NIAID Funding News September 2, 2015

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Focus on Foreign Investigators: At a U.S. Institution

Previously in this series, we instructed foreign investigators to check each funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for whether foreign organizations are eligible to apply. However, that advice leaves out a key subgroup: Foreign investigators affiliated with U.S. institutions.

Here, we will discuss eligibility rules to keep in mind if you are not a U.S. citizen but work for a U.S. organization.

Scan the FOA

Essentially, you are considered a U.S. investigator if you are affiliated with a U.S. organization and are working in the U.S. When you apply, we expect that you will remain with your institution long enough to complete the proposed project without your visa expiring. If your visa is scheduled to expire, explain your situation in your grant application.

Some FOAs have an additional citizenship requirement. When you read a FOA, skip down to Section III: Eligibility Information and look for the section titled “Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator).” If there are citizenship restrictions for investigators at U.S. organizations, the FOA will say

“By the time of award, the individual must be a citizen or a noncitizen national of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residency (i.e., possess a currently valid Permanent Resident Card USCIS Form I-551, or other legal verification of such status).”

Notably, this allowance excludes student visas and temporary visas.

This requirement is rare among research project grants (R awards), cooperative agreements (U awards), and program project grants (P awards).

If you are not a noncitizen national nor have permanent residency status, you can still receive NIAID support to work under such a FOA, but you cannot be the project’s principal investigator.

Visa Issues

Foreign investigators applying for support while residing in the U.S. need not be U.S. citizens to apply for a research project grant, e.g., an R01, small grant (R03), or exploratory/developmental grant (R21). Still, foreign nationals who seek to work on NIH-funded grants or contracts need to address visa considerations.

NIAID expects you to remain at your U.S. institution long enough to finish your project. If you do not have a permanent visa, state in your application that your visa will allow you to remain in the U.S. long enough to finish your project.

Should your visa not cover the life of the grant and you cannot assure us that you will be getting one that does, your institution—the grantee—must nominate a replacement PI or we may not be able to issue an award. If NIAID issues a grant award and later finds out that your visa does not allow for a long enough stay, we can take action which may include terminating the grant.

Finally, note that visa and associated costs are considered consular fees and are not allowable costs unless part of a recruitment package.

Training, Fellowship, and Career Development Awards

Both training (T32 and T35) parent FOAs require that trainees be U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or have permanent residence status at the time of their appointment. Trainees with student or temporary visas are ineligible under the T32 and T35 parent FOAs.

Every fellowship (F30, F31, and F32) award NIAID currently supports also carries the U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, or permanent residence status requirement.

Among the career development (K) awards NIAID supports, only the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00)excludes the requirement that you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, or have permanent residency status at the time of award or appointment.


Finally, note that under U.S. law, nationals of State Sponsors of Terrorism who do not possess U.S. permanent residency status are ineligible to work in any capacity with pathogens or toxins that are potential bioterrorism agents. To see lists of relevant pathogens, go to HHS and USDA Select Agents and Toxins.

Related Resources

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Supplements Available Supporting Diversity, Career Reentry, and Research Into Sexual and Gender Minorities

To add funds to your existing grant, consider applying for an administrative supplement. NIH recently issued supplements to 1) promote reentry into biomedical and behavioral research careers, 2) promote diversity in health-related research, and 3) support research on sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations.

Reissued Diversity and Reentry Supplements

Two reissued funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) seek applications for Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research and Research Supplements to Promote Reentry Into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers. Through these supplements, you can help increase the participation of scientists from underrepresented groups in biomedical research or help promising researchers return to a scientific career.

For more information, including review criteria, requirements, and instructions on submitting an application, go to our web pages Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research and Research Supplements to Promote Reentry Into Biomedical and Behavioral Research Careers.

Questions? Contact Raushanah Newman.

Research on Sexual and Gender Minority Populations

NIH is offering administrative supplements to expand existing research on sexual and gender minority (SGM) health. SGM populations include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as people with differences or disorders of sexual development. The supplements will support research on increased disease risk, behavioral and social health, approaches to personalized medicine, and access to care.

NIH hopes to enrich scientific understanding of how sexual orientation, gender identity, and being born intersex relates to health and health risks, perceptions and expectations about health, health behaviors, and barriers to accessing health-related services.

Topics of interest include:

  • Expanding an ongoing SGM study focused on one group to add another
  • Assessing the reliability and validity of questionnaires relevant to sexual behavior, sexual identity, or sexual orientation
  • Methodological innovations improving the recruitment and retention of SGM individuals in research initiatives
  • Including new methodology or technology that enhances study data and the answers to questions being asked

Application budgets are limited to $100,000 in total costs for a period of one year, and must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. Project and budget periods must be within the currently approved project period for the existing parent award. The supplemental funding instrument, i.e., grant or cooperative agreement, will be the same as the parent award.

Applications are due by November 30, 2015. For complete details, read the August 11, 2015 Guide announcement.

We strongly recommend that you speak with NIAID's research contact Dr. Philip Renzullo in the planning stages of your application.

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Funding Available to Study Ethical Issues in HIV/AIDS Research

Challenges in research on HIV/AIDS persist as controversies related to clinical trials, access to drugs, stigmatized populations, and global health disparities continuously emerge. Recently, NIH published two sets of companion funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) that propose to study 1. Ethical issues relevant to research on HIV/AIDS and its comorbidities or 2. Ethical, legal, and policy challenges in HIV-related research and program implementation among key populations.

NIAID invites applications using the research project grant (R01) and exploratory/developmental research grant (R21) activity codes. Research projects may use conceptual methods, empirical methods, or a combination of both.

Your application will be reviewed by a review panel appropriate to the type of research proposed, which may include bioethicists and experts in HIV research, among others. Note that bioethics projects are often multidisciplinary in nature and your research team should reflect the different disciplines involved.

HIV/AIDS and Comorbidities

As one of the participating institutes, NIAID is primarily interested in projects that focus on at least one of the following goals:

  • Developing the empirical knowledge base for human subjects protection and ethical standards in HIV/AIDS research
  • Developing conceptual bioethics approaches to advance scholarship on difficult ethical challenges in HIV/AIDS research
  • Supporting the integration of bioethics work with ongoing research in HIV/AIDS

Sample topics of interest for this FOA include:

  • Ethics of research involving adolescents and young adults—analyzing issues about evolving adolescent autonomy, decisional capacity, consent, assent, and parental permission
  • Ethical issues in research on an HIV cure—analyzing risks and benefits of HIV cure research to current and future patients particularly among different populations affected by HIV
  • Effectiveness of ethics review—developing tools and methodologies for measuring the effectiveness of ethics committees and institutional review boards deliberations and substantive decision-making

Read the June 9, 2015 R01 and R21 Guide announcements for additional sample topics and details.

Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues in HIV Research in Key Populations

You can also propose to study challenges related to research studies or program implementation for HIV or associated comorbidities affecting one or more of the following key populations: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers, transgender people, or adolescent girls and young women who are living with or are at high risk of acquiring HIV.

Topics of interest for this FOA include:

  • Minimizing and managing risk—risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies for social, legal or other kinds of harms in the context of research
  • Policy and legal issues affecting research—analyzing the effects of specific policies, laws or criminal justice practices on health or health care outcomes related to HIV and its comorbidities
  • Stakeholder engagement, awareness, or training—developing and testing training methods and materials, alongside methodologies, tools or best practices in stakeholder engagement for key populations

Read the August 7, 2015 R01 and R21 Guide announcements for complete details.

Submitting Your Application

Follow the Standard AIDS Dates when applying to any of the listed opportunities. All awards are contingent upon NIH appropriations and meritorious application scores. Additional information on award budgets and due dates are listed in the applicable Guideannouncements.

Note that foreign organizations are eligible to apply and foreign components are allowed.

We strongly recommend that you speak with Dr. Liza Dawson in the planning stages of your application.

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Exploit RNA as a Target for HIV Interventions

Get funding through a new funding opportunity announcement to investigate and exploit the roles of viral and cellular long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) and RNA structural biology in regulating HIV. You could develop novel classes of HIV therapeutics that target RNA directly or block interactions of RNA with proteins or other nucleic acids.

For this opportunity, NIAID lists the following project topics as appropriate examples:

  • Mechanisms of cellular or viral lncRNAs in regulating HIV replication and immunopathogenesis
  • Targeting regulatory lncRNAs involved in HIV replication
  • Novel therapeutic approaches (e.g., small molecules, polypeptides, inhibitory RNAs, and combinations, including optimization of delivery) that target HIV RNA structures or functions
  • RNA structure-based lead compound optimization
  • In silico screening for molecules that bind to HIV RNAs and regulatory lncRNAs

You may also propose your own topic provided that it meets the requirements listed in the announcement.

Note that this opportunity will not support studies that focus on biomarkers other than lncRNAs for HIV infection, structural studies on HIV RNA without a therapeutic focus, or clinical trials.

The next application due date is September 8, 2015. For complete details, read the June 5, 2015 Guide announcement.

Header: Other News.

Office of AIDS Research Releases List of HIV/AIDS Research Priorities

NIH, through the Office of AIDS Research, has identified the highest HIV/AIDS research priorities for the next three to five years.

The overarching NIH HIV/AIDS research priorities are

  1. Research to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS, to include developing safe and effective HIV/AIDS vaccines
  2. Developing the next generation of HIV therapies with improved safety and ease of use
  3. Research towards a cure for HIV/AIDS
  4. HIV-associated comorbidities and co-infections

To review the full list, which divides research topics into high-, medium-, and low-priority categories, read the August 12, 2015 Guidenotice.

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News Briefs

Commercialization Accelerator Program Returns to Aid SBIR and STTR Phase II Awardees. Apply now for the NIHCommercialization Accelerator Program (CAP), which provides individualized assistance to help HHS SBIR and STTR Phase II awardees transition their developed products into the marketplace.

CAP offers three distinct tracks: The Commercialization Transition Track for emerging companies, the Advanced Commercialization Track, and the Regulatory Training Track for seasoned companies. The program's 80 available slots will be distributed among the three tracks.

The deadline to apply is September 11, 2015. The program will begin October 5, 2015. For full details, read the August 14, 2015Guide notice.

Dietary Supplements FOA Now Includes Iodine Nutrition. NIH added studies of iodine nutrition to the list of specific areas of research interest for Administrative Supplements for Research on Dietary Supplements. Read the August 10, 2015 Guide notice to learn more.

HHS Public Consultation to Gather Feedback on Planned Prize Competition for Development of Diagnostics to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. HHS plans to hold a prize competition in which up to $20 million will be made available for the development of successful rapid diagnostics that may be used by health care providers to identify bacterial infections and combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Stakeholders as well as attendees of the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s “ID Week” are welcome to attend a public forum to provide input on the types of diagnostics that may be developed to combat the growth and spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The public forum will be held on October 7, 2015, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Diego, California, in conjunction with IDSA's "ID Week." See Announcement of Public Consultation on Antimicrobial Resistance Rapid, Point-of-Care Diagnostic Test Challenge to learn more.

Header: Advice Corner.

Application Not Discussed? The Circumstances Matter

If your application is not discussed (ND) during peer review, you may not need to start over from scratch. Sometimes, especially when applying for a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) with set-aside funds, an application that reviewers did not discuss should be resubmitted as a revised A1 application or as a new A0 application under a general parent announcement.

Process for Discussing Applications at CSR

The streamlining process allows reviewers to focus their valuable time on those applications that are most competitive for the available funding.

To understand why, consider the general review procedures of the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR). First, peer reviewers read every application assigned to them and give preliminary criterion scores and a preliminary overall impact/priority score for single project applications. Then the scientific review officer (SRO) prepares a list of all applications arranged by preliminary overall impact/priority score.

In the review meeting at CSR, reviewers discuss the applications in preliminary overall impact/priority score order. As discussion nears the halfway point of the list, the SRO will ask the reviewers whether they would like to discuss any of the applications that scored in the bottom half. If one reviewer requests that a particular application from the bottom half be discussed, then the panel discusses it.

Applicants whose applications were discussed receive a summary statement that includes a “resumé”—the SRO’s summary of the reviewers’ discussion of the application. Applicants whose applications are ND do not receive the resumé, although they do receive full critiques from the reviewers. Also, while these applicants receive preliminary criterion scores, they are not given an overall impact/priority score.

Further, only those applications that were discussed are eligible for selective pay at the end of the fiscal year. For this reason, we encourage reviewers to err on the side of caution and discuss meritorious applications.

Process for Discussing Applications at NIAID

The process described above applies to most applications reviewed by standing study sections at CSR. However, for applications submitted in response to a request for applications (RFA) or a program announcement with set-aside funds (PAS), SROs and reviewers use a different process to determine how many applications are streamlined.

For reviews in which the number of applications that are received substantially exceeds the number of awards to be made, most special emphasis panels discuss only a percentage of applications assigned to the panel. When considering a FOA for which NIAID intends to fund only a few awards but receives a flood of applications, the SRO and reviewers will streamline a greater proportion of applications.

In this scenario it’s possible that a well-constructed application is ND. Streamlined applications are not necessarily lacking in scientific merit but rather—given the number of applications received and awards to be made—have no likelihood of being funded.

In any case, the rule still holds that if a single reviewer wants to discuss an application, the panel will discuss that application.

Conversely, for a FOA that garners a low response relative to the number of awards to be made, the review committee may discuss every application.

Know Your Situation

Review the reviewer critiques and your scores in each of the criterion categories. Although you will not receive a resumé, you should be able to address any shortcomings in your application based on the preliminary criterion scores and reviewer critiques.

So long as the FOA has not expired, you should be able to resubmit with an A1 application if your A0 application is not chosen for funding. Check the resubmission language in the FOA to be sure.

Additionally, the NIH Policy on Resubmission Applications allows you to always reapply with an A0 application, regardless of the application it follows. The new A0 application should make no reference to a previous submission. Since many PASs and RFAs expire after one or two receipt dates, you may need to reapply with your unfunded application as a new investigator-initiated application under a parent announcement. We discuss your resubmission options further in Options if Your Application Isn't Funded in the Strategy for NIH Funding.

Finally, always discuss your situation with your program officer. He or she can provide insights as to the competitiveness of your application, particularly if you applied in response to an RFA and are reworking your application as an investigator-initiated application.

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.

“Does an applicant need to have finished his or her doctoral degree before submitting an F32 application? For example, I plan to graduate in December 2015; can I apply for the September 2015 deadline or do I need to wait until the January 2016 deadline?”—Anjuli Wagner, University of Washington

The NRSA Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (Parent F32) states "Before a Kirschstein-NRSA postdoctoral fellowship award can be activated, the individual must have received a PhD, MD, [...], or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited domestic or foreign institution. Certification by an authorized official of the degree-granting institution that all degree requirements have been met is also acceptable."

That said, according to our Office of Research Training and Special Programs, if your authorized organizational representative can certify that all degree requirements have been met, you should be able to apply for the September 2015 due date given that the degree would be conferred before the award is reviewed or issued. Documentation is key as well as having your degree before the fellowship award is activated.

“I’m applying for the September 7, 2015 AIDS deadline, which is Labor Day. When is my application really due?”—anonymous reader

September 8, 2015. When a submission date falls on a weekend or federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day per our Submission Policies.

However, if you wait until then, there might not be enough time to correct any errors. It’s best to submit early to take advantage of theView Application window.

Note that the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) due date of September 5, 2015, extends to September 8, 2015, as well.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

Content last reviewed on September 2, 2015