Archive for Funding Opportunities

Questions Answered & Discussions Held –>

Greetings – for those of you arriving at the blog via the main writedit link, please refer to the NIH Paylines & Resources and Discussion: NIH Scores-Paylines-Policy-Peer Review pages (at the top of the right column of this blog) to ask questions (and have them answered relatively quickly, if not same day), learn from the experiences of fellow researchers (especially timelines of grant application submission, review, and award), and discuss issues related to the NIH and NIH funding.

Although I am much less engaged with the NSF now than in the past, I am happy to consider queries about their grant process at the Discussion: All Things NSF page as well.

Also, I will be overhauling How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded, so if you have suggestions for what would be useful to cover, please feel free to comment here or contact me me directly.

Thanks for all your support and contributions, and best wishes for success with your research and your grant applications!

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K99 Clarification

In announcing the re-issued career development parent announcements, the NIH highlighted significant changes to the K99/R00 program that bring much needed and appreciated guidance to applicants, particularly with regard to uniform expectations across ICs:

  • Candidates for the K99/R00 award must have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research training experience at the time of the initial application or the subsequent resubmission.
  • Although the duration of postdoctoral training may vary across scientific disciplines, candidates must propose a plan for a substantive period of mentored training not to exceed 2 years.
  • It is expected that K99 awardees will benefit from no less than 12 months of mentored research training and career development before transitioning to the independent, R00 phase of the program.
  • Individuals who are close to achieving an independent faculty position, and cannot make a strong case for needing a minimum of 12 months of additional mentored training, are not ideal candidates for this award.
  • If an applicant achieves independence prior to initiating the K99 phase, neither the K99 nor the R00 phase will be awarded.

This has been a tricky award, since K99 applicants stressed with career planning decisions and deadlines late in their postdoc often applied for faculty positions as funding decisions dragged on for months and months after the initial submission and review (and resubmission and review), and the ICs handled these situations differently, particularly during the initial years of the program. Nice to have everyone on the same page.

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For Those of You Celebrating Sequester Day by Looking for a New Job …

why not be part of the team that works out to the sixth decimal place just how bad success rates will be in the coming FYs? Read the rest of this entry »

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4-Year R01s at NHLBI

Although a Congressional mandate has been in place for many years to keep the “average” length of RPG awards issued at 4 years, most ICs manage this by letting 2-year R03 and R21 awards offset some of the 5-year R01 awards. This is trickier at an IC such as NIGMS, since they do not participate in the short-term mechanisms, so often they “adjust” R01s to 4 years, as do other ICs (e.g., NIBIB) – including NHLBI in past years. At the November 2012 Council meeting, the NHLBAC learned about NHLBI’s new fiscal policy on R01 project length:

The Institute’s longstanding practice was to adjust duration of R01s to achieve a 4 year average for research project grants. Applications that received the very best percentiles and those from Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) received awards for the full length of their Council-recommended project periods. The Institute has made a decision that beginning in FY 2014, it will fund competing, investigator-initiated R01s for 4years. Exceptions include ESIs, applications with timelines that cannot be accomplished within 4 years, and AIDS projects (which have a separate appropriation). Researchers are encouraged to submit for review only applications with a project period of 4 years or less.

NHLBI dropped out of the R21 parent announcement and does not participate in the R03 parent announcement either, so this is not entirely a surprise, but the explicit request that PIs submit proposals limited to 4 or fewer years in duration is new.

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NIMH Adjusts K-mechanism Policies

NIMH has announced some modifications to eligibility for applicants to the parent K01, K08, and K23 mechanisms. The parent announcements only disqualify those who have received (as PI) R01, P01 or center grant project, or other K award funding. Starting with the February 12, 2013 submission deadline, NIMH only accept applications from

individuals with no more than 6 years of postdoctoral experience at the time of application (either the initial or resubmission application).  The NIMH will generally not consider applications requesting more than 4 years of K01, K08, or K23 support.  See for further details. 

For the same submission deadline, NIMH will increase its K99-phase salary cap from $50,000 to $75,000.

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Action Plan for those Frustrated by Chaotic Funding of Biomedical Research

Today’s issue of Cell includes a commentary by Thomas Pollard (Yale) entitled, The Obligation for Biologists to Commit to Political Advocacy, in which he reviews why and how scientists “must take responsibility to convince politicians that funding biomedical research will benefit not only human health, but also our economic well being.” If nothing else, you will find a nice summary of how the sausage is made. Hopefully you will be inspired to act on what you learn.

In addition to the guidance given in the commentary, you might consider FASEB’s advocacy tools and advice to help you register your concerns with elected officials.

To improve your own funding situation, NEJM offers the advice to eat more chocolate as a path to Nobel laureateness.

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Creative Thinkers with Bold Ideas: Prize Competition to Identify Audacious Goals

So reads the title of a notice from NEI about their Challenge to Identify Audacious Goals in Vision Research and Blindness Rehabilitation … essentially an essay contest.

Truly. Specifically, NEI seeks “~1-page entries (4000 characters maximum, including spaces) from the general public, not just those typically engaged in vision research … [describing] audacious goals in any area relevant to NEI’s mission.”

The NEI will select up to 20 winners to receive a $3,000 cash prize and will host the winners at the NEI Audacious Goals Development Meeting (Feb 24-26, 2013).

You can learn more and submit your entry at the Challenge Website.

Submission deadline is November 12, 2012.

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Harold’s Provocative Questions (PQs)

At long last, the R01 and R21 RFAs seeking “Research Answers to NCI’s Provocative Questions” have been released. One would think Harold would be the Scientific/Research Contact, but it is Jerry Lee.

Unlike most FOAs, the PQ solicitation does not list “examples” of research topics … you will address one (and only one) PQ per application submitted:

Each application must address one and only one specific PQ, exactly as defined in this FOA. … They should NOT be construed as “examples” of specific topics. The scientific scope of each individual application must clearly and distinctly correspond to one (and only one) of the PQs listed above. Within an area defined by a given PQ, applicants may propose and pursue any topic they deem relevant as a “research answer” to that PQ. It is essential, however, that applicants visit “Provocative Question” web site ( for additional information for each PQ pertaining to context, background, feasibility, and expectations of needs to be accomplished for a successful solving of these problems.

Note: Applicants who fail to choose a specific PQ from this list, address more than one PQ within a single application, and/or re-write the PQ will have their applications rejected without review as non-responsive.

And without further ado, the questions are:

    PQ1. How does obesity contribute to cancer risk?

    PQ2. What environmental factors change the risk of various cancers when people move from one geographic region to another?

    PQ3. Are there ways to objectively ascertain exposure to cancer risk using modern measurement technologies?

    PQ4. Why don’t more people alter behaviors known to increase the risk of cancers?

    PQ5. Given the evidence that some drugs commonly and chronically used for other indications, such as an anti-inflammatory drug, can protect against cancer incidence and mortality, can we determine the mechanism by which any of these drugs work?

    PQ6. What are the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which patients with certain chronic diseases have increased or decreased risks for developing cancer, and can these connections be exploited to develop novel preventive or therapeutic strategies?

    PQ7. How does the life span of an organism affect the molecular mechanisms of cancer development and can we use our deepening knowledge of aging to enhance prevention or treatment of cancer?

    PQ8. Why do certain mutational events promote cancer phenotypes in some tissues and not in others?

    PQ9. As genomic sequencing methods continue to identify large numbers of novel cancer mutations, how can we identify the mutations in a given tumor that are most critical to the maintenance of its oncogenic phenotype?

    PQ10. As we improve methods to identify epigenetic changes that occur during tumor development, can we develop approaches to discriminate between “driver” and “passenger” epigenetic events?

    PQ11. How do changes in RNA processing contribute to tumor development?

    PQ12. Given the recent discovery of the link between a polyomavirus and Merkel cell cancer, what other cancers are caused by novel infectious agents and what are the mechanisms of tumor induction?

    PQ13. Can tumors be detected when they are two to three orders of magnitude smaller than those currently detected with in vivo imaging modalities?

    PQ14. Are there definable properties of a non-malignant lesion that predict the likelihood of progression to invasive or metastatic disease?

    PQ15. Why do second, independent cancers occur at higher rates in patients who have survived a primary cancer than in a cancer-naïve population?

    PQ16. How do we determine the clinical significance of finding cells from a primary tumor at another site?

    PQ17. Since current methods to assess potential cancer treatments are cumbersome, expensive, and often inaccurate, can we develop other methods to rapidly test interventions for cancer treatment or prevention?

    PQ18. Are there new technologies to inhibit traditionally “undruggable” target molecules, such as transcription factors, that are required for the oncogenic phenotype?

    PQ19. Why are some disseminated cancers cured by chemotherapy alone?

    PQ20. Given the recent successes in cancer immunotherapy, can biomarkers or signatures be identified that can serve as predictors or surrogates of therapeutic efficacy?

    PQ21. Given the appearance of resistance in response to cell killing therapies, can we extend survival by using approaches that keep tumors static?

    PQ22. Why do many cancer cells die when suddenly deprived of a protein encoded by an oncogene?

    PQ23. Can we determine why some tumors evolve to aggressive malignancy after years of indolence?

    PQ24. Given the difficulty of studying metastasis, can we develop new approaches, such as engineered tissue grafts, to investigate the biology of tumor spread?

One unspoken PQ: will the payline for these fall at the 7th percentile and/or at Harold’s discretion?

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NIH & NSF Entering a New Line of Business

Funding it, that is, as part of the new i6 Challenge.

I couldn’t possibly describe this program better than the full announcement:

The i6 Challenge is a new, multi-agency innovation competition led by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and its Economic Development Administration (EDA). The DOC and EDA will coordinate this funding opportunity with the NIH, the NSF, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to leverage federal resources and maximize available funding to i6 Challenge winners.

The i6 Challenge is designed to encourage and reward innovative, ground-breaking ideas that will accelerate technology commercialization and new venture formation across the United States, for the ultimate purpose of helping to drive economic growth and job creation.

To accomplish this, the i6 Challenge targets sections of the research-to-deployment continuum that are in need of additional support, in order to strengthen regional innovation ecosystems. Applicants to the i6 Challenge are expected to propose mechanisms to fill in existing gaps in the continuum or leverage existing infrastructure and institutions, such as economic development organizations, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations, in new and innovative ways to achieve the i6 objectives.

Applicants are also expected to leverage regional strengths, capabilities, and competitive advantages. Furthermore, they are expected to identify a real or persistent problem or an unaddressed opportunity with a sense of urgency, cultivate strong public-private partnerships, provide a credible plan to access resources, demonstrate how the effort will be sustained, and bring together a well-qualified team and partners.

EDA intends to fund implementation grants for technical assistance through its Economic Adjustment Assistance Program under the i6 Challenge.

EDA will make at least 6 awards of up to $1M – one in each of its 6 regions. EDA can only fund proposals in an area that, on the date of application, meets one (or more) of the following economic distress criteria: 1. An unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for which data are available, at least one percentage point greater than the national average unemployment rate; 2. Per capita income that is, for the most recent period for which data are available, 80% or less of the national average per capita income; or 3. Has a “Special Need,” as determined by EDA.

Successful Applicants who are NIH SBIR Grantees with an active SBIR grant as of October 2010 are eligible for up to $500K in supplemental awards.

Successful Applicants who are NSF SBIR Grantees with an active SBIR grant as of July 15, 2010 are eligible for up to $100K (individual) to $500K (collective) in supplemental awards.

USPTO will provide customized intellectual property seminars to entrepreneurs and innovators associated with the winning Applicants.

Applicants must demonstrate a Matching Share of at least $500K, which must be available and committed to the project from non-federal sources. EDA will give preference to applications with higher Matching Shares and to applications with higher levels of cash contributions in their Matching Share.

Strongly recommended letters of intent are due June 15th – full applications due July 15th.

Questions? I can’t imagine … but there will be a conference call on Monday, May 17, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

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FundScience Applications Due Thurs, No Fooling

Fortunately, it shouldn’t take you – you being a graduate student – long to apply once you register for the site (scroll to bottom of page) and download the required forms (application template for illustrative purposes only). You’ll need up to 100 words describing your mentor(advisor)’s role, 100 words describing your aims & hypothesis, 100 words on background & rationale, 140 characters for your sales pitch to the public, 500 words for your abstract (graphics & video are allowed), 2-3 paragraphs on your study design/approach, and up to 500 words for preliminary data (if any) plus a 1-page bibliography and up to 6 suggested reviewers.

Why a sales pitch to the public? Because you will need to convince FundScience Website visitors (including friends & family you direct to the site for this purpose) to donate large or small $ amounts in support of your project. This is how most of your FundScience grant award will be funded, so the timing of your award will likewise depend on your ability to convince the public to fund your research.

Capisce? Great. Get your applications in, and let’s get this whole direct public funding of science experiment underway …

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