NIGMS Continues and Expands Its MIRA Program


We’ve issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) (PAR 22-180) to provide sustained support for biomedical research through our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program. This FOA allows applications from eligible NIGMS-funded investigators and from New Investigators proposing research within the scientific mission of NIGMS. The FOA also allows renewal applications from all eligible MIRA grantees (established and ex-Early Stage Investigators). Program directors (PDs)/principal investigators (PIs) who are currently Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) should apply through the ESI MIRA FOA and not to this announcement.

Major changes to this FOA include:

  1. Eligibility: A New Investigator (one who hasn’t yet competed successfully for a substantial, independent NIH research award) working in the mission areas of NIGMS is eligible to apply for a MIRA, if they are not a project leader on any multicomponent NIH awards, except for research project leaders and pilot project leaders on NIGMS COBRE, IDeA-CTR, or NARCH grants. Before applying, New Investigators are strongly encouraged to contact a relevant program officer to discuss whether their proposed research is in the NIGMS mission.
  2. Budget: New Investigators’ budgets will generally be $250,000 in annual direct costs. Budgets for new MIRAs converted from a qualifying NIGMS award(s) will continue to be determined based on the PD’s/PI’s current NIGMS support level. Budgets for MIRA renewals could be increased, as described in our previous Feedback Loop post.
  3. Plan for enhancing diverse perspectives (PEDP): All applications must include a summary of strategies to advance the scientific and technical merit of the proposed project through expanded inclusivity. Please follow instructions in the FOA when preparing your PEDP. For additional help, refer to the NIH BRAIN Initiative website for detailed information on the key elements and examples and FAQs of a PEDP.

If you have questions about this FOA, please contact me or a relevant program officer.

4 Replies to “NIGMS Continues and Expands Its MIRA Program”

  1. NIGMS MIRA grants have put many mid-level universities in a quandary. Obtaining an R01 by scoring under the pay-line was taken as a peer-review of assistant professors coming up for tenure. However, MIRAs are awarded to rankings up to the 40th percentile rank and they are reviewed by select committees excluding other applicants. On the other hand, those scoring well, but just outside the payline for R01 grants receive no funding at all, putting them them at a severe disadvantage during tenure review. In effect, MIRA grants are saving the proverbial chaff over the grain.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. In general, NIGMS does not have a “payline” or strict cutoff in scores that it will fund (including R01s and MIRAs). Instead, a number of factors go into our funding decisions. To learn more, visit our funding policies webpage.

  2. In this announcement, it states that ESI should apply under the separate MIRA and not this announcement. However, as far as I can tell, the ESI MIRA Par-20-117 has expired and there is no reissue. Will it be reissued?

    1. As stated in the Guide Notice and the NIGMS Feedback Loop Blog, a new MIRA Funding Opportunity Announcement for Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) will be reissued in the spring of 2023, which will retain the special considerations to benefit applicants as offered in the previous FOAs. First, no preliminary data are required or expected for ESI MIRA applications. Second, ESI MIRA applications are reviewed at study sections that are dedicated to reviewing ESI MIRAs only, so applicants will be competing with those at a similar career stage. On the contrary, a large fraction of MIRA applications under PAR-22-180 are from established investigators who are more experienced in grant writing and could have a history of NIH funding. Therefore, ESIs should apply through the to-be-published ESI MIRA FOA, but not PAR-22-180 that is meant for non-ESIs.

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