New NIGMS Guidelines for Funding Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Research Support


Jon Lorsch recently posted a message about the responsibility that our grantee community shares with us to help the research enterprise thrive. One way that we have addressed this is by taking a hard look at the funding of investigators who are already well supported. As most of you know, in an effort to increase efficiency and to support as many outstanding scientists as possible, we have long required special advisory council approval  for any grant that, in combination with the principal investigator’s (PI’s) other research support, would provide over $750,000 in direct costs.

We have now developed guidelines that we will use in awarding R01s and other research grants to investigators with substantial levels of long-term, unrestricted research funding from any source. Unrestricted funding means that it is not project-based and may be used to conduct research on a broad topic at the PI’s discretion. We consider such support substantial and long-term if it is over $400,000 in direct costs (excluding the PI’s salary and direct support of widely shared institutional resources) and extends for at least 2 years from the time the NIGMS grant would be funded.

Abiding by these new guidelines will enable us to fund additional labs, increasing the likelihood of making significant scientific advances. The guidelines will take effect for applications submitted on or after January 2, 2016. If you might be affected by the new guidelines, I encourage you to discuss your plans with your program director.

4 Replies to “New NIGMS Guidelines for Funding Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Research Support”

  1. To address some of the inquiries we’ve received in response to these funding guidelines, we’ve clarified the definition of substantial research support: $400,000 or more per year in direct costs excluding the principal investigator’s salary and direct support of widely shared institutional resources. We will implement the guidelines early next year.

  2. I think that this is an excellent new rule. HHMI funding should definitely be included within this $750K. I am not sure about how to handle institutional salary support. Some PIs get their full salary from their institution and some rely entirely on grants for it.

  3. What happen if the PI of the proposal has almost no funding, but the co-PI is a well-funded investigator? Apparently, it is not fair to the PI if this proposal is not funded since he/she has little fund.

    1. The little-funded PI can apply as the sole PI and explain that he/she will collaborate with the well-funded PI, who should have sufficient funds to participate in the collaboration if he/she considers it to be a high enough priority. The well-funded individual can be listed as a collaborator in the application (with no requested funding).

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