Archive for Research News

MWEG Active at NIH Paylines & Resources (& update to How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded)

While I have not added new full-length posts to the main blog in years, I continue to actively answer questions and encourage discussion at NIH Paylines & Resources (where I also update NIH paylines as they are posted) and Discussion: All Things NSF. I encourage everyone to monitor posts here and chime in with intel, tips, and personal experience as you are able. Everyone’s participation is what makes the site valuable (even those who ask questions – probably lots of lurkers eagerly waiting for an answer to the same query), which I greatly appreciate!

You can search archives of past questions and answers, including those for Discussion: NIH Scores-Paylines-Policy-Peer Review,  where I have stopped allowing questions so as to consolidate them all in NIH Paylines & Resources, and I am pulling out timelines that folks post listing dates from submission through Notice of Award to help others anticipate the time frame of NIH grant processing.

Please check NIH Grant Application-Award Timelines. You cannot post your timeline there – just search the existing messages – I will update the page with timelines posted in NIH Paylines & Resources comments.

Also … I am (still) supposed to be updating How the NIH Can Help You Get Funded, so please post as comments here what you found most helpful and/or what you would like to see in a book that serves as a reference guide to the NIH funding process. Thanks!


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FY18 Budget Plan

The current administration has released the outline of its FY18 budget plan, which, for starters, guts the NIH with a $5.8B cut (19%+ cut of current appropriation), eliminates the Fogarty International Center, and moves the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) into the NIH.

Congress will have plenty to say about this, but you can help them push back on this budget plan by communicating to your Congressional delegation (FASEB makes finding and contacting your elected officials easy) the impact of research dollars in their district, specifically your own research – both the economic impact and the current and potential impact of discoveries already made and being pursued.

Be sure to convey what you would not be able to accomplish – what you would have to give up, in terms of aims pursued – following a ~20% cut to your current grant award(s) (yes, those of you with existing awards would face significant cuts to your noncompeting renewals). Scientific organizations and universities will cover the stark big-picture impact of such draconian cuts – your personal voices are also important.

More broadly, please also consider taking a little time to convey the impact of your and other biomedical research locally through newspapers, radio shows, and social media. The more we raise awareness of the real-world, daily-life impact of science, the more voices (and votes) we’ll have telling Congress to preserve federal investment in research.

In the meantime, FY17 will at best simply maintain current appropriation levels under the continuing resolution (due to expire on April 28 but likely to be continued, at least temporarily). However, the mere specter of such an enormous cut on the horizon, even if (when) the size of the cut is dropped, means that ICs could be nervous about committing to large long-term expenditures this year, so paylines could remain conservative, with lots of internal discussion about funding decisions.

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Stop the Sequester (and other budget news)

It seems obvious that the first step to increasing the federal budget for scientific research is the removal of the sequester (the figure shows what budget cuts lie ahead otherwissequestere). In fact, so obvious, it goes without saying.

Except it doesn’t.

My Congress person recently pointed out he and his colleagues who are fighting for more funding for the NIH and other agencies must first convince their Republican colleagues to end sequestration … but this is difficult to do in the absence of constituent requests for its removal.

My simple request is that all those hoping for higher appropriations for the NIH, the NSF, and other agencies that fund scientific research contact their Congressional delegation to request that they work for the removal of the sequester imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

FASEB makes this easy at their Legislative Action Center (look up & contact your officials).

In the meantime, some Republicans are discussing raising the NIH budget to $40 or even $60 billion … but whether they can come up with the magic to merge these increases with tax cuts and increased defense spending is another matter. Based on the experience of the first doubling, a better strategy might be to raise the appropriation to where it should have been without the intervening flat-line years and budget cut in FY13 and then codifying a sustained increase – possibly even multiyear budgets for better planning. A pipe dream, perhaps, but at least the discussion is being held.

Something else to keep an eye on will be the 21st Century Cures Act. FASEB can also help you keep an eye on the fine print of this bill.

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Looking all the way ahead to FY16 …

Even though the upcoming Aug-Dec NIH deadlines will likely experience a higher number of applications due to the recent change in policy allowing unlimited resubmission of unfunded applications, you may want to be part of this crowded field since it is the last chance (aside from select PARs and RFAs) to be considered for FY15 funding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Findings of Research Misconduct

Two rather different cases … Read the rest of this entry »

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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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