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February 17, 2010

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles

Snow Woes Delay Applications

If you are affected, include a cover letter noting the reason for the delay—no need to ask for permission.

The recent blizzards on the East Coast may have shut down your institution while you prepared your application. As usual, NIH is letting you submit late if the storms prevented you from applying on time.

Include a cover letter noting the reason for the delay—no need to ask for permission. Make sure the delay does not exceed the time your institution was closed.

NIH announced that it would follow the usual inclement weather policy in the February 5, 2010, and February 9, 2010, NIH Guide notices. For more information, see NIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies.

During the technical and weather troubles, eRA Commons sent out advice for applicants through its email listservs, archived at eRA Commons News. If you haven't done so already, we recommend that you sign up at Get Connected.

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President's Budget Request for NIH Inches Up Next Fiscal Year

For NIAID, the president is requesting a 3.3 percent increase to $4.98 billion for next fiscal year.

At this early stage in the annual budget cycle, NIH is positioned to avoid the budget freeze that many other agencies will likely face.

As we noted in our last budget article, the Obama administration is proposing $32.1 billion for NIH, a $1 billion or 3.2 percent gain over the 2010 level. For NIAID, it is requesting $4.98 billion, a 3.3 percent increase. At this point, we can't say what the budget impact would be if we received this money.

The president takes the first step in the budget process by sending his request to Congress on the first Monday in February. By the time Congress passes the appropriation bills, however, budget levels could be significantly different.

To stay informed, you may want to read the OSTP Blog and other information posted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, an advisory arm of the White House.

See the PDF fact sheet Healthier Lives for All Americans Through Discovery—NIH In the 2011 Budget for details on the president's budget proposal for next fiscal year.

If you want to keep an eye on the Open Government Initiative's efforts, follow @opengov on Twitter.

Here's where you can find more budget information for FY 2011:

Read more below in "Council Report: Budget, ARRA, HIV Vaccine Trials."

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Do Not Use Adobe-Forms-A

Adobe-Forms-A will go through Grants.gov, but NIH will reject your application.

Even though you may see Adobe-Forms-A application packages in Grants.gov, NIH no longer accepts them.

If you do fill them out by mistake, they will go through Grants.gov, but NIH will reject your application, and it will not be considered for funding.

Just be sure you choose Adobe-Forms-B from now on.

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Getting Tough on Page Limits

Anticipating that people may get creative, NIH has come up with reviewer guidance for dealing with PIs who try to bypass the new page limits.

Shorter applications may be cramping your style, so should you try to bypass the new page limits?

Maybe you think NIH won't notice if you put information that belongs in one of the Research Strategy's main sections in a part that lacks a page limit instead.

That approach is sure to backfire. Anticipating this type of creativity, NIH has already come up with reviewer guidance for dealing with page-limit workarounds.

Here are the two main points NIH has identified so far along with the repercussions for applicants who try to sidestep the rules.

  • Too many pages. NIH simply won't accept applications that exceed a page limit.
    • If your application is too long, in most cases the Commons will send you an error message.
    • But if you are applying to one of those rare opportunities that has unusual page limits:
      • NIH staff will check that you are complying with page limits and will return your application to you if you are not.
      • Then, we will ask you to resubmit replacement pages within five business days. Obviously, that's what you could (or rather should) have done in the first place.
  • Misplaced information in a section without page limits. Reviewers will not evaluate information that belongs in one section but appears in another when an applicant is trying to get around page limits.
    • Here's an example: the information belongs in one of the main sections of the Research Strategy, which has a 12-page limit, but appears in the human subjects section, which has no page limit.
    • While we won't return the application to you, you will have wasted your time writing material that doesn't count.

None of the above applies if you need to add required information such as a product development plan or a clinical or animal protocol. Consult the funding opportunity announcement to find out where to put it.

You can read what NIH is telling reviewers at Enhancing Peer Review Application Changes: Reviewer Guidance, which gives you a nice bulleted summary.

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Special Instructions for Some Resubmissions

The SF 424 Cover page lets you designate a resubmission, revision, or renewal but does not let you use more than one application type.

If you try to resubmit a revision or renewal application using new forms, you'll find a challenging quirk.

In the Type of Application field of the SF 424 Cover page, choices include resubmission, revision, or renewal—but you cannot designate more than one type, e.g., both a resubmission and a renewal.

Until NIH fixes the problem, follow the special instructions in the January 22, 2010, Guide notice. Instructions vary based on grant type.

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A Few More of You Qualify as New Investigators

If you are a new investigator, you get some perks from NIH when you apply for your first independent research grant.

NIH has tweaked the Definition of New Investigator. Now you are a new investigator even if you previously received a training (T and D43) or research education (R25, R90, RL9, RL5) grant.

As a new investigator, you get some perks when applying for your first independent NIH research grant. Read a summary at Are You "New"? in NIAID's New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding, and learn more about How to Qualify for New and Early-Stage Investigator Status.

New investigator status depends only on your award history, not on how long you've been a researcher. A subset of new investigators also qualify as early-stage investigators (ESI): those who received a research degree or completed a medical residency or equivalent less than 10 years before applying.

For special circumstances, you can get an extension to the 10-year limit—learn How to Extend the Early Stage Investigator Window in NIAID's New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

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Council Report: Budget, ARRA, HIV Vaccine Trials

In case you missed our last advisory Council meeting on February 1, here are some of the highlights.

NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., presented several topics of interest, giving details on the FY 2010 budget, ARRA funding in FY 2009, and the Thai HIV vaccine trials.

Getting a Handle on the Budget

NIAID intends to fund at least the same number of competing research project grants as we did in FY 2009. 

Portraying a sober budget picture, Dr. Fauci outlined NIAID's plan to mitigate the stresses on the FY 2010 budget and shared some insight on additional strains next fiscal year.

"A large bolus of one-time funds will often have unintended consequences," Dr. Fauci told Council members. "In this case, the unintended consequence is that the NIAID payline may be facing a 'cliff effect' in FY 2011." 

NIAID intends to fund at least the same number of investigator-initiated grants, about 585, as we did in FY 2009 without ARRA.

But two factors will severely constrain our payline and cause success rates to drop as more applications compete for funding in FY 2010 and FY 2011.

  • We anticipate more R01 applications in late FY 2010 when PIs recycle their unsuccessful NIH Challenge Grant applications.
  • When the nearly 1,000 grants supported with ARRA funds expire, PIs will probably apply for new funding.

Because of this year's uncertainties, NIAID is taking conservative steps to protect the budget early in the year by setting an interim R01 payline at the 8 percentile, an unprecedented low. As we told you before, we do not expect to have final paylines until spring.

Taking Stock of ARRA

Recovery Act funding was largely welcome news to the research community. NIAID received $1.1 billion in ARRA funds, and we obligated $551 million in FY 2009, over 86 percent of which supported research project grants.

We made 936 grant awards using ARRA money in FY 2009. Only 3 to 5 percent of funds went to solicited projects responding to requests for applications or program announcements, and about 11 percent was for four signature projects.

In addition, NIH set aside $250 million for flu research, mostly for contracts testing H1N1 vaccines.

Glimmers of Hope for AIDS Vaccines

In the top 10 medical breakthroughs for 2009, Time magazine identified two supported by NIAID: AIDS vaccines and the H1N1 vaccine.

Last year, investigators had the first ever signal of efficacy for an HIV vaccine clinical trial; results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on December 3, "Vaccination with ALVAC and AIDSVAX to Prevent HIV-1 Infection in Thailand."

In a community-based, multicenter efficacy trial, four priming injections of a recombinant canarypox vector vaccine plus two booster injections of a recombinant glycoprotein 120 subunit vaccine showed a modest benefit in reducing the risk of HIV infection in a largely heterosexual population.

Moving forward, we are supporting basic and clinical research to:

  • Determine the immune mechanisms that explain the findings of the trial.
  • Create methods to optimize the immune responses underlying the protective effect.
  • Evaluate new candidates to find those that are more efficacious.

Opportunities and Resources

Check Out Updated RCDC Report Data

See a summary of NIH spending for FY 2009 and estimates for fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Analyze how NIH spends its money by research category using the new data at Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC). NIH posted data for FY 2009, revised FY 2010 estimates, and new FY 2011 estimates.

You can view the data by category and click the linked dollar amounts for project lists. Or download the raw data from Welcome to ExPORTER to do your own analyses.

Terminology you choose when writing your application can have a big effect on the categories NIH assigns—go to Reporting Considerations When Writing Your Application for tips.

RCDC is part of the larger NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) site, which offers a variety of reports on NIH spending. You can also search for details on individual projects using RePORT Expenditures and Results (RePORTER).

We first wrote about RCDC in our January 21, 2009, article "RCDC Debut—a Fresh View of NIH Funding."

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Loan Repayment Programs: A Positive Return on Investment

NIH's Loan Repayment Programs help researchers wipe out some of their educational debt.

NIH's Loan Repayment Programs are paying off—in more ways than one.

By helping researchers wipe out some of their educational debt, the LRPs are meeting their overarching goal of recruiting and retaining early-career scientists in the biomedical research workforce. We now have the data to back this up, thanks to the NIH LRP Evaluation.

Headed up by the Division of Loan Repayment, the study focuses on new extramural LRP applicants from fiscal years 2003 to 2007 and addresses three key areas:

  • Who is applying to the extramural Loan Repayment Programs? Is the program attracting the target applicant pool of early-career researchers with high educational debt?
  • Does participation lead to increased retention in the NIH-funded extramural workforce?
  • How does the LRP compare to other NIH mentored career development programs for early-career investigators?

We don't want to "spoil the ending," so you'll have to read the Evaluation for the detailed findings. To learn more about LRPs, go to NIH's Loan Repayment Programs and Loan Repayment Programs on our Research Funding Web site.

If the evaluation rings a bell, you have a good memory. We told you in our February 4, 2009, article "NIH Loan Repayment Programs: A Penny for Your Thoughts" that NIH would be compiling just such a report.

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Improving TB Prevention and Treatment—Your Thoughts, Please

Help set long-range and short-term goals to better diagnose, treat, and prevent tuberculosis (TB) with and without HIV co-infection. 

We hope a light bulb goes off in your head after you read this since our Division of AIDS and Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases are looking for ideas from the scientific community.

The topic? Opportunities for clinical research and trials to better diagnose, treat, and prevent drug-sensitive and drug-resistant, latent and active tuberculosis with and without HIV co-infection. 

Read the Request for Information for focus points, which encompass both long-range goals and short-term opportunities.

You have until March 29, 2010, to submit your comments. Follow instructions in the RFI.

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.

"I am a scientist at a small business developing molecules that inhibit and disperse bacterial biofilms, such as Borrelia burgdorferi. Would the R03 program be appropriate?" -- an anonymous reader

Since this area is highly complex, we advise scientists not to choose a grant type on their own. Instead, talk to an NIAID program officer for guidance. Another grant type may suit you better, for example, a small business grant.

To find a program officer in the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, go to Bacteriology and Mycology Branch (BMB). Dr. Joseph Breen is listed as the program officer for Lyme Borreliosis and Related Diseases.

If you still want to read about small grants, see our Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants SOP.

On our site, you can find out more about our Small Business Awards. Developing methods to detect Borrelia burgdorferi is one of our Small Business High-Priority Areas of Interest.

"In the new application form, I did not find a place to reflect my early-stage investigator status. Is that category still valid, and if so how should I put it in the application?"—Nataliya V. Balashova, Ph.D., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark

Yes, the new investigator category is still valid. NIH has two types of special status for people applying for their first independent R01: new investigator and early-stage investigator (ESI).

To designate yourself, enter your degree and discipline-specific training dates in your Commons profile. This information will enable NIH to identify ESIs and new investigators.

Once you've entered your information, it's important to check your Commons profile to make sure your new or ESI status is in order. That's because even though the system uses data you put in, it has its limitations.

If your status isn't correct, contact the Commons Help Desk and ask that they change it. In your email, include your name and the application number.

Additionally, make sure your biosketch states that you are a new investigator or ESI.

For more information, see the Are You "New"? section in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding and our New Investigator Advice questions and answers.

"Do I need to get the author's permission to use one of his or her published figures (either data or a model figure) in my NIH proposal?"—KyungWon Huh, Ph.D., Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, New Orleans

You do not need the author's permission, but you do need to cite his or her published work. Use any standard citation style, but make sure to include the names of all authors (in the same sequence as the publication), article and journal title, book title, volume number, page numbers, and year of publication. 

If the published figures come from research funded in whole or in part by NIH, include the work's PubMed Central ID number, which you can search for at PubMed Central

For more information on citing other people's work in your application, see Connect to Science With Citations in Strategy to Prepare the Forms and Just-In-Time in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

"In a recent article, you said not to list an administrative supplement as other support-- does that apply to ARRA administrative supplements too?"—an anonymous reader

Yes, that advice applies to ARRA administrative supplements too.

Do not list the supplement as other support, but add the time of the supplement to the time and effort of the parent grant. Also include the supplement in the grant's total dollar amount.

Keep in mind that if your application is selected for award, we may ask you to provide separate information on the ARRA supplement before we fund the grant.

"A principal investigator is wondering if he can change a renewal to a multi-PI application, or does that require a new application?"—Judy Helt, University of Wisconsin, Madison, School of Veterinary Medicine

A renewal should not be a problem. See NIH's frequently asked question:

I'm preparing a resubmission application. The previous version was a single PI only, but now I want to submit it using the Multiple PI model. Is this still a resubmission or is this now a new application? Same question applies to a renewal application that was previously funded as a single PI award. Is this a renewal or new application?

New Funding Opportunities

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated October 06, 2011

Last Reviewed February 18, 2010