Month: December 2011

NIGMS Welcomes NCRR Programs, Staff and Grantees

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About a year ago, NIH proposed creating a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) that would incorporate the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). NIH decided to transfer the remaining NCRR programs to other NIH components, with the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) and some Biomedical Technology programs slated to go to NIGMS.

The recent passage of an appropriation for Fiscal Year 2012 allows these plans to be implemented. A number of NCRR staff members will move to NIGMS, including many who have been associated with the IDeA and Biomedical Technology programs. The staff who administer and review these programs will continue to do so, and the resources allocated to the programs will not change as a result of the organizational adjustments.

We have a long history of working with NCRR, and we value and respect its staff and programs, which are also held in high regard by the scientific community. We welcome the infusion of new colleagues, new talents and ideas, and new research areas from NCRR. We also look forward to working with the new institutions, investigators and stakeholder groups associated with the NCRR programs.

As we move forward, we want to continue to engage and learn from the scientific community, and we welcome and value your input and feedback.

Four Funding Opportunities Issued


You may be interested in the following recently issued funding opportunity announcements:

Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) (R25)

Purpose: Prepare recent baccalaureate science graduates from diverse backgrounds for Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degrees in biomedical and behavioral sciences
Application due date: February 24, 2012
NIGMS contact: Michael Bender, 301-594-0943

Solicitation of Assays for High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R01)


Solicitation of Assays for High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R21)

Purpose: Form collaborations with an academic, nonprofit or commercial high throughput screening (HTS) facility that has the expertise and experience to implement an HTS-ready assay to develop and discover small-molecule chemical probes
Letter of intent due date: 30 days prior to the anticipated application due date
Application due date: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Miles Fabian, 301-594-3827

Solicitation of Validated Hits for the Discovery of in vivo Chemical Probes (R01)

Purpose: Discover and develop novel in vivo chemical probes for potential use in studying diseases
Letter of intent due date: 30 days prior to the anticipated application due date
Application due date: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Miles Fabian, 301-594-3827

Give Input on Public Access to Publications and Data

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The Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued two requests for information (RFIs) on public access to scholarly publications and to digital data resulting from federally funded research. This input will inform working groups of the National Science and Technology Council that are developing policies on these topics.

The first RFI, Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting from Federally Funded Research, deals with questions related to managing public access, protecting intellectual property interests, embargoing publications and identifying other types of peer-reviewed publications (beyond scholarly journal articles) that should be covered by public access policies. Responses will be accepted through January 2, 2012.

The second RFI, Public Access to Digital Data Resulting from Federally Funded Scientific Research, seeks input on public access to data as well as actions to ensure the long-term usefulness and preservation of the data, protect intellectual property interests and harmonize different types and sources of data. Responses will be accepted through January 12, 2012.

If you want to know more about NIH’s existing policies on these topics, a good resource is the NIH Sharing Policies and Related Guidance on NIH-Funded Research Resources Web site. The site includes information on the data sharing policy, which requires all NIH investigator-initiated applications with direct costs greater than $500,000 in any single year to provide a data sharing plan. It also links to the NIH Public Access Policy, which requires scientists to submit an electronic version of the final, peer-reviewed manuscript to PubMed Central within 12 months of the official date of publication.

Reminder to NIGMS Training Grant (T32) Applicants


As we approach the next submission date for T32 applications on January 25, I’d like to remind applicants about several requirements:

Recruitment and Retention Plans for Students with Disabilities: The long-standing requirement for a recruitment and retention plan to enhance diversity must include students with disabilities as well as individuals from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the health-related sciences (see the current funding opportunity announcement). We’ve posted some ideas and approaches for this element on our Training Web page. For both new and renewal applications, the focus at this time for the recruitment and retention of students with disabilities is on plans and strategies, rather than on numerical outcomes. Applications lacking a plan for the recruitment and retention of individuals in either category will be considered unacceptable.

Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research: The responsible conduct of research (RCR) requirement was updated in an NIH Guide notice in 2010 to include five components: format, subject matter, faculty participation, duration of instruction and frequency of instruction. All components must be addressed in an application for it to be considered acceptable. We find that some applications fail to address the requirement that RCR instruction be taken at least once every 4 years. This “refresher” training can take many forms, but it must be substantive. For example, it can be a formal course given in the later years of graduate training, ongoing annual seminars or workshops, sessions at annual retreats, etc.

NIGMS Special Requirements: All applicants for NIGMS-funded predoctoral training grants are required to address six special requirements related to their training programs as listed in our NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants Program Description and Guidelines. This material should be inserted at the end of the background section of the application.

These requirements are mandatory. Any application with an unacceptable plan for diversity recruitment or RCR training will not be funded until the applicant provides an acceptable, revised plan.

Financial Conflict of Interest Webinar


In an earlier post, we outlined revised regulations on financial conflicts of interest. August 24, 2012, marks the deadline for institutions to implement the new policies. The changes are significant and will affect both investigators and administrators.

NIH recently held a Webinar on the new regulations, and you can view a recording or see the slide set. For more information, visit the NIH Financial Conflict of Interest Web site.

Two New Funding Opportunities Issued


You may be interested in the following recently issued funding opportunity announcements:

New Methods for Understanding the Functional Role of Human DNA Sequence Variants in Complex Phenotypes (R01)

Purpose: Use experimental and/or computational methods to determine the functional relevance of human DNA sequence variants
Letter of intent due date: January 17, 2012
Application due date: February 17, 2012
NIGMS contact: Donna Krasnewich, 301-594-0943

Mentored Research Scientist Development Award in Metabolomics (K01)

Purpose: Pursue intensive research training in the field of metabolomics
Application due date: January 31, 2012
NIGMS contact: Richard Okita, 301-594-3827

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) was issued by the NIH Common Fund but will be administered by NIGMS. For other recently issued Common Fund FOAs, including several focused on single cell biology, see the NIH Guide.

Stem Cell Workshop Covered Field’s Progress, Challenges and Opportunities


In the decade since NIGMS began supporting human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, the field has made substantial strides, including the development of methods to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). As part of our ongoing commitment to basic research into the fundamental properties of pluripotent cells, we recently hosted our fourth biennial workshop for NIGMS grantees working in this research area. The 63 participants presented their latest research findings, exchanged ideas and discussed possibilities for collaboration.

The talks and posters focused on state-of-the-art hESC and iPSC research in four broad areas: pluripotency and self-renewal, technological approaches, differentiation mechanisms, and epigenetics and reprogramming. Several presentations highlighted significant advances in our understanding of the molecular complexes and signaling networks that control pluripotency and the transition to the differentiated state. As in previous workshops, it was exciting to see all the progress that has been made in the past two years.

The final session was on future directions and challenges. It included a discussion of the current state of the field and raised the important question of the nature, extent and significance of differences between hESC and iPSC. Jamie Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison reminded everyone that these two types of pluripotent cells are remarkably similar and that differences may reflect genetic differences in the original cells and/or differences arising during growth in tissue culture.

The meeting concluded with a lively discussion that highlighted the participants’ opinions on the technical challenges, resource needs and key biological questions that will drive the field in the coming years. For more on this, read the workshop summary.