See the Glossary for more terms.
Reviewers look for fewer preliminary data, resources, and publications than they do from more established researchers.
Are you eager to take advantage of NIH's new investigator perks but anxious about trying for an R01?
You're not alone—it's a big step.
Still, many investigators who are trying for their first independent award go that route at the outset.
When an R01 Is Appropriate
Here are three reasons why we at NIAID often advise new investigators to head straight for the R01:
NIH's past experience with special awards for new investigators was not positive, causing it to abandon grants such as the now-defunct R29 FIRST award. When applying for a subsequent R01, R29 recipients were less successful than new R01 investigators applying for their first renewal.
When the R29 disappeared some people improvised their own entree into the system by applying for an R21 or R03. But NIH did not design those awards to establish a research career—see Drawbacks for Smaller Awards below.
NIH and NIAID are encouraging new investigators to apply for a full five-year period of support, which will ultimately give them enough time and money to launch their research careers.
Both NIH and NIAID provide some help in the form of R56-Bridge awards. Even if your preliminary data are skimpy, your R01 may qualify for an R56-Bridge award if your application does not succeed.
An R56-Bridge can act as a springboard to funding in that it gives you funds to gather preliminary data to improve your R01 application. Almost 90 percent ultimately convert to a full R01.
You can't apply for an R56-Bridge award. Rather, your program officer selects applications that score at the payline margin. For more information, read our NIAID R56-Bridge Award SOP and the January 31, 2008, Guide notice about the NIH program.
Drawbacks for Smaller Awards
If you don't have preliminary data, you could apply for a smaller award such as a small grant (R03) or exploratory/developmental research grant (R21). But be aware of these caveats.
Caveat one. As an early-stage investigator, you would need to pay attention to the number of years you spend on the small award. You could lose your ESI status if too many years pass after training since you qualify as an ESI for only 10 years. See the advantages of ESI status in Are You "New"?, and Early-Stage Investigator: A New Applicant Status.
Caveat two. Following a two- or three-year award, it's hard to gain an R01 without a gap in funding. It generally takes at least a year to do the studies and analyze the data. Then you need time to succeed with the R01 application, which takes longer for new applicants compared to more experienced ones. As a result, a small award can end long before we award your R01.
Caveat three. With R21 and R03 applications, you don't benefit from being a new investigator. And at NIAID, applications for small awards are not eligible for an R56-Bridge award or selective pay.
Here's another consideration: no matter what award you apply for, you need to consider where your support will come from during the interval it takes to apply for and receive an R01. See Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award and Strategy Timelines in the Strategy for NIH Funding, and R01 Planning to Award Timeline by Review Cycle.
In this article, we've looked at some drawbacks to small awards, but there's also a plus side: having any grant is better than having no money at all.
Even just applying helps! Data show that writing an application and applying for any grant increases your chances of eventually succeeding with an R01. That Interesting tidbit highlights the importance of grantsmanship—knowing how to write an outstanding grant application—in giving you that critical edge. You can find grantsmanship tools on our All About Grants site.
Not sure what choice to make? Our advice: do not choose an award type on your own. Call an NIAID program officer, and talk to colleagues in your institution for help. See What Award Should You Apply For?
When you are ready to sit down and write an application, get advice and information in our All About Grants Tutorials, especially Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award in the Strategy for NIH Funding and New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.
Definitely not ready for an R01? At each step, NIH supports Training Grants, Fellowships, Career Development Awards, and Research Supplements to help new investigators along their career paths. Read more at Starting a Research Career.
Revised on February 10 to clarify when the new cap applies. When applying, NIH-funded investigators may request a bigger salary. Your new maximum is $196,700, up from $191,300 last year, reflecting executive level I of the federal executive pay scale. You can also rebudget from existing grant funds to pay a salary up to the new cap.
As long as we are on a continuing resolution, you can request up to $196,700. After we get our appropriation, the level may change, and we will know the level of the final cap. NIH will not revise salaries for awards made before January 1, 2009.
The cap applies to the direct salary you request from funds paid by a competing or noncompeting grant application or by a contract or proposal. NIH announced the news in the January 16, 2009, Guide notice.
To be in the know about NIH, you may want to read the congressionally mandated Biennial Report of the Director, NIH, Fiscal Years 2006 and 2007, which gives an overview of research programs in NIH's 27 institutes and centers.
You can use the report to view a summary of research activities by disease category, key approach, or resource and an overview of Research Training and Career Development.
Here's a sample of what you'll find:
You can also find the report through Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) as well as links to programs, plans, and publications it references. This Biennial Report is the first one since it was required by the NIH Reform Act of 2006.
If you turned to NIH's Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) for help in erasing some of your educational debt, consider giving us your two cents.
To round out a study on the programs' impact on research career success and subsequent participation in extramural research, NIH's LRP Evaluation Working Group wants anecdotal information from participants.
For example, it wants to hear about how LRP affected your research career, its influence on keeping you in research, and its role in helping you be more productive (e.g., publishing more papers).
To share your experiences, contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.
And, to learn what the working group uncovered, look for its report due out next month.
Submitting a competing phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) application?
You can now request up to 40 percent of the total direct costs for your facilities and administrative (F&A) rate without having to justify it. Formerly the limit was 25 percent. Keep in mind that NIH can require documentation if it deems necessary.
For an existing award, you cannot change the F&A rate.
Contact your grants management specialist to find out how the new policy applies to you. NIH announced this news in the January 21, 2009, Guide notice.
On another note, SBIR and STTR funding opportunities now use Adobe forms.
Check us out. NIAID supports repositories and other research resources that benefit many scientific investigators, including training (see the next article). Find a list at Resources for Researchers.
For example, the U.S. Immunodeficiency Network, or USIDNET, maintains and develops the following research resources:
NIAID recently issued a request for applications, Resources to Assist Investigations in Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases, for this major resource, and we expect to make one award for $600,000 in total costs in FY 2010.
For more information, call Josiah Wedgwood at 301-496-7104 or email JWedgwood@niaid.nih.gov.
If you're interested in filariasis research, check out a free one-week filariasis minicourse March 9 to 13, 2009, at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia. The event is sponsored by the NIAID/NIH Filariasis Research Reagent Resource Center—go there for more information.
It features lectures and labs on the biology of filarioid nematode parasites and the Brugia life cycle, molecular methods used in filariasis research, and bioinformatics.
While the course is free, participants must pay for their own travel, lodging, and meals.
Several NIAID supported repositories offer training as part of their activities; for example, Schistosomiasis Resource Center offers a schistosomiasis life cycle class twice a year. Find for more information about resources for other organisms at Resources for Researchers.
It's never too early to prepare for a career in science, especially if you're a teen with little or no access to resources. To help high schoolers in underserved communities get a jump start, NIH offers a crash course in the SciLife.
Launched in 2006, SciLife brings together students, parents, and educators in the Washington, D.C. area for a day of workshops on planning for college and exploring career options in science.
Leading the sessions are experts from academia as well as the health and biomedical fields who give advice on a wide range of topics. For instance, last fall's agenda included the following:
SciLife's roster of practical material and noted speakers has hit a high note with students—and keeps going higher.
The program had its best attendance last year with almost 300 people taking part. Since 2006, registrations have nearly doubled each year.
As for the experience itself, participants find it worthwhile. Feedback from 2008 attendees show the following:
From the beginning, NIAID has been a cosponsor of SciLife. Working closely with NIH's Office of Science Education (OSE), staff in our Office of Special Populations and Research Training help organize the event and run workshops.
Other partners include Georgetown University School of Medicine and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
If you'd like more information on SciLife, contact OSE's Cheryl Moore, 301-402-2470, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Cassandra Isom, 301-435-2139, email@example.com.
NIH is a big place, so it's good to know whom to contact when you need help. We've created a handy table for you, which we have integrated into our Contact Staff for Help in the Strategy for NIH Funding for future reference.
Contact an Institute program officer to discuss how your idea might fit into NIAID's area of science and for advice on which grant type would be best for you.
For other questions, review Contact Staff for Help in the Strategy for NIH Funding above to learn who else at NIAID may be the appropriate advisor.
For more on picking a topic, see Choose the Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Other sections of the Strategy for NIH Funding will help you plan.
Contact your institution's business office to learn of internal deadlines and procedures.
For registration help, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk. Read about the registration process at Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Contact the Grants.gov Help Desk for assistance with technical aspects of the electronic Adobe forms.
Talk to your institution's signing official to arrange submission.
You or your signing official can contact the Grants.gov Help Desk for assistance with the first step of the submission process. Learn more about submission and validations at Strategy for a Successful Submission in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Contact the eRA Commons Help Desk to ask about Commons validation, report system issues, or get advice on the correction window. Read more about validations at Next Step: eRA Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Log into the Commons for assignment information. Read more in Ensure You Get the Right Assignments in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Contact your scientific review officer Ensure You Get the Right Assignments in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Find your application's score and summary statement in the Commons, as described at Know What a Summary Statement Means in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Contact the listed program officer with questions.
Talk to your grants management specialist about negotiating your grant and complying with policies. Your Grants Management Program Contact is listed on your Notice of Award.
Learn about this stage at Strategy for Your Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
Fill out budget sections A, F, G, and H. Read more in the PA-09-042 instructions, 6.F. Budget for the Entire Proposed Period of Support.
You would include travel in budget section F because travel is considered research development support.
For more advice, see our Training and Career portal or contact AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.
According to the NIH Grants Policy Statement, the PI of a training grant "must approve all instances of employment on research grants to verify that the circumstances will not detract from or prolong the approved training program."
For more information about grantees paying compensation to an NRSA trainee or fellow, see What's the difference between a supplement and compensation? in our Supplements to Grants—Administrative, Revision, and Research questions and answers.
See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.
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Last Updated October 28, 2011
Last Reviewed February 10, 2009