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June 23, 2010

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

Other News

New Funding Opportunities

Feature Articles

Stricter Rules for Late Application Materials Are on Their Way

Summary

  • Starting with the September 25 receipt date, NIH will limit to mostly administrative items the information you may send your scientific review officer (SRO) after submitting your application.
  • Applications responding to requests for applications with a single due date will follow the existing policy instead.
  • Training grants will have their own requirements.

For the September 25, 2010, receipt date and beyond, you will be able to send only certain types of late materials.

In late May, NIH announced a future change to its policy for submitting late application materials, i.e., after the submission and before the initial peer review.

For now, you may send your scientific review officer a wide range of application information, following page limits and instructions in the March 19, 2010, Guide notice.

But once the new policy takes effect—starting with the September 25, 2010, receipt date—you will be restricted to certain types of materials, mainly administrative. See the bullets below, and find more details on the shift in the May 21, 2010, Guide notice.

Late Materials That Will Be OK

Under the new policy, you will be able to send these items to the SRO after submitting the application:

  • Revised budget pages, e.g., due to new funding.
  • Biographical sketches, e.g., due to the loss of a senior or key personnel.
  • Letters of support or collaboration due to the loss of a senior or key personnel (note this is the only reason—see list below).
  • Adjustments resulting from natural disasters, e.g., due to loss of an animal colony.
  • Adjustments resulting from change of institutions, e.g., due to the PI's move to another university.
  • Article accepted for publication.

Late Materials That Will Not Be OK

You will no longer be able to send these items:

  • Updated Specific Aims or Research Strategy pages.
  • Late-breaking research findings.
  • Supplemental pages for information not in the application.
  • New letters of support or collaboration that do not result from a loss of a senior or key personnel.

NIH states these exceptions to the new policy:

  • Applications responding to requests for applications (RFA) that have only one due date will follow the March 19, 2010, Guide notice.
  • Some funding opportunity announcements may have unique requirements.
  • For training-type applications, you will be able to send up to three pages of updated information, also starting with the September 25, 2010, receipt date, for the following items—read more in the June 11, 2010, Guide notice:
    • Applicant pool, admissions, enrollment, appointments, or achievements.
    • Faculty research support.

For applications responding to RFAs, get in touch with the peer review contact listed in the RFA or the scientific review officer to find out what you are allowed to do.

Remember that you must send your late materials 30 calendar days before the peer review meeting. Be sure to include the concurrence of your authorized organizational representative (business official) with the materials.

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Cruising for Grant Type? Don't Set Sail Alone

This is the second article in our New Investigator Series.

Summary

  • We recommend that investigators not choose a grant type on their own; still, they need to understand the implications of the main choices for their first independent award: the R01, R21, and R03.
  • Each person's situation is different, so get advice tailored to your needs.
R01, U01, K22, T32—navigating through dozens of grant types can surely test your NIH sea legs. Don't be tempted to dive into this alphanumeric deep on your own.

 

Like an undertow, some repercussions of your choice of grant type are not apparent. Features such as award length and funding levels can dowse your future chance of success as an independent NIH investigator.

 

Ask for Help

Call an NIAID program officer to discuss what grant type might be appropriate for you.

 

Obviously many factors come into play in deciding grant type, and people are in different situations, so no one-size advice fits all. Our best recommendation is that you do not choose a grant type on your own, but get advice from highly seasoned people.

Call an NIAID program officer to discuss what grant type might be appropriate for you. Ask about the money and time constraints of different grant types and how these factors may affect your ability to conduct a sound research project. Find an NIAID program officer at Contact Staff for Help in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Also talk to experienced people in your institution for further guidance. Be sure to ask your institution about the level and duration of institutional support you can expect. Then factor in the time it takes to get the NIH grant to determine if you will have enough institutional support while you're waiting for NIH funding.

 

See if an R01 Is Right for You

 

Even though an R01 is a big step, we often recommend to less experienced investigators to go for it—keeping in mind that you will need some preliminary data.

An R01 is a mature award that gives you enough time and funds to complete the project, publish the results, and start writing your next grant application in time to get it funded by the end of the award.

Here are the reasons many new and early-stage investigators try for an R01:

 

  • They can get four or five years of support, enough time and money to launch your research career.
  • Reviewer expectations are lower: they look for fewer preliminary data, resources, and publications than they do from more established R01 applicants.
  • NIAID sets a more liberal payline for R01 applications from new investigators, so it's easier to get funded.
 
 

 

Reviewer expectations are lower for new investigators: they look for fewer preliminary data, resources, and publications.

 

 

 

 

Especially as a new investigator, your R01 application may qualify for an R56-Bridge award or selective pay if it does not succeed.

An R56-Bridge can act as a springboard to an R01, giving you funds to gather preliminary data to improve your R01 application. Almost 90 percent of R56 Bridge awards convert to a full R01 (Note: we nominate programmatically important R01 applications for a Bridge award or selective pay; you cannot apply).

Even though reviewers focus less on track record and expect less preliminary data than they would from an established investigator, you'll still need to propose an important problem and use a sound research approach.

And you'll need to write a persuasive application with enough information to instill confidence in the reviewers that you and your team will be able to accomplish what you propose.

To learn more about R01s, read Why You Should Consider an R01 in the New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding, and find resources on our R01 Investigator Resources portal.

Know Timing Issues

If you're not ready for an R01, consider inquiring about a smaller award. But be aware of the caveats.

Timing is a major issue. Looking at publication data, we see that it generally takes people three to four years to publish data stemming from a grant.

 

 
 
 

 

Our data show that on average R21 grantees spent three years developing a competitive R01; 38 percent took four or five years to receive one.

 

 

 

 

 

If your grant ends after two years, you might think you would have one to two unsupported years before publishing—but in reality add another year or more to get the next grant after applying.

For example, our data from 2003 show that on average R21 grantees spent three years developing a competitive R01, and 38 percent of the cohort took four or five years to receive an R01.

Is publication required? While preliminary data do not have to be published, reviewers like to see a publication record for an R01 application. In this highly competitive funding environment, publication could be a critical factor.

Here's another timing issue for early-stage investigators: you could lose your ESI status if too many years pass after training since you qualify as an ESI for only 10 years.

 

R03 Is Small

 

If you've gotten advice about choosing a grant type and decided to go for a smaller award, your main choice is between the small grant (R03) and exploratory/developmental research grant (R21). Both are two-year grants.

On the surface, the R03 may seem to be well suited to a new investigator. You can request up to $50,000 a year in direct costs and do not need preliminary data.

So is this a good first venture? Our data say no.

In fact, for new (and established) investigators who received an R03 in 2003, only 16 to 18 percent successfully converted their project to an R01—nearly half the success rate of investigators who received an R21 in the same year (see next section).

The most likely reason is that R03s usually do not give you enough money to complete a meaningful research project. So you may not get the data you need for a future R01 application or accomplish enough to convince reviewers you are credible as a PI of a major project.

 

R21 Gives You More Money

 
 

 

New investigators who feel unready to compete for an R01 are using the R21 successfully to gather preliminary data for their R01 applications.

 

 

 

 

Our data indicate that the R21 may be a better small grant choice for new investigators: PIs fared better in progressing to an R01, at least for people applying to NIAID (other institutes had different results).

We looked at new investigators who received an R21 in 2003 and followed them to see if they were able to get the project funded as an R01. In this cohort, these investigators were:

 

  • Twice as successful in getting an R01 as people who did not have an R21—32 percent versus 15 percent.
  • As successful as established PIs in converting their R21 project to an R01—32 percent versus 28 percent.

 

Most likely, the key factor of their success compared to the R03 applicants was a bigger award. You can request up to $275,000 for an R21, which is slightly more than what most new investigators request for their first R01s—see the data at How to Plan an Appropriate Budget in the New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding.

Though the R21 is designed for exploratory projects by experienced investigators, new investigators who feel unready to compete for an R01 are using it successfully to gather preliminary data for their R01 applications.

An R21 can give you funds to obtain preliminary data if you have a hypothesis you can test within the two-year support period that will lead to a major project.

Your planned R01 application should continue the same line of research. Be sure to avoid overlap—NIH will not award a grant for research that is already funded or work that's already been done.

No matter which grant you apply for, you need to consider where your support will come from should you have a gap while you apply for and receive an R01—for more information, see:

 

 

To learn more about smaller grants, go to:

 

 

We have more advice about choosing a grant type at:

 

 

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You Spoke, We Listened

 

Summary

 

  • Based on your feedback, we redesigned parts of the Research Funding Web site to help you find shorter versions of our advice resources.
  • Please read the Ground Rules so you understand what our materials do and don't do—for example, they do not repeat the instructions in the Grant Application Guide.
 
 

 

A mystifying discrepancy: 68 percent of people who used All About Grants said it helped them write their application, but for readers of Funding Newsletter, the figure was 84 percent.

 

 

 

 

You may recall that we set up a space for you to share your thoughts about NIH's new application forms, this newsletter, and some of the resources on the Research Funding site. We wrote about this in our March 31 article "Let Us Know How You Like the New Application Forms."

Some of you—32 to be precise—sent comments; here are some highlights.

 

Interesting Tidbits

 

With so few people responding, it's impossible to get meaningful statistics, but here's what some of your colleagues said.

Application. Of readers who commented on the new application, a majority felt the new page limits were too restrictive and they needed more space.

The most frequent recommendation to improve the instructions was to make them more succinct.

Web site and newsletter. We truly appreciate getting both good and bad news, so it was terrific to hear from you. But puzzling.

We saw a mystifying discrepancy: 68 percent of people who used the All About Grants material said it helped them write their applications, but for readers of NIAID Funding Newsletter, the figure was 84 percent.

This is surprising because the material is virtually the same: after we develop advice for the newsletter with staff scientists throughout the Institute, we incorporate it into All about Grants.

Could a flawed design be preventing people from finding appropriate materials on the site? Other comments—that the materials are too long and geared to new investigators—pointed in that direction.

 

Taking Action

 

Getting this feedback is so helpful because it reveals our site's shortcomings and gives us insight into ways to improve.

 

Experienced investigators can now readily see where to find shortcuts, so they don't need to wade through too much material.

Ground Rules

Backing up a bit (and addressing some of your criticisms), let's go over a few basics to clarify what our resources do.

 

  • Strategy for NIH Funding is a complete application-writing and basic grant-management tutorial. As new R01 investigators are the primary audience, it presumes a modest level of reader knowledge.
  • We have shorter alternatives for more experienced investigators (see below) or others with less time to read.
  • We do not repeat the instructions in the Grant Application Guide. Instead, we give you advice that you will not find in that document or PHS 398 as well as a flavor for what is in each section. Here are the reasons.
    • Though it could be helpful for you to have the instructions and advice in one place, it's not practical for us to repeat the lengthy official instructions (186 pages just for Part I).
    • If we selectively chose the information we thought was important, we could leave out information that would be vital to you.

 

Retooling Our Design

Once we had your feedback, we redesigned the All About Grants and Strategy for NIH Funding portals.

Experienced Investigators. Now you can readily see where to find shortcuts, so you don't need to wade through too much material to find what you're looking for:

 

 

New Investigators. Find the right resources for your career stage.

 

  • Early-Stage and New Investigators portal—get information you need if you're ready to seek independent support.
    • Look at our career path graphics under Get Started.
    • New Investigator Guide to NIH Funding
      • Read this tutorial if you're not familiar with NIH support.
      • Find out about qualifying as a new investigator.
  • Training and Career portal—go here if you're at an earlier stage.
    • Look at our career path graphics under Get Started.
    • Find support appropriate for you: fellowships, career development awards.
    • Work on someone else's award: research supplements, trainee on a training grant.

 

Small Businesses. Find resources on the Small Business Awards portal.

 

 

International Investigators. Go to the NIAID International Awards portal.

 

 

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Synthetic Microbes Make Waves, But NIAID Is Keeping an Even Keel

 

Summary

 

  • Dr. Fauci testified to Congress about the recent synthetic biology advance from the J. Craig Venter Institute.
  • The federal government is monitoring developments in synthetic biology, and a presidential commission will study its implications.
 
 

 

We anticipated the creation of a fully synthetic microbe and have worked on the issues for years.

 

 

 

 

When investigators created a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized Mycoplasma mycoides genome, the event marked a leap forward for the field of synthetic biology, even if much work remains to be done to realize the technology's full potential.   

Although NIAID did not fund the work at the J. Craig Venter Institute, we do fund many projects that use recombinant DNA technologies, genomics, and related disciplines. For an account of our perspective on this area, see the statement and slides from NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci on May 27, 2010, at Recent Testimony to Congress.

Because synthetic biology and other genetic and genomic technologies have both beneficial and potentially harmful applications, these dual-use technologies have been the subject of much discussion in the scientific community for many years.

Advisory bodies to the federal government, such as the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) and National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity have played a major role.

For example, RAC is proposing changes to the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules to address biosafety for research with synthetic nucleic acids—go to National Institutes of Health Public Consultation for details.

More recently, The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has joined the discussion of synthetic biology. The President asked the Commission to issue a report on legal, social, and ethical impacts—for more, read President Obama asks bioethics commission to study implications of synthetic biology.

Find the PubMed citation of the Venter paper at Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome.

 

Opportunities and Resources

New Home for Citations: My Bibliography

 
 

 

You will be able to associate a grant with a paper and associate citations with your eSNAP progress report.

 

 

 

 

Starting July 23, 2010, you must use My NCBI's My Bibliography tool to manage your bibliographies; you will no longer be able to enter citations in the eRA Commons.

New Approach

The good news is that the My Bibliography database populates citation data from PubMed, PubMed Central, and NIH Manuscript Submission System, associating your grant with your manuscripts or published papers.

When you save a reference in My Bibliography, it automatically appears in your Commons account so you can associate your citations with your eSNAP progress report in the Commons.

My Bibliography also lets you track your compliance with NIH's public access policy.

What to Do

You'll need to manually move any citations that are now in the Commons into My Bibliography—read more at How to move citations from Commons to My Bibliography.

Access My Bibliography from the Commons or log directly into My NCBI using your Commons identifiers. To log into My Bibliography, you'll need a My NCBI account, and you'll need to link your Commons account to it. Go to How to create a My NCBI account and access the My Bibliography feature to learn how to create one.

Part of NIH's National Library of Medicine, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) houses biomedical and genomic databases. Find more information on the move to NCBI in the June 10, 2010, Guide notice.

Get more help at Manage Your Professional Bibliography.

 

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Immunology Database: "ImmPort"ant Updates

 

A lot can happen in a few months.

Take the Immunology Database and Analysis Portal (ImmPort) for example. It's undergone many changes since January, when we last wrote about it in "Updates to ImmPort—Immunology Data and Tool."

Check Release Notes for new features like GenePattern, a gene expression analysis tool, as well as enhancements to flow cytometry analysis, collaborative work space, and sequence feature variant type visualization.

We last told you about ImmPort in our December 9, 2009, article "Get More Free Bioinformatics Resources from NIAID."

 

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.

 

"Can a foreign subaward institution use facilities and administrative (F&A) costs to pay for alterations and renovations?"—an anonymous reader

 

We pay for alterations and renovations as direct costs, not F&A costs—regardless of whether an institution is foreign or domestic. For questions about spending on your grant, please contact your grants management specialist.

 

"How will the new progress report process affect multiproject grants and contracts?"—Helen L. Drake-Perrow, Yerkes National Primate Research Center

 

The new process—mandatory electronic progress reporting—does not affect contracts and applies only to grants that use the streamlined noncompeting award process (SNAP). Multiproject grants don't use SNAP.

 

Other News

Breaking News

News Flash!New Receipt Date for AIDS-Related Institutional Training Applications

 

From now on, you'll submit an AIDS-related T32 or T35 application only on January 7, which is a standard AIDS receipt date. You will no longer submit on the September 25 receipt date we use for other training grants. This change stems from an NIH policy shift.

Find all due dates for investigator-initiated applications at Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.

 

News Flash!Apply by July 21 for the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Program

 

Good news—the IRS posted the form we mentioned in our June 9 article "Get a Tax Credit or Grant for Investments in Therapeutics."

 

 

Apply by July 21.

 

News Briefs

 

Here's a snapshot at some newsworthy goings-on.

Check Out May Concepts. Go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities for information on concepts approved at May Council. In our next issue, we'll give you tips on using concepts to stay ahead of the pack.

Read, React, Respond to NIAID's CTN Blog. NIAID has taken to the blogosphere to get input on the future of its HIV-AIDS Clinical Trial Networks. See DAIDS Director Dr. Carl Dieffenbach's June 10, 2010, blog and videocast Restructuring NIAID's HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Networks. Post your own comments, subscribe to the news feed, or get the latest updates through your favorite social networking site.

NIH's Genetic Testing Registry: Your Comments, Please. NIH is looking for stakeholder input on what elements to include in the Genetic Testing Registry. See the May 28, 2010, Request for Information for items to address as well as instructions on submitting your comments, which are due by July 12, 2010. The National Center for Biotechnology Information expects to launch the registry next year.

 

Funding Opportunity Links

 

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated October 06, 2011

Last Reviewed June 23, 2010