RC1 Scores & Remaining Review Procedures

I thought I would add a post in which to consolidate & commiserate over RC1 scores and remind folks of the remaining phases of review.

First, for calibration purposes, some scores previously posted at MWEG (feel free to continue adding scores in the comments here – I’ll move some scores up to this list as they come in) and mentioned to me in the hallways at BICO (impact score/percentile):


So what happens next?

If the process continues as previously described to me, the third stage of review will be conducted by the ICs, each of which will prioritize their assigned applications for each Broad Challenge Area (n=15) and write brief summaries of the top 10% of the applications for each Broad Challenge Area (this can include applications assigned to one IC but that meet a high priority for another IC).

In early August, a group of IC directors will conduct the fourth stage of review and rank applications across all Broad Challenge Areas. These recommendations go to the NIH director for the final decision on the 200 applications to be supported by OD ARRA funds. Applications not selected for funding with OD ARRA funds will go back to ICs for funding consideration.

Finally, all applications selected for ARRA support will still need to go through the standard “secondary” peer review by Council of the IC that will be responsible for oversight of the application in time to obligate funds in FY09.

Oh, and then really finally, off to the Executive Branch for final approval of each requested award.


  1. 66 on a 10 through 90 scale is 17th %ile!?!?!?!?

    Looks like the motherfucking assholes finally learned to spread their scores!!!!!!!

    • D said

      Maybe not. If the unscored are counted as part of the percentile (and assuming 80% are not discussed) then the 20% is the worst of the discussed apps.

    • BubbleBuster said

      My NIDDK RC1: 77 and 11th percentile. So yes it is weighed on the number that didn’t make it to discussions.

    • I know that we are discussing RC1 scores here but has anyone heard about scores/funding for RC2s (GO grants)?

      • writedit said

        We’ve had a few RC2 scores posted here: 30, 55, 60. I know of a few unscored RC2s at BICO, and I know of a couple that were finally reviewed today. Folks have been fairly quiet about their Grand Opportunities, though only (jeesh – “only”) ~2600 applications were submitted.

      • writedit said

        An RC2 here at BICO got a 44 from NIAAA.

  2. BP said

    I’ve heard of weird spreads: 27 at 7th percentile and a 52 at 7th percentile!

  3. qaz said

    This is clearly study section by study section dependent. My RC1 just got “unscored” (meaning lower half) with all scores from three reviewers between 2 and 3.

    Our NRSA study section I just finished clearly tried to translate 1-9 as a linear equivalent of 1.0-5.0.

    • RGP said

      Me too, qaz — I had mostly 2s and 3s with some 1s thrown in there…

      Well, October submission, here I come! But I guess October will be flooded with revised Challenge grants……Maybe Feb would be a better strategy?

      • AZ said

        How do you guys know your various scores by individual reviewers? This is not shown in the Commons…

      • D said

        From the summary statements. I guess the not discussed (formally called unscored) apps had their SSs released ASAP. Discussed ones will take longer because the SROs have to write Resumes. For regular committees the not discussed SSs are released last. Maybe this is a new CSR policy?

  4. Ezo said

    My RC1s:
    NICHD: “Not Discussed”, NHLBI: Impact 36, Perc. 6.0
    Do you guys have any idea of the payline of the NHLBI? My NIH PO said is promising. What do you think?
    Thank you

    • D said

      I would guess that you don’t have much of a chance. Unless either 1). When NHLBI ranks their RC1 list you come out on top or 2) NHLBI decides to pick up your grant with their own ARRA money.

      Remember that with 20,000 apps submitted and only 200 funded by the NIH OD you would need a 1% to be “in the money”. If NHLBI picks up another 10-20 that would be the group you have the best shot at making.

      Did the PO mention how many they might pick up?

      • Ezo said

        Thank you, I thought the same.
        No, He didnt mention it. Would my status of New Investigator help?

      • D said

        Good question. I am not sure what is most important in these decisions. Each IC is probably different.

        Although Personally I think the RC1s for New Investigators (I assume you are also an ESI) is a blessing and a curse. Blessed by 2 years of money but cursed because you lose your ESI status for an R01.

        Good luck!

      • D said

        PS. I don’t know if NHLBI does this but you could also ask your PO if your grant could be converted into a 3-4 year R01 through select pay. Essentially using their “slush fund” to fund you. As an ESI you might have a shot.

      • peter said

        NHLBI is funding at least 200 of 1789 applications received. Therefore, the top 10 or 11% will be funded! Maybe more!

        Here’s the link that provides that info:


  5. AZ said

    Congrats to EZO – NHLBI is going to fund 200 Challenge Grants using their own ARRA funding (in addition to NIH OD’s 200 grants), out of a total ~1700 applications. That means they will fund the top 10% of Challenge applications. Do you guys have any news from other I/C about their ARRA funding allocation for Challenge Grants, such as NIDDK etc?

  6. csd said

    For an RC1, challenge grant, from NCMHD, score of 35, percentile 6%.
    Is that fundable?

  7. AJ said

    Mine received 37 and 8% from NCI. I assume it probably won’t be funded either 😦

  8. whimple said

    I have no idea what the NCI is spending their ARRA money on. Does anyone know?

    • writedit said

      NCI will use Recovery Act funds to support:

      Three Signature Initiatives—The Cancer Genome Atlas, Physical Sciences – Oncology Centers, Personalized Medicine

      New award programs – “Challenge Grants” and “Grand Opportunities”

      Supplements to existing grants


      Increased paylines for unfunded competing 2009 grant applications (ARRA-specific paylines posted here – currently 25th percentile for R01s & R21s, 225 score for R03s)

  9. BB said

    5s, 3s, and 7s from 3 reviewers; not discussed and a puzzling note from one reviewer about lack of resource sharing that makes no sense.
    This was submitted to NCI also. Why do I even bother?

    • BP said

      The RFA explicitly called for a resource sharing plan or a statement as to why sharing was inappropriate. My grants caught it and I used some boiler-plate.

  10. spindoctor said

    Our RC1 got a 57 with a 9th percentile from NIGMS. Does anyone know how GM is allocating their ARRA funds?

    • writedit said

      NIGMS is a bit more vague than NCI, though they are participating in most of the ARRA FOAs so will be spreading their $ around accordingly.

  11. Grant Writer said

    Bear with me, I’m new to this.

    I submitted 4 challenge grant applications. In eRA Commons, 3 have the application status of “Unscored” and 1 has the application status of “Pending Council Review”. Am I right to interpret this as meaning that the 3 will not be funded, but the 1 still has a chance?


    • Bear with me, I’m new to this.

      I submitted 4 challenge grant applications.

      Dude, can I get some of whatever the fuck you’re smoking!?!?!?!? AHAHAHAHAHAH!~!!!!!!!!

  12. Crazy scores said

    I got a 36 at 9th percentile from an NIDDK study section, and PO told me it was “still under discussion” as to whether my individual grant would be funded or not.

  13. Monica said

    I had a 39 and 7th percentile my PO told me it is not very likely to be funded.
    She said while 7th percentile would normally definitely be funded that is not the case for challenge grants. She said likely there will be less than 5% funded and probably even lower at NIDDK given the large number of applications they recieved. Too bad.

  14. wake said

    Switching the subject to RC 2’s anyone ?- “Grand Challenges”- Director’s Special Emphasis Panel-Impact Score 26- No percentile-waiting for “word” as my teen age son says-thoughts ?

    • writedit said

      Wow – that was fast. Perhaps the percentiles will wait until all ~2600 RC2 scores are in?

    • laghs said

      Wow, that was a good score. Mine is 58 and the SRA told me that there won’t be any percentile because the number of submission is below 25.

      • D said

        Going by the names of the RC2 study sections (ZAG1 ZIJ-4 (O6), ZCA1 RPRB-J (O9), ZDE1 JH (34) etc) it looks like most of the RC2s were reviewed by Institute Review programs not by CSR. The two letters after the Z refer to the institute. AG=AGing=NIA, CA=CAncer=NCI etc. There are a few ZRG1 RC2 study sections but these reviews were probably run by CSR for some of the smaller institutes that don’t have their own review program.

        What this means is that the RC2s will probably not be percentiled. Each IC will fund grants from their own review panel.

  15. macanudo said

    Where are you people seeing these scores in “UNSCORED / NOT DISCUSSED” grants?

    My NIAMS RC1 got that label on Commons, but nowhere do I see a score nor do I see a summary statement.

    Is this institute specific? Does everyone get a score?

    • wake said

      Look in the upper right had corner after you have clicked on your application link- there where you see transmittal letter (section is in blue)- there should be a Summary Sheet link there- these are the written summaries that many of us “mailed” in prior to the study section mtg.
      Unscored/Not Discussed grants do not get a score but all should have a summary sheet

      • writedit said

        Well, the summary statements of Unscored/Not discussed applications should include scores for the 5 review criteria (significance, approach, innovation, investigators, environment) from each reviewer, but no Impact/Priority Score of course. When you see comments here referring to folks receiving 2s, 3s, and 4s (e.g.), they are referring to review criteria scores – which are not used to calculate the Impact Score, so it can be confusing.

    • hohum said

      I also have an unscored. There is no link for summary statements in the location you indicated or any other. This must be study section or IC specific. Anyone have any insights?

      • Zacky said

        It seems not all “Unscored” RC1s have Summery Statement posted on Commons.

      • writedit said

        Well, I’m sure some of these SROs are a tad overwhelmed with hundreds of applications assigned, and the most important data point to get out quickly was the impact score (or lack thereof). All the summary statements should be available soon and in time for October recycling, should that be prudent.

  16. csd said

    Where do I find the name of my PO to ask about it?

    • writedit said

      This would be both “your” program officer at the Institute from which you receive/request funding as well as the program officer listed on the Challenge Grant topic, if they are not the same individual.

  17. stevel said

    My score suggests a different distribution than listed above (score of 20, percentile 2.0 for an NIA RC1). Guess I’m on the cusp

  18. macanudo said

    Thanks guys. My SS is not in the blue box, so likely I need to wait for it to show up some day….

  19. Smoodle said

    What about an impact score of 20 and a percentile score of 2 at the NCI ? Any chance that this will get funded ?

    • D said

      You are on the cusp. It depends how NCI ranks your app and how many RC1s they decide to pick up with their own money.

    • Smoodle said

      Thanks D. How much is the allocation for the NIH versus the NCI for ARRA ?

      • D said

        For RC1s NIH Office of the Director got $200,000,000. At ~$1,000,000 a pop that dives out to 200 grants they can fund. Probably a little more than that because the average RC1 requested a little less than $1,000,000.

        WritEdit mentions it elsewhere in these comments but to summarize her summary. NCI got $1.3 Billion from the ARRA legislation. But, NCI has not said how many RC1 grants they will fund above what NIH will fund. It looks like most of their money is going towards their Signature Initiatives. (http://www.cancer.gov/recovery_funding).

        Start bugging you Program Officer and Good Luck.

  20. BB said

    Got a 36 (6%) on RC1 @ NHLBI, and a 55 (no % given) on RC2 @ NIAMS, I’ll keep my fingers crossed on the first one, no clue on the RC2. Is there enough data yet on RC2 “calibration”?

    • EZO said

      BB, we got similar results. Same agency. NHLBI is going to fund 200 Challenge Grants using their own ARRA funding. I believe they had almost 2000 application.. Good Luck

    • EZO said

      PS: Did you call your PO?

      • BB said

        I called my PO at NHLBI, he said they had to do many checks, including distribution between H, L, and B, and distribution between topics. Since they do (or for now plan to) pick up 200, chances are decent for a 6%-ile, but definitely not guaranteed. No contact yet with other PO.

    • writedit said

      Most participating ICs plan to fund about 10 RC2s – though NIA allocated $35M to its RC2 awards – and most have 6-10 Grand Opportunity topic areas. If they only fund 1-2 RC2s in each priority area, chances are those 1-2 applications will have pretty low scores unless they really catch a program officer’s attention. Since the review panels are specific to the funding IC, scores should have been spread accordingly, so a 55 is probably right in the middle of the pack versus at the highly meritorious end of the scale.

      • laghs said

        Do you mean that 55 is in the middle of ALL submitted applications, or only the discussed ones? My SRA told me that around 60% were discussed. But it is difficult to interpret the impact scores without percentiling. Mine is 58, but I have no idea what it means. By the way, they didn’t give any special consideration to ESIs, as my ESI status was removed by the system.

      • writedit said

        The middle of the discussed applications (the percentile would have reflected the whole pool).

      • D said

        You are in the same boat as the POs. No one is quite sure what to make of the Impact scores.

        I am curious what you mean by your ESI status being removed? Although it is not a consideration you should still be listed as an ESI. If you are one that is.

      • laghs said

        I am both a New Investigator and an ESI. But right before the RC2 grant review, this status disappeared in Commons (just for this RC2 grant, still there for my R01 app). I was told earlier by the SRA that new invesigators won’t be specially treated for GO grant. So I guess they manually removed the status (still not sure what actually happened).

      • D said

        I wonder why they even bothered? If it is not a consideration then they can tell the reviewers to ignore the fact. Strange. But these are strange times for NIH grants.

  21. D said

    Also, it doesn’t look like all of the RC2 review cmtes have met yet. For example, one of the NCI ones doesn’t meet until August 8.


    • D said

      Sorry. I meant August 10th.

  22. Paul said

    I have a 12% and score of 54 for NCI for an RC1 application. Does anyone know if NCI will be funding RC1s out of their own ARRA allocation? Do I have any chance of getting funded?


    • Bearer of bad tidings said

      Sorry. I have no hope to provide. My guess is that nothing outside the excellent range (~35) will be even considered for funding. That is the cutoff score that I heard was used for determining what would be given an Impact Score. Once discussion was started reviewers were encouraged to use the full range again.


  23. Delenn said

    Tale of RC1 Woe:
    New Investigator (not an ESI) noticed a ‘withdrawn’ label next to RC1 application (sent to NICHD) in eRA Commons on the day of the Special Emphasis Panel mtg. The day before the SEP mtg, the RC1 had a ‘submission completed’ – no indication whatsoever of ‘withdrawn’ label.

    New Investigator called and emailed listed Program Officer, SRO, and the CSR Division of Receipt & Referral for any information. “Snippy” CRR Div. of Receipt & Referral phone answer lady told New Investigator she would receive ‘a letter’ in about one week. After asking if New Investigator RC1 would still receive summary statement/ reviews, CRR phone answer lady reiterated only that ‘you will receive a letter’.

    Despondent New Investigator went over electronic application once again; uncovered one possible compliance issue: one biosketch listed 17 pubs, not the 10 pubs requested by the RFA. Lesson learned? You betcha, but what a shame! Silver lining will be summary statement, if provided?
    Who knows: possibly RC1 can be turned into a successful R01 – at least that is how I consoled despondent New Investigator – as well as – don’t rely on administrative personnel in Sponsored Programs at her University to catch all errors, as minor as they may seem!

    • Bearer of more bad tidings said

      If the app was withdrawn that means it wasn’t reviewed..at all. So don’t expect any SS. They delayed notification (my guess) to prevent hundreds of angry phone calls in the month before the review meeting.

      This NI is in the company of many, some very senior, PIs who just threw their regular BioSketch into the app, broke the rules and had their (or even worse their collaborator’s) app withdrawn.

      Bearer of more bad tidings

      • Delenn said

        If a delay in notification of a compliance issue(s) resulted in said application being withdrawn by an IC or CSR, and no reveiws are forthcoming, shame on NIH (CSR?) for keeping this information from the New Investigator. A simple ‘sorry, you didn’t follow the instructions’ very soon after submission would have been fair and justified, and importantly would have allowed the New Investigator to submit her application (if possible) in June to whatever mechanism may have been appropriate. And while I understand that NIH was overwhelmed with RC1 applications, I remain surprised that they couldn’t see what the community clearly predicted.

    • BP said

      I reviewed two proposals that weren’t compliant. One minorly so, some co-I had more than 10 pubs. I didn’t remark on it. The other one was basically am R01 with a shortened research design, didn’t even say which challenge area it was responsive to. I was pissed that it wasn’t bounced and said so in my review.

      • D said

        CSR did have cut-offs for compliance that were slightly more generous than what was published. If you had 12 pubs (the limit was 10) in your Biosketch you were reviewed. If you had thirteen you were withdrawn. This is similar to what is allowed with the SF424 for page limits for R01s.

        The second type of grant, crappy grantsmanship or science, is usually left up to the reviewers to bounce. SROs and POs don’t want to fight that battle. For example,

        SRO says, ” You didn’t state the topic area so we are not going to review the grant.”

        Applicant says, “If you read my abstract it is obvious to any idiot what area I am applying to. If you can’t figure it out you are clearly not qualified to run the review of my grant.”

        Applicant thinks, “If I am unclear enough maybe this will slip by the SROs , POs and reviewers and I will get funded by accident”

      • BP said

        CSR obviously made a few mistakes then. Both grants should have been bounced even with slightly generous allowances. One had 20+ pubs listed on 2 biosketches. The other followed none of the instructions except the page limit: multiple 4 page biosketches, a preliminary result section, a background and significance section, no statement of the Challenge Area and specific Challenge Topic, no timeline or milestones, pages of references. But I’ll stop ranting and just say that CSR was overwhelmed.

      • D said

        Thanks for the info. From your description they clearly did. And, the overwhelmed part is correct too. I am surprised that they found as many noncompliant apps as they did.

        Were you on an Editorial Board? I’d still love to hear more feedback on what the reviewers thought of those.

        In fact, I’d love to hear more feedback on what applicants and reviewers felt about the Editorial Board review process in general. Independent of the huge numbers, short time frames and 1-2% success rate. Would you want regular study sections to use this process?

        CSR (i.e. Toni Scarpa) has been pushing this type of review for awhile now.

  24. BB said

    …..and if you do list only 10 pubs in the biosketch, a reviewer will tell you you have been “not productive” in the past 3 years with only 3 papers. Said reviewer will then list in three different spots that low productivity is a major weakness, and funding this app would distract from funded work. Facts actually are I have 23 or so papers in the past 3 years, 13 as senior author. I wonder what my score would have been had this reviewer bothered to read the application/instructions.

  25. XJB said

    My first R01 submitted to NIGMS got 14%. Does anyone here have any idea about how likely I can get funded?

  26. jim said

    I received a 13% with an impact/priority score of 58 for an RC1. Will this have a chance?

    • Zacky said

      If NIH fund a total of 13% x 20,000=2,600 RC1s, you will have a chance. But this will use about one third of their ARRA money, so the chance is very low.

  27. writedit said

    NIAID has some interesting stats on their RC1 applicants (1,279 RC1s were assigned to NIAID). They also give the box score on their ARRA funding allocation, which includes relatively few supplements thus far (199 of any flavor) but does include, however improbably given the 2-year funding limit, 6 P01s and a U54.

  28. me scientist said

    My RC1 was reviewed in panel 12. Got an impact score of 19 and 1 percentile. PO at NICHD says funding highly likely

    • Enjoyer of good tidings said

      Congrats! I wonder if you will get to pose with your Congressional Rep or Senator as they hand you the check.


  29. Manning said

    Does anyone have any information on NIDA and RC1 grants. My grant scored a 28 and 5th percentile. Is it possible that this grant could be funded? Is NIDA planning to fund any grants outside of the 200 million dollars set aside by NIH. If not, the funding probability – as has been stated above – is beyond dire! My PO said today that funding of my grant is possible but he would have more information by the first of the week. Unless NIDA is planning plans to fund some additional grants, I don’t see how it could be funded.

    Thanks for any information!

  30. My first R01 submitted to NIGMS got 14%. Does anyone here have any idea about how likely I can

  31. NY said

    My RC1 was reviewed in Special Emphasis Panel 4, with an Impact/Priority Score: 30 Percentile: 2. I contacted the NIGMS PO, but he did not tip his hand either way — just basically said that I would have to wait 4 weeks to find out if it would be funded through the NIH Director’s pot or if NIGMS would pick it up. I thought that writing and submitting this was such a longshot and bellyached plenty to my spouse about it…but can I still hope to get some desperately needed $ out of this?

  32. NY said

    I guess it would still be prudent to start getting the ducks lined up to flip it as an R01 in October if things don’t work out…and keep my fingers crossed no matter what!

  33. MVB said

    Our group submitted 11 grants, 9 unscored, one got a 43 at 12% and another got a 50 at 10%.

  34. Fred said

    I heard back from my P.O. that they will only fund the top 1% and that my 7th percentile score is likely to be ditched.

  35. Paul said

    Just talked to PO about my 12% and 54 score. Application was forwarded for executive committee consideration at number five on their list for that topic area. PO told me that 90% of application were triaged by editorial mail review. Then a study section met and triaged several more applications. PO said it might get funded, but that I should be “cautiously pessimistic.” He reccomended a few RFAs for resubmission. NCI will have the option to pick this grant up if it is not selected by the executive committee. However, this is not likely since NCI has only committed $10M to challenge grants (this may change).

    Good luck everyone!!

  36. logophile said

    Some scores and rumors:


    … and I have heard from some of the people who were at the scoring sessions at NIH last week that there was a lot of discussion about the idea of funding 800 Challenge Grants in total instead of only 200. Whether that included those to be funded by individual ICs I don’t know. Probably it did.

    • writedit said

      Wow. Those latter two are rather deviant score-percentile pairs. I have heard rumors from Editorial Board attendees of an even higher total of RC1s to be funded, with the extras coming from individual ICs. At the outset, I wondered if some (many) ICs would use these RC1s as a straightforward way to spend down their ARRA wad. We’ll see. Good luck to all again!

    • jim said

      mine was 58/13

  37. nick said

    Our impact score is 32 and percentile score is 6. It seems like the odds of being awarded is very low. After doing some research, I am puzzled with what I have learned regarding how NIH is planning to use the stimulus money. It seems like some NIH institutes is currently considering awarding failed applications which have the percentile score of 30 or below. They are going to reject Challenge Grants proposals which are below 2 or 3 percentile score. This just does not make any sense to me. Since both past and present proposals went through similar scientific reviews, we should assume that their scores are comparable. If so, why would they prefer proposals with 30 percentile score over the ones with 3 or 6 percentile score? Since the Challenge Grant topics were suggested by the institutes, they could not make an argument based on differences in research subject. It is simply not FAIR if NIH award proposals rated 30 while reject those rated 6. It is also waste of public money to support low-quality research proposals instead of those which are rated excellent and above. My suggestion is to initiate online petition to the NIH director requesting the change in their policy on challenge grants. Here is the contact info for Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Acting Director:
    I could almost hear some of you saying it is worthless. Remember we have nothing to lose other than few minutes in writing an email message to the director.
    thank you

    • D said

      You raise an good point. But remember. An RC1 grant at the 6% is not necessarily the same as an R01 at the 6%.

      The main reason for this is that the unscored RC1 applications were counted as part of the percentile. For R01s in standing study sections the unscored apps are not considered when calculating the percentile. (If I am wrong about this please someone correct me. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/ncn/newsletters/2009/0603.htm#a01). In addition, over 85% of RC1s were not discussed. In a standing section the number is between 40%-60%.

      Together this makes the percentile of an RC1 look much better than the percentile of an equivalent R01. To get a more realistic comparison you should multiply an RC1 percentile by ~5. This doesn’t even consider the fact that it is not clear that RC1s got as rigorous review as an R01.

      I bring this up only to suggest that this is not the best argument to use to fight for more ARRA money to be thrown at RC1s. It is too easy to shoot down. Instead, you need to argue to Congress to increase the overall baseline budget of NIH. In the medium and long term that is the best solution.

      PS. To fund RC1s to the 6% NIH would have to rebudget ~$1,000,000,000, 2 months before the end of the fiscal year. That seems unlikely. But, stranger things have happened….I guess. I mean Congress just voted for an extra $2 billion for people to buy new cars. Why not a billion for RC1s?

      • nick said

        Here is comparison of old and new system

        Old System:
        Determination of percentiles: Percentiles range from 0.1 (best) to 99.5 (worst). With almost 1,000 possible percentile rankings, few applications are ranked the same.
        Percentile base: NIH calculates percentiles using applications submitted for three review cycles.

        New System:
        Determination of percentiles: Percentiles range from 1 to 99 in whole numbers. Rounding is always up, e.g., 12.1 percentile becomes 13.With 99 possible percentile rankings, some applications are ranked the same, making funding decisions more challenging.
        For tie scores, funding decisions will be based on other important factors such as mission relevance and portfolio balance.

        Percentile base: Unchanged, except for the first year of the transition to the new review processes:
        # First new cycle in spring 2009: NIH to calculate percentiles using those applications only.
        # Second new cycle: NIH to calculate percentiles using applications submitted for first and second cycles.

    • whimple said

      RC1’s are for non-sustainable, one-off “who really cares if it works or not because we got all this cash and it just HAS to be spent RIGHT NOW” kind of science. R01s keep academic researchers in business. Just submit your fabulous, but unfunded RC1 as an R01. You can ask for more money for a longer time period that way too.

    • DS said

      You have wrong impression about comparing regular RO1 and RC1. Their percentile are totally different and you cannot say that your 32 (6%) is better than regular 32 score (15-16%). So the petition will be on wrong grounds.

  38. Genedawn said

    I have 44 and 8%tile, NCI. PO says this is a good score, but above comments are discouraging! Any idea?

  39. Genedawn said

    Ok thanks. Is there a difference between institutes? Mine was NCI

  40. PamX said

    I submitted an RC2 to NIMHD, that received a score of 60. Now my status at e-commons states “pending council review.” Based upon reading all the comments above, I’m guess that while my app stands a chance, that chance is very low. Also, I’m thinking about turning my RC2 into a K. Does my RC2 stand a chance (any chance) and what about turning it inot a K?

    • D said

      You certainly could convert it to a K but the K awards are a different beasts from R awards. Ks are mentored or career type of awards. The RC2s are more similar to R21s or R03s.

      Check out this NIH K Wizard and see what the magic 8 Ball tells you.



    • writedit said

      Probably no chance of funding as an RC2 … and the budget for the RC2 is an order of magnitude larger than a K award – which is, as D notes, a completely different animal in terms of goals and structure. Ks are not starter research grants and need to have the educational/career development component genuinely integrated versus tacked on as window dressing. So, you should consider whether you need salary support while you expand your skill set and obtain preliminary data for your first R01 or should jump right into the RPG mechanisms.

      • PamX said

        … Thanks for the feedback. One more question? Does the JIT link always show up for any scored applications?

  41. xfan said

    Has anyone received RC2 score from NCI? My RC2 was reviewed/discussed on 7/21, but as of 7/31, I don’t see “Not Discussed” or any score in my eRA commons.

    • writedit said

      A colleague of mine here at BICO had an RC2 reviewed in the same panel and still no score either … there are more NCI RC2 panels to meet yet, so perhaps they will wait until all the applications have been discussed before posting any scores.

      • xfan said

        Our RC2/NCI received a score of 30. What do you think the chance of funding?

    • writedit said

      Not guaranteed, and probably not likely … but not out of the running, especially if ICs decide to pick up more RC2s than originally planned. NCI put itself down for ~10 spread over 7 priority programs, with the Infrastructure program guidelines suggesting 6 fields of interest (but opening itself up to anything), and the scientific programs including multiple areas of focus as well. So, with only one or maybe two awards made in each program area, yours would need to be among the highest scores given … or of tremendous interest to your program officer (& his/her colleagues). The usual advice applies: chat up your program officer both for insight and advocacy.

      I should add, in light of the post I just put up, that it may be that this score should have been lower (better) but wasn’t due to reviewer apprehension with assigning numbers on the new scale … and because the budgets on these applications are so big.

  42. john said

    I am little bit confused after reading all posting in this blog. Our impact score is 32 (6%). We submitted to it the office of director, not ICs, Does anyone know about the number of applications to OD? Since over 200 awards will come from OD, could we say we are in better position?
    Another question, perhaps the more important one is this: In our summary statement, a reviewer and panel mentions the sample size as only weakness of our study. This is due to missing information in the proposal regarding the sample size. In order to avoid sampling error, we proposed to study the entire universe, not a sample. However, we did not mention the size of sample explicitly in the proposal. We are planing to write the program director asking for correction. I will appreciate any feedback on this.
    thank you

    • writedit said

      The IC assignments, including those to the OD, were made by CSR based on the Challenge Topic cited for each RC1 and grant title etc. I have not seen any stats with regard to how many proposals were assigned to the OD or to individual ICs – or to each of the 15 Broad Challenge Areas for that matter. The OD is funding 200 applications, including those assigned to ICs – so you are competing against the entire pool, not just the OD-assigned proposals. Once the OD picks their 200, the ICs will look at the remaining highly meritorious applications for funding consideration. The unknown variable is how many applications the participating ICs will pick up on top of this.

      With regard to your plan to send the corrected sample size to the program officer, the RFA does not permit submission of supplemental information, so you want to take a little care here. Everyone must be on an even playing field, and I cannot imagine POs wanting (or accepting) corrections and supplemental information at this point. I would recommend that you send a brief note asking if they can accept this information (and if so, in what format) before you send it. If the PO cannot accept the correction, certainly keep it in mind for your resubmission of the RC1 as an R21 or R01.

      • john said

        Thank you for your quick response! I understand the rule regarding submitting additional information. In our case, we consider this as a request for correction due to what I call “reasoning typo”. Indeed, the proposal implicitly talks about the sample size. However, a reviewer got an impression that we are going to study a small sample. If there is any typo, POs should have authority, perhaps duty, to correct it. In our case, the small sample size is the only weakness mentioned in the summary statement by the panel. Since this is not factually accurate, could we ask PO for correction?
        thank you

      • writedit said

        No, the PO has no such authority or duty. The PO has no formal role in the scientific review process itself. The NIH could only review and score your and every other application on the basis of what was submitted, mistakes and all. This has already taken place and cannot be corrected or appealed (for the RC1s anyway). It was your responsibility to make sure the application was perfect and clearly made its case when it went in. Perhaps having a colleague who had not seen any drafts read your narrative would have caught this error – a strategy you might consider when recycling your RC1 for another RPG mechanism if such is needed. Also, you should realize that there may have been other weaknesses not cited in the summary statement, particularly since you received a 32 rather than a score below 20. In your case, probably not many more weaknesses, but you should never assume every concern has been raised in the written critiques – particularly with the new abbreviated style being used.

  43. Manning said

    The most amazing aspect of this entire discussion is that scientists who receive a 5-10% score have TO EVEN DISCUSS WHETHER OR NOT THEIR RESEARCH WILL BE FUNDED. It clearly should be, and the fact that the discussion is taking place speaks of the multi-factorial challenges in funding our basic science research. If you are judged by your peers to be in the top 90-95% of your field, then your work should be rewarded. No wonder younger students at the high school and college levels in the United States are staying away from science these days. And, this statement is from a tenured scientist who has 2 currently funded independent investigator grants from NIH.

    confronting science today.

    • D said

      Amen Brother. Amen. Spread the word to Congress.

    • XJB said

      Why a guy with 2 R01 still want money from NIH? He should give chance to those young people.

  44. Tiger said

    I just got the review comments. The two reviewers gave my proposal 3 one, 5 two, and 2 three. Finally, the impact score is 60. How did they compute the score?

    • XJB said

      The overall impact score has nothing to do with the individual scores for the following two reasons:

      1) the overall score is not calculated from the individual scores. You got individual scores from only two or three assigned reviewers.

      2) the overall score is the average of the impact scores of all the reviewers in the study section. Therefore, even if your individual scores are high, your overall score may be talked down by other reviewers.

    • BB said

      RC1 grants had such a high volume in applications, that, at least in my section, only mail reviewers were employed initially. The scores of these mail reviewers were tallied, and a ranking list was made. Then, the top 15-25% (20% in most cases it looks like from the posted scores) got forwarded to the study section for discussion, and the rest assigned the dreaded “not discussed” on commons. Basically, each top 20% grant now got assigned 3 new reviewers that were on the study section. These reviewers evaluated the mail reviews, as well as the grant, and then each determined a single “overall priority score”. From the entire study section, the average priority score is multiplied by 10, and that is your final priority score. Reviewers in the study section were asked to spread the scores over the full range, so the final priority score is in almost all cases higher than the mathematical average assigned by the mail reviewers. The summary statement contains the comments of the mail reviewers only, and for the discussed grants an opening “summary of discussion” as well. Since in most sections 80% was not discussed, a grant that did get scored was 20% or lower automatically. It is not that most grants were “talked down” from the initial high scores, but because all discussed grants had good initial scores (top 20%), they needed to use the full range to create a distinction between the very, very best, the very best, the best, and the very good grants. So even if a 60 or 70 is “bad” on the full scale, such scores were needed to “unbundle” all worthwhile applications, and given a score automatically means you are top 20%, which is a good thing per se.

      Given the high number of proposals written, a significant number of scientist will try to “flip” their RC1 into an RO1 or R21. If your grant got scored, but not funded because of the very low payline for these, that seems a logical route. If your grant didn’t get scored, it may seem a logical route as well, but it may be quite an uphill battle, but good luck to all (I am still keeping my fingers crossed for my RC1).

  45. Genedawn said

    Thats the most useful information I have received on RC1 in a long time. I was a mail reviewer and wasnt sure how the total was figured. I read the discussion after your posting, and discovered that although I am 8%tile, this was forwarded with ‘moderate’ enthusiasm. So thats a nail in right there. At this time, I feel good about reapplying for a R21 without much problem. How does one know if this is ready for R01 though? Seems tricky.

  46. Manning said

    A topic hotly discussed last week was that Institutes may pick up some of the higher scored grants. Does anyone have an update on this possibility?

    It seems to me that this is the only route by which grants, at say the 2-5% level, can be funded. If the only grants that are funded are those that scored at the 1% level or below, then this endeavor will indeed end up being one of the biggest drains of effort and energy in the history of US science. Many of the recent comments are pessimistic regarding funding chances, but I just have to believe – yes I am an optimist until the game is over – that there may be some additional funds kicked into the pot. What is everyone else hearing?

    Here is what is amazing about the peer-review process: wonder how many RC1 grants that score at the 10th percentile or lower will get that dreaded ‘Not discussed’ label. It will be interesting to see. This game of grant writing is a real crapshoot. That is what worries me: you write a great proposal for the challenge round, send it back in for the fall review, and it gets a poor score or no score. This resubmit and recycle ‘mess’ takes away from where our efforts as scientists should be spent: on doing productive science in the laboratory!

  47. csd said

    The week before the challenge grant proposals were due, I happened to attend an NIH workshop in Atlanta. The topic was not specifically about the ARRA grants, but that was what most of the discussion ended up being about. I ate lunch at a table with one of the key administrators of these grants from NIH, and he told me that Congress had appropriated a great deal of money above and beyond the original $200 million, and he believed they would be able to fund all meritorious applications. He might have been overly optimistic, but I am choosing to be hopeful until told otherwise.

    • writedit said

      Well, this of course depends on each IC’s definition of “meritorious”.

      Congress appropriated the $10.4B and only specified a few line items: $800M to the OD (probably the $ pool your NIH administrator had in mind above – includes the OD funding for RC1s, RC2s, and P30s); $1B to extramural construction; $300M to extramural instrumentation; $500M to intramural construction; and $400M to CER … with the remaining $7.4B distributed among the ICs to allocate as they saw fit.

      The NIH OD originally allocated $200M to the Challenge Grant program, and the ICs will be at liberty to use their ARRA $ to fund RC1s. Each IC will be different. I know someone has posted here that NHLBI plans to award 200 of their own RC1s (after the OD picks the top ~200 applications to fund). I’ll be surprised if many other ICs pick up so such a large number of RC1s, but we’ll see. When I talked with an NIDDK Division Director a week or so ago, he was pretty noncommittal.

      And the OD could reshuffle some of its $800M to cover additional RC1s beyond the originally planned 200, but we’ll have to wait for a formal announcement to get an idea of the scale they might have in mind. Perhaps Congress is lobbying for more RC1s based on constituent feedback and the publicity on how many proposals were submitted, and of course there are thousands of PIs out here doing the same.

  48. Manning said

    csd – thanks for the information and I certainly hope you are right!!

  49. Realist said

    Everybody knew going in that there was only money allocated to fund 200 grants. Very few labs have the infrastructure to be able to spend this much money usefully. It would be most fair if they distributed the money as supplements and by awarded “close” previous R01 applications. Funding additional challenge grants will just lead to increased wasting of money.

  50. Manning said

    Realist – first of all, what is really fair about any of this? The point is that grants scoring in the 5-10% range should be funded – period! They are “excellent” grants. I agree with you that spending the money this rapidly will be chaotic. Perhaps an alternative is to reduce or adjust the budgets on the challenge grants. This would ease the burden of having to rapidly spend money and still fund labs that are deserving. And, why should grants that missed the payline in the last round be the ones to get funded? What about grants that will be submitted in the fall? What about grants submitted two years ago? And, it goes on and on. Paylines are also certain to collapse with the deluge of recycled challenge grants.

    • XJB said

      In fact, according to the impact score of those grants in the 5-10% range, many of them are actually not “excellent”. Here I don’t mean to offend any applicant, but just want to point out one fact.

      >Realist – first of all, what is really fair about any of this? The point is that >grants scoring in the 5-10% range should be funded – period! They are >“excellent” grants.

      • Fred said

        I don’t understand XJB’s rationale. Why would a proposal ranked in the top 5-10% among 20,000 proposals not be considered excellent? Doesn’t make sense to me.

      • XJB said

        To my understanding, percentile is only a relative ranking, but impact score measures the absolute quality. Your application is better than 90% does not mean it is excellent.

      • BB said

        XJB, I think you overlook that impact scores for the challenge grant are spread/scored over the full scale, and thus a grant with an impact score of 80 can still be top 20%. You cannot compare this to an impact score of a normal RO1, where the study section does not quite use the full range, but considers each application according to the regular impact score criteria. For the challenge grants, they encouraged using the same scale (1 to 9), but with a different rationale, they wanted the best out of the top 20 to get close to 1, the worst out of the top 20 close to 9. This is thus not a true impact score, but it is the same scale. An RO1 with a 45 impact score is likely only going to be 40-50% percentile (just avoided the “unscored” line), whereas this same impact score for a challenge grant would be 40-50% percentile OF ALL SCORED GRANTS, so likely 10%-ile of all grants.
        So, in my opinion any grant with a percentile below 10% would be excellent (regardless that that may reflect impact scores of 40’s and perhaps 50’s).

      • writedit said

        As has quickly been discussed above, the impact score rather than the percentile goes with the official descriptor of a grant. With the new scoring system, those in the 10s are “exceptional”, 20s are “outstanding”, and 30s are “excellent”, as explained here for those interested in learning more.

      • D said

        I bet this is the same discussion going on in the top floor, wood paneled hallways of NIH administration right now.

        To Manning and BB,
        By your argument the top 10% of graduates from Tier 2and 3 Universities (names removed to prevent hurt feelings) are equal to the top ten percent of of JHU/Harvard/Yale/UCSF graduates. I don’t think you can make a 1:1 comparison between the review of RC1s and R01s. I don’t think anyone has tried to argue that the RC1 reviews were in any way as rigorous as the R01 reviews.

        After reading this blog and talking to colleagues and my own experience it doesn’t sound like most applicants sent in their A level grants anyway. A lot were recycled “Not Discussed” R01s, a lot were last minute “submit anything because the Dean said to” and some were “What planet are you from ?”

        To suggest that NIH should the top 5-10% of That doesn’t make sense. I think NIH is right in funding many more previously reviewed unfunded R01s than RC1s. And no, I didn’t get either kind of award.

      • BB said

        I don’t recall arguing that they were directly comparable, in fact I would say up to 10% of the RC1’s are excellent (according to the scoring system), whereas 20% of RO1’s may fall in that category. Some institutes have “back-funded” RO1’s with a 34%-ile score. I would agree that a 20%-ile RO1 is likely to be equal or better than a 10% RC1, but a 5% RC1 is likely to be better than a 34% RO1.
        Clearly, it will be impossible to draw a definite line or definite comparison, but funding a 34% RO1 while denying a 2% RC1 is by all means a stretch, is it not?
        As far as for the review, the RC1’s had 3 mail reviewers, and the top 20% or so then got assigned 3 additional reviewers, so they have technically been reviewed by 6 reviewers. Clearly, the time pressure to review was much greater, and I will not argue that they got an RO1-equivalent review in all cases, but given the fact that 6 reviewers were involved leads me to believe that most grants got a pretty good inspection.

      • XJB said

        In the study section I just served, the reviewers were always encouraged to spread out the scores in the full range. However, I don’t think any reviewer will give you a 5 if you deserve a 2 or 3. Therefore, I still think that the overall impact score reflects the absolute quality of a proposal no matter whether it is RC1 or R01.

    • nick said

      I think any comparison between RC1s and RO1s should be based on impact score, not percentile as explained by writedit above. In the new system, impact score 35 and below is equivalent of being rated as “excellent/outstanding/exceptional. It does not matter how you score it, if a proposal in the new system receives excellent rating, it is clear to me it is better than the one which received very good rating in the old system. Therefore, I do not think it would be FAIR to award failed RO1s with “very good” rating score while rejecting RC1s with “excellent” rating score unless we have evidence that they used different quality benchmark in their assessment. I read on the Internet that some ICs are considering to award failed RO1s with “very good” and even perhaps “good” rating score. I have difficulty to understand the rational behind this.

  51. D said

    Where I disagree is that just because you are in the top 10% doesn’t mean you are excellent. Maybe not even in the top 5%. For that I would look at the Overall/Impact score. Although there is a lot of overlap and panels varied in how they assigned scores I do know that a 30% for many R01s got scored below 2 in the old scoring system which put it in the excellent range. I have two colleagues in that exact situation.

    Too bad we are not still using the old scoring system…..I don’t know that I feel that peer review has been enhanced yet.

  52. logophile said

    The study section participants I talked to felt that even the grants that got as far as being discussed were mostly not up to the quality of the average funded R01. They felt that funding about 40% of the discussed grants would be about right. Those study sections were looking at about 10-12% of the total submitted in the relevant area. (In that context, the 46/8 and 49/6 scores I reported earlier may make more sense than was originally apparent.) So, the folks I talked to felt that an overall funding level of ~4% would be reasonable. The number might be different in different study sections, of course.

    Why were the RC1s viewed as less competitive than R01s? Well, being written in a rush didn’t help… but there was also the fact that they were submitted in response to the Challenge topics, many of which were viewed as low priority by the reviewers. The reviewers were actually told not to worry about whether the grant was responsive to a Challenge topic, but to rank all grants according to their merits. Therefore, any grant addressing a topic that the reviewers thought was nonsense would be ranked very low, even if NIH specifically asked for applications on that topic… This is frustrating, especially for people who would have submitted something completely different if the Challenge topics hadn’t existed, but on the other hand I’m more comfortable with the study section’s judgements on what is important than the judgements of whoever made up the Challenge topic list.

    • D said

      “….submitted in response to the Challenge topics, many of which were viewed as low priority by the reviewers.”

      I wonder where the disconnect is between the reviewers and the NIH admins who came up with the challenge topics?

      The documents that cover that internal NIH discussion would be interesting to FOIA.

      • logophile said

        “Many” might be an overstatement. Certainly “some”.

        I agree, it would be interesting to know where the topics came from. I saw a few that I thought were flat-out nuts.

      • D said

        This from the NIH website.

        How were the Challenge Topics chosen?
        Topics were chosen through extensive discussion among members of the scientific leadership of NIH. Many of the topics reflect issues identified in the strategic plans developed by each NIH Institute and programmatic office, bearing in mind that ARRA funding would be available only for two years. NIH Institute and Center plans are generally developed with public input, including the National Advisory Councils of the NIH Institutes and Centers, and in some cases, the US Congress.


        It is more disconcerting that the IC strategic plans and Councils might not mesh with what the reviewers thought to be important.

  53. logophile said

    Actually, thinking about it without allowing myself to dwell on the irritation re. the great grant that didn’t fit any of the topics, how could it be otherwise? If a section is reviewing grants relating to 20 topics, they are going to feel that some topics are more important and some less. And NIH is going to want to know which ones strike the reviewers as more important, because after all they might decide to fund 6 in one topic and none in the next. Presumably somewhere in the next stage there will be some decisions made about which topics get priority, or whether to try to spread the money evenly.

    And talking of spreading money evenly, does anyone know how important geography is going to be in deciding which grants are successful?

  54. hohum said

    Anyone hear anything about the administrative supplements?
    I’m particularly interested if anyone has been awarded one from the NEI.

    • writedit said

      Administrative supplements (& all ARRA-funded awards) are waiting in a long queue for approval by the Executive Branch. I would assume no news is good news. Here at BICO, supplements are coming through slowly, including some from NEI. A quick search of ARRA supplements in RePORTER shows that NEI has paid out 83 thus far.

      • hohum said

        Have people been hearing back already that their administrative supplements will NOT be funded? Trying to see if I should still be holding onto some sort of hope for this.


  55. PamX said

    So a 60 is unlikely to be funded. What if I was to couple the 60 with the appearance of a JIT link? Does that raise the chances of funding?

    • XJB said

      Unless u received an email from NIH requesting your JIT information, you may have some chance. Otherwise a JIT link means nothing.

  56. writedit said

    A little blurb in Nature News about all the unknowns surrounding RC1 scores:

    Competition for the US$1-million, two-year awards is fierce — the agency in Bethesda, Maryland, received more than 21,000 applications, and the NIH director’s office will fund only about 1% of these.

    The NIH has designated an initial $200 million of $10.4 billion in economic stimulus funds for the grants, but with so many variables at play in allocating the stimulus money, predicting whether a given score will land funding is almost impossible — meaning that those with percentile scores in the mid-single digits are left hanging.

    … the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute — is planning to go beyond the allocation from the director’s office and fund 200 Challenge Grants in its topic areas. Some of the 27 institutes within the NIH are less enthusiastic about funding extra Challenge Grants and have chosen to use stimulus funds in other ways — for example, to boost existing investigator-initiated grants, or to sponsor standard grants that had fallen just short of the payline before the stimulus windfall arrived.

    • D said

      Except for the names WritEdit already covered this. Hmmm. I wonder if they read blogs?

  57. Genedawn said

    Frankly, we should all get to work and focus on the next round of grants (R03,R01,R21). The advantage of RC1 funding in my opinion is to use this as an instrument to negotiate promotion and salary-as this was very competitive. Beyond that, the grant itself has a lot less to offer than the R01.

  58. Fred said

    I was told by an NIH PO that I the most likely scenario is that I would have to resubmit my RC1 (7th/38) as an RO1.

    • NY said

      For context, would you mind telling us which institute?

  59. writedit said

    The NIH’s updated FAQ on RC1 review, scoring, and discussion issues may be of interest if you have not seen it as yet:

    E. Challenge Grant Review and Award (New: 07/29/2009)

    My application was Not Discussed. What does that mean?
    For Stage 1 of the review process, Challenge Grant applications were sent to reviewers by mail. These reviewers provided criterion scores and written critiques of the specific science.

    For Stage 2 of the peer review process, a panel of reviewers provided preliminary impact scores that determined the order of review for discussion. Stage 2 reviewers then met in face-to-face panel discussions and provided final overall impact scores. These impact scores form the basis upon which percentiles were calculated.

    The review panels discussed applications with the highest preliminary impact scores. Applications that were not discussed will receive criterion scores and critiques, but will not receive numerical overall impact/priority scores. During the Stage 2 meeting, all reviewers could request that any application be discussed, regardless of preliminary scores.

    My application received a score. How do I interpret my score/percentile?
    NIH converts the overall impact/priority score into a percentile. A typical percentile provides a historical ranking of an application relative to the other applications reviewed by the same study section across all types of grant programs. Percentiles are distributed along a 100 percentile range.

    Because of the one-time nature of the Challenge Grant program, percentiles were assigned using final overall impact/priority scores against other Challenge Grant applications within each individual study section meeting.

    Decisions on final overall impact/priority scores were made by a panel of scientists with broad expertise across a range of disciplines.

    My scores and percentiles seem low but I am not funded. Yet colleagues with the same scores or percentiles received funding. Why?
    Score is only one factor that NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) use to make funding decisions. In addition to the scientific merit of the proposed project as determined by peer review, NIH also considers availability of funds and relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.

    When can I expect an award decision?
    Most award decisions for Challenge Grants will be made by September 30, 2009. The exception is for Challenge Grant applications involving human embryonic stem cells. Those applications will be reviewed in fall of 2009 and awarded in spring of 2010.

    When will summary statements be made available?
    Summary statements for the Challenge Grant applications should all be available by August 3, 2009.

    With so many applications submitted for the Challenge (RC1) initiative, how did NIH find enough reviewers?
    The large number of Challenge applications received is approximately equal to the total number of applications that NIH receives in one of three major review round each year. This unprecedented response to a call for applications on the part of the scientific community and its unprecedented response to a call for reviewers are powerful testimony to the strength of the NIH peer review system, the willingness of our extramural colleagues to support it through reviewer service, and the ability of our NIH staff to sustain such an increase in workload while maintaining the core values and integrity of NIH peer review.

    It is important to note that this unprecedented achievement not only accommodated the largest number of applications that the agency has received in response to any funding opportunity or in any single funding cycle but also met a compressed deadline for finishing the reviews. NIH was able to achieve efficiency and ensure quality and timeliness by using a shorter grant application for Challenge grants – the bulk of ARRA applications – and a large cadre of mail reviewers.

    To manage the breadth of topics expected in each Challenge study section and to accommodate the time constraints for completing review so that awards can be made by the end of September 2009, Challenge applications were reviewed using over 15,000 mail reviewers in specialized fields. These technical experts were asked to review each application, provide criterion scores, and to submit their critiques online.

    The study sections reviewing Challenge applications were composed of experienced and highly regarded scientists who provided broad expertise and perspective across a range of scientific disciplines. These reviewers made the final assessments of overall impact and scored the applications after having reviewed and discussed the applications and technical assessments of the mail reviewers.

    How were conflicts of interest managed for the Challenge reviews?
    Given the volume of applications received and the compressed timeline for finishing the reviews, the NIH determined that it was necessary to recruit over 15,000 outstanding scientists to serve as mail reviewers (including some who would also be applicants). However, a Challenge applicant could only serve in the Challenge reviews as a mail reviewer and not as a study section member, and only for a study section(s) other than the one reviewing his/her application. Mail reviewers do not participate in the discussion or final scoring of the applications, and do not interact with other study section members.

  60. […] week, a commenter on the RC1 thread asked for reflections on the two-stage peer review process, particularly the […]

  61. csd said

    Has anyone received a JIT request (yet) for a RC1 grant?

    • BB said

      Yes, I have gotten a JIT request per email on Aug 6 (NHLBI).

    • BB said

      My colleague got another one, (I’m co-PI), NINDS, today, Aug 12.

      • Tee said

        BB, What was the impact/percent for the NINDS app?

      • BB said

        impact 37, 5%

  62. Ezo said

    Same here, on Aug 6

  63. csd said

    I’m just wondering if there’s still any hope. Anyone got one from NIMH or NCMHD? What percentiles are they sending the JIT requests for?

  64. NY said

    Or has anyone here received JIT request from NIGMS? If so, what was the percentile?

  65. pb said

    Have been told by PO to start thinking about getting together JIT, and asked for response to reviewer comments. NIMH 9th percentile, score 32. Would love to hear from others–still feeling in the dark about actual funding likelihood.

    • csd said

      And I’m 6th percentile, score 35, NCMHD/NIHM, and have heard nothing at all about JIT. I have heard nothing about funding possibilites from either of those IC’s.

  66. Fred said

    7th percentile with 38

    Was told by NICHD and NINDS that they will each fund 1 percentile and NIDDK that they will stretch to 3 percentile. JIT link in Commons but nothing by email.

    Ridiculous…If only Obama knew….

  67. xfan said

    Has anyone received JIT request from NCI for RC2 yet? Was on the phone with PO. He asked about if there is any issues regarding JIT, but not formally requested one from me yet.

  68. TNF-ALPHA said

    Things could become extremely ‘political’ with funding lines so tight on RC1 grants (even if institutues pick up some of the grants). I was speaking today with the long-time post-doc of an older, very well connected former colleauge of mine who scored at the same percentile as I did. Apparently, he received some sort of request Friday from NIH. He acted as if he did not know what the request was! I have received no such request as of yet and my program official has been somewhat aloof. This post-doc was being very coy with his answers to my questions – he is either very stupid and naive or is not telling me the whole story about his funding chances. Not sure which one it is. However, I will say this: if NIH funds post-docs in ‘VERY BIG LABS FOR GRANTS THEIR PIS ACTUALLY WROTE’ I, for one, am going to be standing on my freaking head. Trust me, I know this guy did not write this grant. These big labs have enough money already and it is simply unfair to fund people under this umbrella for grants they cannot write themselves. Has anybody else heard of things like this happening? Stuff like this makes we want to leave science.

    • whimple said

      Unfortunately, giving additional money to those who already have more than they need might just force you to leave science, whether you want to or not. I don’t know why the NIH doesn’t just determine who the smartest, hardest-working scientist is through a Mega-Ultra-Opportunity (RC3) competition, and just give the person with the best score all the marbles. 🙂

      • D said

        Just out of curiosity how would NIH make this determination? Maybe by having PIs send in a short application that lists their ideas, credentials and plans and having some independent parties without conflicts (but with the proper expertise) to look through them and rank them by some kind of score-system?

        Hmm. Where have I heard this before? 😉

        Or maybe we can make a formula…total NIH dollars received/total non-self research citations. $/citation This should even out small, medium and large labs as well as junior versus senior PIs. Plus, it rewards financial efficiency. Of course it screws PIs running clinical trials or those whose work leads to patents not pubs. But, I am sure we can work in a corrective factor. It might also help get away from the least-publishable-unit and self-citation inflation problems.

        We could then store the data and computer program on a satellite and call it SciNet (pronounced Skynet). If SciNet determines that someone’s efficiency is dropping it could send a letter called a “Terminator” that threatens to end their funding.

      • treading said

        Speaking of RC3, anyone know the payline for the BRDG-SPAN? From public sources it appears only $4M of the $35M has been awarded.

  69. whimple said

    Yeah baby! We could even name this organization the Best Original Research Group (BORG). People willing to play by their rules could be willingly assimilated into the collective, er, given post-doctoral and research assistant professor opportunities.

    • D said

      I give you a 1 for innovation with that idea!

  70. nick said

    According to a news article on nature, the director estimated “that only around 3% of applicants for the stimulus-backed ‘challenge grants’ will be funded, although some have predicted success rates of below 1%.”
    This means that the total awards will be around 600.

    • NY said

      I would take the 3% cutoff at this point. I tried to contact my program officer to get some feedback as I revise to flip my 2nd percentile RC1 as an R01 for 5 October, and he sent me a message saying my proposal fit better with a colleagues portfolio and to talk to him instead…which I have been taking as a very bad sign.

      Anyone received a request for JIT info from NIGMS?

  71. NY said

    I talked to the PO again, who confirmed now that there is only a very small chance that my 2nd percentile grant will be funded. Bummer!!

    • XJB said

      A proposal with score 30 and percentile 2% should be funded.

      • NY said

        I had hoped it would, but the PO said that there was only a very small chance at this point.

  72. manning said

    NY: I agree with XJB – it should be funded! What institute reviewed your grant? Did your PO give you any indication as to why there was only a ‘small chance’ you would be funded. What was your impact score? My PO stated that my grant – at 5% and impact 28 – was ‘on the list’ and to call him back next week for more information. I am not sure – at this point – what being on the list means. It is just hard for me to believe that only people at say the 1% will be funded. If that is the case, what a disaster this will be!

  73. csd said

    How are you guys talking to your PO’s? I have both called and emailed my PO and can’t get a response. What am I doing wrong?

    • writedit said

      You are not doing anything wrong … you just don’t have a great PO it seems. If you have previously found him/her responsive, the non-communication could be due to something as simple as a vacation. If this PO has never been especially helpful, I would suggest going up one layer of command for some assistance (letting the branch chief or whomever this might be know that you’ve tried to politely communicate with the appropriate PO) or checking to see if someone else in the same research program area might take an interest in your work.

    • NY said

      Are you a relatively junior investigator? I am and have also been frustrated getting a response from my PO….although mine has given at least some minimal response.

  74. manning said

    I had to call my PO several times. I was persistent and also emailed the PO. In addition, as writeid mentions above – there are several other people in the Instiitute who I have made aware of my proposal. It is my hope that if I make my case for its importance to as many officials as possible, it gives me a better chance. And, might I mention, although I have been persistent, I certainly have not gotten any clear indication of its funding potential. Optimistically speaking, I do believe from what they have said that it is under consideration.

  75. manning said

    Anyone received any recent information about their challenge grants? I spoke with my PO this afternoon – said that only about 1% of the grants will ‘probably’ be funded and that his insitute ‘probably’ will not be picking up many, if any, extra grants. Mine was at 5%. He said that is not out of the question it could get funded, but that from what he is hearing it is probably unlikely. It is really going to be something if only about 1% of these grants get funded. Very unfortunate and a colossal waste of everyone’s time. Time to bring out a scientist’s favorite trilogy of words – flip, recycle and submit – what a waste of time…..now we will send it back in with 100 million other grants in the fall.

  76. NY said

    Manning, I am in the same boat as you. My NIGMS RC1 was at 2%. The PO was hard to get a hold of and passed me on to another PO when I asked by email to get feedback/advice for the revision of the proposal as an R01. THAT PO told me that it was only a remote possibility that I would be funded.

  77. manning said

    What happened to this notion that some of the insitutes were going to pick up some of the grants?

  78. D said

    So far only NHLBI has publicly announced that they will pick up a significant number of RC1 grants. (Peter posted this link http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/recovery/index.htm above). All of the other ICs have been mum. Which probably means they will not be picking up very many.

    • NY said

      The POs with whom I have communicated indicated that percentile was important but that how well proposals fit in with IC priorities was also an important factor. This means that even though my 2nd percentile NIGMS RC1 is not funded, someone else with a worse percentile score could still be funded if their work is a better fit for NIGMS’s priorities.

      • D said

        ICs always have this flexibility for all solicited and unsolicited grants. Some use it more than others.

      • NY said

        Yes, I know…I just think that many people (myself included) tended to forget about this aspect of the funding decisions being made with ARRA dollars.

  79. manning said

    Here is a glimmer of hope. Today I spoke with a former mentor of mine who has seen it all through the years. He suggested that hope should not be given up yet, particularly for those of us in the 5% range and below, as he said the POs are probably being very conservative in their predictions and that stranger things have happened, particularly at the end of a fiscal budget year. Just thought I would try to be optimistic!

  80. EZO said

    Does anybody know what the SNAP indicator code means ?
    The SNAP indicator code: Y has just been added to the status page of one of my grants and I am trying to figure out what it means.
    Thank you

    • D said

      Streamlined Non-Competing Award Process (SNAP)

      http://grants.nih.gov/grants/glossary.htm (search for SNAP)

      It just means that your grant is eligible to use this process when you renew it (non-competitively) each year.

      Has this grant been reviewed? Did it get a great score? The real question that I assume you are asking is..does this hint at possible funding? I don’t think you can tell by the SNAP code. Does ERA Commons list a Status Code for the Application?

    • BB said

      On mine too. Also, I noticed there is a third person listed under the administrators now (used to be the PO and SRA only). It is a grants management specialist. I’m remaining hopeful.

      • D said

        Hmmm. That does sound hopeful. They wouldn’t assign a GM person unless they were strongly considering funding you. Hopefully they writing up your NGA (Notice of Grant Award) as we blog.

      • XJB said

        Are you sure? I saw three names (PO, SRA and GMS) listed under the administrators once the review of my R01 was done.

      • D said

        I am never sure until I see the NGA.

      • D said

        I think that when some of these things get done varies quite a lot between ICs.

  81. Ezo said

    Same here. GMS added.

  82. xfan said

    Has anyone received a JIT request from NCI for RC2 application?

    • wake said

      Yes- Today- the NCI has received word that a number of these RC2 “GO” grant applications will be funded (pending White House approval etc.) but I got the OK to do the IRB stuff etc.- Oct.1 start anticipated

      • writedit said

        Congratulations! Get going & good luck with the project.

      • xfan said

        How did you get the information? Did you call your PO? I emailed my PO last Friday and he indicated that it would be two more weeks before more clarity of funding to be brought forward. Thanks.

      • DrX said


  83. EZO said

    RC1: The notification will be made by Sept 30, which would also be the nominal starting date.

    • D said

      Assuming Joe B’s office gives the OK on them in a timely manner.

      • D said

        I heard some scuttlebutt that Joe B’s VP office has a 34 y.o. non-scientist “approving” the RC1 (and other) NIH grants before award. Supposedly, he flagged all of the grants that are using Knock Out mice for fear that the animal rights folks would be upset that we are knocking out mice. He also has issues with grants that contain words like “sex” “men having sex with men” prostitutes cannabis etc.

        This could all be apocryphal but not impossible.

  84. wake said

    I e-mailed the program administrator at the NCI whom I had spoken to early in August and she knew where the application had been sent for funding and then the new administrator called me- obviously unofficial at this time but was told to proceed with JIT. Guessing that there probably is a lot of variation in the timing of these decisions based on institute/ program etc.

    • xfan said

      Wake, congratulations and thanks for the information. What is the priority score of your application? The PO I talked to a few weeks ago indicated that NCI was trying to figure out percentiles for the reviewed GO applications, and funding decisions would probably be based on percentile. Hope things will be clearer next week.

  85. ps said

    About the Joe B comment — sorry to be naive, but who is Joe B and what is his office’s role in the approval process? I have an RC1 that I was requested to provide JIT information on, but it has one of the suspect words in the abstract …. not clear why there would be such scrutiny in this administration??

    • D said

      Sorry to be so vague. The office of the Vice President (Joe Biden) has to approve all ARRA (Stimulus) expenditures. So, his office has to approve all RC1, RC2, GO grants etc. NIH has to send a list of all ARRA grants they want to fund for his office’s approval. That is why it is taking extra long to release ARRA grants.

      This is only true for ARRA grants and not regular NIH grants.

      • ps said

        thanks — this makes sense now.

  86. writedit said

    Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the Government Accountability Office to examine the use of the $10 billion in stimulus funds received by the NIH:

    “We would like the Government Accountability Office to examine the use of the recovery funds by NIH. Specifically, we would like information on the process and criteria used for awarding grants that were made available through ARRA monies, and the extent to which these may have varied from the process and criteria typically used by NIH to award grants,” Barton wrote to Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general. “Additionally, we are interested in obtaining information on grantee estimates of the number of jobs created or maintained through grant awards funded with ARRA monies.

  87. D said

    As far as I can tell the bulk of the money went to peer reviewed grants of one sort (R01s) or another (RC1s, RC2s, GO..etc.). It will be interesting to find out how much money went to noncompetitive supplements. I wonder how much of this one can get from NIH Report?

  88. NY said

    Does anyone know if there be any official for those of us whose RC1’s go unfunded?

    • nick said

      I have same question. The council review date has passed, but we have not heard about the number of award regarding the challenge grants. My guess is that the end of this month will be the deadline because by then the stimulus money has to be allocated.

    • DrX said

      I spoke with my PO on Friday and was told that there will be no “official” rejection … and that if you had a standing of “pending council review” that standing will stay throughout the fiscal year. If you haven’t heard anything by now, likely you won’t. Sorry. I didn’t like the news either.

      • NY said


  89. hohum said

    What does an application status of “Award prepared, not funded” on Commons mean?

    • D said

      That is the same (more or less) as Pending Council Review (see DrX’s comment above). You are very unlikely to get funded. Sorry.

  90. peter said

    Has anyone received word that their RC1 is funded?

  91. ps said

    According to RePORTER there are 6 funded to date, all from the Alternative Therapies Center. I was asked to and prepared JIT a couple weeks ago, the Council date has passed, and no one in my Center will reply to emails or phone calls ….

    • NY said

      now there are 17 listed — most from NIAID but also a few from NCCAM and NIDA.

  92. EZO said

    How do you search for RC1 in the RePORTER? Rc1 is not an option in the activty code query.

  93. NY said

    I typed “%RC1%” in the Project Number window.

  94. Ps said

    You can also put in the funding announcement number in that field to search. Up to 75 now.

  95. EZO said

    On the status page, the “Last Status Update Date:” has been updated to today, but still no notification. 6% NHBLI.

    • BB said

      EZO, same here, NHLBI 6%, status is updated to today. If you click on “addition for review” my status now says: “Award Prepared, Not Funded”, doesn’t sound very encouraging, it is essentially still pending. I’m not giving up hope yet, but are getting discouraged…

      • EZO said

        Yes, same thing here. “not funded”

      • EZO said

        BB, Are you going to send it for the Oct cycle? I doubt I ll be able to do do it.

      • hohum said

        For my supplement, it also read “Award Prepared, Not Funded” the last couple of days. And today…it now reads “Awarded. Non-Fellowships”. And my supplement is now on NIH RePORTER. So don’t give up hope yet.

      • BB said

        To EZO, no not this cycle, the scope is not right, needs too much work, more suitable as a PO1 in a year or two. Besides, it would likely go to my regular section, and I have one grant their planned for submission in October.

        To Hohum, that is indeed somewhat encouraging, what IC?

      • BB said

        Now the status says: Awarded. Non-fellowships only. That’s much better…..Waiting for NGA, but at least I’m feeling better right now than I did a day ago.

      • hohum said

        Got my NOA today. You should get yours tomorrow.

      • BB said

        Finally, NOA is in (NHLBI RC1). Better start spending before it is all gone. Good luck to everyone still waiting.

      • writedit said


    • peter mann said

      did u check ‘Reporter’?

  96. NY said

    Has anyone heard back yay or nay about a NIGMS RC1? my 2nd percentile RC1’s status is listed still as “Pending Council Review” although the council meeting was 9/10/09. I, too, am growing discouraged…but have some irrational hope that is hard to quench…mostly because I am partly in denial about having this grant rejected.

    • ps said

      NYsaid: have you received a JIT request? My council meeting was 9/8/09, JIT was requested and submitted, just waiting to hear. I would say if you got a JIT request, then no news is good news.

    • XJB said

      My NIGMS R01’s status is also listed as “Pending Council Review”. My PO asked me to wait until late in this month.

      • NY said

        No, I have NOT received a request for JIT…which means silence is bad news at this late date.

        I too have had a hard time getting through to anyone at my IC. I sent an inquiry to the OER-ARRA office and received an email yesterday that they were trying to get the awards out and that I should wait until the 30th to see if I hear something … and if not, THEN to contact PO until after the 30th.

  97. EZO said

    the problem to wait till the 30th is that we will have no time for the Oct resubmission. Are you guys planning to convert the RC1 into an R01 while you are still waiting for notification ?

    • NY said

      I had planned to but am revising that plan due to work on two other grants + needing to prepare for study section in early October + teaching….just not enough time and hard to justify prioritizing the RC1–>R01 conversion over all of the other stuff.

  98. me scientsit? said

    I scored 1st percentile on my RC1 and way back in July my PO assured me that funding was highly likely, but just (FINALLY!) received the JIT request today. No NGA yet. Don’t want to count that chicken before it hatches.

  99. Manning said

    Just received a JIT request from grants management at NIDA today – council met today. From my past experience, this request is normally the next best thing to a NGA (i.e., ALMOST a sure thing). Does anybody else who has recieved JIT information have more insight into what the precise significance of the JIT is in this particular situation? Can we assume that funding is probable?

    • JIT said

      I got a JIT request before my institute council meeting, and was told verbally that funding was “very likely”. I think it is unlikely that they would dedicate resources to preparing awards if they did not intend to fund them, especially with all the grant prep work that there is to do before the end of September.

  100. Pins and needles said

    Anybody have insight on the relevance of JIT request from NIH for RC1’s? My RC1 was 24, 2%….

  101. Still Waiting said

    Has anyone received any additional RC2 info? I received a good score (18) from NHLBI, but of course no percentile. I subsequently submitted JIT materials, and my P.O. seemed guardedly optimistic in relation to the council outcome. But then apparently no grant decisions were made at that meeting due to the final review by the Executive Branch. Reply to my last contact was that the P.O. will contact me as soon as there is more information.

    Does anyone know when this will be? I’m not clear about the role of Joe B.’s office, and how much decision power is contained there versus NIH, and I’m getting nervous!!!!!!

    • D said

      Unless the title or your grant was “Studies of Prostitutes and Deviant Sexual Behaviors in Gay Bars and ACORN Offices” I think you are OK with Joe B. They are just trying to avoid funding anything that might be politically embarrassing.

      You should have an answer in a week or less.

  102. Still Waiting said

    I appreciate the reassurance – it’s going to be a long week!

  103. out of luck? said

    I got a 7 percentile RC1 with priority 47 from NHLBI
    I am assuming that there is now little chance of getting
    this funded. I am curious to know if there is anyone out there
    who might have fared better with similar scores from NHLBI

    • peter said

      Did you get funded? I heard they funded up to the 8th percentile? If so, CONGRATULATIONS!

  104. peter said

    Has NHLBI completed their RC1 awards? If, so does anyone know up to what percentile they funded?

    • BB said

      According to RePORTER, they have so far issued 135 RC1’s from NHLBI, that means likely they are about 65 more to be awarded. Mine was awarded, with a 6% and score of 36. They may however not go just by percentile, and may go by raw score, in which I was told they’d aim to fund anything under 40, but this is just hearsay.

    • out of luck? said

      no news yet … I am not very optimistic

  105. MEL said

    I believe they are funding upto 4th percentile for RC1

  106. Fred said

    I am still waiting on my 7th percentile with a score of 38. NICHD met 4 days ago and no news yet- I responded to a JIT request in Commons but not from personal email. Any hopes?

  107. Pins and needles said

    Recieved the notice of award yesterday for my RC1, was 24/2% and NCMHD

  108. L said

    Any news on how many RC2 grants will be funded by NHLBI? From the RePORTER, NHLBI has funded 36 RC2s but not sure if they will fund any more…?

  109. MEL said

    Anyone applying for R01s for the October cycle? Are we allowed to while pending? I have 8 %tile NCI-I believe they are at 4 %tile. Not likely so planning R01

  110. D said

    I can’t find the NIH notice (actually too lazy to look it up) but as long as you have a Summary Statement in hand you can resubmit as a new R01 for October.

  111. Dr.X said

    I was told by my PO that submitting my RC2 as an R01 would be considered a resubmission.

    • D said

      Dr. X, I think you PO is incorrect. The current NIH policy is here

      http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/resubmission_q&a.htm#Q2 See bullet 18. The RC2 was an RFA so you can resubmit as a new.

      18. I responded to a Request for Applications (RFA) funding opportunity that permitted resubmissions of unfunded applications from a previous RFA; however, my application was not funded. If I submit the unfunded grant application as an investigator-initiated application, is it considered “new” or an A2?

      When an application that was submitted in response to an RFA is not funded and the investigator wishes to resubmit an application on this topic as an investigator-initiated application, it is to be submitted as a new application. The investigator will be allowed to submit the new application and up to two revised versions of this application, should that be necessary (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-019.html).

      • D said

        I should have noted that you only get 1 resubmission though. This Q and A hasn’t been updated I guess.

  112. Fred said

    Is the saga of the RC1s pretty much over?
    It remains to be seen how well the RC1-converted-to-RO1 will do in regular study sections.

    • writedit said

      It should be officially over by COB today, I assume … at least in terms of obligating funds.

      • D said

        The big guy will be at NIH today to announce the winners.

        President Barack Obama Visits the NIH Campus to Announce Recovery Act Funding for Groundbreaking Medical Research

        Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:00:00 AM

    • XJB said

      How many people would like to convert their RC1 to R01 for Oct 5?
      Maybe we can do a simple survey?

  113. me? Scientist? said

    I had a 1.9 score, 1st percentile and finally got the NGA yesterday. Whew.

    • writedit said

      Congratulations and good luck with your research program!!! Maybe Obama will even call attention to your project this morning …

  114. newhope said

    Obama today announced $5B additional stimulus money for NIH research projects.
    Does anyone know where this money will be spent? We did well on challenge grants, but were not awarded. Is there hope from this new stimulus money for challenge grant applicants?

    • writedit said

      I believe he is just giving publicity to the benefits of $5B in grant awards for “groundbreaking medical research” out of the $10.3B in stimulus funding that the NIH was already given – not an additional $5B.

  115. peter said

    what happened to the 2010 NIH budget?

    • writedit said

      Congress passed and Obama signed the Labor, HHS, and Education appropriations bill last December. The NIH got a little more than Obama requested – not enough to get excited about though.

  116. peter said

    When will the paylunes be decides and awardess notified e.g. for Program Projects?

  117. peter said

    Sorry..I meant when will the paylines be decided and awardees notified? e.g. Program Projects and RO1s.

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