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How to Apply to the CHEAR Program

The CHEAR Program provides selected children’s health researchers access to laboratory and data analysis services to add or expand assessment of environmental exposures as a component of their research.

This is not a grant application. Rather, it’s an application to access the capabilities and services of the CHEAR Laboratory Network and the CHEAR Data Repository, Analysis, and Science Center (Data Center). If your application is approved, you will work collaboratively with a specific laboratory (Lab Hub) in the network and with data analysts and scientists from the Data Center to accomplish the goals of your research project.


You may be eligible to access CHEAR if all of the following apply:

  • You have an ongoing or completed epidemiological or clinical study on children’s exposures and related health outcomes.
  • You want to add environmental exposure data to your study or you need more extensive analysis of exposures early in life or during childhood to support your scientific hypothesis related to health outcomes in the child, or later in life.
  • Your study was funded at least in part by NIH extramural funds.
  • You are eligible to apply for an NIH grant at your home institution.
  • Your study has existing samples that are biological specimens collected from children and/or their parents. If your samples have not been collected yet CHEAR can provide consultation services.
  • You agree to share experimental design details and supporting data, including phenotypic data at the individual level, needed to facilitate the analysis to be conducted by the CHEAR consortium including both the CHEAR Data Center and Laboratory Network. This data will be de-identified and shared publicly through the CHEAR Data Repository.

The Application Process

New requests for CHEAR services are no longer being accepted. We anticipate Round 12 will be the final review cycle for CHEAR applications. For a full application to be considered for the Round 12 review in December 2018, a request for CHEAR services should be received by September 14, 2018. Find out more about the review schedule.

The key steps in the application process are as follows:

1. Create an Account on the myCHEAR Website

Your first step is to create an account on the myCHEAR website. You will be assigned a username and password to sign on to the application area of the website.

2. Submit a Request for CHEAR Services

After you receive your username and password, you can submit your request for CHEAR services on the myCHEAR website. See the Request CHEAR Services Form Web example.

You will be asked to provide information about:

  • Your original study
    • Title and specific aims
    • Measured health outcomes
    • Exposure measures already available
    • Human subjects approval and funding information
  • The CHEAR project you’re requesting
    • Title of the proposed CHEAR project and specific aims
    • Significance to health and the role of childhood environmental exposures
    • Information about biological samples available for CHEAR analyses. NOTE: For the final review cycle, all samples must be collected and readily available for analysis when a Request CHEAR Services Form is submitted. Requests with partial or no samples collected will not be considered.
    • The exposure and response measures you’re requesting

3. Consult With a CHEAR Lab Hub

After the CHEAR Coordinating Center confirms your eligibility, a scientist from a CHEAR Lab Hub will contact you to discuss your request for services, identify laboratory analyses that meet your research objectives, and advise you about your project’s feasibility given the biological samples available for analysis.

4. Submit Your Online Application

After your consultation with a Lab Hub, you may complete the Application on the myCHEAR website to access CHEAR services. See the CHEAR Application Web Example.

You’ll need to provide the following information:

  • The specific laboratory analyses and Data Center services requested
  • The data analysis approach including the study design, modeling strategy, and power calculations
  • The data dictionaries, codebooks, and questionnaires from your original study using our template, clearly indicating variables specific to your CHEAR project
  • Assurance that you will provide a letter from your Institutional Review Board (IRB) attesting that the original study consent permits the use of samples and data for your CHEAR project, including the public use of the complete de-identified dataset (epidemiologic and biomarker data) after the embargo period has ended. See the Example IRB Attestation Letter for CHEAR Data Submission.
  • Indication of willingness to agree to CHEAR policies on data submission and sharing (see the CHEAR Data Repository Data Submission Agreement (DSA) and the CHEAR Data Sharing Plan (DSP) for the CHEAR Repository), transfer and use of samples, and assigning authorship and acknowledgment for publications. See the CHEAR Publication Policy.

5. Consult With the CHEAR Data Center

After the CHEAR Coordinating Center receives your application, a representative from the CHEAR Data Center will contact you to discuss and assess the feasibility of your proposed data analysis plan and recommend revisions to your application, as needed. Once the Data Center consultation is complete, your application will be scheduled for review by the CHEAR Access Committee (CAC).

6. Application Review by the CHEAR Access Committee (CAC)

The CAC will review your application for merit. The CAC is composed of subject matter experts from within the CHEAR Program and the scientific community.

Applications are assessed on the following criteria:

  • Significance to health. Does the project address an important health problem? Will it contribute to understanding the role of childhood exposure in health outcomes? Does it have a strong scientific premise? If the aims are achieved, will understanding of the role of childhood environmental exposures in health be advanced?
  • Methods and measures proposed. Are the proposed analyses relevant to the endpoints evaluated in the original study? Does the proposed approach draw on the best available science to address the research question? Will this approach significantly enhance the original study data?
  • Data analysis feasibility. Are the data dictionary, codebook, and questionnaires adequate to achieve the specific aims of the project? Do the health outcome variables meet the goals of the proposed project? Is the project adequately powered? Do the data present any problems for the anticipated analysis? Are other studies or datasets available that may complement and increase the value of the proposed project? Can individual de-identified data be shared publicly through the CHEAR Data Repository?
  • Lab analysis feasibility. Are the biological samples adequate to achieve the scientific goals of the project? Are the sample matrix, quantity, and method and length of storage appropriate for the analyses? Have study samples of the same type been used successfully for similar analyses?

The CAC assigns a priority score to each proposal and recommends sufficiently strong projects for support by CHEAR. The resources of CHEAR are limited. Projects will be prioritized on a variety of measures including the ability and willingness to share data as outlined in the DSA and the DSP.

7. Provide IRB Approvals, Agreements, and Analysis Plans

If the CAC approves your project, you must submit the following agreements and approvals within two months of receiving approval before the lab analyses can be scheduled. We cannot guarantee fulfillment of laboratory and or data analysis services in if these documents are not submitted on time.

  • Provide a letter from your IRB attesting that the original study consent permits the use of samples and data for your CHEAR project. This approval will indicate that data submission and subsequent data sharing for research purposes are consistent with the informed consent of study participants from whom the data were obtained.
  • If required, fully execute a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) covering the transfer of your samples to the Lab Hub. CHEAR has a standard agreement.
  • Sign the DSA and DSP.
  • Work with the Lab Hub to develop detailed lab analysis plans. This may include a pre-test of samples to confirm their fitness for the proposed analyses.
  • Transfer the data from your study required for data analysis to the CHEAR Data Center before shipping samples to the Lab Hub.

Page last updated: 
January 15, 2019