reviewer. The PI should ensure that outside reviewers understand the requirement to providewritten comments in a timely fashion. In certain cases, advanced post-doctoral fellows may also be appropriate reviewers. PIs may also consult with the assigned GRC Chair (see below) if they need help identifying appropriate reviewers. To initiate a review, submit the proposal submission form and specific aims to the GRC via email at least one month prior to the internal deadline at the University’s Office of Research. The GRC Chair and Department Chair will first review the submission form. If approved, the PI is to submit the full application at least 14 days before the internal deadline. Applications will be assigned to a GRC member who will oversee the review process. The Committee Chair will review the suggested reviewers. Additional or alternative reviewers may be selected by the GRC Chair, in consultation with the PI.
      • Reviewers who have confirmed willingness to review the grant will be sent the application and the appropriate GRC Review Form.
      • Reviewers are asked to complete their written review in five business days and return the completed Review Form to the GRC. Upon receiving the Review Form, the Committee Coordinator will send an update via e-mail regarding the current status of the grant review.
      • The application and three Review Forms are forwarded to the Committee Chair for his/her review. The GRC Chair will contact the PI to request a written response to the review, and to provide any additional recommendations. The GRC Chair also grades the quality of the reviews.
      • The PI prepares a written response to the reviews and suggestions from the reviewers, and returns this to the GRC.
      • The GRC Chair reviews the PI’s response, addresses any final concerns with the PI, then recommends action to the Department Chair, Dr. Rubin.
      • Dr. Rubin conducts a final review and recommends a final action for the application (Approved, Not Approved, or Approved Pending Further Information). The Committee Coordinator sends a formal approval letter to the PI and notifies the Pre-Awards Office.
  2. Expedited (Type B) Review
    • What is Expedited (Type B) Review?
      • Expedited Review involves a brief review of the application by one of the GRC members. No reviews are solicited from other faculty members. Written review comments are not required.
    • What applications require Type B Review?
      • The application includes a faculty member in Plastic Surgery, who is a coinvestigator on the grant, and IRB requires departmental approval for the protocol. Note: This rule does not apply if the Department of Plastic Surgery applicant is Principal Investigator. Standard (Type A) review is required when the PI is from the Department of Plastic Surgery.
      • The application includes a Co-Investigator from Plastic Surgery who contributes effort/salary support, but the application has been reviewed and approved by a different department or center in the University.
      • The application has previously been approved by the GRC as a Type A Review, has no major scientific changes, and is now being submitted to a different agency.
      • The application is a pilot study, supported with internal funds, and is being used to collect preliminary data.
      • The application is being submitted for IRB purposes only.
      • The application is for an administrative supplement.
    • Submission Materials
      • GRC Coversheet
      • Current version of the abstract and/or specific aims page
      • E-mail with a brief explanation for requesting Type B review
    • Procedure
      • Submit the above materials to GRC at
      • One of the GRC Chairs will be assigned to make a determination of whether Type B review is appropriate.
      • If Type B review is deemed appropriate, the GRC Chair will briefly review the application and provide comments.
      • After comments are resolved with the PI, the GRC Chair will provide a recommendation for approval.
      • Dr. Rubin conducts a final review and recommends a final action for the application (Approved, Not Approved, or Approved Pending Further Information).
      • The Committee Coordinator sends a formal approval letter to the PI and notifies the Office of Grants and Contracts.

Guidance for Special Circumstances

  1. Review of applications from other departments, schools, or institutions with a Department of Plastic Surgery Co-Investigator. Members of the faculty in the Department of Plastic Surgery often participate as Co-Investigators for applications in which the PI works in another department at the University of Pittsburgh or at another university. These applications must be reviewed by the GRC for all level of efforts by the Co-Investigator in Plastic Surgery. We make this stipulation to ensure that investigators within Plastic Surgery receive the best possible advice about such collaborations. It is possible that only the abstract need to be reviewed, if the proposal contains information that is proprietary. We also believe that our internal review process will help to improve the quality of outside applications. At times, we receive requests to expedite such reviews because colleagues in other departments or universities are not subject to internal review requirements. We ask that Department of Plastic Surgery investigators acquaint such colleagues with the GRC process and point out the potential value added by the reviews that we can provide when given adequate time.
  2. Other special circumstances. We encourage PIs to consult with the GRC as early as possible if other special circumstances arise for any proposed application. For example, questions may occur if similar applications are being submitted to multiple funding agencies (“Do I have to have
    separate reviews for the ‘same’ application that I’m sending to NIH and to a private foundation?”). Questions may also arise when the PI is in a different venue (“I’m a Co-Investigator on an application being submitted through the Department of Psychiatry where they have their own internal review process; do I need to submit the application to the Plastic Surgery GRC?”). Please email or call one of the GRC Chair or Coordinator as early as possible when such issues arise so that we can make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances.

Compliance with IRB and IACUC Requirements

Please note that prior to review for the protection of human and animal subjects, the University of Pittsburgh IRB and IACUC require written notification from the GRC that the proposal has been approved regarding scientific merit. Therefore, a copy of the GRC approval letter must accompany any submission to the IRB or IACUC. The approval letter may be scanned and entered into the OSIRIS system for electronic submissions used by the IRB.

Department of Plastic Surgery Policy for Submitting Previously Twice Reviewed Grants as New Grants (in response to NIH Policy Change announced on April 22, 2014 [NOT-OD-14-074])

The resubmission of previously twice-reviewed applications as new A0 applications, now allowed under NIH policy, requires additional departmental approval. Investigators who wish to submit a twice-reviewed application as a new A0 should first submit an e-mail to Dr. Rubin, with cc to Kacey Marra, Director of Research. The e-mail should explain your rationale for resubmitting the new A0 application, and should include the following materials as attachments:

  • Summary statements for both the initial and the A1 prior submission of the application
  • A brief summary of how feedback from the A1 submission will be integrated in improving the new application (as you would in the introduction to a revised application)

Please note that neither the GRC nor the OGC can accept resubmitted A0 applications prior to approval from Dr. Rubin. Once such approval is obtained, follow the procedures described above for Type A submission of a twice-reviewed A0 application (Section E.1.b)

Withdrawal or Postponed Submission

Please notify the assigned Research Review Chair and Coordinator if you decide to either not submit your application or, to submit at a later date.

For more information, please contact Dr. Kacey Marra,