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New Funding Opportunities
This article is the third in our Ten Steps to a Winning R01 Application series, which we are updating.
After you have decided the area of research to pursue, you are ready to start designing a high-impact project for an application that you can complete within the four to five years of an R01 grant.
Your project should tackle important research within your niche: it must be able to move your field forward. Beware of concepts that can’t be strongly supported with your own preliminary data or published data from other laboratories.
You'll start to hone your ideas by drafting objectives, known in NIH lingo as Specific Aims.
Thinking high level, ask yourself what objectives you could reasonably achieve within the timeframe of a grant. Start broadly with an emphasis on significance, and then focus on generating experiments with clear endpoints reviewers can readily assess.
While you could design a project around two to four Specific Aims, many people create three.
Limiting your application to a few Specific Aims keeps you clear of the very common mistake of being overly ambitious. It's much better to think small and propose less than to do the opposite.
A common type of Specific Aim would ask a question like “Does A cause B?” However, your project may come to an end if A doesn’t turn out to cause B.
It’s better to design an aim where the result doesn’t depend on only one outcome, but where one or more different outcomes would also be of interest. Then the question becomes “Does A cause B or non-B,” so make sure the “non-B” outcomes make sense based on both your central hypothesis and preliminary data.
Another common type of Specific Aim is descriptive. For example, “We will measure levels of X in 1,000 samples of Y to characterize the pattern of expression of X."
Though this may be very doable, it is rarely a highly significant finding in itself and often should be avoided unless you have no other choice. Such descriptive findings should usually be part of your preliminary data, not part of your proposal.
Like your topic, your Specific Aims should build on your previous experience.
Although it may seem an early stage to think about specific experiments, cost of those experiments, needed expertise, and resources, these variables go hand-in-hand with picking a project that is both impactful and feasible. If the project is not feasible, you will need to rethink your experiments or even your Specific Aims.
Because you have several items to juggle, we recommend using the following iterative process:
Why do you need a central hypothesis (or multiple hypotheses)? Because that's what reviewers expect and what anchors your different Specific Aims to a common theme, not just a common field of research. Following a central hypothesis also keeps you focused with both writing the proposal and actually doing the research if the grant is funded.
Some people write their Specific Aims first and then develop a hypothesis; others do the reverse. The correct method will depend on the approach that works best for you and your proposed research.
A strong hypothesis should be well-focused and testable by the Specific Aims and experiments.
After you create your hypothesis, go back and take stock again of your prospective reviewers and their level of interest in light of your draft aims and hypothesis.
Strategy for NIH Funding
Sample Applications and Summary Statements
Can you support bioinformatics infrastructure and data services for NIAID's Bioinformatics Resource Centers (BRCs)?
Consider applying for a new request for proposals (RFP) for a contract to support maintaining, expanding, and enhancing the existing BRCs by providing the following:
For instructions and details, read the Bioinformatics Resource Centers for Infectious Diseases RFP. Do not use the information in this newsletter as basis for designing, writing, or presenting your proposal; use only the RFP as your reference.
BRCs have provided the scientific community with publicly accessible systems that store, update, integrate, and display genomics, functional genomics and other "omics" data, and other associated data and metadata for a large variety of human pathogens and vectors of human pathogens and related microbial species and strains. BRCs also allow users to query and analyze this data with user friendly interfaces and computational analyses tools.
They have also provided bioinformatics services and training to the scientific community and rapid response to the immediate needs and changing priorities of the scientific community.
If you'd like funding to reduce health disparities for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, we have good news for you. NIAID just signed on to fund research through PAR-13-239, Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH).
To check out the list of NIAID's relevant scientific priorities, go to the June 14, 2013, Guide notice. and scroll down to the "National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases" header.
For more guidance, send an email with subject line "NARCH" to the NIAID Training Help Desk at AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.
If you’re working on an NIAID research grant or subproject in East Asia and the Pacific region, consider joining us for a three-day grants policy and management workshop.
We’ve designed this training for principal investigators, business officials, budget coordinators, and other grant administrators so you can better understand and comply with NIH and U.S. government funding policies and regulations.
Come learn about a variety of topics, including tips and resources for managing an NIAID award, subcontract requirements, grants management policies, how to prepare financial status reports, and information about foreign financial system reviews.
We’ll also hold breakout sessions to provide hands-on training for completing NIH reports and give you time to ask grant-specific questions.
This workshop runs from July 17 to 19, 2013, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Act quickly, because you only have until July 8 to secure your seat.
For information on session topics and registration, go to Upcoming NIH Grants Policy and Management Training Workshops.
Are you new to the Immune Epitope Database (IEDB)? Are you a frequent user who would like to learn how to get the most from the database? If so, consider applying to attend the IEDB User Workshop, on October 1 and 2, 2013, at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in La Jolla, California.
The IEDB is an NIH-supported and free resource that provides access to and analysis tools for published data related to epitopes recognized by both antibodies and T cells.
During the two-day workshop, IEDB staff will cover the IEDB data structure and content, demonstrate different query and browse features, highlight epitope analysis and prediction tools, and more.
Staff members will also be available to advise participants on an individual basis.
The workshop costs $45 and space is limited. To request an application, send an email to email@example.com. Applications are due August 1.
For more information, see Immune Epitope Database User Workshop.
We posted new NIAID Paylines for the following grant types:
We also raised the interim T32 payline to 14 overall impact score.
You may have heard about new scoring guidance for applications reviewed by NIH's Center for Scientific Review. CSR reviews most of our investigator-initiated grant applications, but NIAID reviews most of our requests for applications (RFA), program announcements identifying location of peer review (PAR), or program announcement with set-aside funds (PAS).
For NIAID-reviewed applications competing for FY 2014 funding, we aren't adopting this new guidance yet.
This means our guidance to reviewers will differ from NIH's for the following applications:
Consideration of the new guidance is under discussion.
What scoring guidance are you talking about?
When we say "scoring guidance," we're talking about instructions to peer reviewers. Specifically, the following guidance is provided to reviewers when applications are reviewed by CSR:
NIH recently changed this guidance in the hopes of improving consistency across study sections and spreading peer review scores across a broader range to help reviewers and ICs better distinguish exceptional applications from one another. For more on the change, read "New Scoring Guidance for NIH Reviewers" in the May 2013 issue of CSR's Peer Review Notes.
For NIAID-reviewed applications, we use this guidance: NIAID Grant Application Review Guidance.
Why not adopt the new guidance?
Here's why we're not adopting the new guidance at the moment:
As predicted earlier this year, soon all electronic applications will require a new SF 424 version "C."
Use the table below to check when the requirement kicks in for your chosen grant type.
*All continuous submission applications sent on or after September 25 must use the C version, even AIDS applications that would be grouped with applications from earlier due dates.
** For small business applications, NIH will announce a specific date later after working out the form changes related to the Small Business Reauthorization Act.
Note that Grants.gov might display both B and C versions of the application package during the transition. Your chosen funding opportunity announcement may specify which version to use for your planned due date. If not, choose the proper set of forms based on the dates above. For more help on this, see NIH's Do I Have the Right Electronic Forms for My Application?
Meanwhile, if you're working on an application using the older version of the forms, ask your business office how to handle the upcoming transition. Your institution's chosen application system might transition automatically. If not, then you may need to manually copy your information over into the new forms package.
For a summary of form changes in this version, see Updating Grants.gov Forms: FORMS-C.
NIH announced the transition dates above in a May 30, 2013, Guide notice.
If you’re using NIAID’s Immunology Database and Analysis Portal (ImmPort) system, check out new data from 12 immunology studies and trials.
Research areas include:
You can download this data and more from the ImmPort Web site.
ImmPort is a free data sharing and data analysis resource funded by NIAID to promote open science. The portal’s new MySQL data packages allow you to download and build your own database with these publically released datasets. The site now houses 48 shared human studies and 566 experiments. This data resource is designed to facilitate data mining and further leverage the impact of NIH-funded research.
Not yet registered to use ImmPort? Go to Register for ImmPort and sign up as a life science researcher.
NIH has released notices of correction for the funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) related to the Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program, which we wrote about in our May 15, 2013, article "Your Institute Can SCORE in the Eligibility Department."
RFI on Application Process for Three NIH-Industry Pilot Funding Opportunities. In June of last year, NCATS issued three funding opportunities (PAR-12-203, RFA-TR-12-004, and RFA-TR-12-005) on discovering new therapeutic uses for existing molecules. NCATS would like your feedback on the preapplication and application process by July 18, 2013. Learn more in the June 14, 2013, Guide notice.
NIH's automatic just-in-time (JIT) email invites your business office to send JIT information through the eRA Commons. But, depending on your situation, you or your business office shouldn't send it.
If that sounds contradictory, keep in mind that NIH doesn't know which applications are likely to receive awards. That's NIAID's responsibility, and we need JIT information only if your application is likely to be funded.
Which begs the question: to send, or not to send?
Send JIT information if...
You don't have to confirm with anybody at NIAID. If we need additional information, one of our grants management specialists will contact you later.
Don't send JIT information if...
If you are in line for funding, our program or grants management staff will reach out directly, and you can send JIT information at that time.
Contact your program officer if...
Don't worry if you've already responded to NIH's email and we request more information. You can revise your JIT documents as often as needed.
Why are you receiving a JIT request if NIAID doesn't need JIT information?
NIH enables the JIT option in eRA Commons and emails your business office if you receive an overall impact score of 40 or better, even though this score is higher than our paylines will support.
That notification is sent automatically from NIH and does not reflect NIAID's intent to fund or not fund an application.
A well-chosen Web search can find information quickly, but well-chosen search parameters are key. Though searching may seem simple, usability researcher Jakob Nielsen went so far as to classify most searchers as "incompetent" in his Converting Search into Navigation article.
Here are our tips to hone your search skills.
You could cast a wide net using Google or the Google Advanced Search. But if you already know which site houses the information you want, you may be better off going there to use the local search form instead.
So for example, if your topic is related to NIAID, you could use the default search box shown at the top right of all NIAID pages or try NIAID's Advanced Search.
For NIH searches, you have several options:
Web search engines accept advanced commands to filter results. These commands work for most NIAID and NIH search forms, too.
Here are the top three command options from Google's More Search Help:
You can also combine the advanced commands, e.g., use quotation marks along with minus signs in the same query.
Instead of visually skimming down a page, you can search it for a particular word or phrase using Control-F (or for Mac, Command-F.) This keyboard shortcut works in most Web browsers.
If your searches only take you so far toward what you seek, hopefully your favorite sites provide excellent navigation.
As an example, NIAID Research Funding offers the standard left-hand navigation, but we also have the following:
Soon, we plan to revisit the navigation scheme we use on our section of the NIAID Web site and hopefully improve it. If you have suggestions or feedback on navigating the Funding area, we'd love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to send us a question at email@example.com. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
"I’m hoping that my competing renewal application will be assigned to a different NIH institute than the one that funded my prior grant. Is that possible and if so, how should I make that request?"—anonymous reader
Although it’s rare, grants can be funded in situations where the previous competitive segment was funded by another institute or center (IC). Check with a program officer in the other IC to see whether there is interest in your application before you submit the application. Request that IC as the primary institute in your cover letter. If your application is able to fit a different IC’s mission, you can work with your program officer to request a dual assignment if you didn't request it when you initially submitted the competing renewal application. Many ICs will accept a transfer before review but not afterwards, so it's best to inquire whether there is interest in accepting the application at another IC before review.
If the assigned IC doesn’t wish to fund the application, then a secondary IC can determine that it’s important to their mission and request that the application moves to their IC. The secondary IC will generally only fund the application if the score is within their payline.
For more information, see the Request for Primary IC Assignment SOP.
"I am planning to resubmit an R01 proposal. Should I provide a point-by-point response to the reviewers' comments or just prepare a one-page Introduction to Resubmission Application?"—anonymous reader
See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.
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Last Updated July 03, 2013
Last Reviewed July 03, 2013