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June 9, 2010

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

Other News

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles

Catch Our Brand New Makeover

Starting with this issue, we are debuting a new organization for the newsletter to better highlight feature articles and opportunities.

We've streamlined sections that have more weighty articles—and created a new Features section—to help draw your attention to our major stories. Smaller items are now grouped in their own section farther down the page.

Let us know what you think by sending your comments to deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

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More Final Paylines for FY 2010

Expect final T32 paylines soon, followed by the R15 payline, which NIH sets.

We now have all final FY 2010 paylines except institutional training grants (T32) and Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA, R15).

Expect final T32 paylines soon, followed by the R15 payline, which NIH sets. See the full list at NIAID Paylines.

Why has it taken so long to publish our final levels?

This year was more difficult than most due to a late budget, new scoring system, and uncertainty about how many applications we would receive.

See Paylines and Budget Pages Change Throughout the Year for background, and read our previous articles "Compressed Scores, Another Complexity for Paylines" and "What's Happening With Paylines?"

If you missed the scoop on investigator-initiated grants and success rates, read the May 12, 2010, article "R01 Paylines Rise, Short-Term." We posted final paylines for R01s and R21s last month.

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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Gearing Up as a New PI

Reviewers expect you to show them how you are ready and able to lead.

This is the first article in our New Investigator Series.

Investigators who are keen to head their own research projects often ask: what grants am I eligible for?

While eligibility is not a problem, other hurdles can be tough to clear. To avoid hitting a snag, it helps to know where your research belongs, what it takes to qualify for independent support, what you need from your institution, and what to do if you find you're still not ready for this career stage.

First Things First: Determine Where Your Research Fits

Do some homework and find out whether your project has a home at NIH. If it doesn't meet NIH's mission, you cannot get funded. Start by reading Getting to Know NIH in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

Once you've established that NIH is the right spot, find the right institute. Take a look at what research each institute solicits through program announcements and requests for applications. These funding opportunities provide insight into what areas of research institutes are funding.

Next, contact program officers in institutes that best match your research interests to glean their level of enthusiasm for your research area and how you might fit into initiatives. Ask about possible topics for investigator-initiated research:

For more this topic, go to Part 1. Qualify for NIH Funding in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Ready for Independent Support?

NIH has minimal eligibility requirements for most research grants—e.g., the R01 or R21 (small business awards are an exception).

But you will need to convince your peer reviewers that you can handle heading up a major research project, and they will assess your prospects scrupulously.

Reviewers expect you to show them that you are ready and able to lead. That means detailing your expert qualifications, your institution's commitment to you and your project, and the independent space you'll have by the time the award is made. A bench in someone else's lab is not enough.

Equally important, your institution must allow you to apply. Institutions generally have requirements for the organizational level you need to attain (for example, assistant professor) before they will let you apply for your own grant.

In Do You Qualify for Independent Support? in our New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding, we list the following criteria you should meet before seeking a research project grant, such as an R01:

  • Hold an advanced degree appropriate to the research (in most fields, this means a Ph.D. or M.D.).
  • Have a level of position at which your institution allows employees to apply (often assistant professor or higher).
  • Have a publication or patent record or a history of high-level supervision in the field in which you are applying.
  • Work in a research institution that has the resources—equipment and lab space—you will need and that has committed space for the project.

Are you slated for an important promotion, for example, to assistant professor? Write in the body of your application—not the cover letter, which the reviewers do not see—the date it is scheduled to happen. While as we said above NIH does not require any particular title, your status may affect how reviewers view your qualifications.

Keep in mind that it could take four to five months from the time you apply until your application goes to its review committee. If you get your promotion in the interim, contact your scientific review officer as soon as you can (keep in mind that we can't accept new information after 30 days before a review meeting.)

To read more about qualifying for independent support, go to the Training and Career portal and read What Award Should You Apply For? in the New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

For more on timing, see Strategy Timelines in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Though that chart is designed for the R01, most research project grants follow a comparable timeline.

Engage Your Institution

People in your organization's business office (e.g., Office of Sponsored Research) can tell you about your institution's expectations. Meet the key players you'll be interacting with before and during application, and get answers to the following questions:

  • What level of investigator may apply for independent funding?
  • What are the internal procedures and deadlines for applying?
  • What level of institutional support can you expect?
    • You may need two or three years of funding support to tide you over while you apply and possibly reapply.
    • Even if you get a grant, you may need additional funds.
    • Before accepting a job is the best time to negotiate institutional support—something to keep in mind if you are switching institutions.
  • What types of resources does your institution have?

Not Ready? Find Earlier Career Options

If you aren't yet ready for independent support, check out awards for investigators at different career stages. To see a progression of awards from graduate student through independent investigator, review our two graphics:

Visit our Training and Career portal for help such as Advice on Research Training and Career Awards, which describes awards for investigators at different career stages.

Another option at an early career stage is to hitch onto an existing grant. NIAID funds several types of research supplements that add money to active research grants. A supplement can support your salary and other expenses, letting you be part of an established research team.

See if you meet the requirements for one of our Diversity, Primary Caregiver, or Reentry supplements. Then find a grantee who would be willing to apply for you, since you cannot apply.

For help at this stage, contact our training office at AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.

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Weigh In On Proposed Financial Conflict of Interest Rules

HHS's proposal would alter how NIH and your institution handle conflicts.

After many months of review, discussion, and public comment, the Department of Health and Human Services suggested new rules to protect research from bias due to financial conflicts of interest.

A follow-up to the May 8, 2009, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, HHS's new proposal would alter how NIH and your institution handle conflicts.

You have an opportunity to give your input—more on that below.

The Skinny

Take a look at some of the most significant changes.

Institutions Take Charge. PIs would report to their institutions all significant financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities. Institutions would determine whether those financial relationships constitute financial conflicts of interest and notify NIH of any conflicts that could affect NIH-funded activities.

Under current rules, PIs make those determinations.

In the new scheme, institutions would develop a management plan for each identified conflict, report major elements of each plan to NIH, and describe the value and nature of the financial interests involved. Presently, institutions need only certify whether a conflict was managed, reduced, or eliminated.

Eye on Transparency. Institutions would post the following on a public Web site:

  • Official, written institutional policy on financial conflict of interest.
  • List of financial conflicts of interest related to NIH-funded research.

New Definition of Significant Financial Interests. The proposal would make PIs disclose all equity interest in non-publicly traded entities. It will also lower the threshold for what constitutes a significant financial interest to $5,000 (from $10,000).

PI Training Mandate. PIs would have to take training on financial conflicts of interest before beginning any NIH-funded research and take ongoing training every two years to continue receiving funds. NIH would collect assurances from institutions before making awards.

Learn More

Get a read on other proposed changes, e.g., new requirements for subawardees, changes to when HHS asks for information, and the end of exemptions for SBIR and STTR phase I awardees in the Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research Request for Comments (PDF) Federal Register notice.

You can get NIH's view in the Journal of the American Medical Association article, "Managing Financial Conflict of Interest in Biomedical Research."

Your Turn to Comment

Take a moment to send in your comments—HHS is accepting public input until July 20, 2010. For instructions and contact information, read the May 21, 2010, Guide notice.

Opportunities and Resources

SBIR and STTR Phase II? RAID This Program

Through NIH-RAID, you can get help with preclinical development of your therapeutic agent.

Are you applying for or in the first year of a phase II small business grant and planning to use a contract research organization?

If so, look into NIH-Rapid Access to Interventional Development (NIH-RAID), which helps Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grantees with the preclinical development of therapeutic agents.

We expect you to talk to your program officer to determine whether you should apply for NIH-RAID to cover some of your costs.

What Can RAID Do For Me?

Depending on the stage of your project and the strength of your preliminary data, you may be able to take advantage of the following services:

  • Production
  • Bulk supply
  • GMP manufacturing
  • Formulation
  • Development of an assay suitable for pharmacokinetic testing
  • Animal toxicology

NIH-RAID can also help you establish and implement a product development plan. 

How the Program Works

Though not a grant program, NIH-RAID can be a valuable a resource for applicants and grantees by setting you up with government contract resources supported by the National Cancer Institute and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

While you use your grant budget for most needs, our contractors take care of some product development steps at no charge, letting you cut costs and reduce your risk of exceeding award limits.

Before you apply, make sure your program officer advises you to do so. For review criteria, receipt dates, and details on the application components, read National Institutes of Health Rapid Access to Interventional Development (NIH-RAID) Program (X01).

If you need help or more information on filling out an application, email NIH-RAID program staff at nih-raid@mail.nih.gov.

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Get a Tax Credit or Grant for Investments in Therapeutics

It's ok if your business doesn't have or qualify for an SBIR or STTR award—this benefit has different rules.

If your business has fewer than 250 workers, you're in luck.

Through the new Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project program, also called "QTDP," Uncle Sam will give you a tax credit or grant for past investments in projects to improve the delivery of therapeutics, advance the study of molecular diagnostics, or discover new ways to diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases.  

It's ok if your business doesn't have or qualify for an SBIR or STTR award—for this benefit, the rules are different.

You can get back up to 50 percent of expenses made during tax years 2009 and 2010, up to $5 million. Funds come from the IRS, but NIH will review and certify that investments meet scientific qualifications.

You get to choose whether to apply for the tax credit or a grant, but we suggest that you consult with a tax professional to see which option works better for your situation.

Read Internal Revenue Bulletin: 2010-23 for definition of qualifying projects and rules about what expenses count, what business entities can apply, how the program works, how you should calculate your benefit, what forms you'll need to fill out, and what information you'll need to provide.

Applications are due by July 21, 2010. If you choose the grant option, NIH plans to certify eligible awards by October 29, 2010.

Get more information, including an IRS fact sheet, in the May 21, 2010, Guide notice. If you have more questions about the program, email QTDP@mail.nih.gov.

We'll keep you updated on the review process and timing for grant awards in a future article. To get the latest news, make sure you're signed up for our email alerts. If you're not, 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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Training Grants: Sole Due Date Ahead, Electronic Submission Kicks In

(New on June 18: NIAID now accepts training grant applications on September 25 for non-AIDS and January 7 for AIDS-related applications)

As we do every year, we're reminding you to gear up for an important date: September 25. It's NIAID's only annual submission date for NRSA Institutional Research Training Grants (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grants (T35).

This year's heads up is even more important since it's the first time you'll submit applications electronically.

That goes for those planning to resubmit, too: even though you originally applied with a paper application, your resubmission must be electronic.

For more information on training grants, see the following:

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.

"How do I know if my K99 proposal fits NIAID's mission?"—an anonymous reader

Contact our Office of Special Populations and Research Training at AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov. That office can advise you.

For general information, see our Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP. For some pointers, read Career Development Awards and subsequent sections of our Advice on Research Training and Career Awards.

"May I use NIH grant funds to pay for expenses required to get a visa for a foreign postdoc?"—an anonymous reader

Yes, you can pay for those expenses as F&A costs.

"When will you post new sample applications?"—several readers

We expect to post them by the end of the year. PIs do not want to share their applications until they know they will receive funding. The first batch of R01s submitted using shorter page limits will be funded in FY 2011, which starts in October. For more on timing, see R01 Planning to Award Timeline by Review Cycle

As soon as PIs start to get awards, we'll ask for permission to use their applications. This is one of our top priorities, but we have to wait for the review and award process to play out.

"Do you have a list of contract awards you've made for the last couple of fiscal years—perhaps an Excel spreadsheet?"—an anonymous reader

We don't, but you can review a list of recent awards at NIH RePORTER. Here's how to execute the search:

  • For Funding Mechanism, click the blue button and select R and D Contracts.
  • Include any other search criteria you'd like. For example, you could choose NIAID for Agency/Institute/Center.
  • Click Submit Query.

After your search is complete, click on an opportunity to see the contract award amount, summary, awardee information, and other details.

Other News

Fogarty Center Seeks Your Input on HIV/AIDS Training

If you have an interest in NIH's HIV/AIDS-related training programs, you might want to look at a new request for information.

NIH's Fogarty International Center seeks your comments on the organization of its HIV/AIDS training programs, including the 20-year-old AIDS International Training and Research Program. Read the May 18, 2010, Guide notice for details.

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Have Your Say About a New Stem Cell Workshop

Your responses will help NIH and FDA tailor the first workshop to your needs.

Before embarking on a series of joint workshops on human pluripotent stem cells, NIH and FDA want to know: if you were creating a stem cell workshop, what would you include?

Send your thoughts—answer the questions in the May 6, 2010, Guide notice, then email your responses to nindsstemcell@mail.nih.gov by July 16, 2010.

Your input will help NIH and FDA tailor the first workshop to your needs.

That workshop will examine the safety and regulatory issues that investigators should consider when thinking about developing a therapy using pluripotent stem cell derivatives. It's scheduled for mid-October 2010 on NIH's Bethesda campus, though we don't know exact date and location yet.

Later sessions will delve more deeply into preclinical safety, proof of concept testing, and clinical trial design.

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New DAIDS Deputy Director Is Ideal Fit

Please welcome the new deputy director of NIAID's Division of AIDS: Dr. Emily Erbelding. A highly regarded clinician and program leader committed to furthering public health goals, she is an invaluable addition to both the Division and the Institute.

Dr. Erbelding comes to us after many years in Baltimore where, as medical director of the Baltimore City Health Department STD Clinics HIV Program, she integrated HIV prevention and care research into the city's STD program.

She served most recently as an associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was a physician for Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In her new role, she will work closely with DAIDS Director Dr. Carl Dieffenbach to develop and coordinate program activities as well as maintain a strong research agenda for HIV and AIDS.

We are delighted to have Dr. Erbelding on board.

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VRC's Nabel Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Nabel has led VRC since its inception in 1999—both as its director and chief of its virology laboratory.

Join us in congratulating Vaccine Research Center Director Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D. on his election to fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Nabel has led VRC since its inception in 1999—both as its director and chief of its virology laboratory.

One of the first researchers to use direct gene transfer to introduce therapeutic proteins into melanoma patients, Dr. Nabel also served as the director of the Center for Gene Therapy and co-director of the Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Michigan.

For a list of new Fellows for 2010, go to American Academy of Arts and Sciences: 2010 Fellows and Their Affiliations at the Time of Their Election (PDF).

Funding Opportunity Links

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated November 03, 2011

Last Reviewed September 27, 2010