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September 14, 2011

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Other News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Good Things Still STEM From a Career in Science

Funding blues getting you down?

Take solace in knowing you're still likely to earn more over time and have better job opportunities than your peers in the non-science world.

Consider some recent statistics for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

  • Over the past 10 years, STEM jobs have grown three times as quickly as non-STEM jobs and are projected to grow twice as fast—17 percent—for at least the next seven years.
  • On average, STEM workers earn 26 percent more than workers in other fields do.
  • Students in STEM majors can expect to earn more than their counterparts regardless of what career they pursue.
  • Graduates of STEM programs earn higher wages on average compared to others of comparable age and level of education.

For details, read the full report STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future. Though statistics include both scientists and technicians, they do not include science educators or split out career data for workers in the physical and life sciences.

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Nominate a Mentor for PAESMEM

While we're on the subject of STEM careers, we can't overlook the importance of mentors. Neither can the White House, and it's offering $10,000 for each outstanding mentor selected for a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

You can nominate a colleague, your own mentor, or even yourself for this award, which honors leaders who guide members of underrepresented groups to and through careers in scientific fields.

Application deadline is October 5, 2011. For details and eligibility, read the September 2, 2011, Guide notice and go to Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

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Revisit the Instructions for Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial U01s

In case you noticed, the August 26, 2011, Guide notice has important changes to the funding opportunity announcement for the NIAID Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreement (U01).

You'll be ok if you stick to the instructions in that announcement, along with the modifications in the new Guide notice. Also refer to our Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Resources for information and help.

Correct information has been on our Web site for a long time; it just took a while to publish the notice.

Header: Other News.

Stay Tuned for Interim Paylines

Though we thought we would be able to post interim R01 paylines for FY 2012 by now, we were wrong. New events and uncertainties surrounding the budget are making it more difficult for our budget office to make predictions for next fiscal year. 

Once we post our interim R01 and other paylines on NIAID Paylines, we will let you know in this newsletter.

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Get the Scoop on Changes to Financial Conflicts of Interest Rules

What do NIH's changes to the financial conflicts of interest policy mean for you?

Once your institution meets the compliance standards, you have to do the following:

  • Disclose to your institution all significant financial interests related to your institutional responsibilities, even if not necessarily affected by NIH funding.
  • Take formal training on the regulations and your institution’s financial conflict of interest policy.

Though you don't have to disclose investments managed independently by third parties (for example, mutual funds), you have lower thresholds for what is considered a significant financial interest as well as new rules for subawards.

One thing hasn't changed: your institution is still responsible for enforcing the rules—and under the new regulations, it has to include more information when it reports conflicts to NIAID. To learn more, go to the Financial Conflicts of Interest for Awardees SOP.

Every applicant and grantee must comply with the new rules by August 24, 2012. Until your institution comes into compliance, prepare for the new requirements but continue to follow the current rules, also known as the "1995 rules."

Contact your business office and get more information on NIH's Financial Conflict of Interest page.

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News Briefs

Hit Hard by the East Coast Earthquake or Hurricane? You Can Apply Late. If the recent east coast earthquake or Hurricane Irene kept you from applying on time, you may submit your application late. Learn more in our Late Applications SOP and read the the August 25, 2011, Guide notice.

NIH Allows Late Applications for Floods, Fires Too. The late application policy is also in effect for those of you who couldn't apply due to widespread flooding and wildfires. Read the September 9, 2011, Guide notice and go to our Late Applications SOP.

Header: Advice Corner.

How to Get Funding for Innovative Research

Although innovation is a review criterion, some people have told us how hard it is to succeed in peer review when proposing highly innovative research.

Reviewers tend to be conservative. Especially in times of tight budgets and tough competition, they often go with projects that have more preliminary data and entail less risk.

While understandable, that tendency can stymie innovation as reviewers shy away from highly innovative, more risky research.

Here's an approach we think may help.

Let’s start by noting that your reviewers are the most important audience for your application, so you can’t ignore their perspective.

When choosing a topic for your application, don’t start with an innovative idea they are unlikely to appreciate.

Instead, propose work they will view as important, which is critical for your success (we tell you more about that subject below in “Getting Your Reviewers Onboard”).

At this point, you are regarding your application as your means to getting funded, your primary objective. While you can’t conduct research without funding, what about that innovative idea?

What Is a Grant?

The answer to that question holds the key. As an assistance mechanism, a grant gives you funds to launch your research. But a grant is not a prescription that needs to be followed precisely throughout its entire life.

Unlike a contract that spells out definite requirements in detail, a grant gives you leeway to follow new leads as they arise—to be the “scientist in the sandbox.”

While completing your aims is a good way to show productivity for your next application, your research can also include work that follows new, innovative leads, especially if they hold promise to contribute new knowledge to your field.

Getting to Innovation

Think of your aims as the core of your research from which new leads may follow.

Once you secure funding, you will begin to work on your proposed aims, knowing that you can take your research in new directions as long as your project stays within the scope of its peer-reviewed aims.

If you do have to expand the scope, you can talk to your program officer about the possibility of applying for a revision, or you may want to consider applying for a new grant.

Read more in links below and talk with your grants management specialist and program officer for additional help.

Getting Your Reviewers Onboard

As with any object, beauty is in the eye of the beholder: first and foremost, your reviewers will need to share your perspective that the topic you chose is vital to your field. They will also have to agree that you can successfully complete the research you propose.

The repercussions of not having the right reviewers are huge, e.g., they may not see the field as having other priorities (you chose the wrong project) or believe that the research you proposed is too innovative.

Thus, it's critical to make sure at the outset—before choosing a project—that NIH has a review committee that would embrace the direction in which you are planning to take the research you describe in your application.

We suggest that you not proceed before taking time to analyze the Center for Scientific Review's review committees and find one that would appreciate the work you are planning to propose.

Learning the perspectives of different review committees and their members is well worth your time first to guide you in choosing a project and later for writing the application. It’s much more efficient to do this before you pick a project than to learn you made the wrong choice after the review.

Related Links

Header: 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 I apply for an R33 when my R21 award expires?"—Reza Davoodi-Semiromi, University of Florida

No. We fund R33s only as part of an R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award, which is distinct from an R21.

The R21/R33 is a single, phased award under which you start with an R21 award and then transition to the R33 phase once you meet certain milestones. However, you must apply for a funding opportunity that uses the R21/R33 activity code.

Learn about the R21/R33 in our R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award SOP.

"Can a researcher continue working on my grant if he has an H-1 visa that is about to expire and he has applied for an extension?"—anonymous reader

Contact your grants management specialist for approval. Though this is not allowed on training grants, for other types of grants you can usually keep your researchers while the Department of Labor processes the visa renewal.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated September 30, 2011

Last Reviewed August 22, 2011