NIGMS Transitions AREA Support to Undergraduate-Focused Institutions

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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.

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