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In the venerable martial art of "grant-fu," proactive attention makes you a tactical master.
It's all too easy to assume you can sit back and wait to be prompted when it's time to make your next move. While NIH does try to help you with thorough instructions and some automatic alerts, it's better to make sure you know what to do beforehand.
Read on for advice on proactive steps you can take to maximize success.
Seek Your Path
Before you even touch the application forms, check with your institution's business office to learn about the application process and confirm internal deadlines.
Then get your application to your business office well ahead of schedule so you will have time to get through Grants.gov and eRA Commons in case you need to make corrections.
Find Validation and Embrace Your Application's Image
Your business office submits your application, but view this end as merely another beginning: you will take several actions to make sure your application survives the gamut of validations and beyond.
Start by making sure your business official keeps an eye on Grants.gov to ensure your application passes that stage of the process.
After that, you can directly monitor your application's fate in the Commons Status module. (Though NIH sends automatic notification emails, they may be lost so it's safer to watch the Commons.)
Work with your business official quickly to address any issues; for on time submission, your application must pass both Grants.gov and Commons validation before 5:00 p.m. local time on the day of the deadline.
Even after your application passes validations, there's more you should do: check the application image to make sure your finished application pages appear correctly.
You should also watch the "Correspondence" section of the Commons for letters from the Center for Scientific Review. Again, NIH will send an email to alert you when a letter is added, but it's safest to watch the site instead of relying on email.
For a summary of submission-related action items and a timeline, see Timing for Submitting Your Application in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
Make sure you know what study section will review your application. Within 10 days after applying, log in to the eRA Commons to see the study section assignment. If you did not get the study section you requested, confirm that the one your application is assigned to is appropriate.
Then about 30 days before the review, the roster appears in the Commons. Check it to ensure that at least some reviewers have the expertise to properly review your application. If not, notify your scientific review officer.
In your cover letter, you should have named competitors whom you don't want reviewing your application, but it's still a good idea to check the roster. Discuss with the SRO if you fear they can't give your application an honest review.
For a summary of action items after validations and a timeline, see Timing for Assignment and Review in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
As soon as you receive your summary statement, check our paylines and contact your program officer.
He or she can help you evaluate the probability of funding and may also be able to give you some additional insight about the review discussion.
If your application misses the payline and its faults are fixable, start revising quickly even if there's a chance of funding later in the year. Or, come up with a new game plan for a fresh application.
And if funding seems certain, it's still not time to relax. You'll need to respond promptly when we request just-in-time information and any other administrative items.
Be Like Water
Even after you secure funding, remain vigilant and responsive throughout the grant management stage to stay on top of reporting requirements and meet all your terms of award.
And while you conduct research for that grant, always be on the lookout for new ideas and new opportunities. With a long-term strategy to stay funded and avoid gaps in funding, you may truly become a master of grant-fu.
We’ve created a new page to integrate our advice with our April 11 treatise New Sample R21s—Can They Help You?
That article gave you data on success factors for R21s, NIH's two-year grant that investigators use for high-risk exploratory research and other purposes.
Our new tool adds a side-by-side comparison of key differences between an R21 and an R01. Find it at Should You Apply for an R21? in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
U.S. and Indian scientists can partner on two-year human immunology research projects focused on infectious diseases thanks to a new collaborative program within the NIAID Human Immunology Project Consortium (HIPC).
Whether you advance an existing collaboration or forge a new one, your research has to use human samples to define immune phenotypes at baseline, in response to infection or vaccination, or both.
For a list of HIPC investigators to partner with, plus other requirements, details about funding, and application instructions, read the funding opportunity announcement U.S.-India Bilateral Collaborative Research Grants on Human Immune Phenotyping and Infectious Disease.
Make sure to include at least one HIPC Project Leader and one Indian Project Leader at a research institution in India. Applications are due November 1, 2012, from the HIPC principal investigator.
Here's a golden opportunity for anyone wanting to manage a research resource for human organs and tissues.
NIH reissued a request for applications for a resource that facilitates procuring, preserving, and distributing diseased and normal human tissues and organs to biomedical researchers.
To be a strong contender, you must have recognized expertise and knowledge of managing such a resource. For full details, including other criteria you must meet as well as what your application should include, read the June 13, 2012, Guide notice.
Applications are due October 23, 2012.
When reporting or updating information on financial conflicts of interest, your institution can now send everything through the eRA Commons.
Its newly-expanded Financial Conflict of Interest module accommodates all reporting elements mandated in the August 22, 2011, Guide notice, including revisions and mitigation plans.
Learn more about reporting requirements in the Financial Conflicts of Interest for Awardees SOP.
In today’s limited-funds climate, we are certainly mindful of funding applications in our high-priority areas and encourage you to review them for potential topics for an investigator-initiated application.
While high-priority areas represent important public health or scientific needs or opportunities, make sure any application you consider writing is also in your area of expertise. Competition can be intense, though, so always talk with your program officer for advice.
We’d like to cast a light on this high-priority small business area: the need for a rapid drug susceptibility testing platform for tuberculosis (TB).
The problem: worldwide drug-resistant TB. It accounts for five percent of the TB burden and the World Health Organization says the rates are rising.
To add to the concern, there is a type of drug resistance that doesn’t fall under the standard definitions of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR). It’s not well documented, but stands to have a significant impact on how effective TB treatment is at both individual and public health levels.
Further, the current systems for TB rapid drug susceptibility testing (DST) are either inadequate or cost prohibitive, evidenced by the lack of such systems in many TB-endemic countries.
Our goal: we are interested in applications focused on developing an affordably-priced, rapid DST platform that could be used at local facilities in TB-endemic countries.
The proposed DST system should provide rapid determination of whether the TB organism in a patient would be susceptible to an available drug.
For more information, contact Daniella Livnat and read the NIH SBIR and STTR Omnibus Solicitations for details on submitting an application.
Also review our other Small Business High-Priority Areas of Interest.
For help with writing your application, visit our Small Business Awards portal.
Feel free to send us a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
"May I take a no-cost extension on my R56-Bridge award?"—anonymous reader
Usually, yes. See our No-Cost Extension SOP for conditions and instructions.
"Can I increase the percent effort on my grant?"—DeLisa Fairweather, Johns Hopkins University
Yes, as long as you stay within the scope of your grant, you may increase your effort.
However, if any change might indicate a change in scope—for example, rebudgeting by more than 25 percent of the total costs of the award—you need to request prior approval from your grants management specialist. Read What Constitutes a Change in Scope? in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
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Last Updated July 18, 2012
Last Reviewed July 18, 2012