On the NIGMS Feedback Loop, Jeremy Berg has provided another peek behind the curtain, this time about how funding decisions are made.
I think we’ve all emphasized the need for maintaining close contact with your PO to ensure you have a cheerleader at your IC (you also want to inspire one or more advocates among your reviewers at study section, but you do that with an exciting application rather than direct contact). Dr. Berg makes this role even more clear in describing how “paylist meetings”, which occur after Council meets, go among the 5 units at NIGMS:
For each application, the responsible program director presents the scientific topic as well as factors such as whether the applicant is an ESI or new investigator, how much other support the applicant has (particularly if the application represents the only support available to the investigator), whether the Council has given us specific advice on the application, whether the scientific area is perceived to be particularly exciting, and how much other research we already support in the general area of the application. The other members of the unit listen to these presentations, and the group then produces a prioritized list of applications.
Getting your application toward the top of the funding priority list is critical, particularly when the appropriation is still up in the air:
When it is reasonably clear what level of funds is available at a particular point in the fiscal year, the funds are allocated to different mechanisms and programs (research project grants, training grants, various programs within the Division of Minority Opportunities in Research, and so on) based on our previously established budget. …
Paylists are then developed using the prioritized lists, with budget adjustments for each application based on NIH and NIGMS-wide policies as well as considerations specific to the application provided by the responsible program director. Applications are paid until the available funds are exhausted.
Right now, ICs are working with FY10 funding levels. Come March, we’ll see. If your PO says your application is at least on the list, you need not necessarily abandon all hope if not funded on the first cut …
Applications that are relatively high on the priority list but could not be funded with a given allocation are flagged for consideration later in the fiscal year, when more funds may become available.
So you might still become part of the black bar in his FY funding chart …
Hearty thanks again to Dr. Berg for providing this exceptional service to the extramural community (and for firmly voicing his concerns about recent SMRB and NIH actions on the creation of NCATS and the abolishment of NCRR). His departure from NIGMS will be an incredible loss to the NIH.