Funding Opportunities: Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, Common Fund Opportunities, Career Development Awards

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

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative

The first funding opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative, a large-scale effort aimed at revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain, are now available. To view the FOAs, visit

Common Fund Opportunities

The NIH Common Fund has issued FOAs under both the Single Cell Analysis and the Enhancing the Diversity of the NIH-Funded Workforce programs. A Webinar for potential applicants to the diversity FOAs will be held in January.

Career Development (K) Awards

K awards help transition new investigators to research independence.

  • NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00)

    Purpose: Help postdoctoral researchers complete mentored training and transition to an independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions and launch a competitive, independent research careers

  • Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (Parent K08)

    Purpose: Provide individuals with clinical doctoral degrees with intensive, supervised career development experiences in biomedical and behavioral research, including translational research

  • Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award (Parent K25)

    Purpose: Attract individuals with quantitative and engineering backgrounds to bring their expertise and skills to address NIH-relevant research questions

  • Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (Parent K23)

    Purpose: Support individuals with a clinical doctoral degree who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented research

Application due dates: Standard dates apply.
NIGMS contact: Michael Sesma, 301-594-3900.

Fostering Open Science

Recently, I participated in a workshop on Open Science: Driving Forces and Practical Realities. The idea to make scientific research, data and information accessible to the public isn’t new and arguably has historical roots dating back to the late 1600s, when academic journal publishing began. But it’s particularly timely today in light of the rapid increase in the volume of data and the value it has to the public.

During the workshop, we explored the technical, financial, political and cultural forces that drive open science and how these forces impact information sharing, re-use, interoperability and the preservation of the scientific record. I also talked about NIH’s ongoing commitment to open science.

In 2003, NIH created a Data Sharing Policy, and, in 2008, it issued a Public Access Policy for publications. A Genomic Data Sharing Policy is currently in draft form. All of these documents communicate the need to ensure public access to the relevant biomedical data, information and publications that are a result of federally funded biomedical research.

In addition to establishing these guidelines, NIH funds projects that foster open science, including the RCSB Protein Data Bank Exit icon, The Cancer Genome Atlas, The Cancer Imaging Archive Exit icon, the Neuroimaging Informatics Tools and Resources Clearinghouse Exit icon and PhysioNet Exit icon. NIH is also playing a role in crowdsourced projects, such as the systems biology-related Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods challenges (no longer available), as well as projects to develop common languages for research, such as the Common Data Element Resource Portal. Another exciting NIH-funded initiative is the Medical Device “Plug and Play” Interoperability Program Exit icon, which aims to create cost-effective and innovative third-party medical “apps” for clinical diagnosis, treatment, research and safety.

In preparing my presentation for the recent workshop, I recalled the day when I heard about the biomedical community taking a quantum leap forward into open science. It was the early spring of 1996, and I was eating lunch with my graduate student and postdoc colleagues. We were discussing the International Large-Scale Sequencing Meeting and the resulting “Bermuda principles” for the release of data generated by the Human Genome Project. We were particularly excited to learn that scientists associated with that project had unanimously agreed that all genomic sequencing data should be freely available and in the public domain prior to publication.

Nearly 20 years later, the move toward open science continues to offer a forum for scientists–from fields that range from astronomy and physics to medical and clinical research–to discuss policies and practical tools for collaboration. It also allows the community to come together and tackle the challenges and unique opportunities of sharing science in a truly collaborative way. I invite you all to join me in the discussion and in furthering progress in this important area.

NIH’s Sally Rockey on PubMed Comments, 2013 Success Rates, Lead Time for Inviting NIH Staff to Meetings

Within the last week, NIH’s Sally Rockey has published posts that may be of interest to you:

PubMed Gets Interactive: The broader public now can view opinions and information shared by authors on scientific publications in PubMed.

Application Success Rates Decline in 2013: An early analysis of 2013 competing research project grant applications and awards at NIH shows a downward trend for success rates. NOTE: We at NIGMS are currently working on our annual funding trends post.

Understanding Lead-time for NIH Staff Participation in Scientific Meetings: Invitations for NIH program, review or other staff to speak at or attend a meeting need to be made as early as possible due to approval requirements and budget constraints. NOTE: Sally Rockey’s post suggests at least 4 months advance notice, but at NIGMS, we recommend at least 6 months.

T32 Application Changes

NIH has issued a new parent announcement for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) that incorporates many of the “mandatory special requirements” previously in an NIGMS T32 predoctoral grant application. As a result, eligible institutions applying for an NIGMS training grant with a due date on and after January 25, 2014, will no longer need to include this material as a separate section at the end of the background section but should instead address each of these requirements throughout the document.

Changes in the new T32 announcement are based on recommendations of the Biomedical Workforce Working Group of the Advisory Committee to the Director, NIH. As stated in a related NIH Guide notice, T32 programs are now encouraged to make available career development advising as well as learning opportunities so that trainees obtain a working knowledge of various potential career directions and of the steps required to transition successfully to their next career stage.

NIGMS-funded predoctoral training programs should provide support for trainees in their early years (e.g., years 1-3) to prepare them for subsequent, more differentiated research and for a variety of research careers. NIGMS predoctoral T32 programs are not intended to support students in the dissertation/independent phase of their doctoral research training.

Each NIGMS T32 application must clearly:

  • State the objectives of the proposed program and how they are distinct from or relate to other training programs at the same institution.
  • Identify the faculty involved, describe their roles and responsibilities, and indicate whether they participate in other training programs at the same institution.
  • Demonstrate access to a pool of highly promising scholars, including those who are underrepresented in the biomedical and behavioral sciences and individuals with disabilities.

In addition, NIGMS strongly encourages its programs to develop mathematical fluency among all trainees by integrating quantitative biology and/or advanced statistical approaches. NIGMS also expects funded training programs to evolve in response to changes in the field of science and to respond effectively to student needs and outcomes. The Institute is always interested in innovative approaches to training that will prepare a strong and diverse biomedical and behavioral research workforce for the 21st century.

For more details, see our predoctoral T32 training grant Web page, which includes a link to slides on NIGMS predoctoral training program guidelines for 2014 (no longer available), as well as our postdoctoral T32 information. Prospective applicants are welcome to contact me or one of my colleagues who manage training grants with questions, comments or suggestions.

Funding Opportunities: Support of Competitive Research Program; Modeling the Scientific Workforce; Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence

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

Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program, which offers three funding opportunities based on career level that are designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty at minority-serving institutions and institutions with a historical mission of training students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research

Purpose: Conduct high-quality research and increase research competitiveness by progressively enhancing the pace and productivity of projects
Career level: Advanced formative stage

Purpose: Test a new idea or gather preliminary data to establish a new line of research
Career level: Early academic career

Purpose: Continue engaging in meritorious biomedical or behavioral research projects of limited scope in a given biomedical or behavioral area within the NIH mission
Career level: Intermediate stage

Application due dates: January 25, 2014; May 25, 2014; January 25, 2015; May 25, 2015; January 25, 2016; May 25, 2016
NIGMS contact: Hinda Zlotnik, 301-594-3900

Modeling the Scientific Workforce (U01)

Purpose: Develop computational models and systems approaches to better understand the underlying dynamics that produce successful scientists, to examine strategies for increasing the diversity of the scientific workforce, to identify factors that influence participation in scientific training and questions in need of research, and to guide the collection and analysis of data used to develop these models
Letter of intent due date: January 4, 2014
Application due date: February 4, 2014
NIGMS contact: Michael Sesma, 301-594-3900

Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (P20)

Purpose: Establish a thematic, multidisciplinary center in an IDeA-eligible state and enhance the ability of investigators to compete independently for NIH or other external peer-reviewed support
Application due dates: February 26, 2014; January 28, 2015; January 28, 2016
NIGMS contact: Yanping Liu, 301-594-3900

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

Test-Drive NIH’s New Tool for Generating Biosketches

NIH’s Sally Rockey recently blogged about SciENcv, a new tool for easily generating and maintaining biosketches for federal grant applications and progress reports. The system also allows users to link biographical information with publication records and to generate a unique international ID through the ORCID Exit icon initiative.

SciENcv is presently in beta release. Users—from seasoned investigators creating biosketches for different grant applications to students and postdocs writing a biosketch for the first time—can provide feedback about what works, what doesn’t and what other functionalities they want. Register for SciENcv via MyNCBI, and send your input by using the site’s contact form or by e-mailing

Meet Us at the ASCB Meeting

In recent weeks, a number of investigators have asked me, “Are you going to the ASCB meeting Exit icon this year?” I will be there, along with our new director, Jon Lorsch, and a few other NIGMS staff members. The meeting takes place on December 14-18 in New Orleans. If you’re also attending, we hope to have a chance to chat with you there. It’s a great way for us to get to know you and your research better, as well as to answer your questions.

In addition, you may want to attend one of the sessions with NIGMS staff. Jon will discuss his vision and plans for NIGMS in the “Face-to-Face with NIH” session at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, December 16. Earlier that day, at 11 a.m., I will participate in a panel discussion on careers in science policy and research administration. NIGMS staff are also participating in the ASCB Women in Cell Biology Committee’s career discussion and mentoring roundtables taking place at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, December 17.

ASCB is just one of the meetings that our scientific staff go to each year to learn about the latest findings and emerging areas, meet with investigators and participate in informational talks or mock study sections. I encourage you to find out if your program director or other NIGMS staff members will be attending your next science conference so you can plan to meet. If you’re a relative newcomer to the NIH system, you can find your program director listed in your eRA Commons account and on your summary statement and Notice of Award. And of course, you can always call or e-mail us to let us know about your work or ask us your questions.