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April 11, 2012

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

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Feature Articles.

New Sample R21s—Can They Help You?

First up on expanding our sample applications to include more grant types is the exploratory/developmental research grant (R21), which you can find on Sample Applications and Summary Statements.

We thank the following investigators who have graciously agreed to let us post their applications online.

  • Steven W. Dow, D.V.M., Ph.D., Mechanisms of enteric Burkholderia pseudomallei infection.
  • Peter Myler, Ph.D., and Marilyn Parsons, Ph.D., Ribosome Profiling of Trypanosoma brucei.
  • Michael Starnbach, Ph.D., Alteration of host protein stability by Legionella.
  • John Weis, Ph.D., Role of  Ifitm/Fragilis proteins as intracellular shuttles during cell activation.

To find these samples, we considered a number of exceptional applications with perfect or near-perfect scores for strong examples of grantsmanship principles, and these four fit the bill.

Should You Go There?

If you’ve been thinking about submitting an R21, you’ll want to know its pros and cons.

R21s can serve different purposes for different types of research and career stages. But they’re not for everyone, and knowing the caveats will help you decide whether an R21 is a good option for you.

Let’s start with how they’re used.

NIH designed the R21 to encourage exploratory and even high-risk research, defining the purpose:

...to introduce novel scientific ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies that have the potential to substantially advance biomedical research.

But people also submit more mainstream applications for projects that are smaller than would be appropriate for an R01, as did the PIs who wrote our four sample applications.

Additionally, some new investigators apply for R21s in the hopes of getting funds to generate preliminary data for a future R01 (we discuss new investigators further in the next section).

While those concepts may appeal to you, consider the drawbacks.

If you're looking to gather preliminary data, you could end up coming short for time.

People often find that the two-year maximum is not long enough to complete a project that yields enough data for publication or additional preliminary data for an R01 application. To avoid a funding gap, you'll need to plan how to continue supporting your research if your R21 funds run out before a future R01 can begin.

Applying successfully for your follow on R01 can take longer than you may think.

Estimate from 5 to 20 months from application to award depending on several factors, including the weightiest: whether you will need to resubmit. If you end up on the long end of that continuum, your R21, which you can’t renew, may end well before we could fund your R01.

Cautions for New Investigators

If you’re a new or early-stage investigator, you’ll need to pay particular attention to timing issues.

While you work on your R21, time will march on, moving you closer to the end of the 10-year period where you qualify as an early-stage investigator.

Further, your R21 won't benefit from our higher R01 payline that benefits new (including early-stage) investigators. Your R21 application will also not be eligible for our R56-Bridge award or selective pay programs.

You should also be aware that, even though NIH does not require preliminary data for R21s, most applications include it, and reviewers tend to expect it.

NIH did not intend the R21 to be a means for new investigators to obtain their first NIH grant, and there is no evidence that R21s provide a path to an independent research career.

When R21s Are Most Useful

R21s work best for investigators who want to complete a project with limited scope, for example, a pilot or feasibility study.

They are most helpful as one element in an investigator’s funding portfolio rather than a solo grant. But if you do find yourself in that position, start applying for additional funding from whatever sources you can find, and do it as early as possible.

Read more in  Drawbacks for Smaller Awards in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Have You Used Our Resources? You Should

We built it and now you can come.

Check out Resources for Researchers for NIAID resources you may need from A to Z, like the clinical research toolkit, bioethics information, and much more.

Also, visit the Resources for Researchers Blog to read and comment on the latest research and resources news.

For more information, read our November 23, 2011, article “New Resources Web Site in the Works: Comments, Please.

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More Funding Opportunities From the Gates Foundation

Take a peek at some new opportunities from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

If you see anything that interests you, act quick—both opportunities have May deadlines.

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You'll "LikeThis": A New Search Tool

Seek and you shall find.

Thanks to LikeThis, a new search tool linked to the eRA Commons, you can get a list of funded projects and publications that are similar to yours.

LikeThis retrieves information that can help you do the following:

  • Find ideas for projects based on what NIH has awarded in the past.
  • Determine whether you need a fresh research idea.
  • Figure out in which study section your application should be reviewed.

If this resource appeals to you, log in to your Commons account, and find the LikeThis link in the Additional Links section of the home page.

To learn more, check out the Overview, User Guide, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Header: Other News. 

Times Are Changing—and so Is Just-in-Time

Time changes everything, including how and when you send your just-in-time information. Three changes will kick in on April 20, 2012.

  • All application types with overall impact scores of 40 or less will get NIH's automatic email request for just-in-time information 15 days after the score appears in the Commons.
  • Send just-in-time information as PDFs through the eRA Commons only. Most of your business officials take this approach already, but now it's required.
  • Everyone will see the Commons option to send just-in-time information within 24 hours after the score appears.

The appearance of the just-in-time option is no longer a cue to send your information.

In fact, even though NIH's automatic email instructs your business office to start uploading information to the Commons, you shouldn't necessarily swing into action yet. Our advice depends on the situation:

  • If there are no published paylines yet or your application scores well outside of the payline, wait.
    • Don't upload anything unless NIAID's grants management contacts you.
    • If we do ask later, it's because we want the latest information.
  • If your application scores within or near the payline, proceed.
    • We encourage your business office to upload the information in NIH's Request for Just-in-Time Information right away.
    • You don't need to wait for notification from NIH or NIAID.
    • NIAID's grants management will contact you later if we need additional information.

We still advise everyone to prepare just-in-time information during or right after you finish writing the application. That way you'll be able to respond quickly when it's time for just-in-time, maximizing your chance of a prompt award.

But also keep in mind that your institution may want you to hold off—for example, if you're waiting for IRB or IACUC approval.

NIH announced this policy change in a March 30, 2012, Guide notice. Get details on the process in the Just-in-Time SOP as well as Prepare Your Just-In-Time Information in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

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Dr. Fauci Goes to Washington for Budget Hearings

As part of his busy schedule, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci attended two hearings last month on the President's fiscal year (FY) 2013 NIH budget request.

On March 28 he accompanied NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins to a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education, which asked about topics such as the Institute's research programs and progress in tuberculosis and food allergy research.

The panel voiced strong bipartisan support for the NIH and expressed concern about the potential effects on NIH research from a budget sequestration in FY 2013.

For additional information, read Dr. Anthony S. Fauci's Testimony and Dr. Francis S. Collins' Testimony.

Earlier, on March 20, Dr. Fauci attended a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education on NIH’s implementation of the newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Learn more about the Center at NCATS.

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News Briefs

Here's news from around NIH.

O.D.s Now Eligible for Loan Repayment Programs. The "eyes" have it. NIH added Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) to the list of eligible degrees for NIH Loan Repayment Programs. Read the March 19, 2012, Guide notice for the official word. Find more LRP information at NIAID's Loan Repayment Programs, and learn about the benefits of LRPs in our July 6, 2011, article "Pay Attention to Loan Repayment Programs."

Header: Advice Corner.

Give Your Unfunded Application Another Chance

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

Not having your application succeed doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of the road. Try a different direction, like heading to the Health Research Funding Web site.

Once there and registered, you can post the abstract to your application, if it was unfunded after receiving peer review either by NIH or an organization listed on the National Health Council's Membership Directory under the following headings:

You can then search for funding organizations, who in turn can find projects they're interested in.

To learn more, go to Frequently Asked Questions, and read the User Agreement for eligibility requirements and other important details.

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Start Spreading the News About Your Research Advances

Have you made an exciting discovery that you’re ready to publish and want to publicize? Our Office of Communications and Government Relations (OCGR) can help get the word out.

First, tell your program officer and your institution’s press office that you’re publishing. Give as much lead time as possible—at least two weeks before your paper is published—so your press people and OCGR can consider and prepare for the appropriate publicity.

OCGR staff will assess your findings and determine how newsworthy they are. Read more in our Requesting NIAID's Help on Publicizing Research Advances SOP.

If your institution decides to issue a news release about your work, we’ll help spread the word by posting a link to it on our News from NIAID-Supported Institutions page.

Bookmark the page or subscribe to once-a-week email updates so you can follow news releases issued by NIAID-supported institutions and businesses. To learn more, go to NIAID Email Updates.

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.

"Where can I get a PDF version of the Strategy for NIH Funding?"—anonymous reader

Unfortunately, we don't have a PDF version of the Strategy for NIH Funding. Because it is a living document with many sections that we update constantly, it's not conducive to posting a PDF version.

However, you can make a PDF on your own, with the caveat that the information is only correct at the time you create the PDF. Here are some options (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • When you print a document, select the option to "create a PDF" as the destination instead of a printer. Some programs do not have this feature, while others may call it something else.
  • Copy the relevant text into a word processing program and save as PDF from there. This approach has an added advantage of eliminating our site's side navigation, so you get just the substance.
  • Use a free converter to save a URL as a PDF for you. For example, http://pdfmyurl.com/ .

"Do you have a sample introduction to an R03 resubmission application?"—anonymous reader

We do not have a sample for an R03 application. However, one of our Sample Applications and Summary Statements has an introduction that addresses feedback from the initial review. Read the sample Research Plan from Dr. Adam Ratner's application.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated April 11, 2012

Last Reviewed April 11, 2012