NIAID Funding News April 15, 2015

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Losing Your Funding: Avoid a Gap, Survive a Gap

Whether you're on your first grant or you have had decades of support, renewal is never guaranteed. For the past several years, only about one-third of renewal applications have succeeded and most of those failed on their first attempt.

Many NIAID program officials are former grantees or researchers on NIH grants, so we understand how difficult it is to lose funding, especially if you've received NIH support for many years.

Success rates for new applications are even lower, so you should try to build on your accomplishments from your current grant.

We don't want to discourage you from applying for a renewal. However, we have to acknowledge the fact that your path to renewal is a tough one.

Read on for our advice and perspective on how to lessen your risk of falling into a funding gap and what to do if it happens.

Plan Now to Avoid a Gap

You can take steps to keep a steady flow of funding to your lab.

Apply for Your Renewal Early

As long as you have accomplished enough to build a strong case for renewing your grant, apply early. That way, you have time to revise and resubmit without risking an interruption in funding.

If your renewal application succeeds, we'll time your renewal to begin when your current grant ends.

Read more in Deciding When to Apply for a Renewal, linked below.

Apply for Another R01

Keep trying for other R01s. Having multiplegrants active at the same time means you can sustain your lab even if you lose one grant.

Most funded projects generate unexpected findings in the course of pursuing funded aims that can form the basis of a distinctly new project.

As long as your applications are scientifically distinct from your funded research, pursue as many applications as your time, preliminary data, and resources allow.

Give Yourself Multiple Streams of Funding

Consider three other ways to get NIH funding.

Spin off your research into a small grant (R03) or an exploratory/developmental grant (R21) while you're working on your current grant. These two-year awards will keep money flowing into your lab to pursue new research or gather preliminary data for an R01 application.

An R03 is ideal for pilot projects, secondary analyses of data you've generated, and/or developing new research methods or technology.

An R21 is designed for exploratory and innovative research, but many investigators find success using them to pursue one or two Specific Aims from an unsuccessful R01 application.

To help you decide if this path makes sense for your situation, read Drawbacks for Smaller Awards, linked below.

Contract with NIH.NIH needs a variety of technologies, research materials, and services to carry out its activities, such as running intramural labs and clinical trials and providing data, reagents, and other benefits to the public. It has to buy from somebody—and that somebody could be you.

Search for "National Institutes of Health" on FedBizOpps for a list of NIH's open solicitations. If your lab can fill any of those needs, submit a proposal in response to one of those solicitations.

You will probably compete with biotech companies and small businesses, but don't let that discourage you. We review all proposals according to the evaluation criteria stated in the solicitation—meaning as long as you demonstrate you can meet the requirements of the solicitation, you stand a chance of being selected.

Learn more in Why You May Want to Consider a Contract, linked below.

Collaborate. You can get NIH funding through different types of collaborations.

1. Respond to a request for applications (RFAs) issued by an NIH institute or center. These RFAs often provide support for specific research areas in the form of cooperative agreements. While you would be working more closely with NIH program staff during the course of the project, as compared to an R01 grant, you will get funding for a research partnership that meets an NIH priority.

How do you find cooperative agreement opportunities?

Look for RFAs that carry activity codes containing a "U" (e.g., U01, U19, UH2) on our NIAID Funding Opportunities List and theNIH Guide, linked below.

2. Lead one component or core of a multiproject application, e.g., a program project (P01). You wouldn't be a PI, but you would be responsible for conducting meaningful research.

Learn more about this option in our Multiproject Awards SOP, and read our Guidance for Preparing a Multiproject Research Application, linked below.

3. Seek supplemental funding to join another researcher's project. If you have a pilot study or a small project that dovetails with another PI's research, talk to that PI about requesting supplemental funding to incorporate your work into his or her grant.

For projects that fit within the scope of your collaborator's grant aims, have your collaborator request an administrative supplement. He or she can do this any time of year, though NIAID has some requirements your collaborator will have to meet. For example, your collaborator's grant cannot be in its first or last year of award.

For projects that expand the scope of your collaborator's grant, wait for an opportunity for your collaborator to apply for a revision of his or her aims through a funding opportunity announcement that targets your area of research.

Learn more in our Supplements to Grants—Administrative, Revision, and Research Questions and Answers, linked below.

4. Consult for other scientists, especially NIH-funded PIs.

NIH-funded PIs frequently include consultants in their grant proposals, who are paid to contribute a certain amount of effort to the project in exchange for the specialized expertise they provide. Consider lending your time and expertise to somebody else's research.

Seek out other researchers within your institution, at conferences, and through publications, and formalize these consulting relationships with letters of collaboration.

Check with your institution's business office about whether it has rules or restrictions about consulting for other PIs. NIH will pay for consultants if they're budgeted in the application and do not have a substantive role (e.g., performing experiments).

For more on finding people who would likely need your talent, read Researching Research Topics and Teammates, linked below.


Publishing isn't just a measure of productivity. It improves your renewal application and also opens new opportunities to collaborate.

Reviewers look at the quantity and quality of your publications as a reflection on your research accomplishments, and factor that into your renewal's overall impact score.

Also, publishing gives other researchers an opportunity to learn more about your work, which may lead them to ask you to collaborate with them on an NIH grant.

If You Lose Funding, You Have Options

If NIH is your sole source of funding, losing your grant is devastating. This may mean laying off staff, taking a pay cut, or shutting down your lab.

Before having to take those painful steps, consider some other options.

Find institutional support.Talk to your department chair and business office about whether your institution has options to help you through a lapse in funding.

Support eligible doctoral students and postdocs using NIH training (T), career development (K), and fellowship (F) grants.If you can get support for these junior researchers using training and career development grants, do it.

Submit your unfunded renewal as a "new" application. Identify the parts of your previous proposal that are still relevant and can move the field forward, and improve your previous application as much as possible. When you apply, check "new" application and avoid any mention of previous attempts. Learn more in Option 2: Create a New Application on Options if Your Application Isn't Funded, linked below.

Find non-government funding sources.Look for nonprofits, endowments, and foundations that support scientific research. Though only a few organizations can match NIH in scope, duration, and amount of support, you may be able to get some money to continue your research while you try for another NIH grant. Read NIAID's List of Foundations and Other Funding Sources, linked below, and establish contacts and connections to get more advice and direction from people who have a good perspective on what these organizations are looking for.

Understand Consequences

A few of our suggestions come with qualifiers.

Take heed before leading a component or core of a multiproject application. When you apply for a multiproject grant, your goals, methods, and aims must sync well with other projects, remain synced for the duration of your grant, and demonstrate synergy.

Too often, PIs submit separate projects on a high-level shared theme (e.g., inflammation, host defense).

Reviewers will score your application poorly if they don't see how your combined projects would make a bigger impact than each project alone.

Be mindful of effort commitments. Remember as you balance multiple avenues for funding that your effort level cannot exceed 100 percent. However, you can apply for multiple awards with total effort levels that exceed 100 percent.

We allow this because you are not likely to get every grant you apply for. If multiple applications are funded, we'll adjust your effort to be no more than 100 percent during award negotiation.

Cooperative agreements: shared responsibility between you and NIAID. Expect NIAID staff to play a large and substantive role in the design and conduct of your research.

To get a sense of how NIAID's level of involvement on a cooperative agreement differs from that of a grant, read Determining When to Use a Cooperative Agreement, linked below. We developed that resource as a reference for our staff but hope you find it useful, too.

Contracts are a commitment.When you contract with NIAID, you enter a legally binding contractual agreement to deliver a product or service at a certain time at a certain cost.

In return, we pay you according to the terms and conditions of the contract.

Grants are a commitment, too—but you're committing to research aims that yield biomedical research discoveries. On a contract, you're committing to produce a defined deliverable at a specific time.

Related Links (In Order of Appearance)

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Approaching HIV From a Social Determinant Perspective

Growing evidence shows that social determinants—i.e., social conditions and economic circumstances that influence health—are associated with rates of HIV transmission and clinical outcomes.

Two companion funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), an R01 and an exploratory/developmental research (R21) grant, seek applications that can help better characterize social determinants as they relate to HIV infection and disease outcomes with the goal of identifying mutable targets for inclusion in structural interventions.

Specifically, these FOAs aim to identify novel methods for measuring and predicting those social determinants of health that can serve as targets for intervention at the clinic, community, and social environmental levels.

Areas of research interest include:

  • Scale development/measurement techniques—e.g., to develop assessments to capture underlying mechanisms of a social determinant or set of determinants with priority given to those that include multiple social determinants.
  • Use of complex datasets and data analytic techniques—e.g., to combine data sets and use data analytic techniques that account for change over time (e.g., time-series) and the distal relationship between multiple social determinant factors and HIV-related outcomes for the purposes of drawing causal inference.
  • Observational study designs—e.g., to capture the most useful observational data from a predictive or causal model perspective using quasi-experimental approaches to inform future research directions such as intervention development.

We encourage applicants to include multidisciplinary teams to draw on expertise in other health conditions or outside the health field, e.g., behavioral economics, urban planning, and political science.

In determining which FOA to respond to, note that high-risk, high-payoff projects lacking preliminary data or using existing data are likely to be most appropriate for the R21 FOA, while applicants who have preliminary data or who include longitudinal analysis may want to apply for the R01 FOA.

Read the March 24, 2015, R01 and R21 Guide notices for full details, including more examples of research areas of interest as well as study types that would be considered nonresponsive.

Optional letters of intent are due July 19, 2015. The application deadline is August 19, 2015.

Questions? Elizabeth Flanagan, NIAID's scientific/research contact can help.

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Opportunity to Investigate TB-HIV Coinfection

A new research opportunity will fund studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) resistance in HIV-infected individuals. Consider applying if your research can help characterize the genetic, epigenetic, or immunological correlates of protection against TB infection in highly-exposed but resistant HIV-infected individuals.

NIAID is especially interested in approaches that examine innate immune responses to identify:

  • The effects of variation in regulatory genes, networks, signaling, and transcription regulators.
  • The impact on key host defenses for TB, including pattern recognition receptors and amplifiers, autophagy, ubiquitination, NK cell functions, cytokine expression, macrophage polarization, and bactericidal mechanisms.
  • The roles of genes involved in controlling innate immunity, including so-called "cell fate" genes.

The research you propose should also:

  • Use new genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic technologies.
  • Examine lower respiratory specimens obtained by bronchoscopy.
  • Consider potentially confounding cofactors.

Your application must demonstrate access to HIV-infected people with clearly characterized latent TB infection resistance. If you do not involve an applicable clinical cohort, your application will be considered nonresponsive.

If you propose an animal study, it must be in support of a clinical study.

You may not propose clinical trials.

We encourage multidisciplinary collaboration that incorporates clinical studies and functional experiments using samples and data from well-defined cohorts. As you plan your research proposal, be sure to review the preclinical services offered by NIAID to qualified investigators at Resources for Researchers.

For full details, read the March 26, 2015, Guide notice. Letters of intent are due June 22, 2015. The application deadline is July 22, 2015.

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Contract Opportunity to Support Primate Allele Discovery and Typing Technology

NIAID is soliciting offers for Nonhuman Primate (NHP) Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Allele Discovery and Typing Technology Development.

Our current research program generates detailed knowledge of NHP MHC and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genes, loci, and alleles through gene discovery and tissue expression studies. The program also develops and provides means to genotype individual research animals for MHC or KIR alleles to support experiment design and genetic management of colonies.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) represents an expansion of research from the program's previous contracts. Under the BAA, offerors will propose their own statements of work, which should further the overall program's research but are not required to directly relate to research performed under previous contracts.

We anticipate awarding one or two cost-reimbursement, completion-type contracts for a five-year period of performance beginning around April 1, 2016. NIAID estimates that the average annual total cost will be $1 million for all contract awards made under this announcement.

For the full solicitation, including the Evaluation Factors for Award, read the March 19, 2015, solicitation.

The deadline to respond is July 16, 2015.

Header: Other News.

Store and Analyze Genomic Data in the Cloud

You may request permission to transfer controlled-access genomic data obtained from NIH-designated data repositories to public or private cloud systems for data storage and analysis.

To do so, the cloud computing system must meet the data use and security standards outlined in NIH Security Best Practices for Controlled-Access Data Subject to the NIH Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy.

Request permission by completing a Data Access Request (DAR) in the database for Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP). When filling out the DAR, indicate your intention to transfer access to a cloud system, identify the cloud service provider, and describe how the cloud computing service will be used to carry out your proposed research.

Keep in mind, your institution, not the cloud service provider, is responsible for any oversight failures that result from using cloud computing services for controlled-access data.

Read the March 27, 2015, Guide notice for full details.

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New Budget Form for Multiproject Applications

NIH has created a new, optional form for multiproject applications in which an entire component of the grant will be led by a collaborating organization.

When a collaborating organization leads an entire component of a multiproject grant, it is a subaward and should count up to $25,000 toward the applicant organization’s indirect cost base. However, because the Overall component of the multiproject application does not have its own budget form, our system was not counting that type of subaward.

Using the “PHS Additional Indirect Costs” form will allow our system to automatically correctly calculate the applicant organization’s indirect cost base.

For more information, read the March 18, 2015, Guide notice.

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News Briefs

Extended Deadline for Vaccine Safety R01 and R21. NIAID has extended Research to Advance Vaccine Safety (R01) andResearch to Advance Vaccine Safety (R21) by two funding cycles. The new expiration date for both is January 8, 2016, as announced in the March 26, 2015, R01 and R21 Guide notices.

Grants Management Training Workshops in Baltimore and Peru. It's not too late to sign up for the 2015 NIH Regional Seminar: Program Funding and Grants Administration in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 6 to 8, 2015. Read Time for the NIH Regional Seminar in Baltimore for a special preview. You can also register now for the NIAID Post-Award Grants Policy and Management Training Workshop, which runs from June 9 to 11, 2015, in Lima, Peru.

You Can Syndicate NIAID's Sample Pages. By following the instructions at Syndication in Seven Easy Steps, you can place information from Sample Applications and Summary Statements and Samples and Examples on your Web site and the pages will automatically update when we add additional samples on our end.

Answering Questions About Uniform Guidance. Check out the NIH Office of Extramural Research's video Eye on NIH Policy: OMB Uniform Guidance and What It Means for You, taken from an interactive question and answer Webinar held on March 12, 2015. To learn more about the NIH Interim Grant General Conditions, watch OER's NIH Implementation of Uniform Guidance, and read our article "A Brief Guide to Uniform Guidance."

Webinar to Answer Questions About BD2K Crowdsourcing FOA. Participate in the April 29, 2015, Webinar for RFA-CA-15-006 BD2K Advancing Biomedical Science Using Crowdsourcing and Interactive Digital Media (UH2) to learn more about the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) we covered in "Funding for Video Games, Web Sites, Mobile Apps, Networking Sites, Virtual Worlds...."

Header: Advice Corner.

Moving On From Your Institution

If you're planning to transfer to a new institution or retire, you and your grantee institution should know your options. We've prepared a list below to help you.

Note: for all the options described, the grantee must get prior approval from NIAID. See the Prior Approvals for Post-Award Grant Actions SOP. For PI changes, see the Change of Principal Investigator SOP.

The Basics

When you move on, your current institution's officials decide what to do with the grant.

  • If you transfer, institution officials may choose one of these options:
    1. Keep the grant and propose a new PI to NIAID.
    2. Relinquish the grant to your new institution with you as PI.
    3. Terminate the grant.
  • If you retire, your institution's officials have only these two options:
    1. Keep the grant and propose a new PI to NIAID.
    2. Terminate the grant.

Next, let's see how those options play out for different scenarios: multiple PI awards, foreign institutions, and small businesses.

Scenario: Multiple PI Award

If you're the contact PI for a multi-PI grant, your current institution's officials may choose one of these options:

  1. Keep the grant and propose to NIAID a new contact PI from the grantee institution.
    • Since the contact PI must be associated with the grantee institution, if approved, you will be removed as contact PI.
    • They could propose to keep you on the grant as a multi-PI or senior/key personnel from your new institution. With this option, any funding requirement for you and your work would be done through a subcontract to your new institution.
  2. Relinquish the grant to your new institution with you as PI.
  3. Terminate the grant.

Scenario: Moving to a Foreign Institution

If you plan to transfer to a foreign institution, your current institution's officials may choose one of these options:

  1. Keep the grant and propose to NIAID a new PI.
  2. Relinquish the grant to your new foreign institution. If attempting to transfer a grant to a foreign organization, the research plan must first have NIAID advisory Council concurrence before NIAID's Grants Management Program will consider a transfer for review.
    • If Council gives concurrence, as with any other grant application submission, approval of the transfer application must meet all NIH administrative and policy requirements before it will be approved to transfer.
    • NIAID has only three advisory Council meetings each fiscal year, so contact your NIAID program officer as soon as you believe you will move to a foreign organization and want to take the grant with you.
  3. Terminate the grant.

Scenario: Moving To or From a Small Business

Unless the grant is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant, attempting to transfer an NIH research grant from a for-profit company would generally follow all the scenarios above.

However, for SBIR/STTR grants (R41, R42, R43, R44, U43, U44), there are additional unique administrative, organizational, and principal investigator requirements that come into play. Contact your grants management specialist directly for SBIR/STTR grants.


If you have further policy questions, contact your grants management specialist.

For advice on your planned transition, we suggest that you contact your organization's business office. Allow time to learn about your institution's requirements and plan a smooth transition for your lab.

Header: Reader Questions.

Feel free to send us a question at After responding to you, we may ask your permission to include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.

"Do I need to submit an annual progress report in lieu of a final progress report when I extend a project for another year?"—Leisha Wharfield, Decision Research

No. Since a no-cost extension lengthens the final project period, you don't need to file an annual progress report at the former one-year mark. Instead, wait and file a final progress report at the end of the no-cost extension.

While you don’t have to submit an annual progress report before you request the no-cost extension, you do have to ensure all required certifications and assurances are up to date, including approvals for human subjects assurances and animal welfare assurances.

Read our No-Cost Extension SOP and learn more about progress reports at Progress Reports Questions and Answers and File Your Final Reports at Award End in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

“For an RFA, can I submit a cover letter requesting a specific study section or sections?”—anonymous reader

No. Each request for applications (RFA) convenes its own review group, called a special emphasis panel (SEP), so you cannot request assignment as you normally could for a program announcement.

Typically, applications in response to RFAs are reviewed by the lead sponsoring institute. At NIAID, one or more SEPs may review the applications. For more information, read Peer Review at NIAID Questions and Answers.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

Content last reviewed on April 15, 2015