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March 30, 2011

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Other News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Stay on Top of Your Application Even After You Apply

This is the eighteenth article in our New Investigator Series.

In the last few articles, we delved into writing your application and applying. Here we draw your attention to what you can do after you apply to improve your chances of getting funded.

Summary

  • Check that Center for Scientific Review assigns your application to the right institute and a study section with the expertise noted in your application's cover letter.
  • Know what to do if you're not happy with CSR's assignment.
  • Stay on top of the science even after you apply.
  • You may be able to send late information, for example, for an unforeseen event or an article accepted for publication.
  • Consider withdrawing if you notice a major substantive error in the application or a late-breaking discovery that has a significant impact on your research.
  • Keep in touch with your program officer.

It could be months before your application gets peer reviewed.

You crafted your application, it sailed through validations, and you confirmed that everything landed in the Commons and looks just how you want it to. Think it's time to sit back and relax?

Think again—your work isn't finished.

It could be months before your application gets peer reviewed. Many issues can crop up, so be aware of changing circumstances and what options you have to respond.

This article gives you advice on what to do after you apply and before your application goes to Council. While we do not delve into the nuances of peer review, you should be familiar with what happens when your application goes through this critical step—check out our resources at Related Links.

As in baseball, situational awareness is key to your success at this point in the application process.

Cover Your Bases

Before you read this article, note the advice we've covered in earlier issues of the New Investigator Series:

  • Apply early so you have time to fix errors before the submission deadline. The considerations in this article take place after the receipt date has passed.
  • When you apply, include a cover letter that specifies what expertise is necessary to understand and review your application. You should also request an institute and study section.
  • Communicate in writing—letter or email with return receipt—to everybody you talk to at NIH.
    • If you have a phone call or in-person conversation, summarize what you discussed in a note or email to that person.
    • Keep correspondence organized to establish a paper trail that you can refer to if you need to clarify or revisit something someone has told you.

Go Over Your Scouting Report

CSR usually has more than one study section with the expertise you need and sometimes creates ad hoc groups to fill in gaps.

Top hitters don't rely solely on sturdy bats and steady hands. They study their opponents and teammates, anticipate events, and respond accordingly. So should you.

If you've been following our advice, you know the importance of getting a study section that can appreciate and fairly evaluate your application. Take one last opportunity to make sure you and CSR got it right. Log in to eRA Commons to check that your application is assigned to a study section with the expertise you requested in your cover letter.

At first you might not see your study section assignment. Instead, the Commons may show the integrated review group, an umbrella organization for several review panels. This information is updated within a few days, when your application is assigned to the study section that actually performs the initial peer review.

If you don't see your study section assignment within two weeks, call the NIH Referral Office at 301-435-0715.

If you requested a study section, don't necessarily worry if you get a different one. You may still be in good shape—CSR usually has more than one study section with the expertise you need and sometimes creates ad hoc groups to fill in gaps.

Know Your Teammates

Regardless of the study section your application is assigned to, review (or re-review) the roster from the most recent meeting.

Regardless of the study section your application is assigned to, review (or re-review) the roster from the most recent meeting.

Keep in mind that rosters change from one review cycle to the next, and you won't know exactly who's on the panel until CSR posts updated rosters about 30 days before your review date.

Still, you can assess whether the scientific focus of the assigned study section is in sync with your application.

You may want to contact your scientific review officer to discuss whether roster changes have removed the expertise necessary for your application to get a proper review. If your application fits with others that require expertise beyond CSR's standing committees, scientific review staff can create a special emphasis panel just for that review cycle.

Assess Your Opposition

Also let your scientific review officer know as soon as possible if you see a reviewer who cannot give your application an impartial review.

This is not to say you should categorically avoid competitors. If you can trust them to stay objective, they may actually help you since they already know your field and appreciate the significance of your research.

Checkpoint. If CSR does not assign a study section with the right expertise, make sure:
  1. I check the CSR Study Section Roster Index to find an alternative study section.
  2. I discuss the alternative with the chief of the integrated review group for my assigned study section. The IRG chief has a bird's eye view and can evaluate alternative assignments.
    • I can find this person and get his or her contact information on CSR's Office of the Director staff list.
    • I ask my scientific review officer for this person's information if I cannot find it on CSR's Web site.
  3. I fax a letter to CSR at 301-480-1987 stating the rationale for the change. Here is an example of an acceptable and an unacceptable request:
    • Acceptable: "The focus of study section X seems to be more on the structural biology of molecules of immunologic importance. Since my application proposes to develop new antibodies for Phase I human studies, the clinical perspective of reviewers on study section Y is critical to appreciate the approaches I have taken."
    • Not acceptable: "I don't want X reviewers but want Y instead."
  4. If this action does not resolve the problem, I dispute the assignment with CSR's director of receipt and referral. Call 301-435-0715.
  5. I inform my program officer about the situation.

Check Institute Assignment

If you didn't get the right assignment or you think you chose the wrong institute, check in with the program officer.

Did you request assignment to an institute?

If you didn't get the right assignment or you think you chose the wrong institute, check in with the program officer. Your application stands the best chance of getting funded if it goes to an institute that considers the research high-priority, and program officers are the best people to make that assessment.

To ask for reassignment, follow the same rules as above but tailor the letter for change of institute, not study section.

Withdrawing Is An Option

Stay on top of the science, take another look at your application, and consider whether you could make substantial improvements.

Unlike baseball, you get only two strikes (a new application and, if necessary, one resubmission) before you're out (required to design a new project). Factor this prospect into your strategy and think about whether to check your swing and wait for a better pitch.

If you have doubts about whether your application is the best it can be, carefully assess whether you should withdraw and apply for a later receipt date.

Here's our advice.

Once your application makes it into the Commons with the review group that has the expertise you need, you have only until the review meeting to withdraw without your submission counting against your resubmission limit. During that time, stay on top of the science, take another look at your application, and consider whether you could make substantial improvements.

As a general rule, if you see a major error—regardless of whether it's in your data, science, or application—withdraw as soon as you can.

Even if your application is in good shape, consider:

  • Is there a paper gaining traction that could undermine your research?
  • Is there a problem with your methods?
  • Did you see or think of something that could have a substantial impact on your project—e.g., a late-breaking finding?

You may even want to enlist friends and colleagues to take another look, particularly if they didn't work with you on your application. They may see new things.

Keep tabs on developments that can improve your chances of success. Do you see new trends that elevate the significance of your work? A discovery that could bolster your application?

Ponder whether you could use this information to build a dramatically stronger application for a later receipt date. You want to do everything you can to convince reviewers your work is significant, high-impact, and able to drive knowledge in your field to a higher level. Don't assume reviewers will know or fully appreciate information not in your application.

If you're concerned that withdrawing will delay your award, remember that if your application fares poorly in peer review, you'll need to resubmit for a later date anyway—except then you'll have only one more opportunity to get funded.

Moreover, submitting for a later date may not have a major impact on when you receive your award. For more on that, read our advice at "A Long Hard Look at Application Timing" in our New Investigator Series.

Be Judicious With Late Information

Think low quantity, high impact.

A great pitcher knows one big adjustment usually improves performance more than a tweak of the cap or another small change.

Carry this principle with you if you think you can improve your application by providing extra information after you apply. Think low quantity, high impact. For example:

  • Add a top-notch collaborator.
  • Gain access to an important piece of equipment.
  • Have an article accepted for publication.

If you're not sure, contact your scientific review officer.

Checkpoint. Before the review date, check that:

  1. My methods and data are sound.
  2. I continually review scientific literature for major developments that could affect my application.
  3. I look for new information that would substantially improve my application's chances of getting funded.
  4. I know the kinds of supplemental materials I can submit.
  5. I send late information only if it drastically changes my application, keeping in mind the following:
    • NIH prohibits information that could be used to circumvent page limits and limits late materials for investigator-initiated applications to mostly non-scientific items.
    • Institutional business officials must sign off on all submissions of late information.
    • Scientific review officers do not have to accept anything I send.
  6. If I decide to send additional information, I get it to my scientific review officer at least 30 days before the review meeting. Otherwise, it won't count.
  7. If I want to withdraw, I do it before the review meeting so it does not count against my submission limit.

Appeal Only If You Must

Where you may view a lack of expertise or error, NIH may see a difference of scientific opinion, which is not appealable.

After your application gets its initial peer review, you get your summary statement and overall impact score. Though you cannot argue balls and strikes or change the results, you do have an opportunity to request a re-review for the following reasons:

  • Reviewer bias.
  • Lack of appropriate expertise on the committee.
  • Factual error that alters the outcome of review.
  • Reviewer conflict of interest.

These situations are rare but you should call your program officer to discuss whether to file a protest. Do this as soon as possible—if there's time, he or she may be able to get your application reviewed by another committee for the same review round.

Beware though. Where you may view a lack of expertise or error, NIH may see a difference of scientific opinion, which is not appealable.

If your protest fails, you can enter a formal appeals process that involves NIAID's advisory Council. This is a long journey with a small chance of success, and in the end you'll have to wait at least another review cycle for your application to get reviewed again.

Regardless of whether you appeal, you need to assess whether to revise and resubmit. Contact your program officer to discuss your situation.

Keep in Touch with Your Program Officer

Program officers are your main point of contact during your application's next stage, second-level review.

Think of program officers like sports agents—they can advocate for you though they don't decide whether you make the team. They're also your main point of contact during your application's next stage, second-level review.

Checkpoint. After the peer review meeting, check that:

  1. I talk to my program officer about my probability of getting funded.
  2. I get feedback that may not have been captured in the summary statement.
  3. I ask about my options if my application falls close to but beyond the payline.
  4. I have written records of my correspondences and conversations.

If your program officer indicates that your application stands a chance of getting funded, work up your just-in-time information but don't send it until we ask your institution. For applications that fall within NIAID's payline and have no special concerns or unresolved appeals, you may even get funded before our Council meeting under expedited review.

If your application doesn't stand a good chance of getting funded—or if it's not discussed—begin plotting your next steps.

We'll have advice on those topics in future articles of our New Investigator Series.

Related Links

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NIAID Town Hall Meeting Covers New Non-HIV Leadership Group

The leadership group will not focus on all non-HIV infectious diseases.

At a town hall meeting on March 7, we invited our research community to weigh in on how to best form a new leadership group in our NIAID clinical trials networks that will primarily focus on bacterial antimicrobial resistance. 

This event marked the second public meeting we have hosted on restructuring the HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks to extend our existing research infrastructure and build capacity for infectious diseases other than HIV/AIDS. 

The non-HIV community was unfamiliar with the term “leadership group,” so senior staff clarified the definition, function, and structure of this type of group. Questions were also raised about the feasibility of addressing so many non-HIV infectious diseases (more than 290 pathogens) with one leadership group.

Major messages from the meeting:

  • Staff stressed that the leadership group will not focus on all non-HIV infectious diseases. One public health concern -- bacterial antimicrobial resistance—will be the primary focus, but the group could also address emerging infectious diseases in the case of a public health emergency. 
  • Clinical efforts by NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases have totaled $240 million a year in the last five years, supporting 770 clinical projects. DMID staff emphasized that the community still has many clinical research avenues left for exploring a wide range of infectious diseases.
  • Budget constraints mean that we cannot build a separate network from scratch at this time. NIAID intends to provide up to $15 to $20 million a year of non-HIV funds to support the network activities.

DMID and our Division of AIDS are working together to determine how best to implement this bacterial antimicrobial resistance-focused network.  DMID is also exploring ways for members of its infectious disease community to communicate as the leadership group is formed.

During the town hall meeting, staff also briefly discussed the processes and timelines for all leadership group RFAs, both non-HIV and HIV/AIDS.  NIAID expects to release the RFAs in January 2012, with expected receipt dates in October 2012 and review in spring 2013. A clinical trials unit RFA will follow six to twelve months later.

We will be using a new mechanism in these RFAs—UM1, a type of cooperative agreement that is designed for a complex, large-scale, single project that has multiple components. NIAID will allow multiple PIs.

If you could not attend the town hall meeting, you can browse presentations from this meeting and the previous one on our NIAID Town Hall Meetings page and keep up with the latest news at Restructuring the NIAID Clinical Trials Networks.

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Looking to Develop a Candidate Product for Biodefense? Partner Up

Join the effort to develop medical countermeasures for NIAID priority pathogens—apply for a biodefense partnership grant. You can get up to $750,000 per year, plus an extra $300,000 for biohazard containment equipment in the first year of award.

The basics:

  • Design a project focused on preclinical development of lead candidate vaccines, vaccine technologies, adjuvants, therapeutics, immunotherapeutics, or medical diagnostics that address one or more NIAID Category A, B, or C priority pathogens and toxins.
  • Have a pharmaceutical, biotechnology, bioengineering, or chemical company make a significant commitment, for example, product development support, materials and reagents, or data management resources.

Read details and instructions, including a more thorough list of acceptable types of industry contributions, in the Partnerships for Biodefense (R01) funding opportunity announcement.

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On NIAID's "Omics" Menu: Genomic Sequencing Services

This is another in our series of articles highlighting resources for researchers from NIAID’s Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID).

You can get services at no charge from an NIAID Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases.

When you want sequencing or high throughput microbial and human genotyping services, take a look at how NIAID's genomic sequencing centers can advance your research on any of the following topics:

  • NIAID Category A-C priority pathogens and related organisms
  • Clinical isolates
  • Invertebrate vectors
  • Microorganisms responsible for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and their hosts
  • Human microbiome

Whether you are an investigator in academia, government, industry, or a not-for-profit organization anywhere in the world, you can get services at no charge from an NIAID Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases run by the J. Craig Venter Institute, Broad Institute, or Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland.

Investigators at these world-class sequencing centers will help you prepare a White Paper you'll need to send for NIAID's approval to participate.

Go to the Genome Sequencing Centers site for details on the application processes, assurances to users, requirements for data and reagent sharing and release plans, and more. Then contact Dr. Maria Giovanni to patch into this opportunity.

For more on NIAID's other Omics resources, visit Omics Research Tools and Technologies and contact Dr. Malu Polanski to discuss tapping their potential.

Header: Other News.

Kudos on Blog-Os, Revamping the Newsletter

Beginning with this issue of NIAID Funding Newsletter, we're publishing all our content in this space, with a few articles also posted as blogs.

Two notes about our newsletter and blog.

You Like Us, You Really Do

Thanks to you and your colleagues, NIAID Funding Blog has seen the most traffic during the month of March among all the blogs run by Apps.Gov, the U.S. Government's in-house supplier of cloud computing applications.

Our number of monthly unique visitors has more than doubled since we began blogging last November.

Full Blog Posts Are Going Into the Newsletter

Though our data tells us you're reading our blog, we expected to see more comments. So we took inventory of the topics that seemed to get the most attention and decided to modify our approach.

Beginning with this issue of NIAID Funding Newsletter, we're publishing all our content in this space, with a few articles also posted as blogs—primarily information that we think will generate discussion among the community, plus an occasional news or advice piece. We'll tell you at the beginning of each article if it is also posted as a blog so you can read and share comments.

This change will let you see everything on a single Web page and start or join a conversation on selected topics. Let us know what you think—email deaweb@niaid.nih.gov.

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New Site Gives Unfunded Applications Another Shot at Funding

Note: The Health Research Funding site closed in November 2012.

Feeling dejected because your research project was rejected (i.e., not funded)? Cheer up, all may not be lost.

A week before Valentine’s Day, the National Health Council (NHC) launched an online “matchmaker” to connect unfunded NIH applications with alternative funding sources.

Through the Health Research Funding Web site, any researcher whose project was scored but not funded can post their abstract and contact information for free. Using these details, registered organizations can search for and find projects that appeal to them.

For now, the site houses profiles of over 40 patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association. It will eventually grow to include companies and private investors.

To learn more about the site, which was created with NIH’s input, read NHC’s Frequently Asked Questions.

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If You Mean “Business,” Remember to SHIFT

We’d hate for you to miss out on a great opportunity, so here’s a reminder about the SHIFT Award: Small Businesses Helping Investigators to Fuel the Translation of Scientific Discoveries. If your research is product-oriented and you want to work for a business, it’s worth a look.

Introduced about a year ago, SHIFT puts product development into high gear by bringing together companies and academic investigators. For more background, read our March 17, 2010, article “Looking to SHIFT Your Career to Business?

If you’re interested, learn how to get started at SHIFT Connector: Bringing Business Jobs to Academic Investigators.

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Summary Statements: Bigger, Better

Ask and you shall receive. Case in point: more informative summary statements, as we announced in our August 18, 2010, article "Meatier Summary Statements in the Works."

People were hungry for more details about why they got the score they did, so NIH added the Overall Impact paragraph. Assigned reviewers use this section to summarize their reasons for the overall impact score.

This additional feedback can be helpful, especially if your application doesn't fare well. You may be able to better glean what needs to be improved, emphasized, or downplayed—factors that could sway you on whether to resubmit or submit a new application. For more on making that choice, read Part 6. If Not Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Note that applications reviewed before last fall—like our Sample R01 Applications and Summary Statements—do not have this paragraph.

To learn more about overall impact and summary statements, go to the following pages in the Strategy for NIH Funding:

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Don't Miss NIH's SBIR/STTR Conference

Come down to NIH's Bethesda campus on June 22 and 23, 2011, to learn about small business awards for research and development.

You can meet SBIR and STTR veterans, participate in business development and commercialization workshops, and get the scoop on NIH technology transfer licensing opportunities.

To learn more about the conference, go to NIH's 13th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference.

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Highlights From Council

Here are some goings-on from NIAID-funded researchers for those who didn't hear Dr. Fauci's presentation at the February 7, 2011, NIAID advisory Council meeting.

  • Leading The Lancet. Of the journal's best papers for 2010, three of the six finalists were supported by NIAID.
  • Time to PrEP. Time magazine ranked as its number one medical breakthrough of 2010 the finding that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective tool for preventing the spread of HIV among men who have sex with men.
  • Gellin'. Research proved Tenofovir gel, an antiretroviral microbicide, is a safe and effective way to prevent HIV infection in women.
  • Children are the flu-ture. A study showed vaccinating children reduced flu infection rates among all Hutterites, members of a group of small, close-knit Canadian communities.
  • ITN is still going strong. The Immune Tolerance Network celebrated its tenth anniversary of developing and evaluating tolerance-inducing therapies for immune-mediated diseases and transplant rejection.
  • One step closer to eradicating malaria. PLoS Medicine published a collection of reviews and proposals from the malaria Eradication Research Agenda, a collaboration for new research into malaria eradication.

Another major accomplishment to share: leaders from NIAID's Division of AIDS worked with NIH's Office of AIDS Research and other federal partners to complete a comprehensive strategy to guide the White House on how to tackle the domestic HIV epidemic. For more on that, go to National HIV-AIDS Strategy on the Office of National AIDS Policy Web site.

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News Briefs

Here's our take on some recent Guide notices.

RFI on Bioethics: Your Turn to Speak Up. Take a moment to respond to a request for information on human subjects policies, issued by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The commission wants to answer a big question: do federal and international rules adequately protect participants in scientific studies?

Use the RFI to describe specific issues you deal with as you conduct your research, reflect on potential changes in policy, and even criticize the state of current affairs. Comments must be received by May 2, 2011. For instructions and details, read the March 2, 2011, Federal Register notice and learn more at Bioethics.gov.

More Time to Comment on Animal Care Rules. Missed your chance to comment on proposed changes to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals? NIH extended the comment period to April 24, 2011. See the March 18, 2011, Guide notice.

Affected by Events in NZ and Japan? Applying Late Is OK. If the recent disasters in Japan and New Zealand kept you from submitting your application, you may submit it late. Get details in the March 18, 2011, Guide notice.

NIH Plans to End Class B Dogs in Research. Due to concerns about the treatment of dogs purchased from USDA Class B dealers, NIH created a pilot program to test whether researchers can effectively conduct research using only non-Class B dealers.

The ultimate goal: prohibit institutions from using NIH funds to purchase dogs from Class B dealers by 2015. Regardless of the program's results, institutions should identify and acquire dogs from other sources, e.g., USDA Class A dealers. We have no word on rules about cats. Find out more in the March 18, 2011, Guide notice.

Header: Advice Corner.

Searching for a Career Transition Award? K22 Might Be Your Best Bet

Though the decision is completely up to you, we make a case here for the K22 because of two key factors: success rate and funding amount.

Postdocs, are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident looking to move to an independent research position? You have two "transition" grants that can help you do just that: the NIAID Research Scholar Development Award (K22) and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). The question is, which one to apply for?

Though the decision is completely up to you, we make a case here for the K22. Here's why we tip the balance in its favor, looking at two key factors: success rate and funding amount.

Chances of Success

Like other applicants, you probably want to know the likelihood of your getting funded. For the K22, your chances are pretty good since success rates have averaged about 38 percent from FY 2001 to FY 2010. Last fiscal year, the success rate was 31 percent while that for the K99 was 14 percent.

And, in case you're curious, NIAID funds about 20 to 25 K22s a year and only six K99s.

For more data, go to Career Development Awards: Applications, Awards, Success Rates, and Funding on NIH's RePORT Web site.

Let's Talk Money

Along with how successful you might be, you no doubt want to know how much money you can receive. Let's crunch the numbers.

The two-year K22 offers $150,000 in the first year and $100,000 in the second year. Since these figures are for direct costs, additional funds for your organization's facilities and administrative costs will be awarded at an 8 percent rate.

As for the K99/R00, NIAID supports only three years—one year for the K99 and two for the R00—instead of the five years that other NIH institutes support. With that in mind, here's how funding pans out.

Note that the amounts are for total costs, which include your organization's F&A costs. The indirect cost rate varies greatly among institutions.

  • $90,000 in year 1 (the K99 mentored phase).
  • $249,000 annually for the R00 independent phase.

Should you choose the K99/R00, request assignment to NIAID in your cover letter.

Final Details, Finding Help

If your research fits our mission and you opt for the K22, make sure you apply using the NIAID Research Scholar Development Award (K22) program announcement. Should you choose the K99/R00, request assignment to NIAID in your cover letter.

For further help about either award, contact our Office of Special Populations and Research Training at AITraininghelpdesk@niaid.nih.gov.

Find links to more information on Ks at our Career Development Awards (K) portal.

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Ins and Outs of Requesting a Study Section

Summary

  • It's important to include an application cover letter that requests study section assignments.
  • Usually CSR referral staff honor your request, but not always.
  • Whether or not you request assignment to a study section, you should list the expertise needed to review the application in your cover letter.
  • Before peer review, you may dispute a study section assignment.
  • If your application fares poorly, you may appeal after the review for flaws in the process, including the study section assignment—although NIH may not necessarily agree.
  • You're much better off resolving problems before the review.

Spending a few hours researching study sections to find the best match for your application is a small cost—even if there is a chance your request will be denied.

Our best advice: write a cover letter for your application that requests assignment to a study section and institute. In this article we focus on requesting a study section in the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to review your application.

Usually CSR referral staff honor your request, but be aware that they don't have to.

They sometimes make a different assignment based on NIH referral guidelines, too many conflicts of interest among study section members, or workload. Or they may receive an application too late to refer it to a standing study section, e.g., an application from a PI eligible for continuous submission.

So if there's a chance that your request may not come to pass, is it worth doing? We think so.

Considering all the time you put into writing your application, spending a few hours researching study sections to find the best match for your application is a small cost—even if there is a chance your request will be denied.

Whether or not you request assignment to a study section, you should list the expertise needed to review your application in your cover letter to help CSR get your request to the right place.

Choose carefully—if CSR goes with your choice, you will have to live with it. If you're finding it hard to decide, talk to your program or scientific review officer for help.

After you apply, be sure to keep checking for your assignment in the Commons so you can act right away if you do not get the assignment you asked for.

Disputing assignment before review. If you don't like your study section assignment, you can dispute it—follow these steps:

  • Contact your scientific review officer right away—well before the peer review—if you see a problem, for example, the group lacks the necessary expertise.
  • Look at the CSR Study Section Roster Index to find an alternative.
  • Discuss the alternative with the chief of the integrated review group for your assigned study section. Get this person's contact information from your scientific review officer.
  • Fax a letter to CSR at 301-480-1987 stating the rationale for the change. Here is an example of an acceptable and an unacceptable request:

    Acceptable: "The focus of study section X seems to be more on the structural biology of molecules of immunologic importance. Since my application proposes to develop new antibodies for Phase I human studies, the clinical perspective of reviewers on study section Y is critical to appreciate the approaches I have taken."

    Not acceptable: "I don't want study section X due to lack of expertise Z."

  • If this action does not resolve the problem, you take your dispute to CSR's director of receipt and referral. Call 301-435-0715.
  • Also talk to your program officer about the situation.
  • After you apply, be sure to contact the SRO immediately if you have concerns.

Appealing after review. You have an option to appeal the peer review results. If the study section did not have the expertise required for an effective review, you may have grounds for an appeal.

But keep in mind that where a PI may view a lack of expertise, NIH may see a difference of scientific opinion, which is not appealable.

Always talk to your program officer to get advice and start the process, and read our Appeals of Scientific Review of Grant Applications SOP for more information.

More from our New Investigator Series articles:

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When In Doubt About Application Information, Go With the Guide

Apply the following principle any time you see a discrepancy between a funding opportunity announcement (as published in the Guide, not elsewhere) and any other reference:

Go with the Guide notice—it always take precedence over instructions in the SF 424 or PHS 398.

It's also your only source for submission deadlines. So if you see an RFA receipt date that differs from that of the parent program announcement of the same activity code, don't stress—just go with the Guide notice.

If you have questions about the announcement, get in touch with its program contact.

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.

"Does NIAID offer SBIR Phase II competing renewal grants?"—Cari Green, Novan, Inc.

Yes, NIAID offers phase II competing renewal applications for grants up to three years and a budget not exceeding a total cost of $1 million per year.

See the NIAID-AT-SBIR program announcement for details. Also view our Advice Presentations for SBIR and STTR, and read our Small Business Awards page for the latest information.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated October 04, 2011

Last Reviewed March 30, 2011