Announcement ‘European Joint Programming’ (EJP) on Rare Diseases - call 2022

“Development of new analytic tools and pathways to accelerate diagnosis and facilitate diagnostic monitoring of rare diseases”

A new joint transnational call for research projects is open, in the framework of the ‘EJP on Rare Diseases’, an elaborate programme which focusses on the broad rare diseases thematic, both on a European and international level.

This specific call focusses on ‘Development of new analytic tools and pathways to accelerate diagnosis and facilitate diagnostic monitoring of rare diseases’.

At least one of the following topics of the call have to be addressed in a research project:

  • Phenotype-driven diagnosis: integration across different ontologies, integration of shared pathways, digital phenotyping, development of artificial intelligence approaches/applications to extract health related data in aid of diagnosis.
  • Prognostic markers/biomarkers investigations for early diagnosis and monitoring.
  • Methodologies for solving cases that are currently difficult to analyze due to different underlying mechanisms (e.g., mosaicism, genomic (non-coding) alterations, gene regulation, complex inheritance), including new genomics / functional genomics technologies, multi-omics, mathematics, biostatistics, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence approaches.
  • Functional strategies to globally stratify variants of unknown significance (VUS) for clinical use; setting up of (in vitro) systems to distinguish between VUS and pathogenic variants (e.g., confirming disruption of splicing for deep intronic variants, loss of protein function, and gain of toxic protein function).
  • Development of pathway models to enable diagnosis, especially for newly discovered diseases that may share underlying molecular mechanisms with already known diseases.

Deadline for pre-proposal submission: 16 February 2022, 14h CET (Brussel)

The available call information can be consulted on the EJP website. Next to the general eligibility criteria and regulations taken up in the call text, researchers applying for FWO funding also have to comply with the ‘national’ FWO regulations as mentioned in the ‘Guidelines’ document (from p. 17 onwards), which are essential when it comes to the eligibility of the Flemish (FWO) subproject.

FWO modalities

Both the FWO (junior/senior) research project (FO) and Strategic Basic Research (SBO) funding channels are integrated within this call. The type and scope of the proposed research project will determine the choice of funding channel for the research from within Flanders. Non-compliance with the specific requirements per funding channel will inevitably lead to non-eligibility.

Please note, this is only an FWO requirement: European and/or international partners within the project consortium can choose their type of research freely. Only the ‘fundamental’ for ‘FO’ projects, or ‘strategic’ nature for SBO projects of the partners from Flanders has to be guaranteed.

Project proposals should be submitted at the EJP Rare Diseases call secretariat by European and international consortia, respecting the general eligibility criteria, as taken up in the call text. No separate national project submission is required for the FWO. The FWO is able to support 1 project for a 3 years duration, with an available maximum applicable budget of 350.000 EUR per project/consortium. The FWO budgetary rules, which differ per funding channel, are also clarified in the ‘Guidelines’ document (from p. 17 onwards).

For the ‘FO’ funding channel the respective regulation applies. For the SBO channel the SBO regulation has to be taken in to account. SBO implies projects with a primarily economic and/or societal finality, for which ‘valorisation’ is a key - and mandatory - aspect.

Some key points to take into account

  • When the subproject from Flanders implies an SBO project the researchers are asked to provide proactively, and before the pre-proposal submission deadline, a concise – but to the point – valorisation plan to the FWO (no fixed format, max. 1-2 A4-pages), which i) clarifies the valorisation context within Flanders (and internationally eventually), and ii) mentions the interested and involved actors from Flanders. This document can be sent towards the eranet@fwo.be email address. Failure to comply with this requirement might lead to ineligibility.
  • Diverging overhead calculations apply for the FO funding channel at one hand and the SBO channel on the other, what is explained in the Guidelines (p. 17) document.
  • Projects aiming at the development of a spin-off are not eligible in this context.
  • It is advised to consult the central coordination unit of the researchers’ host institution when it comes to determining the SBO overhead regulation. The SBO overhead implies a percentage of maximum 17%, which is calculated on the totality of the direct costs, as specified in the SBO cost model (the sum of the direct costs and the overhead included may not exceed an amount of 350.000 EUR, in total).
  • The project duration is limited to 36 months, which implies that the funding has to be budgeted and spent accordingly. An automatic prolongation and using positive (financial) balances after the end date is not applicable in this framework.
  • ERA-NET participation does not interfere with the ‘regular’ project submission framework, and is consequently not taken into account for calculating the max. available number of new applications and running projects combined. However, researchers can only participate within 2 different international consortia, if it implies different subjects.
  • The PI, for each of the participating institutions from Flanders, must hold an appointment that fully covers the duration of the research project.

Researchers are strongly encouraged to contact the FWO before submission, in view of the eligibility criteria and in order to avoid the ineligibility of a researcher, and the project consortium as a whole.

Information about FWO participation can also be obtained by contacting the following FWO collaborators:

Toon Monbaliu (FO)
+32 2 550 15 70
eranet@fwo.be 

Kristien Peeters (SBO)
+32 2 550 15 95
eranet@fwo.be