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August 15, 2012

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

It’s Never Too Soon to Think About Renewing

We posit two reasons you should keep your renewal in mind: it’s a critical transition point, and the earlier you get started planning, the better.

To stay afloat, you’ll need to explore your options and act in time, and that very well may be earlier than you think.

In this article, we want to convince you why you need to get engaged early and lay out your choices. That done, you'll be able to make the informed decisions that will help you plot your course to your next grant.

Assess your funding: at what point will you be in danger of running out of funds to maintain your research activities?

Timing Is (Almost but Not Quite) Everything

If you depend on one funding source, staying funded takes a strategy you must put in place well ahead of your grant’s end. Even if you have multiple grants, you can't afford to lose sight of the need to bring in income.

Keep funding on track by answering these questions:

  • How long will my funds last?
  • What award or awards can I apply for so I can continue my research?
  • When do I need to apply?

You’ll first assess your funding: at what point will you be in danger of running out of having sufficient funds and potentially lose people or even your entire lab?

Next, review potential funding sources and note application due dates. Then, calculate the maximum time it will take you to get your money so you will know when you need to start writing the application to avoid a funding gap.

For an NIH application, add enough time in case you need to resubmit, and see if there may be a funding delay based on the time in the fiscal year you plan to apply.

Should you need to resubmit and you apply at the beginning of the fiscal year, it could take over a year and a half to get an award.

Use the resources listed below for help with NIH timing information. (We'll explore this topic further in a subsequent article on staying funded.)

Whatever approach, your reviewers will judge the merits of your research and its relationship to your previous research and the impact made on your field.

Your Approach Counts Too

If you have an NIH grant, renewing it is a viable and popular option for continued funding, but it’s not always the right one.

To decide whether to apply with a renewal or new application, you will first need to assess your situation.

  • Renewal.  Do you wish to pursue the same broad goals as those in your previous application and take the logical next steps? If so, create a renewal application.
  • New application. Do you want to propose a new project with new goals? Even if you stay in the same field, create a new application.

It is usually advantageous to renew if you've made progress and want to continue your project.

A renewal signals to reviewers that you are an experienced investigator. Trying to do too much can be deadly, but they do expect a bit more ambition. Read more on when a new application might be more appropriate below under the header “Sometimes It's Best to Start Over.”

Whatever approach you choose, your reviewers will judge not only the merits of the research you propose but also its relationship to your previous research and the impact you've made on your field.

Your reviewers might have at least some knowledge of who you are and what you are doing and will evaluate your application in that light. However, don't rely on your reputation alone; provide sufficient information in the application.

If your research has gone well, they will likely give you an edge regardless of whether you submit a new or renewal application because you have a proven track record, and they know it takes time to build a successful research team.

And don't lose site of the fact that no matter which type of application you submit, it must build on your results and excite reviewers with its significance and potential for innovation.

When You Renew

If you have accomplished most of your Specific Aims, apply with a renewal as long as you plan to apply under the same activity code (e.g., R01).

  • Create new Specific Aims based on the results you obtained.
  • Consider giving the renewal application a new title if it would better reflect your new Specific Aims.

If you responded to a request for applications (RFA), it is likely that you will not be able to apply again through the RFA (to be sure, check our Opportunities List or the NIH Guide).

If the RFA no longer exists, submit an investigator-initiated renewal using the parent program announcement; for example, an R01 uses the Parent R01.

Read it carefully. Be sure to follow your new rules, for example, you now have new receipt dates and review criteria. Learn more in Reuse an Unfunded Application in Approaches for Staying Funded in Part 7.

We will tell you more about how to create your renewal application in an upcoming article.

Sometimes It’s Best to Start Over

You will want to create a new application if your project is not progressing as planned or you simply would like to take the research down a different path from your existing grant. Be sure to give it a new title.

A new application is appropriate under these circumstances:

  • You want to significantly change or expand the scope of your research.
  • You have not accomplished several of your Specific Aims. Though your new application needs different aims, it can be a spinoff of the original line of research.
  • You would like to use a new activity code, for example, change from an exploratory/developmental grant (R21) to an R01.
  • You want to apply under an RFA.
    • Follow all procedures for a new application. The application is new even if you are continuing the same line of research.
    • Note this advantage of applying under an RFA: since you can apply with a new application again, you get an extra attempt to get it funded.
  • You have used up your one resubmission. Talk to your program officer for advice on which aspects of the application to consider retaining.

Besides renewing or submitting a new application, there is a third way.

The most important decision you’ll make at this stage is: which aspect of the research (and which results) to carry forward into the renewal.

A Tale of Two Applications

Do both! Split your project into two applications: a new one with a new set of research goals and a renewal to continue the existing project.

If you decide to go down this route, know the caveats.

  • You’ll need to be careful not to dilute your efforts so both applications are of sufficiently high quality to have a strong chance of being funded.
  • You’ll need to reflect on a broader question: how can you keep your options open?

Pick the most appropriate study section for each application. However, be forewarned about submitting both to the same study section for the same review meeting: rarely are both applications fundable, and you would be competing with yourself.

The most important decision you’ll make at this stage is: which aspect of the research (and which results) to carry forward into the renewal.

It’s often tempting, and sometimes appropriate, to use all your results. But here’s the kicker: if your renewal does not succeed, you could be left with no ammunition to create another application.

So you face a delicate balancing act—to craft an exciting renewal application while retaining your options if it fails.

Probably the best way to approach this conundrum is to think about focus.

If continuing all the aims would dilute the focus, you probably want to split the research into a renewal and new application. And if your research starts to feel like it's going in two directions, you are witnessing an opportunity to split it into two grants.

Throughout the project, you are in an ideal position to assess its focus, and we strongly recommend that you do.

If you decide on two applications, state in your cover letter that you are taking this approach. 

Getting to “New”

You know it would be a waste of time to spruce up your 12-year-old jalopy and try to pass it off as new because nobody would fall for that ploy. Just like a discriminating car buyer, NIH has standards for what it takes to be new—a new application, that is.

For a subsequent application to be “NIH new,” it must be substantially different in content and scope from the previous one. That means new Specific Aims and a materially different Approach section. (We give you more advice on this topic in Option 2: Create a "New" Application in Part 6 of the Strategy for NIH Funding).

Does anyone check? You bet they do! Referral officers in the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) use software to compare applications and will reject your application if they deem it not significantly different from the previous one.

If that happens, the scientific review officer will contact you and give you a chance to rebut CSR's decision.

But CSR may still disagree with you, and if it does, it will return the application to you without a review. Obviously, if that happens, you will have wasted precious time needed to get an application in play, so you’re better off avoiding “new” issues from the outset.

Renewing? Timing Is Still (Almost but Not Quite) Everything

To avoid a break in funding, carefully consider whether you can submit your renewal application one or more review cycles early rather than wait until the last possible receipt date before your grant ends.

In FY 2011, roughly 29 percent of R01 renewals were funded on the first try, so plan enough time to include the need to resubmit.

But here’s the catch: no matter when your application arrives, your reviewers expect to see accomplishments.

If your work is progressing slowly or you have a three-year award, you may not have enough data to apply early. In that case, it's better to wait to get results that you can describe in the renewal application.

Sometimes spending extra time polishing your application is more important than rushing to meet a receipt date, and it may have a limited impact on the timing of an award. Learn about applying for different cycles in Timing Factors That Affect Your Application and Award.

At the other timing end: what’s the maximum you can wait to submit a renewal after your grant ends?

NIH does not set a time limit, but reviewers will probably be concerned by major gaps between projects.

If the research you conducted is not current with the latest science, prepare a new application, and show how your planned research is in sync with the latest findings in your field.

Related Links

Strategy for NIH Funding

Timing information

Funding opportunities and parent program announcements

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

We Want You . . . to Study Bioethics of HIV Research

If you have an interest in the bioethics of studying HIV and associated conditions, consider applying for R01 or R21 funding through a new program announcement from NIH.

Your plan may include conceptual work in bioethics, empirical work gathering and analyzing data relevant to ethical issues, or both. When planning your research team, NIH strongly encourages you to include at least one person with demonstrated expertise and scholarship in bioethics.

NIH welcomes applications on any ethics topic relevant to HIV research, particularly in the following areas:

  • Human specimens
  • Pregnant women
  • Adolescents and young adults
  • Cures (eradicating the virus from the body)
  • Clinical trial design (standard of care dilemmas, statistical methods)
  • Effectiveness of ethics committees
  • New technologies
  • Stigma, discrimination, and oppression
  • Tuberculosis in the context of HIV infection
  • Community engagement

Your applications are due January 7, 2013, 2014, or 2015. Get more details, including example project ideas, in the July 24, 2012, R01 and R21 Guide notices.

For more information about these opportunities, contact NIAID program officer Liza Dawson.

New Funding Opportunity: It's in the (Uncharacterized) Genes

Genomics researchers, here's a funding opportunity that might be up your alley.

NIAID's Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID) seeks applications that will increase knowledge about the biochemical functions of uncharacterized genes—hypothetical genes, open reading frames with unknown functions, and potential genes for noncoding RNAs—in infectious disease pathogens.

Applicants must propose studying at least 10 genes a year in each of the three uncharacterized gene categories and include a focus on one or more NIAID Category A, B, and C Priority Pathogens and Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases. For complete details, read the July 20, 2012, Guide notice.

The deadline for optional letters of intent is October 12, 2012, and the due date for applications is November 13.

Sending Out an S.O.S. About Student Loans? NIH's LRP to the Rescue

For those of you who feel like you're underwater in educational debt, here's a way to get some air: NIH's Loan Repayment Programs (LRP).

LRP may repay up to $35,000 of your educational debt each year if you're an eligible doctoral-level clinician or researcher who's committed to conducting qualified research for at least two years.

In addition to helping your finances, LRP can benefit your career. LRP participants have been shown to stay in research careers longer, apply for and receive more grants, and become independent investigators more frequently than their peers who go without LRP funding.

Among the several repayment programs NIH offers, NIAID supports the Clinical Research LRP and Pediatric Research LRP. The next application cycle starts September 1 and ends November 15.

To learn more about LRP, go to NIAID's Loan Repayment Programs and NIH's Loan Repayment Programs: Extramural Programs, and check out these resources:

  • Go step by step through the Extramural Application Process, a new tool that covers key decision points and guidance at each juncture.
  • Watch the LRP Overview Webinar for tips and advice on writing a successful application.
  • Through the Ambassador Network, touch base with LRP alumni to hear about their experiences and pick their brains about preparing a strong application. To get further details, find an ambassador, or become one, contact LRP's Monika Ellis.

Header: Other News. 

The Paylines are Gone—Long Live the Paylines!

As we do every August, we've removed our FY 2012 paylines because at this point, all FY 2012 applications that scored within a payline are either funded or committed for funding.

If your application scored within the payline and you're waiting to hear about a funding decision, you should hear soon.

Meanwhile, we are awarding some other applications, including those nominated for selective pay and others that just missed the payline. Earlier in the fiscal year, we set conservative paylines to make sure we have enough money throughout the year. As a result, we have money left over to pay some additional grants.

You can find the FY 2012 paylines at Archive of Final NIAID Paylines by Fiscal Year. Once we have interim paylines for FY 2013, we'll post them to the main NIAID Paylines page.

For background on the timing of budget information during the fiscal year, learn how Paylines and Budget Pages Change Throughout the Year. You can Subscribe to Email Alerts to be notified when we post new fiscal year paylines.

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News Briefs

Deadline for Financial Conflicts of Interest Changes Approaches. August 24 marks the deadline for your institution to incorporate new rules for financial conflict of interest reporting described in the August 22, 2011, Guide notice. Go to NIH's Financial Conflict of Interest Web site for more information, including a recorded Webinar on institutional responsibilities that should be posted within a week.

Give Feedback on Small Business Rules. The Small Business Administration (SBA) amended its policy directives for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs: SBIR and STTR amendments. Visit the NIH SBIR/STTR News Flash Page for details. SBA is also accepting comments on these changes. Submit yours by October 5, 2012, on the Regulations.gov portal.

Header: Advice Corner.

Take Another Look at NIAID's Resources for Researchers

Could you use more data, materials, and support for your research?

Try NIAID—even if you don’t have a grant or contract from us.

We offer collaboration opportunities, bioinformatics technologies, preclinical and clinical services, product development assistance, and other resources that can move your project forward.

Resources run the gamut, from Web-based visualization and modeling tools to specialized repositories and databases to labs and networks that can advance your products along the development pathway.

Use our redesigned Resources for Researchers Web site to sift through our offerings, which we've condensed into four categories:

If you have questions about the site, email ocpostoffice@niaid.nih.gov.

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.

"Do you have a Web site that lists all investigators and grants funded by NIAID?"—anonymous reader

We do not have this resource on our Web site, but NIH provides a way to get that information through RePORTER.

By default that form searches NIH’s entire portfolio, not just NIAID, but you can narrow the results to get NIAID only. Here’s how:

  • In the right column of the form, find "Agency/Institute/Center."
  • Beneath the field label, click the "Funding" checkbox instead of "Admin."
  • Click the blue "Select" button.
  • In the pop-up, click "Check/Uncheck" all so nothing is selected.
  • Open the "All NIH Institutes and Centers" item and choose "Nat’l Inst of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)."
  • Click "Select" again to close the pop-up.
  • Add any other search terms or parameters elsewhere in the form if you’d like to narrow results. For example, to restrict the results to grants only, click "Select" next to Funding Mechanism and make more choices.
  • Click the "Submit Query" button at the top. It may take a while to process and load the results.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated August 15, 2012

Last Reviewed August 15, 2012