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:

  • Your consistent and sustained history of support from NIGMS is a major determinant of an award level.
  • For well-funded investigators, an award will likely be somewhat lower than your current/recent total budget in recognition of the stability, flexibility, decrease in administrative burden, and increased length of award that the MIRA provides.
  • It’s very difficult for most investigators to keep multiple R01s funded simultaneously and we expect that it will become even harder to do so in the future. In general, because NIGMS prioritizes funding for meritorious investigators who otherwise would not have support over providing additional grants to already well-funded investigators, the Institute is unlikely to award more than two R01s to a PI. Thus, for well-funded PIs, even with budget reductions relative to past funding levels, MIRA is likely to provide better and more stable support in the long run than trying to keep multiple R01s going.
  • In general, if your current total research support from NIGMS is between $250,000 and $400,000 in direct costs, your award may be about the same, reduced, or slightly increased.
  • If your current NIGMS research funding is less than $250,000, you might expect an amount similar to or even higher than this level. One of our goals for MIRA is to raise the median award level relative to what it is for our R01s to reverse losses due to inflation over the past decade for investigators who have been supported by a single, modular NIGMS R01.
  • Because every situation is different, our budget determinations are done with a great deal of consideration and on a case-by-case basis.
  • As an example, if you had three concurrently active NIGMS R01s in 2 or 3 of the last 5 years, but only two were active in the past year, we are not likely to consider your recent NIGMS funding history to be three R01s. Similarly, if you have grants in long no-cost extensions prior to submitting your MIRA application, their past budgets are not likely to be included in our calculations.
  • The budgets for non-NIGMS grants will not be included when calculating your funding history. MIRA grants are not intended to take the place of research support you have from other sources.
  • The Institute’s budget, which can change from year to year, is a consideration in making funding decisions and setting award levels.
  • MIRA provides support for a program of research in your lab that is relevant to the mission of NIGMS. It cannot be used to support work that is outside NIGMS’ research areas. If you have questions about the appropriateness of the research for NIGMS, discuss it with your program director.
  • To apply for a MIRA you must have at least one single-PI R01; if all your NIGMS grants are multi-PI awards, you are not eligible to apply for MIRA.
  • While the MIRA mechanism is advantageous for most NIGMS grantees, it is not the best mechanism if your current support is largely obtained through multi-PI grants, or if your focus is solely on technology development. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your program director before you apply.
  • Finally, read the MIRA FOA carefully and refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any additional MIRA questions, contact the program director for your current grant(s).

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