Dr. Ann Hagan

About Dr. Ann Hagan

As director of extramural activities, Ann sets and coordinates grant funding policies and procedures, and she advises staff on the best grants management practices. She also sits on the NIH committee that makes policy recommendations for managing extramural programs.

Watch the May 23 Advisory Council Meeting Live or Later

Once again, we’re videocasting the open session of the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council meeting. The half-day session begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 23, with opening remarks by NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch.

We’ll also hear talks by NIH Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity Hannah Valantine and Council member Richard Lalonde of Pfizer, Inc.

Other items on the agenda include presentations on our cell repository and our postdoctoral research associate program as well as a concept clearance for data reproducibility training modules.

If you can’t view the meeting live, you can watch it later in the videocast archive.

You’re also welcome to attend the meeting in person and make comments during the public comment period.

Change in NIH Application Resubmission Policy

NIH has just announced a significant change in its policy for resubmission applications.

Effective immediately, for application due dates after April 16, 2014, following an unsuccessful resubmission (A1) application, applicants may submit the same idea as a new (A0) application for the next appropriate due date. NIH will not assess the similarity of the science in the new (A0) application to any previously reviewed submission when accepting an application for review.

NIH’s policy for accepting overlapping applications remains in effect (see NOT-OD-09-100), so it will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that 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).

The NIH time limit for accepting resubmission (A1) applications remains in effect, as well (see NOT-OD-12-128 and NOT-OD-10-140). NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows.

Also remaining in effect is the NIH policy for new investigator R01 resubmission deadlines, described in NOT-OD-11-057.

Background and details on the new resubmission policy are in NIH Guide NOT-OD-14-074 and a blog post by NIH’s Sally Rockey.

Advisory Council Meeting: Attend, Watch, Comment

The National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council will have its winter meeting on January 23-24, 2014. Although the first day is a closed session for the review and discussion of grant applications, Friday’s portion of the meeting is open to the public. The agenda includes presentations on NIGMS programs and policy changes as well as a public comment period.

You may attend the open session in person or watch the presentations and discussions live or later.

Support for Scientific Meetings

To ensure that we are using our resources in the most effective and efficient way possible, we are examining all of our funding mechanisms. One area that we have recently focused on, in part due to the current fiscal situation, is our support for scientific meetings, conferences and workshops. We understand the importance of these meetings, but we receive a large number of requests to support them and have concluded that it is not cost-effective to consider most of these requests. The numerous applications for small conference grants are costly to process and review, and the funds used for them compete directly with research project grants, including R01s. Our priority is to use our resources in the ways that most directly promote research and training, which already include mechanisms to allow students and fellows to attend scientific meetings.

In general, we will only support meetings that:

  • Are closely aligned with our central mission and interests;
  • Are non-recurring, unless they focus on training or workforce development in areas pertinent to our mission;
  • Include participants who do not frequently interact in other venues.

Simply because a meeting falls within the general areas of science we support does not mean that we will consider it for funding.

We therefore anticipate that we will accept very few R13 or U13 applications in the future. We strongly encourage potential applicants to contact us before requesting approval to submit an application. For a list of contact people and more information on the application process, see http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/Mechanisms/Pages/
SupportScientificMeetings.aspx

CSR’s Percentiling Recalibration

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) has recently adjusted the base that a number of permanent study sections and special emphasis panels (SEPs) use to calculate percentiles for certain application types. Applications that were reviewed in a SEP meeting for the May 2013 Council round will be assigned a percentile ranking calculated from the new base. In some cases, revised summary statements will be issued for those applications missing percentile scores or with an incorrect percentile. The percentile ranking will also appear in the eRA Commons account of the principal investigator(s).

We here at NIGMS are often asked to explain how percentile rankings factor into determining which awards to make. We do not rely solely on a percentile cutoff; we consider a number of additional factors, including an investigator’s career stage, a laboratory’s other research funding, NIGMS research portfolio balance, and other programmatic priorities. For more information, see http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/Application/Pages/SuccessRateFAQs.aspx.

Meet the NIGMS-Funded PECASE Winners

Each year, NIH institutes and centers nominate outstanding young scientists for the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to individuals beginning their independent research careers. The grantees, who must be new investigators in the first year of an R01 or DP2 award, are selected for their innovative research record, potential to continue on this productive route, and community service activities. In recent years, NIH has annually nominated 20 individuals, with approximately 1 or 2 of them being NIGMS grantees.

Photo of Neils Ringstad (top) and Erica Larschan (bottom).

Among this year’s PECASE recipients are two NIGMS grantees, Niels Ringstad of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Erica N. Larschan of Brown University. We identified them because of their cutting-edge neuroscience and developmental genetics research, respectively, and their outstanding commitment to education, mentoring and increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce.

Below, they answer questions about their research and PECASE experience and offer advice to other early career scientists.

What does your research focus on?

Neils Ringstad: Our lab studies the simple behaviors of a small roundworm to identify genes that function in chemical signaling in the nervous system. Even though the organism we study, Caenorabditis elegans, has a tiny nervous system with only 302 neurons, these neurons are very similar to the neurons in our brains and use many of the same neurotransmitters to transmit and process information. We’re particularly interested in serotonin signaling pathways, which are important therapeutic targets in psychiatry.

Erica Larschan: We study how genes are precisely targeted for regulation within the highly compact eukaryotic genome. Gene regulation is a fundamental process that is misregulated in many diseases including cancers. We are interested in identifying new proteins that could serve as targets for anti-cancer therapies.

What was it like to come to Washington, D.C., to meet NIH staff, the President and other PECASE recipients?

Ringstad: It was a tremendous honor to be an awardee. We heard a resounding endorsement of basic science and a clear statement of its value to the American people from both the White House and the NIH. That gave me and my group a boost that will last for years.

Larschan: My PECASE visit was one of the most exciting moments of my scientific career. It was a great opportunity to present brand new data from our lab to a broader audience and interact with the other PECASE winners.

What advice would you give to young investigators?

Ringstad: We pick problems to tackle because we see some good in solving them, and we pick them before we know how tough they are to solve. Don’t lose sight of the hopes and expectations that you had for your project before you did your first experiment.

Larschan: The most important piece of advice is to focus on the most exciting and central questions that you can address with your research. It is essential to use many different approaches to rigorously answer the most difficult questions.

Update on NIH Special Council Review Policy

NIH has announced a new policy whereby applications from investigators who receive more than $1 million in direct research support from active NIH grants will receive additional scrutiny by NIH institute and center (IC) advisory councils. This is a threshold, not a cap: Investigators may still receive additional grant awards if the ICs determine such awards will further their missions.

A few notes: The policy replaces a piloted one that set the threshold at $1.5 million total costs. NIGMS will continue its current practice that sets the threshold for special scrutiny of well-funded investigators at $750,000 or more in direct costs for all research support, regardless of the source.

Below is a chart that outlines some of the differences between the NIH and NIGMS policies. For more discussion on this topic, see comments to my earlier post.

NIH

NIGMS

Funding source

NIH only

NIH and non-NIH

Threshold

$1M direct costs on existing grants

$750K direct costs including the pending application

Exclusions

RFAs, P01s, some multi-PI awards

Resource awards

Acknowledging Our Support

NIH recently modified the funding acknowledgement language in the notice of award to read:

Each publication, press release, or other document about research supported by an NIH award must include an acknowledgment of NIH award support and a disclaimer such as “Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01GM085232. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.” Prior to issuing a press release concerning the outcome of this research, please notify the NIH awarding IC in advance to allow for coordination.

A key difference in the new version is the reference to “of the National Institutes of Health” after the name of the funding component. The goal is to make it clear that the funding component is part of NIH and, more broadly, to convey the role and value of NIH support. As always, we recommend that if you have more than one grant, you only cite the one(s) that supported the research described in the document.

For some time now, notices of award have also mentioned the NIH public access policy, which requires you to submit papers accepted for publication to NIH PubMed Central.

For more on communicating about your research, see an April 2012 Rock Talk blog post by NIH’s Sally Rockey and our Attribution of NIH/NIGMS Support page.

NIH Pilot of the $1.5 Million Special Review

There has been considerable discussion on Sally Rockey’s Rock Talk blog and elsewhere about NIH’s pilot advisory council review of applications from investigators who have received more than $1.5 million in NIH research project grant support.

As you may know, NIGMS has a longstanding policy of advisory council review of well-funded laboratories, but it differs from the NIH policy in several respects. At its May meeting, the NIGMS Advisory Council voted to continue our existing policy, which sets the threshold for special review at $750,000 in direct costs for all support.

The chart below outlines some of the differences between the NIH and NIGMS policies.

NIH NIGMS
Funding source NIH only NIH and non-NIH
Threshold $1.5M total costs on existing grants $750K direct costs including the pending application
Exclusions RFAs, P01s, some multi-PI awards Resource awards

Revised Financial Conflicts of Interest Regulations

The revised regulations Exit icon on extramural investigators’ financial conflicts of interest have been published in the Federal Register. The final rule is based on input NIH received from the community.

The revised regulations, as outlined by NIH’s Sally Rockey, now:

  • Require investigators to disclose to their institutions all of their significant financial interests related to their institutional responsibilities as opposed to only those that they see as related to Public Health Service (PHS)-supported research.
  • Lower the monetary threshold for disclosure of significant financial interests, from $10,000 to $5,000.
  • Require institutions to report to the PHS awarding component more comprehensively on identified financial conflicts of interest and how they are being managed.
  • Require institutions to make certain information concerning identified financial conflicts of interest held by senior/key personnel accessible to the public.
  • Require investigators to be trained on the regulations and their institution’s financial conflict of interest policy at designated times.

NIH is developing training materials, which will be posted on its Financial Conflict of Interest Web site. For more details, visit the “quick links.”