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February 3, 2010

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles

A Budget Uptick for FY 2010

Our budget rose modestly this fiscal year in keeping with trends that have been in place since 2003, NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., told our advisory Council at its latest meeting on February 1.

On January 26, we posted more interim paylines and raised the one for Small Business Innovation Research.

In FY 2010, NIAID's $4.8 billion budget grew 2.5 percent with funding for research programs up 2.6 percent from FY 2009 levels.

NIH's budget for FY 2010 is $31 billion, a 2.3 percent increase over FY 2009. Budgets for most NIH institutes and centers rose slightly more than the NIH average due to reductions in programs in the NIH Office of the Director. For budget levels for selected ICs, go to NIAID Budget Data Comparisons.

For FY 2011, the President's budget—the first step in the annual budget cycle—proposes a 3.2 percent increase for NIH. We will give you more details in our next newsletter.

On January 26, we posted more interim NIAID Paylines and raised the one for Small Business Innovation Research to 30 overall impact score. As we noted previously, we expect to have interim paylines until the spring. We now have interim paylines for all research project grants except AREAs.

Learn more about interim paylines and incoming budget information in our January 13, 2010, Funding Newsletter article "What's Happening With Paylines?"

Our financial management plan for funding competing and noncompeting grants is complete; go to Financial Management Plan for the full scoop.

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Training, Fellowship Stipend Levels Rise

Trainees and fellows receive a roughly 1 percent increase in stipend levels. We updated NRSA Stipend Levels to reflect the new numbers.

Though stipends go up, training-related expenses and institutional allowances stay the same. To see the amounts, go to Institutional Research Training Grants and Applying for a Fellowship in our Advice on Research Training and Career Awards.

Get full details in the January 13, 2010, Guide notice.

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Heads Up: Expect Unchanged New PI and ESI Levels for FY 2010

At 18.5 percent, the NIH R01 success rate for new investigators was a little higher than the 17.5 percent rate for established PIs.

This fiscal year, NIH plans to continue its policy to stimulate R01 applications from new and early-stage investigators.

In FY 2009, institutes met their targets to equalize success rates for new and experienced investigators. In fact, the R01 success rate NIH-wide for new investigators, at 18.5 percent, was a little higher than that for established ones, at 17.5 percent.

To view the definitions of "success rate" and "payline," go to the terms in the Look it Up section at right.

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Significance and Overall Impact—What Matters

Because not everyone will be an expert in your field, make your writing inclusive; for example, clearly identify the field your project is targeting and the importance of your project.

Many of us have probably pondered the difference between the review criterion "significance" and "overall impact," the new term for your score (formerly priority score).

To address that conundrum, NIH published an eight-page guidance for reviewers, Overall Impact Versus Significance.

While it's important to understand these concepts, you also need to know how they're applied in the real world. Here's the bottom line and a few words to the wise.

What NIH Tells Reviewers

Overall impact reflects all the review criteria, of which significance is one.

  • Significance is the importance of your project.
    • Reviewers evaluate the significance of your project, not the field.
    • This assessment is not about your ability to conduct the research. While reviewers can give a bad score if they think success is unlikely, the significance criterion does not reflect that judgment.
    • From NIH: significance indicates whether your project addresses an important problem or critical barrier to progress within its field.
  • Overall impact is a judgment of potential impact that reflects all the review criteria.
    • Your score does not reflect a mathematical sum, but a gestalt (i.e., it cannot be derived from the sum of its parts).
    • From NIH: overall impact reflects the likelihood of a project to make a sustained powerful influence on its field, taking all review criteria into consideration.

And What Reviewers Actually Do

Keep in mind that NIH can give guidance to reviewers but does not control their behavior.

Reviewers are outside consultants who make judgments according to their own unique experience and expertise. Like anyone, each has his or her own world view.

There lies your challenge.

Don't leave anything to chance, especially something as important as the significance of your research. Try these suggestions to make your application a success with your reviewers:

  • Choose a review group that would quickly grasp the significance and potential impact of your proposed research.
  • Get a sense of who your reviewers are and what science is important to them.
  • Because not everyone will be an expert in your field, make your writing inclusive; for example, clearly identify the field your project is targeting and the importance of your project within the context of that field.
  • Take special care writing your title, abstract, and Specific Aims since these are the sections all review panel members will read.

To read about our new examples of outstanding titles and abstracts, see "Use Our New Grant Writing Tools" below.

Learn more about choosing a reviewer in Know Your Audience in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

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For a Big Grant Application, Get Our Approval First

Don't forget: for most grants, you must have our approval before submitting an application requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year.

Contact a program officer while still planning your research, so you don't waste time writing an application we may reject.

For applications covered by the rule, the Center for Scientific Review will reject a big budget application if it lacks documentation of our approval. Exceptions include the ARRA requests for applications and some others, so check your funding opportunity announcement if you are unsure.

Contact a program officer while still planning your research, so you don't waste time writing an application we may reject.

Then send your request six weeks before the receipt date. If you are applying through continuous submission, the original receipt date applies.

Though you could ask for $499,000 without our preapproval, it's still to your advantage to contact us for a big grant application because of the following:

  • The out years could be more than $500,000, even if you don't request an annual increase.
  • We still may not have money to fund the application because we fund few big grants each year.
  • Our program divisions do not appreciate being surprised by big-dollar applications they have not preapproved.

The big grant policy does not affect requests for applications or Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer awards. For more information, see our Big Grants SOP and Big Grant Applications questions and answers.

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Help for Haitian Grantees

If your research is at risk and you need more help from NIH, contact your grants management specialist for advice.

In light of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, NIH is following its usual policy to allow late applications from affected grantees.

Include a cover letter to explain the delay, which should not exceed the amount of time your institution was closed.

If your research is at risk and you need more help from NIH, contact your grants management specialist for advice.

For emergency response advice, summaries of our assistance efforts, and more, see HHS's Haiti—HHS Relief and Support Activities and NIH's Information Regarding the Earthquake in Haiti.

NIH announced the late application policy in a January 14, 2010, Guide notice.

Opportunities and Resources

Use Our New Grant Writing Tools

As you work on your applications, you may appreciate two new items on our Web site: annotated titles and abstracts from outstanding applications and a new layout for some tutorials.

New Online: Actual Abstracts and Titles

(Editor's note: After this issue was published, we posted Sample Applications and Summary Statements at Samples and Examples.)

While we can't yet give you a sample application in the shorter format, we have posted annotated titles and abstracts from five outstanding, funded grants from new investigators.

In our outstanding applications, titles gave detailed information; abstracts listed Specific Aims and spelled out the significance and innovation of the research.

These sections are not affected by the application changes, but they are critical in that they create an important first impression for your application, and all your reviewers read them.

To look for commonalities, we reviewed the titles and abstracts of top-scoring applications from new investigators. Here's what we found.

We highlighted these features so you could easily see how they translate into a high-quality title and abstract in a real application.

Find it in the new Resources in Sync With the New Format section of the Sample Applications and Summary Statements page. Let us know if this type of resource is helpful to you and what others you'd like to see.

Want more examples? Though we worked from NIH's internal database, you can find most titles and abstracts online in NIH's RePORTER.

Eager for New Samples

About our R01 sample applications: we've gotten quite a few requests for updated ones, but unfortunately the new applications are, well, too new.

Because of confidentiality issues, people need time before they're willing to share their applications publicly. Later in the year, we will start asking PIs if they would be willing to have us post their applications online. Once we have permission, we'll act fast.

We do have a new resource for you: Samples and Examples collects links to all the relevant samples on our site as well as many from the NIH site.

For more about our existing samples, see our Reader Question: "I am trying to write an application and would like to have a sample of a successful application using the new format and page limits."

New Layout For Tutorials

Good news—our popular All About Grants Tutorials are now on a single page for easier reading and printing. You won't have to click a "next" link to proceed, just scroll down using your space bar or mouse.

Previously the tutorials were divided into many pages, and we had a separate print-friendly version.

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Diversity and Reentry Supplements Open to More Grant Types

Consider applying if you're a PI; and if you want to be hired, ask an NIAID-supported PI to take you on in his or her lab.

Whether you're looking to hire someone under a supplement or you want to be that someone, we have good news. NIH expanded the list of eligible parent grant types, as announced in the January 11, 2010, Guide notice.

PIs with at least two years of NIAID support remaining can receive funding for the following grant types:

  • Research project grants—R00, R01 (or RL1), R10, R18, R22, R24, R35, R37
  • Multiproject grants—P01 (or PL1), P20, P30, P40, P41, P50, P51, P60
  • Small business awards—R41, R42, R43, R44
  • Cooperative agreements—U01 (or UL1), U10, U19, U41, U42, U54
  • Director's awards—DP1, DP2

Research supplements are a win-win situation. PIs get to expand their workforce while those hired can tap into salary and fringe benefits.

To take advantage, consider applying if you're a PI; and if you want to be hired, ask an NIAID-supported PI to take you on in his or her lab.

For more information, including how to submit an application, go to Research Supplements, including Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research and Reentry Supplements.

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NIH's My Bibliography Can Keep You on Track

Check out My Bibliography, a new resource from NIH's National Library of Medicine that lets you track your journal articles, and citations from books, meeting abstracts, presentations, and patents.

Since your listed entries appear in your eRA Commons Profile, you can upload them to your electronic streamlined noncompeting award progress report, enabling you to see your compliance status for public access.

My Bibliography shows your compliance status for public access for each item you list.

For pointers on using My Bibliography, go to My NCBI: My Bibliography and Other Citations Enhanced.

My Bibliography is part of My NCBI, a personal space for saving searches, results, preferences, and email alerts.

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Help Prioritize Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

Your suggestions can help shape NIH's strategic planning for basic behavioral and social sciences research. NIH's Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) will use feedback from the public and from staff to create and prioritize future funding opportunities.

Outline the health-related challenge, the most promising approach, and how success might be measured.

You can send up to three responses through February 19, 2010, describing the health-related challenge, most promising approach, and how success might be measured. For more information, see the Response Submission Form.

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Clinical Investigators: Comment on Informed Consent Regulations

Submit your comments electronically or in writing by March 1, 2010.

You are invited to comment on a proposed rule on Informed Consent Elements, issued by the Food and Drug Administration on December 29, 2009.

The proposed rule requires that informed consent documents and processes for applicable drug, biologic, and device clinical investigations include a statement that clinical trial information has been or will be submitted to the National Library of Medicine for inclusion in ClinicalTrials.gov

You must submit comments electronically or in writing by March 1, 2010. To find out how, see Regulations.gov.

Read the January 15, 2010, Guide notice for more details.

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Learn More About IACUCs

Attend IACUC workshops at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, or Baltimore, Maryland, or view an online training course.

Do you interact with an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC)?

To get the lowdown on how an IACUC works, attend one of these interactive workshops:

Can't make it to Louisiana or Maryland? The Massachusetts Society for Medical Research offers an online training course. Go to Introduction to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees for more information.

Advice Corner

Reader Questions

Feel free to send us a question at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.

"Where should we place preliminary results: are they a subsection of Approach or should they follow the Approach section?"—several readers, including Rob McLeod, University of Utah Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute

After reading conflicting information, many people were confused about this topic. NIH clarified the issue in the January 21, 2010, Guide notice.

The good news is that the placement of your preliminary studies or progress report is your choice. You can:

  • Create a subsection of the Approach section of the Research Strategy for preliminary studies or a progress report.

OR

  • Weave the preliminary studies or progress report into any of the other three sections of the Research Strategy.

"Are annual progress reports really used to allocate the next year's funds? Is anyone ever not given the next year of funding for lack of progress?"—John V. Williams, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Yes to both questions. We use your annual progress report to determine whether we can justify continuing to fund your project.

While we do reduce and discontinue funding due to lack of progress, your program officer will try to find a way to keep you funded.

Your program officer can usually do so if you have a well-justified reason, for example, problems with equipment, patient recruitment, or serious illness of key staff. In such cases, we may adjust funding or change your grant as necessary.

Learn more at Noncompeting Progress Reports and Program Officer Approval SOP and Send Us an Annual Progress Report in Strategy for Your Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

"I am trying to write an application and would like to have a sample of a successful application using the new format and page limits."—several readers

(Editor's note: After this issue was published, we posted Sample Applications and Summary Statements at Samples and Examples.)

Although we have samples of successful grant applications online, you must use them with great care.

The NIH initiative to enhance peer review that started last year has brought about major changes to grant applications. NIH shortened the research plan for R01s to 13 pages (1 for Specific Aims and 12 for Research Strategy) from 25, and reviewers are now more focused on the potential impact of the research than on experimental details.

Our samples do not reflect those changes, though they may still be helpful to you if you keep those things in mind.

We expect to post new samples around the end of the year. Investigators do not want to share privileged grant information until they are funded and the research is under way.

For now, you may want to see our new resource Examples of Outstanding Titles and Abstracts From New NIAID Investigators as we described above in "Use Our New Grant Writing Tools." It's also listed on our new portal, Samples and Examples.

Read more about how to deal with the new application approach in our November 12, 2009, Funding Newsletter article "The Art of Application" and in the Strategy for NIH Funding Parts 2, 5, and 6.

"If a PI on an R01 would like to increase effort to 100 percent, is NIH permission required?"—an anonymous reader

You'll need to talk this over with your program officer. This issue is complex because the level of support for the R01 must be in sync with other support you are receiving from other organizations.

The change would probably be okay if your program officer is satisfied with the reason for the effort increase, and it does not affect other NIH support.

"Is the salary scale for foreign applicants different from that of U.S. applicants, and if so, how is it determined?"—Barbara G. Silverman, Maccabi Healthcare Services

NIH doesn't have a salary scale for foreign applicants. However, we give the following advice under Direct Costs, Personnel in Part 6. Receiving and Spending Money of our Grants Policy and Management Training for Foreign Investigators.

Salary or compensation you pay with grant funds must be reasonable for the position, for example, the education required and the person's experience.

  • When determining salaries, look at standard salaries at your organization and ensure that they are reasonable for your region.
  • NIH also has salary limits, called a salary cap, which changes every fiscal year. Check PI Salary Cap and Stipends or your business office for the latest figure.

See other pages on our site that might be helpful:

"If an M.D. receives a Ph.D. later, which degree determines the investigator's status as a new or early-stage investigator? I am a new investigator inquiring about my colleague in trying to decide whether to use a multiple PI plan. "—Melanie Elliott, Thomas Jefferson University

Since your terminal degree is later, eRA Commons will use that date to calculate your ESI eligibility. The second degree is the one NIH calls your terminal research degree, assuming it's research-related.

Be sure to enter the date of the end of your residency or terminal research degree, whichever is later, in the Commons. Read more in Are You "New"? in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

The multiple PI approach has added considerations for new investigators. You may want to read our advice in Should You Be One of Many PIs? in the New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

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Clarification: Which Form to Use for AIDS Applications Under Continuous Submission

We'd like to clarify this reader question from our last issue: "I'm an AIDS applicant eligible for continuous submission. Which application forms should I use if I apply on or before February 7, 2010?"

Some applicants are assuming that because February 7 is a Sunday, the Adobe form change rolls forward to the next business day, February 8.

However, that's not the case. If this applies to you, use Adobe-Forms-B starting on February 8.

If you're planning to apply this weekend, check with your business office since some will likely want you to submit before the weekend instead.

New Funding Opportunities

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated October 04, 2011

Last Reviewed February 03, 2010