NIGMS Transitions AREA Support to Undergraduate-Focused Institutions

NIGMS is realigning its support of the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program to focus on providing research experiences to undergraduate students in scientific areas within its mission. Accordingly, we’ve published a new undergraduate research-focused AREA funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and are discontinuing our participation in the NIH Parent AREA FOA. The undergraduate research-focused AREA FOA will allow us to continue to: 1) support small-scale meritorious research projects at institutions that do not receive substantial NIH funding (less than $6 million in total costs in 4 of the last 7 years), 2) enhance the research environment at eligible institutions, and 3) expose students to scientific research so that they consider careers in biomedical sciences. Unlike the Parent FOA, the new announcement allows NIGMS to place its emphasis specifically on undergraduate research.

This new AREA FOA limits eligibility to undergraduate student-focused institutions or academic components within an institution (e.g., School of Arts and Sciences) in which the undergraduate student enrollment is greater than the graduate student enrollment, and it excludes all types of health professional schools. Additionally, the research team must be composed primarily of undergraduate students. This FOA aligns the application instructions and review criteria with the goals of the AREA program. We expect that these clarifications will lead to applications that better fit the goals of the program and provide reviewers the tools they need to evaluate the program as designed.

NIGMS is withdrawing from the Parent AREA FOA after the May 7, 2018, AIDS application due date. Beginning with the June 25 application due date, all AREA applications for NIGMS support, including renewals originally submitted to the Parent FOA, must be submitted to the undergraduate research-focused FOA (see NOT-GM-18-021). Note that this change does not affect existing NIGMS awards or applications that are pending review or funding decision. We will also continue to provide co-funding for meritorious AREA grant applications from institutions in IDeA states to other NIH institutes and centers that fall just outside of their normal funding range, regardless of which AREA FOA they come in under.

NIGMS has been a strong supporter of the AREA Program since its inception and will continue this commitment. We expect that the new FOA will better serve the community and fulfill our mission.

If you have any questions about the new AREA award, please email me or call 301-594-0943.

Planning to Apply for an NIGMS Established Investigator MIRA? Points to Consider

When NIGMS issued PAR-17-094, Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (R35), in December 2016, we opened the established investigator MIRA mechanism to all NIGMS grantees whose single-PI R01-equivalent grants were set to terminate in the same or subsequent fiscal year as the MIRA application. The purpose of this post is to remind you of important points to keep in mind if you are eligible to apply for a MIRA. Before applying, we strongly encourage you to contact your program director, who can advise you on whether MIRA is the best funding program for you and can help estimate a project budget if your application does well in peer review.

Some key points to know if you are considering applying for a MIRA grant:

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Webinar for MARC U-STAR Program Applicants

If you’re preparing an institutional MARC Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR) grant application for the May 24 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Tuesday, March 27, 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll answer your questions about the MARC U-STAR funding opportunity announcement and data tables. You may send questions before the webinar or post them in the chat box during the event.

To access the webinar, visit the WebEx Meeting page and enter the meeting number 621 811 686 and the password “MARC2018.” If you are unable to attend online, you can join by phone by calling 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you about the MARC U-STAR program.

Requesting Your Input on the Draft NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science

To capitalize on the opportunities presented by advances in data science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing a Strategic Plan for Data Science. This plan describes NIH’s overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics for promoting the modernization of the NIH-funded biomedical data science ecosystem. As part of the planning process, NIH has published a draft of the strategic plan [PDF 490KB], along with a Request for Information to seek input from stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, patient communities, as well as other interested members of the public.

As co-chair of the NIH Scientific Data Council, which is overseeing development of the Strategic Plan for Data Science, I encourage your comments and suggestions. Responses should be submitted via an online form by April 2, 2018.