The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to solicit applications from institutions/ organizations for inclusion into FDA's FERN Microbiology Cooperative Agreement Program.
The FERN cooperative agreements are intended to target state, local, and tribal FERN labs to provide
increased sample analyses in the event of food outbreaks or other large-scale food emergency events requiring surge capacity testing of implicated food samples.
These samples could involve foods and/or environmental samples related to foods, and will be collected by Federal, State, or local agencies.
Selected labs with existing sample collection capabilities may be tasked with sample collection activities in support of this program.
Numbers of samples and scheduling of samples will be done by the FERN National Program Office (NPO) in coordination with State/Local lab authorities.
Federal or State surveillance assignments will also be a source of samples for lab analysis.
The FDA estimates that the analysis of 500 samples per year would be optimal.
These cooperative agreements will also be utilized to implement standardized analysis results through the usage of standardized methods, equipment platforms (provided by the grant), analytical worksheets, and electronic reporting.
Also provided will be training and proficiency testing for each method/platform.
Minimal quality management systems will be initiated for each lab, based on existing systems in place in each lab and consultations between the FERN NPO and each lab management group.
Grantees will also be involved in small-scale, short-term method development and method validation projects as directed by the FERN NPO.
Matrix extension assignments are also required and can have the potential of requiring rapid turn-around times to respond to food outbreaks.
Grant funds will be awarded for the equipment, an FTE and some of the yearly operating and maintenance costs.