Ninety percent of the applications to our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for Early Stage Investigators (known as the ESI MIRA program) that were submitted in October are about to undergo peer review. The remaining 10% were administratively withdrawn, mostly because the research proposed fell outside the NIGMS mission. This is comparable to the proportion that was withdrawn over the past 3 years.
Withdrawn applications represent a lot of wasted time and effort on the part of affected PIs and are the source of considerable frustration. So what can you do to minimize the chance of this happening to your ESI MIRA application in the future?
When considering an ESI MIRA application—or any new grant application—always email an NIGMS program officer as early as possible to discuss your proposed work. You can email the scientific/research contacts listed in the MIRA funding opportunity announcement (see the names at the very end) who will refer you to the most appropriate NIGMS program officer, or you can directly find the contact for the most relevant scientific area by going to our Contacts by Research Area page.
You can also use the matchmaker tool in RePORTER to find out whom to contact. However, be aware that using this tool for your own assessment of whether your work fits into the NIGMS scope can be misleading. For example, if the phrase “transcription factor” appears many times in an application, the algorithm will indicate relevance to NIGMS even if it really is outside of our mission. It doesn’t always discern that the application is proposing to study the function of transcription factors in, say, kidney disease, something that isn’t in the NIGMS mission but is of interest to another NIH institute or center (IC). While using RePORTER, you can also take note of other ICs that fund related work and identify the names of their relevant program officers.
It’s important to understand that although NIGMS supports basic biomedical research, we do not support all basic research that comes to NIH. Every other NIH IC also funds basic research related to its particular mission areas. Here are three examples to illustrate this point.
As you can see from these examples, the question of whether your ESI MIRA application falls within the NIGMS mission is complex and nuanced. Of course, the final determination is made when NIGMS receives your application and we have the opportunity to assess the complete application. However, you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary time and effort by contacting an NIGMS program officer with a description of your research as early as possible.