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July 5, 2012

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Peer Review Service: What It Means to You as a Researcher

To fund the best science we need the best peer reviewers, and we are thankful that so many of you have signed up for service. 

We'd like to look at some aspects of peer review that affect your life as an investigator, and offer some advice that can help you make the most of your time as a peer reviewer. 

Apply Your Review Experience to Your Own Application

As a reviewer, you have a treasured opportunity to see pitfalls other applicants step into, without suffering the slings and arrows of a poor review.

You can also learn firsthand what other researchers do to impress reviewers and meet their expectations. For example, you can observe how others present the Significance and Approach sections of the Research Plan, which have the biggest impact on your score.

And, though you must protect the integrity of peer review and avoid conflicts of interest, you can get a glimpse of new research that may stimulate your thoughts and open future opportunities.

Use this knowledge to write stronger applications.  Even if your grantsmanship is exemplary, small improvements can make a difference in whether you get funded or not.

You May Not Need to Leave Your Home (or Lab)

Some reviews are now being done using technology that eliminates one of the biggest burdens: travel.

You can teleconference into many meetings, and the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) has rolled out two more options for participating.

  • Internet Assisted Meeting, where you log in to a Web site to enter scores and comments, engage other reviewers through a discussion board, and participate at your convenience through the duration of the review meeting (your scientific review officer (SRO) will monitor comments to ensure discussions reach a conclusion).
  • Video Assisted Meeting, where you videoconference into your study section meeting. These are "hybrid" meetings where some members attend in person while you connect using a secure video link. Though used rarely, NIH plans to expand and improve the option as it gains more experience with the technology.

Receipt Dates? What Receipt Dates?

Under NIH's continuous submission policy, you can apply any time for any R01, R21, or R34 funding opportunity that uses standard receipt dates. Your application will be reviewed by the time the next study section with relevant expertise meets.

Even non-permanent reviewers may qualify for this perk under NIH's rules for recent substantial service.

In practical terms, continuous submission shortens the time from application to review by up to two months (one month for AIDS-related applications) and allows you to pick up a review assignment without missing your next application deadline.

Invest in Your Career

While being a reviewer is a public service—many researchers relish the opportunity to participate on that basis alone—it does require time and effort.

Taking a long-term view gives you a fuller picture. Think of peer review as an investment: you're giving something now (time, effort, and energy) in return for something more valuable over time (exposure, experience, application know-how, and a broader view of your field).

Your institution may even give you special recognition for your service.

While economists can probably define the trade-off in dollars and cents, you can give it your own value in terms of the impact on your career and what you can give back to your colleagues.

What About Peer Review of Your Own Application?

If you apply for a grant during your term of service, discuss with your SRO in advance how he or she will assign your application.

Your own study section may not review your application, so you'll want to take extra care that your review panel has the expertise and worldview to appreciate it.

If You Don't Already Serve

If you're not a reviewer and anything we've written here encourages you to join the cause, there are several ways to get involved:

  • Volunteer for an NIAID peer review group. These committees review applications where NIAID is the locus of review. Read more at How to Volunteer for a Review Committee.
  • Look into serving on a standing study section. If you have some review experience or you're an experienced investigator, you may qualify for membership on a standing study section. For details on eligibility and the nomination process, go to CSR's How Scientists Are Selected for Study Section Service.
  • Become an early career reviewer. If you've established a research career, you can participate in one study section meeting each year even if you've never received NIH funding. Get details at Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program.
  • Sign up for temporary service. You may be able to serve occasionally as a non-permanent reviewer. Review CSR's Integrated Review Groups, drill down to the study section that interests you, and contact its scientific review officer to see if there's an opportunity to participate.

Please spread the word about review service and encourage your colleagues to come aboard—we (and NIH) are always looking for new reviewers.

Related Links

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Funding Opportunity for "OMICS"-Based Host and Pathogen Modeling Studies

NIAID is seeking applicants who can apply a systems biology approach for a new funding opportunity, OMICS Technologies for Predictive Modeling of Infectious Diseases (U19).

The funding opportunity announcement calls for a combination of computational approaches and “omics” technologies to identify, quantify, model, and predict the architecture and dynamics of systems-wide host and pathogen molecular interaction networks.

Applications are due October 8, 2012, and you may contact Valentina Di Francesco with questions.

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Operation of a Facility for Testing Malaria Vaccines in Adult Human Subjects, Request for Proposals

We're looking for contractors to conduct malaria vaccine testing, challenge studies, and infection research in adult volunteers, as well as assist with clinical protocol development.

See the full list of services described in the Statement of Work.

For details and instructions, see RFP NIHAO2012069. Proposals are due by 11 a.m. local time on September 10, 2012.

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RFA Supports HIV Research Collaboration With Indian Investigators

A new request for applications lets you choose a partner in India for an innovative, two-year collaboration that shows potential to mature into a major joint program.

Your project can cover many facets of HIV prevention and management research including the role of other microbes, behavioral and social interactions, epidemiological factors, and comorbidities associated with HIV transmission, including malignancies associated with other viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus and human papillomavirus.

You can build off of existing partnerships or create new ones. For more information, read the June 13, 2012, Guide notice.

Pay careful attention to the instructions—though you apply to NIH, your collaborator applies to Indian Council of Medical Research following instructions in the Joint Call for Research Proposals Under the INDO-US Joint Statement on Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS.

Applications are due September 4, 2012, with optional letters of intent due August 4, 2012.

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Get Funding for Research Into Radiation Countermeasures

Calling all investigators researching medical countermeasures against radiological and nuclear threats: we have a new funding opportunity for you.

Apply if you think your project can do the following:

  1. Further develop candidate medical countermeasures that can mitigate or treat radiation injury when administered after radiation exposure.
  2. Shed light on the mechanisms of action of candidate medical countermeasures with the goal of licensing a product.

Optional letters of intent are due September 18, 2012, and applications are due October 18, 2012.

Read the June 19, 2012, Guide notice for background, details, application information, and a list of specific areas of research interest.

Header: Other News. 

Chimpanzee Policy News: Research on Specimens

Now you may propose research using samples collected from chimpanzees on or before December 15, 2011.

Meanwhile, the other limits on chimpanzee research that NIH originally announced in the December 21, 2011, Guide notice are still in effect. NIH hopes to issue the new chimpanzee research policies in early 2013.

NIH's definition of biological samples is broad; see the June 15, 2012, Guide notice for details. Only the collection date matters; processing or analysis after that date is fine.

When you apply under this new policy, note the source of your samples and confirm that the samples were collected on or before that date in your cover letter and Vertebrate Animal section.

If you had already submitted an application that fits these rules but withdrew it after NIH's December announcement, we can reinstate it. Follow instructions in the June Guide notice.

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With hESC, Selection Is Key

If you use human embryonic stem cells (hESC) in your research, be prudent when choosing a cell line or lines from the NIH Stem Cell Registry when you submit your application.

Starting with applications submitted for the September 25, 2012, receipt date, reviewers will factor the appropriateness of your chosen cell line or lines into your score.

For additional details, read the June 11, 2012, Guide notice.

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New Leadership for This Newsletter and the Research Funding Site

Two retirements at the end of June changed the editorial leadership of our Funding Newsletter and Research Funding Web site.

Leaving their positions were Maya Hadar, former managing editor of both the newsletter and Web site, and Dr. Gregory Milman, who was instrumental in guiding the development of our grant-writing tutorials.

We would like to recognize their accomplishments in developing our popular online products and to assure you that the Institute is committed to continuing this important work.

Maya began the Institute's extramural communications by launching this newsletter in 1992. Over the years, she led the development of the many products you see online today.

In addition to serving as your main contact for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), Greg headed the Office of Innovation and Special Programs. He will continue advising investigators for the small business programs.

A larger staff reorganization will delay the appointment of some editorial positions, and we will inform you about them as soon as we can.

Meanwhile, we are pleased to announce two changes to our Editorial Board.

Dr. Matthew Fenton, director of the Division of Extramural Activities, and long-standing Board member Dr. Susan Brobst, program officer in the Division of AIDS, are now editors for the newsletter. Find more information about our NIAID Funding Newsletter Editorial Board.

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News Brief

Go Beyond Your "Limits" With an Administrative Supplement. Here's news for PIs with an AREA grant (R15), small grant (R03), exploratory/developmental research grant (R21), or other award with a budget cap. The amount of support you can get from an administrative supplement may exceed the direct or total cost limits of your parent grant. Read the June 22, 2012, Guide notice.

Header: Advice Corner.

Check In With NIAID Before You Apply for an Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Award

If you're thinking about applying for any investigator-initiated clinical trial planning or implementation award, it's vital to contact a program officer well in advance to discuss your project.

Your program officer will give you advice, ensure your project fits our mission and is appropriate to submit as an investigator-initiated clinical trial, help you determine whether to submit an R01 or U01, and confirm that we'll accept your application.

If you're contemplating an implementation grant, you'll also get guidance on whether you should first apply for a planning grant.

Aim to touch base at least 10 weeks before the receipt date, earlier if you can, to review the items to include in your application.

Go to Requesting Permission to Submit a Clinical Trial Planning (R34) or Implementation (R01 or U01) Application for a checklist to help you prepare for this conversation.

After you talk to your program officer, follow up with a formal request to submit your application.

Read instructions in our Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Planning and Implementation Awards SOP and visit our Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trial Resources portal for more information.

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 an institution use nonfederal funding to supplement a stipend on an NRSA training grant? Can it reduce the NRSA stipend level?"—Bobbi N. Tucker, Duke University Medical Center

The answer to your first question is yes. Your institution may supplement stipends from non-federal funds as long as it doesn't add obligations for the trainee or take away from the trainee's time and effort on the NRSA grant.

As for your second question, no, your institution cannot reduce stipend levels.

If you have additional questions, please contact your grants management specialist. If you don't know who that is, find one for your region at Grants Management Program Contacts.

"In my renewal R01, can I request annual increases in my budget due to inflation?"—Volker Briken, University of Maryland

The answer depends on what type of budget you have.

You cannot request annual increases for a modular budget.

For a nonmodular budget, you may include inflationary adjustments after your first year.

Note that our ability to fund you at those levels depends on our financial management plan, which changes each year. For example, nonmodular FY 2012 awards do not have future year inflationary adjustments, except for special needs such as equipment and added personnel. See the Financial Management Plan.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated July 05, 2012

Last Reviewed July 05, 2012