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May 12, 2010

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles

R01 Paylines Rise, Short-Term

We expect to pay about the same number of investigator-initiated grants—around 585—as we did in FY 2008, before ARRA.

Though we believe we are facing record low paylines for the long-term, we were able to surprise on the upside this fiscal year.

We bumped the R01 payline for non-new PIs up to the 11 percentile, while keeping the R01 payline for new PIs at the 16 percentile.

It's a small reprieve after we warned you in March that our interim R01 paylines for established PIs at the 10 percentile could become the final level.

We are still waiting for final paylines for most grant types. To see the levels, go to NIAID Paylines on our Paylines and Funding portal.

Though this year's uptick is, relatively speaking, good news, we do not expect that trend to hold next fiscal year.

Two factors are likely to squeeze paylines: flat or modest budget increases and an expected rise in application numbers. In FY 2011, we anticipate an additional 1,000 R01 applications due to expiring ARRA grants and up to 750 more from people who applied unsuccessfully for a Challenge Grant.

While we won't know our FY 2011 budget level until fall or winter, early steps have taken place.

The President's budget proposes a 3.3 percent increase for NIAID, raising our budget to $4.98 billion. In this fiscal climate, that boost is higher than that of many other agencies, which have seen their budgets cut or held flat.

With signals pointing to lower paylines and falling success, here's our forecast for FY 2011:

  • About the same number of investigator-initiated grants—around 585—as we funded in FY 2008, before the Recovery Act funding (ARRA). We were able to limit ARRA's budgetary impact by shunning long-term (out year) commitments with ARRA funds.
  • Success rates as low as 16 percent. Success rates for research project grants for established investigators fell from a high of 30 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2006, and we expect them to stabilize around that level or slightly lower.
  • Low initial paylines for next fiscal year.

Longer term, we project annual budgets to increase between zero and 3 percent, which will extend these trends as well as create a loss of buying power for funded PIs as the cost of biomedical research rises.

For more on this fiscal year's budget, read "R01 Paylines Rise, Possibly Final,"A Budget Uptick for FY 2010," and "What's Happening With Paylines?" in our previous issues and Understand Paylines and Percentiles in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

To be notified instantly of new final paylines, sign up for Email Alerts. Go to Subscribe to Alerts or read the article "We Have a New Email Alert System—Sign Up Now" to learn how.

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What's New? Maybe Your Next Application

You may keep some of your experimental design if you are addressing a new research question.

When you're at the point where you can no longer resubmit, it's time to plan your next application and contemplate what's new, application-wise.

You can't just tweak your old application, for example, change the title, and send it in as a new one. NIH staff and software at the Center for Scientific Review scan each application for overlap with a previous one and will reject an application that does not meet NIH's standards for newness.

Because those standards are tough, it's critical to understand what NIH expects to see in a new application.

We've updated our online help to give you more detailed guidance. Here are the key points:

  • Substantially change your direction and scope.
  • Make significant revisions in the Research Plan and other parts of the application.
  • Possibly reuse preliminary data or experiments that fit your new idea.

You may keep some of your experimental design if you are addressing a new research question.

Though your new application must differ significantly from the old one, you won't need a new career. As long as you significantly revise, you can study the same protein, keep your tried and true methods, and use your preferred animal model.

But use caution if using the same method or animal model limits your innovation or the significance of the questions you can ask.

Here's a quick test for newness: ask yourself, if you were a reviewer and had seen your previous application, would you consider this one to be new?

Here are examples of actions that would not pass muster:

  • Modifying the Approach section while keeping the same Specific Aims.
  • Changing only the Significance or Innovation sections.
  • Rewording the application without changing the direction or approach.
  • Requesting assignment to a different NIH institute or scientific review group.

To get another opinion on the direction of your next application, read the summary statement for the reviewers' take, and talk to your program officer.

We suggest that you state in your cover letter or in the application that you resubmitted another application on a related topic and spell out how this one differs. That way, you make your case proactively rather than rely on someone who is unfamiliar with your work to figure it out.

When you write, follow procedures for a new application: no progress report or markings of the previous reviewers' comments. Be aware that in some cases you can simply reuse your application as is—see Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Read more in the April 15, 2010, Guide notice and find help writing a new application in Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

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Still Have ARRA Money? Spend, Spend, Spend!

Don't hoard: you can't mix ARRA money with regular funding, and you can't carry it over once the ARRA period ends.

If you have any ARRA grant money left, spend it as soon as possible on your research. That's what it's there for!

Though ARRA is over a year old, the goal is still the same: to spend money, and in turn stimulate the economy and create jobs.

Don't hold back.

You can't mix ARRA money with regular funding, and you can't carry it over once the ARRA period ends—so you don't gain anything by hoarding it.

And, since ARRA data is public, you don't want to raise suspicion by reporting that you spent less money than you received, even if you plan to spend more soon.

For more on this topic, see Change Your Mindset for Spending in What You Need to Do if You Get Stimulus Funds.

If you do find yourself coming to the end of an ARRA grant with money remaining, speak to your grants management specialist and remember the rules for no-cost extensions. See the No-Cost Extension SOP and our March 31, 2010, Funding Newsletter article "Stay on Top of ARRA Policies."

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More Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines Approved

The new batch includes four cell lines approved before the start of the new policy.

NIH added 13 human embryonic stem cell lines to the NIH Stem Cell Registry, bringing the total to 64—with another 103 cell lines pending approval (as of May 12).

The new batch includes four cell lines approved before the start of the new policy—H7 and H9 from the WiCell Research Institute—two of which had been widely used.

Read more in the Statement of NIH Director on Federal Funding for Embryonic Stem Cell Lines. NIH's new authority stems from Executive Order 13505 that President Obama issued on March 9, 2009.

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FASEB Reports on Success of ARRA Summer Supplements

FASEB surveyed over 600 participants about their ARRA Summer Supplement experience.

Did you like last summer's NIH-supported ARRA Summer Supplements? It appears that a lot of people did—and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) did a survey to prove it. 

FASEB surveyed over 600 participants about their experience. Read its report, Stimulating Science Education: NIH Summer Research Program Engages Students and Teachers in Science (PDF).

A non-profit coalition of scientific societies, FASEB promotes progress and education in science through advocacy.

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For Foreign Awardees: New Template for Animal Assurance

When submitting an Animal Welfare Assurance after June 15, 2010, follow the updated template for foreign institutions.

Attention foreign institutions!

When submitting an Animal Welfare Assurance after June 15, 2010, use the new template posted in the Download Document section at the bottom of the Animal Welfare Assurance for Foreign Institutions page from NIH's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).

In the April 16, 2010, Guide notice, you will find information on submitting assurances, a reminder about renewing them, and other details.

Also check out our Animals in Research for Grants SOP and How to Write an Application Involving Research Animals tutorial, starting with Is Your Institution Assured by OLAW?

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Return of the Two-Day Correction Window

The two-day error correction window for electronic applications is back.  Get details in the May 3, 2010, Guide notice and read more at Next Step: eRA Commons Validation in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Between January 25 and May 8, NIH extended the window to five days. That's over.  Read about it in the January 13, 2010, Funding Newsletter article "NIH Extends E-Application Correction Window to Five Days."

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Floods Make You Late for a Due Date? No Worries

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

If your institution was closed recently due to flooding in the southeast, don't worry about getting your application in on time. As usual, NIH is following its natural disasters policy to allow late submissions.

There's no need to get permission. Just include a cover letter noting the reason for the delay, which shouldn't exceed the time your institution was closed.

See the May 6, 2010, Guide notice for the official word, and find more information at NIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies.

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New Application Forms: Hit or Miss? Let Us Know

The feedback form is no longer available.

Opportunities and Resources

FOAs, Resources for Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials

In our March 31 issue, we told you about our new strategy for supporting investigator-initiated clinical trials. Now you can read the full details in the new funding opportunity announcements and policy notice.

Our easy-to-follow portal walks you through the key steps.

Since the new process is complex, be sure to check out the resources we have developed to help you figure out what steps to take.

Start with our easy-to-follow Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Resources portal, which walks you through the process, including these pages:

Our portal also links to other resources that can help you write your application.

For more details, see the May 5, 2010, Guide notice, and for a brief description of the new strategy, read our previous article, "New Plans for Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials."

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New Tool Tells You When We Use a Cooperative Agreement

Use this tool to get a sense of what might cause us to convert an investigator-initiated application into a cooperative agreement.

Want to know when NIAID staff involvement takes a research project from a grant to a cooperative agreement?

Check out our new tool Determining When to Use a Cooperative Agreement for an overview of NIAID staff roles that would necessitate a cooperative agreement. The list is not all-inclusive but contains the most common staff activities.

Use this tool to get a sense of what might cause us to convert an investigator-initiated application into a cooperative agreement. Also read the Conversion of Grants to Cooperative Agreements SOP.

You'll find a more specific list of staff roles in the Terms of Award section of each institute-specific funding opportunity announcement (we don't accept investigator-initiated cooperative agreement applications). Keep that page handy for a quick reference.

NIAID decides the level of staff involvement based on a risk assessment. Usually staff get highly involved in research that includes a chance of significant harm to human subjects or requires access to secure high-containment facilities or select agents—but decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

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Get a Broader View With NIAID's Foundations List

Listed organizations range from big to small, global to domestic, broadly-focused to single-issue—and all have something to offer.

Use NIAID's List of Foundations and Other Funding Sources to find funding opportunities within NIAID's areas of science from organizations outside NIH.

Learn of opportunities now and in the future. Here are some of the other features:

  • Links to pages that allow you to sign up for automatic notifications from non-NIAID funding sources.
  • Deadlines, links, and timing information for open and expected opportunities.
  • Information about the target audience and any restrictions that may apply.

Listed organizations range from big to small, global to domestic, broadly-focused to single-issue—and all have something to offer.

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Interested in NIH Resources?

NIH can help with many of your needs, for example, patients with rare diseases, facilities that can help you do translational research, and other collaborative opportunities.

NIH would like to gauge your interest in accessing the unique resources it has at the NIH Clinical Center and in its intramural research programs.

On our campuses, we have one of the most extensive health research programs in the world. NIH spends about 10 percent of its research budget on intramural research and, along with the clinical center, has resources and abilities that can't be found anywhere else.

Could NIH's resources help with any of your needs—for example, patients with rare diseases, facilities that can help you do translational research, and other collaborative activities?

At its next meeting on May 18 and 19, NIH's Scientific Management Review Board will discuss that topic and make recommendations on opening up NIH's in-house resources to the scientific community.

To give your input, go to the April 26, 2010, Federal Register notice (PDF) and follow the instructions for sending comments.

Advice Corner

Reader Questions

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

"May I submit two different R01 grants?"—Celine DerMardirossia, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla

Yes, as long as the topic is different, you can submit as many applications as you like.

If you are applying under the same funding opportunity announcement, check the Number of Applications under the Executive Summary header to see whether more than one application is allowed.

"If a senior investigator is a co-investigator (not a PI) on my application, would I lose my status as a new PI?"—Xiang Xu, University of California San Francisco

No. Only the PI role affects the "new" status. If the senior person is only a key personnel for the project, you would not lose your status as a new PI because you are the only PI, and you qualify as new.

"Why can't I open links marked with a lock icon?"—an anonymous reader

Those links work for NIAID staff only. That means no one outside the Institute can view content that has a lock icon next to it.

"Where can I find information about MERIT awards?"—an anonymous reader

Our MERIT Awards and Extensions SOP has details. Keep in mind that an investigator cannot apply for a MERIT award nor offer names for a nomination. Our program staff recommend outstanding candidates for the award.

If you have questions about MERIT awards, contact your program officer.

New Funding Opportunities

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated January 12, 2012

Last Reviewed May 12, 2010