Assessing the Outcomes of NIGMS Glue Grants

NIGMS Glue Grants Outcomes Assessment, November 4-December 15In September 2009, we announced that we were not reissuing the funding opportunity announcement for our Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards (Glue Grant) program, which has supported research teams tackling significant and complex problems that are beyond the means of any one research group. We are currently assessing the need for this type of support and how best to manage programs of such scope and magnitude.

As part of this effort, we are conducting an assessment of the glue grant program’s major outcomes and their impact. We’re seeking your views through voluntary input forms posted on the NIGMS Web site. The forms will ask about various aspects of the glue grant program as a whole and about specific glue grant projects, including:

You can read more about the assessment and view the forms at
GlueGrants/OutcomeAssessment (no longer available). The site will be open for input until December 15, 2010.

UPDATE: We have extended the comment period from December 15 to January 15.

Collaborative Science Supplement Requests Due in January

Do you have an idea for a great collaboration that will advance your NIGMS-funded research project? If your current award has active funding through at least July 31, 2012, you may be eligible to jump-start your idea with an administrative supplement for collaborative science. The next submission deadline is January 15, 2011.

To be sure that your project is appropriate for this program, please review the funding opportunity announcement. You should also discuss the project idea with your NIGMS program director before preparing an application. For general questions about the program, contact me at or Marion Zatz at

New Funding Opportunity for Stem Cell Researchers

NIGMS has just issued a call for Program Projects for Collaborative Research on the Basic Biology of Pluripotency and Reprogramming (P01), with an emphasis on human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. We are particularly interested in studies that propose comprehensive analyses of the basic biology of pluripotency, the molecular events and mechanisms of reprogramming, and the epigenetics and epigenomics of the pluripotent and reprogrammed states.

These applications have special requirements, so please read the announcement carefully. Letters of intent are due on November 1, and applications are due on December 1.

If your research involves stem cells but isn’t appropriate for this announcement, you may submit an investigator-initiated R01 application that addresses the basic biology of stem cells and/or uses these cells as model systems to study fundamental life processes.

You may contact me at or Marion Zatz at with questions about this new opportunity or about NIGMS support for stem cell research.

Apply Now for Microbial Community Dynamics Grants

NIGMS has just re-announced the Dynamics of Host-Associated Microbial Communities (R01) funding opportunity. Microbes make up the vast majority of our bodies’ cells, and this program supports projects that aim to dissect these complex communities and their roles within a host.

We are particularly interested in applications that propose:

  • Genetic, physiological and ecological research on mixed microbial communities, their internal dynamics and how they relate to those of the host; and
  • Studies on other experimental models that could make breakthrough contributions to understanding the formation and dynamics of host-microbe symbiotic systems.

We encourage interdisciplinary approaches, including bioinformatics/computational/modeling and/or experimental manipulations to investigate host-associated microbial community ecology.

You may apply for up to $250,000 (direct costs) per year (plus up to $100,000 for exceptional equipment in the first year). Most awards will be for 4 years. Letters of intent are due on December 14, 2010, and applications are due on January 14, 2011.

For more details about the program, see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me at 301-594-3900 or

Modeling Scientific Workforce Dynamics

In keeping with the Institute’s long-standing interest in training and its strong commitment to fostering a diverse scientific workforce, we have just re-announced our Modeling the Scientific Workforce (U01) program.

This program provides support for developing computational models of the scientific workforce in the United States. It takes a systems-based approach to understanding the underlying dynamics that produce successful scientists, examining strategies for increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce, identifying research questions and guiding data collection and analysis. The models will help inform our program development, management and evaluation.

We are particularly interested in models of the academic scientific workforce, but applicants should also consider industry and the government. We strongly encourage collaboration among scientists who are experts in simulation modeling, large-scale educational data sets, national policy and program development and other appropriate areas.

Letters of intent are due on October 4, 2010, and applications are due on November 4, 2010.

For additional information about the program, see the funding opportunity announcement or contact me at 301-594-3900 or

NIGMS Program Project Grants (P01) Funding Opportunity

The program announcement for NIGMS program project grants was published yesterday in the NIH Guide. This grant mechanism enables outstanding scientists working on different aspects of a similar problem to collaborate.

Applicants should propose innovative, complementary approaches to solving a significant biological question within the NIGMS mission. Over a 5-year period, program projects may receive total direct costs of up to $6.5 million (excluding any proposed equipment purchases and subcontract indirect costs). If you request more than $500,000 in direct costs in any year, you must receive approval from NIGMS staff before submitting your proposal.

I strongly encourage you to speak to the relevant program staff member before submitting a P01 application. For more information, see the NIGMS Program Project Funding Policies Web site.

Funding Opportunity for Joint NSF/NIGMS Biological and Mathematical Sciences Program

NIGMS recently announced plans to continue participating in the Joint DMS/NIGMS Initiative to Support Research at the Interface of the Biological and Mathematical Sciences. The NSF solicitation Exit icon includes more information about applying.

This joint NSF/NIGMS program started in 2002 to address the pressing need to bring mathematicians into the core of biological research and to encourage broader use of innovative mathematics in understanding life processes. Since then, NIGMS has funded 90 projects involving more than 150 investigators. This year’s awards included nine grants to support mathematics-driven research in biomolecular interactions, signaling and regulatory pathway dynamics, cell proliferation and stress response and branched morphogenesis.

Applications for the program are accepted once a year. The 2010 deadline is October 1. A joint NSF/NIGMS panel reviews the applications, and a group of NSF and NIGMS program directors selects ones for funding. The typical funding level for a 4-year grant is between $1.2 million and $1.6 million (total costs for all years).

In April of this year, NSF and NIGMS sponsored the Frontiers in Mathematical Biology meeting, which brought together scientists supported by the program. See my May 5 post for more about this meeting.

New Funding Opportunity for Biologists to Collaborate on Structure Studies

PSI Logo

We have just issued a new “partnership” program announcement for researchers interested in a biological problem of significant scope to collaborate with structural biology researchers.

The announcement is a part of the PSI:Biology initiative, which will apply high-throughput structure determination to a broad range of biological problems. Successful applicants will partner with researchers within the PSI:Biology network.

Applicants should propose projects for which the determination of many protein structures will be important. The projects should also involve proteins amenable to high-throughput structure determination or targets that motivate new technology development for determining more difficult structures.

Finding Synergy Between Math and Biology

Frontiers in Mathematical Biology:<br /><br />
NSF-NIH PIs Meeting 2010 posterLast week, I attended the PI’s meeting for the Joint DMS/NIGMS Initiative to Support Research in the Area of Mathematical Biology Exit icon, a program managed by us and NSF’s Division of Mathematical Sciences. A key goal of the program is to bring mathematicians and new mathematical approaches into the core of biological and biomedical research.

I was a grantee of this program before I came to NIGMS, so it was interesting to see how the program has evolved and to meet other scientists finding synergy between math and biology.

During the two-day meeting Exit icon, researchers and students supported by the program shared their experiences, exchanged ideas and explored new collaborations in the field of mathematical biology. Their oral and poster presentations covered a spectrum of topics, from protein and RNA structure prediction to modeling biological complexity and statistical inference. The meeting also featured six brainstorming breakout sessions that helped the program officials identify future opportunities and challenges for the field.

Here are few ideas that caught my attention:

  • Several speakers emphasized that the quest for stimulating the innovative use of mathematics should not undermine the application of well established mathematical approaches in biology.
  • Dynamical systems theory, which describes how complex networks change over time, suggests that the architecture underlying a biological network’s control system may have been evolutionary selected to support the delicate balance between robustness and efficiency.
  • Methods for studying the spread of infectious diseases could also be used to study the spread of emotional states (depression, happiness, etc.).

If you are interested in mathematical biology, visit the meeting Web site—it will be updated soon with the meeting abstracts, slides and photos. If you would like to apply for funding for mathematical biology research, look for an announcement about the program’s next solicitation on the Feedback Loop around the end of July.

A Meeting of Scientific Minds: Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology

Logo for Quantitative and Systems PharmacologyRegistration is now open for our second Quantitative and Systems Pharmacology Workshop, which will be held September 9-10 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. The meeting is intended primarily for pharmacologists, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modelers, systems biologists and others working in fields relevant to this emerging discipline.

I first announced plans for the workshop on the Feedback Loop, and your comments both to the post and to the organizing committee helped us develop the agenda. This year’s scientific talks, researcher perspectives, panel discussions and poster presentations will focus on key questions related to the integration of pharmacology and systems biology and how it can aid our understanding of drug actions and drug discovery. Specific questions range from how we articulate a vision for systems pharmacology to what needs to happen to achieve that vision.

The meeting’s co-chairs, Peter Sorger of Harvard Medical School and Sandra Allerheiligen of Merck, Inc., along with the organizing committee have put together an exciting group of confirmed speakers who represent academia, industry and the many disciplines relevant to systems pharmacology. Please note that we are still adding specific talk titles and soliciting poster presentations.

Registration is free, but slots are limited—don’t postpone registering if you want to attend!