MIRA Program Launches with First FOA


We have just issued the first funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in the pilot of our new Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program. The development of this program was greatly informed by responses to our request for information, which I summarized in a previous Feedback Loop post.

The goal of this FOA is to test the MIRA concept under well-controlled conditions with a small group of investigators. We’re initially targeting established investigators who have received two or more R01-equivalent awards or a single award of $400,000 or more in direct costs from NIGMS in Fiscal Year 2013 or 2014, and who have at least one grant expected to end in Fiscal Year 2016 or 2017. We think that this approach will help these investigators transition smoothly from their current grants to MIRA support. In the future, we plan to issue MIRA FOAs for additional groups of investigators, and if the pilot is successful we will open the program to any investigator working on research questions related to the mission of NIGMS.

If you’re eligible for this FOA and on the fence about applying, consider that MIRA awards:

  • Will be for 5 years instead of the current NIGMS average of 4 years,
  • Will continue support for other research currently funded by NIGMS without requiring a separate renewal application,
  • Will provide flexibility to pursue new ideas and opportunities as they arise,
  • Will increase funding stability, and
  • Will reduce time spent managing multiple grant awards and writing grant applications.

We’ll post additional information, including answers to frequently asked questions, on the NIGMS MIRA Web page.

NOTE: The FOA lists the earliest award date as December 2016. This is an error. The earliest award date is actually April 2016.

8 Replies to “MIRA Program Launches with First FOA”

  1. What is the number of NIGMS established investigators who meet the criteria (>2 RO1 or >$400k per year) for this MIRA pilot?

  2. Peter, thank you for the program. Would you please explain why applicants must have had two or more grants awarded, or one >400K? This seems to omit a main group that struggles, while helping a group that may not need it as much.

  3. Meanwhile, those who do not qualify:
    • Will be funded for 4 years instead of the 5 years that MIRA investigators get,
    • Will be burdened with separate renewal applications for other awards,
    • Will be denied the flexibility to pursue new ideas and opportunities as they arise,
    • Will continue to struggle with funding instability, and
    • Will still be burdened with managing multiple grant awards and writing grant applications.

    In other words this mechanism explicitly increases the competition for limited funds for less-senior investigators and those who have smaller labs or have had funding blips. Moreover, they will still be subject to all the administrative and grant-writing overhead that their scientific competitors with MIRA awards are spared from.

    How can this be interpreted as anything other than mechanism to reinforce the positions of established and connected graybeards, and thereby to accelerate the graying of the NIGMS-funded investigator pool?

  4. Although the funding announcement is not specific about budgets, several colleagues have been told by their PO that MIRA budgets will be 80% of current total funding (from the 2+ R01s). Is this true? If those R01s are currently supporting a five-person lab, for example, having to fire one of them will be impossible without significantly compromising progress. And what about the ability to roll additional, non-NIGMS-funded projects into the MIRA application, which would require a higher, not lower, budget? I hope you can provide some clarification on what applicants can expect. I, for one, could not possibly afford to take a 20% cut and would not want to waste my time applying for an R35 if this were part of the bargain.

  5. On the overview given by the NIGMS director Jon L. Lorsch, PhD at the Biophysical Congress in Baltimore (two days ago) it was announced that it will be a MIRA program for New Investigators.
    Could you please elaborate on the deadlines and specifics?
    Svetla McPhie

    1. We plan to issue a MIRA funding opportunity for early stage investigators as quickly as possible. We hope the first application due date will be sometime this summer.

  6. Fascinating to see that the MiRA for ESI/NI differs so dramatically and is basically a more-restrictive full-mod R01.

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