About the Authors

Current Contributors Dr. Jon Lorsch As NIGMS director, Jon oversees the Institute’s research, training, and other programs. He’s committed to engaging the scientific community on a wide range of topics, including funding policies and trends, research evaluation, and workforce development and diversity. Dr. Alexandra Ainsztein A cell biologist, Alexandra manages research grants related to membrane trafficking, organelle biogenesis, and the molecular mechanisms and dynamics of the nucleus. Dr. Vernon Anderson Vernon, a former biochemistry and chemistry professor, manages grant portfolios spanning the areas of bioinorganic chemistry, bioenergetics and mitochondrial physiology, oxidative stress, and enzymology. Dr. Richard Aragon As chief of… Read more

Notice: Concept Clearance for MIDAS Coordination Center

Watch the MIDAS presentation at the September Advisory Council meeting. At its September 2017 meeting, our Advisory Council endorsed the concept of a MIDAS Coordination Center. MIDAS, or the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study program, is a collaborative network of research groups that focus on developing bioinformatics tools and computational models to understand the interactions between infectious agents and their hosts, disease spread, prediction systems, and response strategies. Initially the MIDAS network consisted of research centers (U54s), research projects (U01s), and an information service group (U24). These activities will expire in 2019, and NIGMS is shifting the focus of… Read more

Attention NI/ESI MIRA Recipients: This Webinar Is for You.

UPDATE: The video and slides from the from the NI/ESI MIRA webinar have been posted. If you are a new investigator (NI) or an early stage investigator (ESI) who received a Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) in 2016 or 2017, you may be wondering how having a MIRA affects your ability to initiate collaborations or apply for other grants. Or, you may be curious how much flexibility you really have to deviate from your original research plans. You may also be thinking a few years ahead about a competing renewal application. Because MIRA is a new grant mechanism, NIGMS will… Read more

Notes from the 2017 Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity Program Directors’ Meeting

The 2017 Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) Program Directors’ Meeting , organized through a grant to the Federation of Associations for Experimental Biology, took place June 18-21 in Baltimore. This biennial meeting brought together the community of faculty, staff and administrators who manage TWD undergraduate and predoctoral training programs across the nation to network, share best practices for program improvement and connect with NIGMS staff. This year, participants presented more than 100 posters. Plenary sessions and keynote talks described innovative approaches for training and evaluation, efforts to enhance diversity in the biomedical workforce and more. Highlights included: Alison Gammie, director of NIGMS’… Read more

Five MIRA Myths

Our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program is still relatively new, so it’s not surprising that NIGMS staff frequently hear misconceptions about it. This post dispels five common MIRA myths. Myth 1: Once an investigator is awarded a MIRA, the budget will never increase. MIRA budgets may increase. At the time of the competing renewal application, a principal investigator (PI) may request an increase in funding. MIRAs with modest budgets that have been very productive and score very well could receive budget increases. Study sections will be asked to look at budget requests, and NIGMS staff will make determinations based… Read more

Webinar and Other Resources for New MIRA ESI Funding Opportunity

UPDATE: The slides from the MIRA ESI Funding Opportunity webinar have been posted. NIGMS recently reissued the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program for Early Stage Investigators. The first application due date is October 3, 2017. As in previous years, the purpose of this MIRA mechanism is to provide support for the program of research in the laboratory of an early stage investigator (ESI) that falls within the mission of NIGMS. Here are some important points to know if you’re considering applying to this FOA: To be eligible, you must have completed your terminal… Read more

A Historical Analysis of NIGMS Early Stage Investigators’ Awards and Funding

One question that has been asked about the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators is how awardees will be affected by the fact that they cannot have additional NIGMS research grants. In response to this question, we reviewed the research project grant (RPG) funding history of all 707 Principal Investigators (PIs) who received an NIGMS R01 as an Early Stage Investigator (ESI) between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2015. The PIs were grouped by Year of PI, which ranges from Year 1 to Year 5 (five years is the typical length of an ESI R01 award). Year 1… Read more

Stable Success Rates and Other Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2016

NIGMS is committed to ensuring that taxpayers get the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research. As part of an NIH-wide commitment to enhancing stewardship, we regularly monitor trends in the Institute’s funding portfolio. One of the most commonly cited metrics when discussing grants is success rate, calculated as the number of applications funded divided by the number of applications reviewed. As shown in Figure 1, the success rate for NIGMS research project grants (RPGs) was 29.6% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the same as it was in FY 2015. Although we funded a record number of… Read more

MIRA Program Expands Eligibility with New FOA

UPDATE: The January 31 webinar has been posted. A new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program will expand eligibility to include all grantees who have at least one NIGMS R01-equivalent award (R01, R37, DP2 or SC1) due for renewal in the current or next fiscal year. Investigators with two or more NIGMS grants are eligible if at least one of their grants is up for renewal during this time period. The deadline for the first round of applications is May 17, 2017, with the earliest award date of May 2018. There will be two… Read more

More Information About New and Early Stage Investigator MIRA Outcomes

There has been ongoing discussion—both here and in the general scientific community—related to the first MIRA awards to New and Early Stage Investigators (NI/ESI). One question that arose was why applications were administratively withdrawn. Both the NIH Center for Scientific Review and multiple NIGMS staff members, including the program director with a portfolio of grants closest to the applicant’s area of science, screened the applications. Of the withdrawn applications, a majority (~80%) were returned prior to review because they proposed research that fell outside of the NIGMS mission. Others were withdrawn because the applicant was not eligible for the FOA…. Read more