Funding Opportunities: Blood and Vascular Systems Response to Sepsis; Health Determinants, Consequences and Prevention of Violence

You may be interested in these recent funding opportunity announcements (FOAs):

Blood and Vascular Systems Response to Sepsis (R01)
(RFA-HL-14-028)

Purpose: Foster multidisciplinary research projects on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of blood and vascular systems in sepsis pathogenesis
Letter of intent due date: January 6, 2014
Application due date: February 6, 2014
NIGMS contact: Sarah Dunsmore, 301-594-3827

Research on the Health Determinants and Consequences of Violence and Its Prevention, Particularly Firearm Violence (R01)
(PA-13-363)

Purpose: Examine the etiology and consequences of violence as they relate to the health of individuals and communities; test the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions to prevent violence and its precursors; enhance dissemination and implementation of evidence-based strategies into clinical and community settings
Application due date: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Jeremy Brown, 301-594-4481

Principles for Initial Funding Decisions in Fiscal Year 2014

On October 16, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the Federal Government through January 15, 2014, at Fiscal Year 2013 levels. This short-term budget allows us to begin funding some of the grant applications approved by our Advisory Council in September. However, because the funds we have available are only for a fraction of the fiscal year and we don’t know what the budget for the rest of the year will be, we need to be conservative in our funding decisions until a longer-term budget is approved.

Led by NIGMS Acting Deputy Director Judith Greenberg, the directors of the NIGMS scientific divisions developed principles to help us decide which of the many outstanding applications we are considering should receive funding now and which should be deferred for later start dates, if sufficient funds become available after January 15.

The fundamental question the division directors addressed was which categories of investigators would face the most serious jeopardy from a delay in funding. Based on the group’s careful deliberations, we will give priority to highly rated applications from investigators who have little or no current support from any source. Within this category, we will generally give priority to competing renewal applications over new applications, although in each case, we will take into account the particular circumstances of the investigator and her/his laboratory. For instance, an application from an early stage investigator who has been a tenure-track faculty member for 4 years, has exhausted all start-up funds and has no additional sources of funding would be considered a high priority.

We recognize that a delay in funding presents challenges for every investigator, but we hope you understand that our top priority in these difficult fiscal times must be to ensure the health of the overall biomedical research enterprise in the United States. Keeping productive and promising labs open is an essential element of this goal.

Identifying the Study Section for Your Application

One of my jobs as an NIGMS program director is helping investigators navigate the review process. This includes understanding where their applications will be reviewed and how they can make a recommendation about this assignment.

Applications can be grouped for review by research area or grant mechanism, or as a cohort submitted in response to a specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA). I would like to briefly walk through a few scenarios and share some advice along the way.

The “Review and Selection Process” (V.2) section of FOAs provides clues about where your application will be reviewed. An application can be reviewed at the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) or at an individual NIH institute or center (IC), depending upon the particular FOA. Information about who will review your application is posted in your eRA Commons account soon after it is determined, but you should contact your program director or CSR if you have questions or concerns.

The vast majority of applications received by NIH on topics relevant to NIGMS are in response to “parent” program announcements, such as PA-13-302, for unsolicited R01 applications. Section V.2 of PA-13-302 states, “Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by CSR.” This means that the application will be reviewed by a regular NIH study section or a special emphasis panel (SEP) with expertise in the research area explored by the application. To identify a possible “review home” for your application, I suggest you peruse CSR’s list of study sections, find the ones that seem most suitable for your application and then use NIH RePORTER to search for funded applications that have been reviewed by those study sections. This will allow you to identify the group of scientists who have the appropriate research expertise to review your application.

Specific requests for applications (RFAs), such as RFA-GM-14-003 (Revisions for Macromolecular Interactions in Cells), are often reviewed together in the IC that issued the RFA. For example, section V.2 of GM-14-003 states, “Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the NIGMS.” This means that the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review will organize a review panel to review applications submitted in response to this RFA.

For applications that will be reviewed by groups convened by CSR, I encourage the investigators I speak with to write a brief cover letter for their applications that indicates which study section they think is appropriate and how they arrived at that conclusion. Sometimes, it is also helpful to indicate the type(s) of expertise you believe is needed to review your application, but you should not provide a list of reviewers, as that creates issues with potential conflicts of interest. The recommendations made in the cover letter are advisory, but the CSR Division of Receipt and Referral makes every effort to accommodate reasonable requests.

Modeling Social Behavior Funding Opportunity

In partnership with nine other NIH institutes and centers (IC), we have issued a new R01 funding opportunity announcement (FOA) focused on modeling social behavior. It reflects a growing recognition in the scientific community of the need to apply innovative computational and systems approaches—which have already proven very beneficial in the biological sciences—to behavioral and social research.

The FOA encourages research that explores the relationships among the parts of a system and between a system and its environment in order to understand the system as a whole. Specifically, we’re soliciting applications for developing and testing innovative theories and computational, mathematical or engineering approaches to deepen our understanding of complex social behavior.

Proposals can be for exploratory or hypothesis-generating studies, or for a combination of both. Applications should demonstrate bridge-building between the behavioral and social sciences and the computational and systems sciences, and should focus on multiscale phenomena. Applicants may propose small research or infrastructure projects as well as larger, more integrative research projects on the modeling of complex social behavior. We encourage applications from transdisciplinary teams of scientists spanning a broad range of expertise. Standard R01 application due dates apply.

The FOA lists the specific research interests of each participating IC. Examples of NIGMS topic areas include:

  • The emergence of new functionality from simple behaviors.
  • Understanding aspects of collective behavior, including the roles of resilience and of online and other dynamic social networks.
  • The use of geocoded data, “big data” and new technologies for modeling and influencing collective behavior at multiple scales.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact me or one of the other IC contacts for this FOA.

Transitioning the Pharmacogenomics Network

PGRN LogoAt our September Advisory Council meeting, I presented plans for transitioning the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) from set-aside funding into the regular, competitive research pool. Council approved the plans, so we are now moving forward on them. The reshaped program will continue to fund research and network activities designed to propel discovery and implementation. We will also continue to coordinate our support of pharmacogenomics and precision medicine with other NIH institutes and offices.

Our transition plans include soliciting applications for a limited number of research centers (P50) and network resources (R24) as well as the PharmGKB knowledgebase (R24) and a coordinating center to support network functions (U01). New funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) will be published in early 2014, with application due dates beginning in the late spring. These FOAs will be program announcements with multiple receipt dates that are open for several years and will not have set-aside funds.

All investigators with an interest in pharmacogenomics who are funded through these and other mechanisms may indicate a desire to participate in the network beginning in July 2015. Many network activities will be based on the PGRN and other successful models.

I welcome your input on these changes.