NIAID Funding News March 4, 2015

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Changing Effort on Your Grant

On a grant, you may have to increase or decrease your effort as your work progresses.

Read our advice on changing effort, managing funds and, if necessary, getting approval.

Increasing Effort: Okay but Be Aware

You can increase your effort as much as you'd like without NIAID's permission as long as your effort increase does not change the scope of your research or exceed your allowed budget.

Contact your program officer to make sure.

Decreasing Effort: NIAID Approval or No?

You may need our permission before you decrease your effort.

  • If you reduce your effort by less than 25 percent, you do not need our permission. Just do it. However, be mindful of whether your terms of award require a minimum level of effort for the PI or other key personnel.
  • If you reduce your effort by 25 percent or more, you need to request our permission in the form of a prior approval request.
    • As soon as you believe you will need to reduce your effort by 25 percent or more, email both your grants management specialist and program officer with the following information:
      • Grant numbers for each grant affected. (You may be decreasing effort on one grant because you're increasing effort on another.)
      • New proposed effort level.
      • The reason for requesting an effort change and how the change will affect the project.
    • Your program officer and grants management specialist will review your justification before deciding whether to allow changes. Until you hear from them, do not assume you have our approval.

Calculate the percentage of change based on person months. For example, if your level of effort is four person months, a reduction of one person month would constitute a change of 25 percent, for a new level of effort at three person months.

Managing Your Money

Changing your level of effort does not change the total amount of funding you receive.

In other words, if you receive $300,000 in direct costs each year, you will receive no more than this amount no matter how your level of effort changes.

You may adjust your spending in any budget category as needed to continue your work under your new effort level.

If increasing your effort also increases your compensation, you still cannot exceed the NIH salary budget cap.

Common Reasons for Changing Effort

If you're unsure about what's an appropriate reason to change your level of effort, here are some examples that we see regularly:

  • Your responsibilities change. For example, once your project gets off the ground, you may not need to spend as much time training your team or overseeing experiments.
  • You receive another grant or additional professional responsibilities that require you to reduce your effort.
  • You hire new staff to run parts of your lab or conduct some experiments.

Related Links:

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Taking a Mechanistic Approach to Adjuvant Combinations

NIAID continues its commitment to discovering and developing vaccine adjuvants with a recent funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on molecular mechanisms of combination adjuvants (MMCA).

To meet the MMCA program's primary objectives, your research should 1) explore the potential of adjuvant combinations to synergistically enhance immune responses to vaccines, 2) help define the molecular and immunological mechanisms by which these combinations work, and 3) help determine optimal adjuvant combinations capable of triggering long-term protective immune responses to prevent or ameliorate infectious disease.

Your application should include the following elements:

  • Adjuvants that have already shown immune-boosting activity when used individually in licensed or unlicensed vaccines (e.g., experimental or candidate vaccines).
  • Exploration of the mechanism(s) of action of combination adjuvants that have already been shown individually to be effective in stimulating an enhanced immune response to vaccination.

Note that the MMCA program is milestone-based, so you must include in your application quantitative annual milestones to be achieved during the project for assessing progress and success. You will negotiate final annual milestones based on those proposed in your application with an NIAID program officer before award. Subsequent annual funding will depend on progress in meeting these milestones.

Also, since the FOA uses the cooperative agreement (U01) mechanism, there will be substantial NIAID programmatic involvement with awardees during the performance of activities. The Institute will organize a kickoff and annual meetings and may conduct site visits.

For complete details, including types of studies that will be considered nonresponsive to the FOA, read the February 10, 2015, Guidenotice. Optional letters of intent are due June 9, 2015. The application deadline is a month later on July 9.

If you have questions, contact NIAID's Dr. Wolfgang Leitner.

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Get or Upgrade an Expensive Instrument

Attention: Apply by May 29, 2015, if you’re interested in purchasing or upgrading a single, expensive research instrument or system that costs at least $600,000 and no more than $2,000,000.

Under NIH's High-End Shared Instrumentation (HEI) program requirements, the instrument or system must be for research purposes only, shared use, and at least 75 percent used on NIH-supported projects. The opportunity does not pay for technical personnel, service contracts, extended warranties, or supplies.

You may send multiple HEI applications, but be sure to limit each application to one item. Here are some example requests: x-ray diffractometers, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometers, electron and confocal microscopes, protein and DNA sequencers, biosensors, cell sorters, or biomedical imagers.

As PI, you would assume administrative and scientific oversight responsibility for the requested instrument. You name an advisory committee to help you develop guidelines to maximize use of the instrument, ensure safe day-to-day management and operation, limit use as appropriate to users with approved projects, and more.

This opportunity uses the Biomedical Research Support Shared Instrumentation Grants (S10) activity code, which does not allow multiple PI applications. See the February 10, 2015, Guide notice for details.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your application plan, contact Dr. Abraham Levy at 301-435-0777 or

Header: Other News.

Notes From January's Advisory Council—Congress, Budgets, News

NIAID's advisory Council met on January 26, 2015. Read on for news and notes on NIAID's budget, alternative approaches for funding research project grants, new Council members, and areas of research we're interested in funding.

Budgets, Paylines, and Congress

NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci explained how our flat FY 2015 budget has led to a net loss of buying power as the costs of biomedical research continue to rise.

He announced investigator-initiated R01 paylines of 10 percentile for established PIs and 14 percentile for new PIs, which we've since raised to 11 and 15, respectively. And, he discussed other aspects of NIAID's Financial Management Plan.

He also gave a rundown of how NIAID spent $238 million in emergency funding for Ebola research (mostly for randomized clinical trials of vaccines and development of diagnostics and candidate therapeutics). This one-time sum of money does not change our outlook on budgets or paylines, and we can't carry it into next fiscal year.

Dr. Fauci went on to speak about changes in Congressional leadership, including the retirement of two long-time supporters of NIH, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), and reported on several Congressional hearings at which he and NIAID representatives testified.

Experiments With New Approaches to Funding Research Grants—Shifting the Paradigm

Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), highlighted his institute's success in rebalancing its portfolio to emphasize investigator-initiated research, as evidenced by higher funding rates and greater diversity of projects.

He also laid out his plan to assess the impact of new policies and funding opportunities that broadly support an investigator's work on a relatively comprehensive research area over a potentially longer award, instead of multiple independent research projects that focus on smaller individual aspects of a broader overarching goal, often supported by relatively short award periods.

By funding broader laboratory objectives rather than individual projects, NIGMS hopes to create more opportunities to capitalize on serendipitous discoveries and spread research funding across a broader spectrum of investigators.

For details on NIGMS's plans, go to the following pages:

Watch the entire Council presentation at NIAID Advisory Committee Meeting—January 2015. Dr. Lorsch's portion starts at the 40-minute mark.

Subcommittee Accomplishments and Initiatives

Learn more about NIAID's priorities and initiatives from Council subcommittee meetings, where NIAID staff discuss extramural research programs with advisory Council members.

See below for video of these subcommittees' open sessions:

New Members

January Council marked the first meeting for the following Council members:

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (DAIDS) Subcommittee:
    • Amanda Castel, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at The George Washington University.
    • John Guatelli, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
  • Allergy and Immunology (DAIT) Subcommittee:
    • Stephen J. Galli, M.D., Mary Hewitt Loveless Professor, chair and professor of pathology, and professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University.
    • Gurjit Khurana Hershey, M.D., Ph.D., Kindervelt Endowed Chair in Asthma Research and director of Division of Asthma Research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

These members will serve until October 31, 2018.

Concepts Cleared

Council also approved a new slate of concepts, including small business contract solicitation topics. Read about these in the next article.

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Concepts: Your Window Into NIAID's Priorities

If you're not tuned into our concepts, you might be missing out on big insights into NIAID's strategic thinking—insights you can use to give your application its best chance at funding.

Concepts represent the earliest planning stage of all new initiatives, such as requests for applications (RFAs), program announcements (PAs), and requests for proposals (RFPs).

While there is no guarantee that a concept will become an initiative, savvy applicants often gear their investigator-initiated applications toward NIAID's research interests.

For small businesses, concepts foreshadow potential opportunities for grants and contracts under NIH's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

To see a list of approved concepts, go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities. Find our most recent concepts on the following pages:

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

Get our advice on using concepts to your advantage at Unsolicited, Investigator-Initiated Research and other sections of Types of Funding Opportunities in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

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A Brief Guide to Uniform Guidance

In case you missed the February 5, 2015, Guide notice, check out NIH Interim Grant General Conditions. It highlights changes that stem from HHS's Interim Final Regulation 45 CFR Part 75, which in turn implemented the Office of Management and Budget'sUniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance, for short).

This Guidance supersedes requirements from OMB Circulars A-21, A-87, A-110, and A-122; Circulars A-89, A-102, and A-133; and the guidance in Circular A-50 on Single Audit Act follow-up.

Note that NIH's Interim Grant General Conditions 1) are in effect now, 2) will be finalized in the NIH Grants Policy Statement once HHS revises, if necessary, 45 CFR Part 75, and 3) are effective for awards that are issued on or after December 26, 2014, and obligate new or supplemental funds.

Some changes affecting grantees include:

  • Institutions will have 120 days (was previously 90 days) to submit grant closeout documents: Final Federal Financial Report, Final Invention Statement, and Final Progress Report.
  • Audits are required for organizations that spend $750,000 or more a year of federal funds. The previous amount was $500,000 or more.
  • Terminology is changing. For example, alterations and renovations is now rearrangement and reconversion.
  • For foreign grantees, value added tax (VAT) will be considered an allowable cost.

For additional information, see NIH's Uniform Guidance and NIH Interim Grant Conditions FAQs. You can also watch OER's YouTube video NIH Implementation of Uniform Guidance. We'll bring you more on this topic as details develop.

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News Briefs

Request for Information: Development of Therapeutic Products for Biodefense. NIAID is interested in developing products with broad spectrum therapeutic activity against viruses or bacterial pathogens as well as promising anti-toxins as therapeutic products. If you are working on therapeutic candidates with in vitro and in vivo evidence of efficacy, demonstrated feasibility of manufacturing, and sufficient characterization to allow the development of a draft target product profile, consider responding to theFebruary 20, 2015, RFI by March 13, 2015.

Speaking of RFIs, NIH Issues a New One and Extends Another. As the scale and complexity of biomedical data repositories continue to grow, NIH will develop strategies to ensure their capacity and usefulness into the future. Interested stakeholders can read the February 18, 2015, Guide notice and then weigh in by emailing before March 18, 2015.

Also, the public comment period for the Draft NIH Policy on Dissemination of NIH-Funded Clinical Trial Information, as listed in theNovember 19, 2014, Guide notice, has been extended to March 23, 2015. Respond by

Don't Resist Requests for Peer Review Service. As stated in the February 20, 2015, Guide notice, NIH expects principal investigators of NIH-supported grants and contracts to serve on NIH peer review groups. We rely on highly qualified volunteers to identify the best science during peer review so we can fund the best science, as made clear in this May 7, 2010, Guide notice. If you are asked to serve, please do!

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Conferences. Locations, dates, and times are now scheduled for several upcoming NIAID-relevant conferences. See one that interests you? Just follow the hyperlink to learn more:

Header: Advice Corner.

Your Grant Information Can Be Made Public

Be aware: If you receive a grant from NIH, anybody can request to see your application and progress report under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Selecting the "proprietary information" box on the SF 424 does not shield your information from release in response to a FOIA request. Mark that box only if your application includes specific proprietary information that you wish to identify for NIH when you apply.

If NIH receives a FOIA request, it will consult you before determining whether to release specific information you have identified (NIH cannot withhold your entire application).

FOIA applies to any recipient of federal support. Exemptions exist for certain information but outside of some small business awards, very few grants contain information that qualifies for an exemption.

NIH provides instructions and guidance about FOIA in the SF 424 instructions. See the following links for more information:

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.

"Can one of the PIs on my multiple PI, program project (P01) grant application be a foreign citizen here on a visa?"—anonymous reader

That depends on the specific funding opportunity announcement for which you plan to apply. If you are referring to the parent NIAID Investigator-Initiated Program Project Applications (P01), then a foreign investigator may serve as one of multiple PIs.

Learn about the procedures your institution must follow by reading Foreign Workers on NIH Awards SOP.

One other reminder for P01 applicants: The multiple PI option can be used only for the overall program leader role, not for the individual projects and cores within a multiproject application.

“My resubmission application is ready, but I'm concerned the review panel lacks expertise in my specific research area. Can I request a special emphasis panel?”—anonymous reader

You may request a study section in your application's cover letter, as explained in Requesting an Institute and Study Section; however, a request for a special emphasis panel (SEP) is unlikely to be honored.

Typically, your application will be assigned to an SEP if:

  • You're eligible for continuous submission.
  • You apply for a fellowship or small business award.
  • One or more standing study section members has a conflict and no other study section has the expertise to review your application fairly.

Given your concern about the expertise of your review panel, you should contact your scientific review officer (SRO) to discuss your options. SROs frequently recruit ad hoc reviewers with specialized expertise to fill scientific expertise gaps in a review panel.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

Content last reviewed on August 30, 2016