The COVID-19 global pandemic presents unprecedented challenges to global healthcare systems, care teams, and communities. In response, the Intuitive Foundation has shifted its philanthropic focus to support healthcare providers and source healthcare delivery supplies both locally and globally.
For those who have the ability and interest to conduct research during this time, the Intuitive Foundation grant program is active and is accepting applications for grant funding to support Training and Human Performance Research Grants for Robotic-assisted Surgery in 2021-2022.
Overview: The purpose of these grants is to support training and human performance research in the field of surgery and robotic-assisted surgery. Successful proposals will address important questions about assessing intraoperative performance, accelerating skill acquisition while preserving patient safety, and maintaining skill proficiency of surgical team members. The Intuitive Foundation also supports proposals that apply scalable technology to improve global access to surgical training. Grants will be awarded to researchers at non-profit institutions worldwide.
Awards are conferred on a competitive basis by submission of a grant application.
Available Grants: Applicants may apply for total costs up to $60,000 (US)_per. The grant funding can be used to support salaries for statisticians, lab technicians, fellows, research coordinators and other support personnel, equipment, supplies and/or travel required to support the proposed research project for a period of up to one year. The grant funding may not be used to support physician salaries.
Research areas of interest
The Foundation has identified three key areas of interest for the 2021-2022 Training and Human Performance Research Grants. Principal investigators are encouraged, although not required, to submit proposals that fall into one or more of the following areas:
Introducing robotic-assisted and computer-assisted technologies to surgeons, surgical teams, and surgical departments in ways that minimize disruption and maximize productivity.
- Validating curricula that reduce the cost or time to progress through the learning curve for new technology.
- Quantifying skill throughout the technical and clinical learning curves for surgeons and members of the surgical team, with a focus on applications of advanced analytics.
- Identifying correlations between objective performance indicators of surgeon skill – as recorded in simulated environments and/or intraoperatively – and patient outcomes.
- Validation programs for maintenance of newly learned skills, particularly for surgeons or team members whose procedure volumes are low.
Enhancing teamwork in the operating room.
- Implementing surgical teamwork best practices in ways that are sustainable, reproducible, and scalable.
- Helping Operating Room departments identify workflows and processes that improve patient care and operational efficiency.
- Measuring and improving non-technical skills among surgical team members, especially in stressful situations.
- Assessing ergonomics and cognitive load of surgical team members during robotic-assisted surgery to develop improved training and performance support approaches.
Addressing shortages of surgeons and surgical staff.
- Extending the longevity of healthy and productive careers in the field of surgery.
- Using innovative, scalable approaches to delivering surgical education in low- and middle- income countries where trainees have limited access to faculty and training materials.
At this time, the Training and Education Grants program is not focused on curriculum implementation for individual surgical residency programs in high income countries.
Selection Process: Applicants must first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to Propose as detailed below. Grant LOIs will be reviewed and ranked by an Intuitive Foundation internal selection committee. LOIs reaching a predetermined scoring threshold will be invited to submit a full grant. All LOIs as well as invited full grant applications will be reviewed and scored on the following criteria:
- Clarity of research goals and objectives
- Novelty (building on existing literature)
- Clinical relevance and value
- Evidence of feasibility
- Strength of evaluation methods and measures including statistical power analysis as appropriate
- Availability of required resources
- Appropriately defined research scope, timeline, and budget
LOIs and full grant proposals will be handled in a confidential manner and will not be distributed beyond the grant selection committee at the Foundation. Due to the expected volume of proposals, the Intuitive Foundation regrets that its committee will not be able to provide detailed individualized feedback for unsuccessful proposals.
LOI Guidelines: A LOI to propose should be submitted by all grant applicants. Submissions should consist of 5 parts:
- Summary: one- or two-sentence proposal overview.
- Description of Problem/Background.
- Purpose, Hypothesis and Methods of Research.
- Capabilities: Indicate the identities, capabilities, and credentials of investigators as well as any participating institutions. Include contact information for principal investigator.
- Budget: Include a specific request for funds that includes permanent hard equipment, statistical analyses, consumable equipment, salaries to staff and other direct expenses. No more than 20% of the total budget can be allocated for indirect costs.
- Hard equipment purchases should not exceed $5,000.
- The budget should not include salaries for physicians, although salaries for statisticians, lab technicians, fellows and other support personnel may be included.