Archive for NIH Advice

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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NIH Fairy Grants Your Wish for Unlimited A0s

In a new Notice, the NIH went beyond reversing its decision to eliminate the A2 submission to allow, in theory, unlimited A0 submissions of the same proposal (hopefully improved with each submission).

Effective immediately, the NIH and AHRQ will accept a new (A0) application following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application. The subsequent new application need not demonstrate substantial changes in scientific direction compared to previously reviewed submissions, and must not contain an introduction to respond to the critiques from the previous review.

Although reviewers of this subsequent A0 might think it sounds familiar, they will not have the prior applications or summary statements and will be instructed to treat each A0 as new (and it will have a new grant number assigned).

The NIH and AHRQ will not assess the similarity of the science in the new (A0) application to any previously reviewed submission when accepting an application for review. Although a new (A0) application does not allow an introduction or responses to the previous reviews, the NIH and AHRQ encourage applicants to refine and strengthen all application submissions.

However, if it feels like Groundhog Day without hope of ever reaching Feb 3 or a competitive score, reviewers will also likely be encouraged to comment on unproductive repetitive submissions in the Additional Comments to Applicant.

Also, the new policy makes clear that PIs cannot resubmit the application as soon as they know their score and still cannot have overlapping proposals under review at the same time.

This means that the NIH will not review:

  • a new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping resubmission (A1) application.

  • a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.

  • an application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101). {writedit: yet another reason not to appeal}

PIs should communicate with their PO about resubmission strategy. An ND (not discussed) A0 might do better just going back as an A0 again (skipping a written introduction as an A1). If the PI would do better to write the introduction to clarify/highlight improvements based on the A0 discussion, then an A1 might be the more strategic submission (plus the extra month may be useful). A Type 2 (competing renewal) would need to go in as an A1 to remain under consideration as a Type 2 (if/when subsequently submitted as A0, becomes Type 1 again and loses the Progress Report and competing renewal submission date/status). Some FOAs will limit whether an application can be submitted as an A1, too. You should definitely talk with your PO for advice. There will also be FAQs issued [update: a new Notice provides some clarification].

This strategy should bypass the prior “getting in line” philosophy of the A0-A1-A2 progression while allowing PIs to continue refining, improving, and submitting proposals from their evolving research program. As the Notice notes, this should particularly help early career investigators who have not had the time or resources to begin developing parallel research programs attractive to different ICs and SRGs. Let the writing and rewriting begin.

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NIH FY15 Budget in Brief

The President made a friendly suggestion about how Congress might spend federal monies appropriated for FY15. Read the rest of this entry »

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FY13 Funding Trends

In working on the book, I was disappointed that we could not get funding trend data for more ICs (10 of 24). Read the rest of this entry »

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NIH FY14 Appropriation in the Omnibus Appropriation Bill

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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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How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded

Although this cat is partly out of the bag thanks to DrugMonkey, I am pleased to announce that I finally committed to page some of what I have learned in working with academic researchers and the NIH for more than 28 years. First and foremost, I want to thank all of you supporting this blog over the past 7 years, because without you, the book never would have been written. Literally.

When Oxford University Press was looking for someone to author a book about NIH grantwriting, they went to the NIH, where a PO said if they could find whoever was responsible for this blog, they would find the right person. And so the editor sent an email to “writedit”, which I fortunately did not dismiss as spam but instead wrote back that what would be more useful than another book on how to “write a grant” would be one focused on how to understand and work with the NIH as part of an overall grant-seeking strategy. Fortunately, they liked my ideas, and a year or so later, and the addition of a killer co-author who I was thrilled to have move to BICO, Jeremy Berg, How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded made it to press.

My motivation for maintaining this blog comes from my genuine enjoyment of helping researchers succeed (and learning a lot of cool science along the way), and it was a no brainer to dedicate the book to you and the extramural staff at the NIH. I am happy to freely give any advice that I can here, but in case you want the fundamentals in one convenient volume, the book (paperback and Kindle) is available from OUP (20% discount code: 32398) as well as through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers. I kept the book small to keep the price down for students and postdocs, so there are topics I would have liked to have covered in more detail and will try to expand upon here in the blog, especially as folks continue to ask questions.

Currently, I am looking for a WordPress guru to help make the blog itself more user-friendly, so hopefully soon you will find this site easier to search and find shared intel in the comments on grant mechanisms, ICs, study sections, etc. of particular interest to you. And yes, I’ll finally change the color scheme to be more readable …

So, thank you all again for contributing to this collective effort and making MWEG a valuable resource – and thanks for all the memories.

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What Passes for Good News for the NIH

Although the shoutin’ is only about to begin, Senators Patty Murray and Paul Ryan announced a bipartisan budget agreement that would role back the FY14 sequester, which would be a huge relief for the NIH.

As required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the FY13 sequester imposed mandatory 5.1% across the board cuts, and the FY14 sequester was set to increase these cuts to 7.4%. With the pending budget deal, discretionary spending would be capped at $1.012T instead of $967B (vs $986B in FY13). Of course, academic medical centers won’t necessarily be cheering the extension of the 2% cut to Medicare providers.

For historical perspective, discretionary spending in FY12 was $1.285T, a drop from $1.347T in FY10 and FY11; in FY06, discretionary spending was at $1.016T. In other words, Congress would still be defunding the NIH in FY14.

Details on the NIH appropriation to follow as the sausage is made.

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Updated CSR Review Meeting Dates

If you have an application pending review for January Council (i.e., submitted last summer), you can check when CSR has rescheduled the study section meeting. Those with an NIH address listed will be conducted as video/teleconference or Internet-assisted meetings. The new meeting dates include weekends and extend well into December, so everyone who has been saved from waiting for May Council should be very grateful to all the SROs scrambling to make this happen.

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On Second Thought, Revised Revised Review Dates

In a month of unprecedence, the NIH today reversed its original decision to cancel most of the 200+ fall peer review meetings that were missed due to the government shutdown and push the 11,000+ applications to the spring study sections for consideration at May Council. Read the rest of this entry »

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