On the bright side:
- the panel summary said the intellectual merit has a lot of exciting potential and that I should be encouraged
- one of the reviewers read it thoroughly, got all the details, loved it, even went as far as to say parts of it were "stunning"
- the main issues were preliminary data proof-of-concept related (which I can deal with)
- they thought the broader impacts were great, well-planned and sophisticated
- it's always disappointing to read reviews where you can tell the person just didn't "get" it and it colored the panel's discussion (even though clearly the others did "get" it evidenced by their individual reviews, so it wasn't necessarily my communication's fault)
- most of the things they need to see demonstrated are things I provided literature references for previously demonstrated proof-of-concept (which we can see wasn't good enough)
- I'm still not sure which PO is really my contact, since the "new" one is still listed in Fastlane and was given as the cognizant PO in the "declined" email... but neither of them has responded personally to my check-in emails asking for clarification, and I am afraid to become annoying by bugging them about my revision