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November 20, 2013

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles. 

Increasing Efforts to Increase Diversity

"NIH recognizes a compelling need to promote diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences (collectively termed 'biomedical') research workforce."—NIH

The "need" in question is nothing new, and neither is NIH's commitment to meeting it. In fact, NIH has built on previous efforts with additional steps to address this ongoing issue. Making further progress, however, will take the participation of institutions and investigators like you.

So, what can you do? We'll answer that and provide a brief overview of NIH's endeavors so you can see how you fit in to the big picture.

First Things First: Defining Diversity

To better understand NIH's mission in this area and help the agency "promote diversity," it may be useful to know what the phrase means. It's defined as improving the recruitment and retention of people from backgrounds that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has shown to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis.

These include people with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those from the following racial and ethnic groups: blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders.

For more on NSF's findings, go to Women, Minorities, and Persons With Disabilities in Science and Engineering, linked below.

NIH Working Group Takes Charge

To get the ball rolling in NIH's latest push to diversify the workforce, the Advisory Committee to the Director formed a team to take the lead: the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce (WGDBRW).

Its main task is to recommend to the NIH director ways in which to improve the retention of underrepresented groups through the following five key transition points in the biomedical workforce career ladder:

  1. Entry into graduate degree programs
  2. Transition from graduate degree to post-doctoral fellowship
  3. Appointment from a post-doctoral position to the first independent scientific position
  4. Award of the first independent research grant from NIH or equivalent in industry
  5. Award of tenure in an academic position or equivalent in an industrial setting

As a first step in developing its recommendations, the Working Group asked for input on actions NIH could take to increase the diversity of the biomedical research workforce. See the January 2012 request for information under Related Links as well as the report on public comments.

  • RFI: Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce
  • Analysis of Public Comments

By last June, the Working Group had gathered enough data and information through various sources to form a comprehensive strategy that NIH could use to increase diversity in the biomedical research workforce. For more on this, read the WGDBRW's June 13, 2012, Draft Report, linked below.

A New Diversity Program Is Born

In response to the Working Group's recommendations on developing and supporting people from diverse backgrounds across the lifespan of a research career, NIH established the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program.

Consisting of a series of coordinated funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), the program is designed to unify and strengthen institutions and faculty that are dedicated to the recruitment and retention of diverse scientists. For more on the FOAs, see "Look and Apply for Funding Opportunities" below.

If you're interested in the program, check out an online discussion forum that NIH is planning. Additional information should be posted soon at Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce site.

Your Diversity to Do's

For those wondering what you can do to improve diversity, we have three ideas that make for a good start. Keep this "to do" list constantly in mind so you can help NIH in this important undertaking.

1. Assess the Diversity of Your Lab

Take a look at the people in your lab. Do you have people from underrepresented groups? Remember, "underrepresented" doesn't refer only to certain ethnicities and races; it includes people with disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

As you recruit to fill positions, you and your institution should be cognizant of the need for diversity. In some cases, you'll have to take that awareness a step further by documenting how you'll go about diversifying the biomedical research workforce.

For example, if you apply for an NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) or NRSA Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35), you must include a Recruitment and Retention Plan to Enhance Diversity.

2. Seek Out Underrepresented Scientists

In order to recruit, you need to know where to look. Here are a few organizations to whom you may want to reach out, as well as conferences you may want to attend.

The following organizations might also be good resources for getting in touch with students, postdocs, or professionals from underrepresented groups.

3. Look and Apply for Funding Opportunities

Keep your eyes open for funding opportunities that promote diversity. NIH has a few that are in the works and offers diversity supplements and fellowships that NIAID supports.

New FOAs to Come

As we mentioned above, NIH started the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce program, which is composed of the following initiatives:

  • Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD)—will establish and test new models for student recruitment and development within the biomedical sciences.
  • National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN)—will facilitate developing robust mentoring relationships.
  • Coordination and Evaluation Center (CEC)—will serve as an integration hub to integrate BUILD and NRMN with existing programs.

NIH published FOAs for six-month planning grants for BUILD and NRMN, and though the deadlines have passed, you may still apply for the multiyear implementation grants if you feel you are ready. NIH expects to publish FOAs for those soon.

Existing FOAs

To supplement an existing grant and increase diversity at the same time, consider applying for a Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

And if you're a member of an underrepresented group, you may want to apply for an Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

For more information on supplements, go to our Research Supplements portal. For fellowships, see our Fellowship Grants (F) portal. Both resources, as well as the FOAs for the diversity supplement and predoctoral fellowship, are linked below.

Related Links

Header: Opportunities and Resources. 

HIV Researchers: Funding Opportunities for You

We have a few new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) that may pique the interest of HIV researchers. One is from NIAID while the others are opportunities that we don't support but could be relevant to our researchers.

Pilot Clinical Trials to Eliminate the Latent HIV Reservoir—U01

Consider applying for this FOA if you can design a clinical trial and your research focuses on interventions—drugs, biologics, or both—that can eradicate latently infected cells containing integrated HIV DNA.

You must propose a single-site trial with 30 or fewer HIV-infected subjects who 1) are on suppressive antiretroviral therapy and 2) have sustained undetectable plasma viral load levels below the limit of detection (less than 50 copies/ml) for a minimum of two years.

Trials should be fully integrated with laboratory-based analytical tools to detect and measure elimination of latently infected cells in both blood and tissue.

Note that if you are funded, you will be expected to implement the proposed trial within six months of receiving the award. Therefore, you have to complete all clinical trial planning activities by the time you apply.

For complete details, including FOA-specific application information, read the October 24, 2013, Guide notice. The due date for optional letters of intent is February 7, 2014, with applications due March 7, 2014.

Research on Malignancies in the Context of HIV/AIDS—R01 and R21

These FOAs from National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) may be a good fit if your research can help expand understanding of the risks, development, progression, diagnosis, and treatment of malignancies observed in people with an underlying HIV infection or AIDS.

  • Same overall topic, two FOAs: one an R01, the other an exploratory/developmental grant (R21).
  • Application deadlines: January 7, May 7, and September 7—NIH's standard due dates for AIDS and AIDS-Related Applications—through 2016.

NCI and NIDCR encourage projects that will 1) provide information on the clinical outcomes of non-AIDS defining and AIDS-defining malignancies in the HIV-infected population and 2) identify specific contributions resulting from HIV infection and its potential interaction with other pathogens for the development and pathogenesis of these cancers.

Find more information in the October 21, 2013, Guide notices for the R01 and R21.

If you apply to the R21 FOA, keep in mind that exploratory/developmental grants support novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or biobehavioral research.

To learn more, read our Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants SOP.

Header: Other News. 

NIH Rescheduled Peer Reviews Postponed Because of the U.S. Government Shutdown

Good news: NIH was able to reschedule peer reviews of all NIH applications in time for January Council. Read the November 7, 2013, Guide notice.

This means that we will not have any delay in funding grants that meet NIAID paylines. And, we do not expect that any of our payline grants assigned to January Council will need to be moved to May Council.

Also read our November 6, 2013, article "NIAID Rescheduled October Peer Reviews in Time for January Council."

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News Briefs

Coming Soon: RFAs for HIV Research and U.S.-South Africa Collaborations. So you can get a jump start on your application, NIH published some details on upcoming funding opportunities. Read the October 21, 2013, Guide notice on innovative approaches to cure HIV, and the September 30, 2013, Guide notice on collaborations with South African researchers on HIV/AIDS biomedical and behavioral science, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV-related malignancies.

Updated Deadline for K99/R00 Applications. Late resubmission deadline for NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) applications is now January 13, 2014. This date is available only for eligible applicants. For more details on eligibility, see the October 22, 2013, Guide notice.

Give Your Feedback on the ODP's Strategic Plan. NIH would like your thoughts on the Office of Disease Prevention's (ODP) Draft Strategic Plan for FY 2014 through FY 2018. The strategic plan outlines ODP's priorities and role in advancing prevention research at NIH. Comments are due this Friday, November 22, 2013. For more information on the strategic plan and how to submit responses, read the October 31, 2013, Guide notice.

Header: Advice Corner.

New Concepts: New Ideas for Your Application

If you're thinking about putting together an investigator-initiated application, be sure to check out the concepts already approved at the most recent NIAID advisory Council meeting.

What are concepts? They're the early planning stages for potential initiatives—scientific ideas that might turn into requests for applications (RFAs), program announcements (PAs), or contract solicitations (RFPs).

Though not all concepts will become initiatives, they'll give you insight into NIAID's high-priority research areas and could provide ideas for your own investigator-initiated applications.

Go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities for a list of approved concepts from all three NIAID extramural program divisions.

Of note, for the first time we have concepts relating to a small business contract solicitation (PHS 2014-1). The Division of AIDS shared three:

And the Division of Allergy, lmmunology, and Transplantation presented one:

For more about how concepts work, read Concepts May Turn Into Initiatives in the NIAID Funding Opportunity Planning and the Budget Cycle.

To learn more about Council, visit our Advisory Council portal and go to NIAID's Council—Our Chief Advisory Committee.

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.

"For applications with dual assignment, how often does a secondary institute or center (IC) fund a project when the primary IC does not?"—David M. Mueller, Chicago Medical School

We don't have hard data about how often a secondary IC picks up a project if the primary does not, but we know it doesn't happen often.

Discussions between program officers at the primary and secondary ICs most often initiate a process leading to a decision to fund if the application’s score falls within the payline of the secondary IC.

Where NIAID is the secondary IC, we look at whether an application scores within our paylines, meets a priority area of science, and fits into our funding plan.

If you're concerned about your application assignment, contact your program officer before you apply. You can request assignment in your cover letter or ask for reassignment before peer review, but once NIH has reviewed your application, your options are limited.

"Why is there so little information on NIAID's budget and paylines pages?"—anonymous reader

At the beginning of a new fiscal year, we typically operate under a continuing resolution and have limited budget and financial management plan information to post on the site until NIAID receives a final appropriation from Congress and our budget office formulates our new budget.

NIAID often starts the fiscal year operating under interim paylines that allow us to award only a limited number of grants. To learn more, read Paylines and Budget Pages Change Throughout the Year.

Check our Paylines and Funding page often. To receive email notifications, go to Subscribe to Email Alerts and select the "NIAID Paylines and Budget" interest category.

Header: New Funding Opportunities. 

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated November 20, 2013

Last Reviewed November 20, 2013