Webinar for NRMN Coordination Center and NRMN Resource Center Applicants

UPDATE: The slides [PDF, 671KB] from the Webinar for NRMN Program Applicants have been posted.

If you’re preparing a grant application for either the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Coordination Center (U24) or the NRMN Resource Center (U24) for the June 11 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, April 30, 1:00 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the NRMN Coordination Center and the NRMN Resource Center funding announcements and answer your questions. 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 (link no longer available) and enter the meeting number (access code) 622 059 858 and the password PxH2Dy3Q. If you are unable to attend online, you can call 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and enter the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you.

Webinar for NRMN: The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points Grant Applicants

UPDATE: The slides [PDF, 719KB] from the Webinar for NRMN Program Applicants have been posted. 

If you’re preparing a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN): The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (U01) grant application for the June 11 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, April 23, 1:30 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the NRMN: The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (U01) announcement and answer your questions. 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 (link no longer available) and enter the meeting number (access code) 628 857 139 and the password WCkku5qx. If you are unable to attend online, you can call 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and enter the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you.

NIGMS Administrative Supplements for Equipment

UPDATE: For additional information, see the Notice of Availability of Administrative Supplements for Equipment Purchases for NIGMS Awardees, NOT-GM-18-022. Applications are due May 31.

NIGMS is offering administrative supplements of between $50,000 and $250,000 for the well-justified purchase of single pieces of equipment. In past years, we issued separate funding announcements (PA-15-089 and PA-16-125) for this purpose. This year, however, we will accept requests for equipment supplements from Principal Investigators (PIs) who hold NIGMS R01, R35, R37, or R15 awards under PA-18-591, Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional).

Eligible investigators are strongly encouraged to discuss potential requests with their program directors before submitting applications. Two or more NIGMS grantees at the same institution may submit separate but cross-referenced requests, where the funds requested reflect the actual proportion of the time that the shared equipment would be used by each PI. However, under no circumstances may a joint request exceed $400,000 in direct costs. The requested supplemental budget cannot exceed the total year direct cost amount of the parent award. PIs may not request future year funds. NIGMS strongly encourages investigators to seek matching funds from their institutions or elsewhere, and to ensure that follow-up expenses (such as maintenance contracts) will be covered from other available funds. Institutional contributions and commitment will be factored into funding decisions.

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Reviewers Will Be Ready for the New Predoctoral T32 FOA

The first receipt date for predoctoral T32 applications in response to NIGMS Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) PAR-17-341 is fast approaching—May 25, 2018. While a wealth of information is already available regarding the intent and requirements of this new FOA, including on our NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants website and a recent Feedback Loop post, we want to reassure prospective applicants that we are also actively preparing for the review of these applications.

All predoctoral T32 applications submitted to NIGMS are currently reviewed by two in-house standing review committees, TWD-A and TWD-B, and this will continue for applications submitted under the new FOA. However, we are mindful that reviewing these applications requires different expectations and considerations, and that reviewers must accordingly be prepared for them. To this end, scientific review officers in our Office of Scientific Review are working closely with program staff in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity to revise the materials and resources currently used to orient review committee members to ensure they understand and address the new review criteria appropriately. We are also exploring options to add expertise to the committees in aspects of the FOA that may be less familiar to reviewers, such as program evaluation, evidence-based approaches to teaching and mentoring, and non-academic career development. In addition, we are considering ways to bring the perspectives of community members who educate and mentor undergraduate students who go on to pursue Ph.D.s in biomedical fields, as well as of those who employ graduates of NIGMS-funded Ph.D. programs, such as representatives from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. And of course, NIGMS review and program staff are available at each step, including during the review meetings, to provide guidance and reminders.
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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.
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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

UPDATE: The slides [PDF, 448KB] from the Webinar for MARC U-STAR Program Applicants have been posted. 

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 (link no longer available) 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

UPDATE: NIH has released the Strategic Plan for Data Science. The plan was informed by community and public input, and NIH will continue to seek input as it implements the plan, many elements of which are well underway. By maximizing the value of data generated through NIH-funded efforts, the pace of biomedical discoveries and medical breakthroughs for better health outcomes can be substantially accelerated.

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.

Funding Opportunity for Development of Training Modules to Enhance the Rigor and Reproducibility of Biomedical Research

It’s crucial that the results of NIH-supported biomedical research are reproducible, unbiased, and properly validated. Establishment and use of rigorous and reproducible approaches require appropriate and sustained training of researchers and students. In 2014, we announced a funding opportunity to develop, pilot, and disseminate training modules to enhance data reproducibility. The products of these grants are posted on the NIGMS website as they become available, together with other relevant training modules about conducting rigorous and reproducible research.

We’ve just reissued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to support the development of additional training modules in three areas that build upon and extend those targeted through the previous FOA. The three new areas of emphasis are: 1) How scientific culture, organization, and incentives influence the rigor and reproducibility of biomedical research; 2) Good laboratory practices and record keeping; 3) Advanced experimental design and analysis.

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Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2017

NIGMS is committed to ensuring that taxpayers get the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research [PDF 702KB]. As part of this commitment to stewardship [PDF 7.89MB], we regularly monitor trends in our funding portfolio.

We recognize the value of a diversified investment portfolio and approach our research investments in a similar fashion. Sustaining a broad and diverse portfolio of talented investigators is a central goal of the Institute, as a wide variety of research questions can be studied by an investigator pool that comprises many different backgrounds, fields, and skills. To monitor this, we track the “cumulative investigator rate,” which indicates the proportion of unique investigators actively seeking funding who had an NIGMS grant in a given Fiscal Year (FY). As shown in Figure 1, the number of investigators seeking support consistently increased between FY 2006 and 2014, but the number of NIGMS-funded investigators remained relatively unchanged over that same period. As a result, the cumulative investigator rate steadily decreased. Since FY 2014, the cumulative investigator rate has steadily increased, as the number of applicants seeking support has stabilized and the number of investigators receiving support has grown by 14%. Currently, 37.4% of investigators seeking R01/R35 funding from NIGMS received support in FY 2017.

Figure 1. Number of NIGMS R01/R35 Applicants, Awardees, and Cumulative Investigator Rates, FY 2006-2017. The number of investigators actively seeking NIGMS R01 and R35 support (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) increased steadily from FY 2006 to 2014 but has stabilized more recently. These applicants were defined as anyone who submitted a competing NIGMS R01 or R35 application in the fiscal year shown or any of the previous four fiscal years. The NIGMS R01 and R35 awardee counts (green squares, solid line; left axis) remained relatively stable from FY 2006 to 2014 and have increased somewhat over the past three years. As a result, the NIGMS cumulative investigator rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis) declined from FY 2006 to 2014 but has begun to recover since then.

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