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October 12, 2011

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Other News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Fiscal Year 2012 Begins With Temporary Funding, Uncertainty

NIAID starts the new fiscal year under a continuing resolution that funds us at a prorated rate of 1.5 percent below our FY 2011 funding level through November 18.

Until we have a final FY 2012 budget, we have to put off some important decisions, namely non-interim paylines and some program set-asides.

Interim Paylines Are Coming Slowly

In the meantime, we are funding R01s up to an interim payline of 8 percentile, with more interim paylines expected in the coming months.

Are you wondering why you didn't receive an email alert about the payline? We do not send email alerts for interim paylines—only official ones. Learn more in the September 28, 2011, NIAID Funding Newsletter article "Breaking News! New R01 Interim Payline."

As soon as we receive our true paylines and financial management plan, we will send you alerts. To sign up, go to Subscribe to Email Alerts.

Why the Uncertainty?

The FY 2012 budget depends in large part on the outcome of a federal deficit reduction package passed in August.

Designed to cut at least $2.1 trillion from the U.S. government's budget over a 10-year period, the legislation contains broad, automatic spending cuts if Congress and the president do not meet certain legislative milestones.

Whether they meet those milestones or not, we will not know the effect on NIAID until after their work is done.

We expect to have a better handle on the situation by December at the earliest, and will keep you informed in this newsletter.

Until then, continue checking the Paylines and Funding portal for new information on paylines, the financial management plan, and other budget-related items.

For general information on how we establish budgets and paylines, read Paylines and Budget Pages Change Throughout the Year.

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Have an Uber-Innovative Project? Transformative RFA Could Be for You

It's not very often that you see a funding opportunity announcement for exceptionally innovative and paradigm-shifting research.

Reason enough not to miss the NIH Director's Transformative Research Awards (R01). These awards seek the extraordinary: bold, groundbreaking, unconventional, high-impact projects.

"Transformative" being the key word, worthy contenders must have the potential to either 1) create or overturn fundamental scientific paradigms through new and novel approaches or 2) generate major improvements in health through highly innovative therapies, diagnostic tools, or preventive strategies.

With that in mind, reviewers will focus on the innovation and significance sections of your application, so make them shine. Don't worry about preliminary data since none is expected.

To ensure that you address and include all you need to, read the Grant Application Guide and check the announcement for opportunity-specific instructions that affect the Research Strategy and other components.

The deadline for optional letters of intent is December 12, 2011, with applications due a month later.

For more information, read the September 21, 2011, Guide notice and go to NIH Director's Transformative Research Award Program.

Header: Other News.

Success Rates Show Parity For New PIs vs. Established Investigators

Here's some good news for new PIs: even though FY 2011 success rates are lower than the year before, we successfully met our goal for new PI funding.

New PI success rates came out almost even with those of established investigators, with both near 15 percent (we'll have more precise data later this year, after NIH makes the data official).

That level means a greater proportion of new PIs are getting R01s than ever before.

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Applications Increase in FY 2012

Expect a decline in success rates for FY 2012.

Through the first two review cycles, we received 17 percent more R01 applications than we did at this time in FY 2011, so we anticipate funding will be more competitive.

This prospect may seem daunting, but it does not mean we are funding fewer awards. We're simply getting more applications this year, and as more applicants chase the same number of awards, the proportion that succeed goes down.

For more details, read Success Rates Indicate Funding Levels in our Strategy for NIH Funding.

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Note New Terms of Award for Select Agents Research

We added new terms of award for select agents research. Here are the additions in a nutshell:

  • If you're an investigator at a domestic institution, you need approval from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to conduct restricted experiments (if you don't know what this term means, see the Look It Up panel on the right side of this page).
  • If you're an investigator at a foreign institution, you need our approval to conduct restricted experiments.
  • If any of your research is conducted at a foreign institution, that institution must agree to allow our staff to visit any laboratory or facility that uses or stores NIAID-funded select agents or toxins.

A rule of thumb for anybody conducting select agents research: if you plan to conduct a restricted experiment, tell your program officer when you get approval.

Go to Select Agent Terms of Award for NIAID Grants for the full terms, and visit our Biodefense and Select Agents portal for more about conducting research on select agents and pathogens.

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News Briefs

Here's a wrap-up of some news from the NIH Guide.

New FCOI FAQs. NIH published Frequently Asked Questions to explain financial conflicts of interest policy. We gave you an overview of the new rules in "Get the Scoop on Changes to Financial Conflicts of Interest Rules" in the September 14, 2011, NIAID Funding Newsletter.

Attend IACUC Workshop, Conference. Join NIH for a workshop on institutional animal care and use committees on October 26, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, followed by a conference on October 27 and 28. Read the September 21, 2011, Guide notice for details.

Header: Advice Corner.

How Select Are Select Pay Grants?

Some R01 applications that rank close to but beyond the payline are funded from a special pot of money through a process called select—or selective—pay.

At NIAID, we have used select pay for many years to fund high-quality applications that are needed to programmatically balance our scientific portfolios.

In today's era of tight budgets, it's particularly critical that we fund the best science in the most essential areas.

Below we give you data showing that select pay applications compare favorably to those funded within the payline, underscoring the effectiveness of our process and fairness of our decision-making.

Are They On Par?

To answer that question, we compared R01 grants awarded between FY 2001 and FY 2004 that ranked within the payline (WP) with those funded through select pay (SP).

Our data show that select pay applicants were roughly as productive, published in journals that are about as important, and were cited pretty much as often as those with applications that ranked within the payline.

Here's how we conducted the study.

To measure productivity, we analyzed the number of publications from 2,104 applications that ranked within the payline (the WP cohort) and from 122 select pay applications (the SP cohort) shown in Figure 1.

For each indictor, we show only the middle 80 percent of the distribution (we removed the top and bottom 10 percent to make the figures easier to read). The horizontal line within each box represents the median.

Numbers for total publications, impact factor, and citations were 16,389, 102,786 and 196,117, respectively, for the WP cohort, and 860, 5,407 and 11,158 for the SP cohort.

Each indicator was scored for six years; for example, grants issued in FY 2002 were scored from FY 2002 to FY 2007.

Figure 1. Number of Publications From the Grant

Graph. WP median=6, SP median=6. See neighboring text in article for more detail.

Figure 2 gives you the total impact factor—the average number of citations per paper published in the journal during the past two years—for all the journals that published papers resulting from these cohorts.

Figure 2. Journal Impact Factor

Graph. WP median=35, SP median=34. See neighboring text in article for more detail.

In Figure 3, we show the number of citations to articles that these grants produce, which together with the journal's importance, signals the article's quality.

Figure 3. Number of Citations to Articles From the Grant

Graph. WP median=45, SP median=43. See neighboring text in article for more detail.

It's a Process

Select pay probably sounds like a great opportunity, so how do you apply? Trick question—you don't.

Here's how we carry out select pay.

  • Program officers, working with their management, nominate a list of selective pay applications, considering importance to our mission and scientific merit.
  • Our advisory Council then reviews the lists, may reorder it, and decides which applications to recommend for funding.
  • We award the grants for up to four years in priority order until we use up our select pay funds.

Keep in mind that even if your program officer nominates you, the odds of succeeding are long. In FY 2011, our financial management plan set aside enough money to fund only about 25 select pay awards.

If your application misses the payline, talk to your program officer about your options, and read more in the links below.

Related Links

From our Strategy for NIH Funding


Header: 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.

"Can a PI submit a competitive renewal for a grant that is already closed?"—Tess Paraggua, University of California, San Francisco

Yes. You can read more in No Time Limits . . . But in Part 7 of the Strategy for NIH Funding.

"Do you have a sample of the appendix attachment mentioned in PAR-10-184 under 'identification and qualifications of clinical trial site(s), pharmacies and laboratories?'"—Shama Samant, University of California, San Diego

No, we do not have an online sample. Get in touch with the appropriate program contact for your area of research—he or she may have advice for you on how to prepare that section.

We publish all our samples at Samples and Examples. If you don't find the sample you're looking for on that page, we do not have it, though we may have other resources to help you out.

"Do you have a list of restricted agents for rDNA research?"—anonymous reader

You can check Section V-L under Section V. Footnotes and References of Sections I through IV in the NIH Guidelines For Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules. NIAID does not keep a separate list.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

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Last Updated March 02, 2012

Last Reviewed October 05, 2011