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.”

Wanted: Program Director, Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology

We’re looking for a program director (also known as a “health scientist administrator/program officer”) to manage research grants and other types of awards focused on the mechanisms of DNA replication, recombination and/or mutagenesis and repair. Candidates should have expertise in the use of state-of-the-art molecular genetics and/or genomics-based approaches to elucidate mechanistic aspects of DNA metabolism, gene expression or related cellular processes. Familiarity with NIH extramural funding as an applicant, reviewer or NIH scientific administrator is a plus, and outstanding communications skills are a must.

The position is in the Genetic Mechanisms Branch of NIGMS’ Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. Please see the NIH HSA Website for position requirements and detailed application procedures. Note that this is a global recruitment for program officer positions throughout NIH. In the application materials, be sure to emphasize aspects of your training, expertise and research interests that make it clear you’re a good fit for what we’re looking for, as described above.

The vacancy announcement closes on September 2.

Not looking for a position right now? Please help us out by forwarding this information to others who might be interested.

Training and Biomedical Workforce Update

Request for Information (RFI) screenshotAs you know from a previous post, in April we issued Investing in the Future: NIGMS Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training. Since then, several NIGMS working groups have been very busy devising practical ways to implement the plan’s 15 action items. Last month, we brought together about 25 stakeholders—training grant directors, other university researchers, deans, department chairs and others—to give us a reality check on some of our proposals. We were gratified to see that we are on course to implement most of the measures the plan calls for by early 2012.

In a complementary effort, the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director established a working group to examine and develop a model for the future of the biomedical research workforce in the United States. To inform the working group in its deliberations, NIH has just issued a request for information (RFI). I encourage you to respond to the RFI and send in your input by October 7 to

NIH Common Fund Input Request

NIH Common FundThe NIH Common Fund supports trans-NIH programs in strategic areas to address roadblocks and catalyze progress in biomedical research. Two Common Fund programs are the Pioneer Award and New Innovator Award, which I just posted about.

Each year, NIH asks internal and external scientists and stakeholders to identify new ideas for Common Fund programs. NIH is now seeking broader input on the proposed concepts to help shape them into new programs for 2013. The feedback period is open until September 14.

For more information about the Common Fund and its current programs, read this recent blog post from NIH’s Sally Rockey.

NIH Director’s Award Programs Keep ‘Pioneering’ and ‘Innovating’

NIH Director’s Pioneer AwardNIH recently conducted an evaluation of the short-term outcome of the NIH Director Pioneer’s Award program, which started in 2004 and is managed by NIGMS. The report was positive and confirmed that the research supported by the program truly has been pioneering, not only in pursuing highly creative and often unconventional approaches but also in leading to additional “high-risk, high-reward” programs at NIH and other funding agencies.

We hope to see many more highly innovative ideas submitted for the next Pioneer Award application cycle that is now under way. Applications are due October 7, 2011.

NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

The NIH Director’s New Innovator Award program, also managed by NIGMS, is accepting applications until October 14, 2011. This program is designed for early stage investigators at U.S. institutions who have not yet obtained an NIH R01 or similar grant.

For more information and links to the requests for applications, see the Pioneer Award Web site and the New Innovator Award Web site.

As I’ve written before, one of my favorite elements of these programs is the annual symposium, scheduled this year for September 20-21 at the Doubletree Bethesda Hotel near the NIH campus. The meeting is free and doesn’t require registration, so if you’re in the area, I encourage you to join us for talks and poster sessions by Pioneer and New Innovator awardees. If you can’t make it in person, you can view the platform presentations after the meeting on the NIH Videocast site.

Planning Grants Now Available for Clinical Trials of High Relevance to the NIGMS Mission

NIGMS supports a limited number of investigator-initiated clinical trials in selected areas related to its mission, including trauma, burn and peri-operative injury; wound healing; sepsis; and anesthesiology and peri-operative pain.

We will now offer planning grants (see PAR-11-287) to enable the assembly of the organizational elements and documentation needed for a clinical trial R01 application. This will also permit early peer review of the scientific rationale of a proposed trial.

Before applying for a planning grant, we strongly recommend consulting with the appropriate NIGMS program staff listed in the funding opportunity announcement to determine whether the goal of the proposed trial aligns with the NIGMS mission and scientific priorities.

Letters of intent for the planning grants are due by September 24, 2011, and applications are due by October 24, 2011. We will accept subsequent submissions on the same dates in 2012 and 2013.

As this planning grant program proceeds, we will assess its value to applicants, and we welcome your feedback at any time. For more information, please see the NIGMS Web site on Clinical Studies and Trials.

Journal Essay: Perspectives of a Program Officer

I’ve been a program officer for NIGMS research and training activities for 27 years. The Molecular Biology of the Cell journal recently asked me to describe the general roles of such a position, including the challenges and rewards. My essay Exit icon, which appeared in the August 1 issue, offers insight into what the job entails and how we can help our applicants and grantees.

Here’s the abstract for “A View from the NIH Bridge: Perspectives of a Program Officer”:

This essay is written from my perspective as a program officer for research and training activities at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for almost 27 yr. It gives a bird’s-eye view of the job of a program officer, which includes providing advice to applicants and grantees, making funding recommendations, overseeing grantees’ progress, facilitating scientific opportunities in specific areas of program responsibility, and shaping NIGMS and National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy. I have highlighted the numerous rewards of serving as a program officer, as well as some of the difficulties. For those who may be considering a position as an NIH program officer now or in the future, I’ve also described the qualities and qualifications that are important for such a career choice. Finally, this essay addresses some of the challenges for the NIH and the research community in the years ahead as we simultaneously face exciting scientific opportunities and tighter budgets.