What is it?
The Lien Centre for Palliative Care (LCPC) set up a ‘Research Incubator’ in February 2013 with the aim of fostering an environment that generates high quality and highly collaborative palliative care research. This model recognizes the wealth of clinical and scientific talent in palliative care but also the high constraints and competing priorities faced by palliative care providers. Therefore the research incubator is structured to take advantage of the best minds in palliative care research while minimizing the burden of overseeing research projects. It does this by offering a team of highly trained research staff who can assist the PI with many aspects of the research. This will allow for supporting community efforts to engage in innovative palliative care research while continuing to deliver high quality palliative care services.
What does it do?
The incubator will provide support via direct funding, manpower, subject matter and research expertise, and other resources for budgeting, IRB submission, project management, data collection, statistical analysis and manuscript writing required to jump-start and sustain high quality and innovative palliative care research projects in Singapore that are likely to have a real world impact. It will be overseen by Eric Finkelstein, the newly appointed Executive Director for LCPC and benefit from input by faculty of Duke-NUS, Singhealth, and local and international experts in palliative care research.
What are the research themes?
In the first call for proposals, priority for funding will be given to the following four areas identified in National Strategy for Palliative Care as having significant gaps in the current knowledge base:
- Understanding and meeting patient/caregiver preferences regarding end-of-life care
- Communication at the end of life
- End-of-life care financing and delivery models
- Pain and symptom management at the end of life
Are there any funding priorities?
As LCPC has limited funding for research, funding priority will be given to projects that:
- Fall within the listed research priorities
- Are likely to impact end of life care in Singapore
- Are likely to generate high quality research outputs, including publications in top field and/or high impact journals
- Provide training opportunities for aspiring palliative care researchers
- Are likely to better position the PI for future research studies.
Who is eligible?
Any Singapore-based researcher in any field, with a primary appointment in a local public hospital/public health institution/public university/academic medical center and salaried by the institution, is eligible to apply as Principal Investigator (PI), as are researchers external to Singapore who plan to conduct the research in Singapore and have at least one Singapore-based Co-Investigator on their research team.
What happens when a PI submits a research proposal to LCPC?
Prospective PIs will be encouraged to discuss potential research ideas with a Senior LCPC research team member of their choosing and/or a member of AMRI to see if the idea may be worth pursuing as a research project. If the idea has potential and the PI would like to pursue LCPC support, he/she will be required to submit a two-page research proposal to LCPC Research Staff for review. The LCPC research proposal form and funding application is attached (Appendix 1).
The proposal, once received, will be screened by a senior LCPC research team member. The LCPC research team member will provide feedback and if the PI remains interested, will schedule the proposal for a presentation at an LCPC research forum (note – these forums may be held jointly with AMRI). PIs will prepare the presentation and send it to the LCPC research team member for review and comment prior to the presentation at the research forum. This will ensure that the proposed research benefits from early feedback prior to the forum presentation. A template for the presentation is attached (Appendix 2).
LCPC research forums are expected to occur once in every two weeks beginning in February 2013. Each research forum will involve 1 or 2 presentations of 30 minutes – 1 hour each (total duration of forum is 1 hour). The forum will be scheduled during lunch hours (12-1pm) or in evening (5-6 pm) to encourage busy clinicians to attend these meetings. They will be held either at Duke-NUS and/or National Cancer Center on a rotating basis and may be held jointly with AMRI research forums in efforts to ensure appropriate and high quality feedback. If the PI is based outside Singapore, then a Singapore based co-investigator from the research team can present the proposal at the forum and the PI can participate in discussions by skype /telephone call if possible. The audience will include members of the LCPC research team (possibly including a local research advisory board (LRAB) member) and key members from PI’s team; however, anyone interested in palliative care research will be encouraged to attend. To continue to build capacity and encourage greater feedback in the ongoing research forums, any PI who receives LCPC funding will be expected to attend the forums and/or send a designated Co-Investigator.
The primary goal of the forums is to provide feedback to the PI, with the aim of improving the proposed research plan. Based on the feedback, PIs of promising proposals will likely be asked to make modifications and to expand the research plan and, if requested, to make additional forum presentation(s). A proposal may also be rejected (meaning no LCPC staff or funds will support the project) after the first or second presentation, if despite feedback, it fails to meet standards for scientific merit and funding priorities.
How are proposals assessed?
If shortlisted for funding consideration after the first or second presentation, the PI will likely be asked to submit a revised presentation and proposal and to prepare a project budget with help from the business manager at LCPC. The revised proposal and presentation will be sent to a local LCPC Research Advisory Board (LRAB) for review and scoring. All proposals will be scored by the LRAB based on scientific merit and funding priorities. Proposals with total costs (direct plus indirect) above $150,000 will be sent to an external advisory board (ERAB) for further review and comment. This secondary review is intended to ensure that the research is internationally competitive and that the funding represents a good investment for LCPC. The external review is expected to take no more than one month. It may generate additional requests for modifications to the research proposal and require additional forum presentations. The LCPC Director will decide, on a quarterly basis, which of the highly scored proposals to fund based on the feedback from the Research Director and advisory boards and on budget availability. Proposals not approved for funding can be resubmitted to LCPC after taking into account the recommendations of LRAB/ ERAB.
What happens after my proposal is approved for funding?
The proposals will be funded and the PI will be responsible for carrying out the proposed work. As the LCPC research incubator will include data collectors, writing, analytical, and budgeting support, and other infrastructure requirements necessary for carrying out high quality research, the PI will be strongly encouraged to take advantage of the LCPC resources rather than hiring her own staff. We would also encourage the PI to include at least one LCPC researcher (names and contact information listed in Appendix 4 and on LCPC website) as a Co-investigator if that would strengthen the research. The PI or a delegate will also be expected to make regular updates on the project status at the research forums. This will provide an opportunity to address any concerns that may arise with the research in a timely manner.
We strongly believe that an incubator approach provides the best strategy for cost-effectively generating high-quality research outputs and encourage interested researchers to bounce ideas off the LCPC research team and to submit applications.
We look forward to hearing more about your research projects. Please contact us if you have any queries or to further explore your research ideas:
Eric Finkelstein: eric.finkelstein [at] duke-nus.edu.sg
Chetna Malhotra: chetna.malhotra [at] duke-nus.edu.sg
Semra Ozdemir: semra.ozdemir [at] duke-nus.edu.sg