Author: Darren Sledjeski

Headshot of Darren Sledjeski.

Before leaving NIGMS in March 2023, Darren was deputy director of the Division of Extramural Activities. He assisted the director in overseeing the grant-related activities of the Institute, including grants policies and procedures; the development of funding opportunities; and the receipt, referral, review, and fiscal management of grants. Additionally, he advised senior staff on the planning, development, and administration of Institute grant activities.

Posts by Darren Sledjeski

Data Management and Sharing Plan Expectations for NIGMS Grantees


As you may be aware, NIH will implement a new policy to promote the sharing of scientific data. This policy, which will require NIH grantees to submit a data management and sharing (DMS) plan as part of a grant application, goes into effect January 25. NIGMS believes that, in general, most of our grantees already meet the new NIH policy requirements, which we explain more fully in a list of FAQs.

Sharing scientific data accelerates biomedical research discovery, in part, by enabling validation of research results, providing accessibility to high-value datasets, and promoting data reuse for future research studies. Submitting a DMS plan as part of a grant application will formalize what NIGMS principal investigators already do and make explicit their plans for sharing data with the larger scientific community. Most DMS plans are expected to be concise (no more than two pages), and a sample plan is available, with a final fillable version available soon.

NIH has developed a website with details about the policy, guidance, and implementation. If you have questions about this new requirement after reviewing our FAQs, please contact NIH DMS policy staff or your NIGMS program officer.

Updated Council Review and Oversight Policy for Well-Funded Laboratories


NIGMS staff members always closely examine each principal investigator’s (PI’s) other research support when making funding recommendations and awards. In addition, the Institute has several policies to ensure a diversified portfolio of grants. At the May 20, 2021, NAGMS Advisory Council meeting, councilors approved our updated NIGMS guidelines for funding investigators with substantial other research support. Informally, this was known as our $750K policy. What’s the policy, and why are we changing it now? 

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Wanted: Program Director, Genetic Mechanisms Branch


UPDATE: The vacancy announcement for this position is now closed.

We’re recruiting for an accomplished scientist to manage research grant, fellowship, training, and other types of awards focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inheritance, gene expression, and development. The position is in our Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Job responsibilities involve working collaboratively with other staff to stimulate, plan, advise, direct, and evaluate program activities for a portfolio of research awards.

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Wanted: Genetics and Developmental Biology Program Director


We’re recruiting for a program director (also known as a health scientist administrator or program officer) to manage research grant, fellowship, training and other types of awards focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inheritance, gene expression and development. The position is in our Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology, and it involves working collaboratively with other program directors in the division to support outstanding science in these fields.

Candidates should have expertise in the use of state-of-the-art molecular genetics and/or genomics-based approaches to gain a mechanistic understanding of one or more of these, or related, areas: cell growth and differentiation, signaling pathway dynamics, DNA and RNA replication, DNA recombination and repair, transcription, the function of coding and noncoding RNA, RNA processing and protein synthesis. Familiarity with NIH extramural funding as an applicant, reviewer or NIH scientific administrator is a plus, and outstanding written and oral communication skills are essential.

There are two vacancy announcements: one for candidates with current or former federal employment status and one for candidates without such status. Both announcements close on May 5, 2016. Please see the NIH HSA website for position requirements and application procedures. The Applying for Scientific Administration Jobs at NIGMS blog post offers additional background and tips. For more information about the position, contact David Wittenberg at 301-451-1828.

Not looking for a position right now? Please help us out by forwarding this information to others who might be interested in this opportunity.

New Funding Opportunity: Advancing Mechanistic Probiotic/Prebiotic and Human Microbiome Research


While it is well recognized that an individual’s microbiome has a substantial influence on health, fundamental knowledge gaps remain regarding host-microbial interactions, especially those involving the effects of probiotic and prebiotic products. To stimulate research in this area, NIGMS is participating with a number of other NIH institutes and centers in a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA), Advancing Mechanistic Probiotic/Prebiotic and Human Microbiome Research (R01).

We are looking for biochemists, chemists, bioengineers, systems biologists and others to define biochemical pathways, small molecules and biologics in host-microbial interactions. We are particularly interested in applications from interdisciplinary teams that propose to provide a functional and mechanistic picture of host-microbial ecosystems. This includes an understanding of host-probiotic-microbial interactions and the effect of exogenous molecules such as prebiotics on these interactions. We also encourage the development of computational models, tools and technologies that enable the prediction, identification, quantification and characterization of host-microbial dynamics as well as the development of tractable host-microbial systems.

This FOA is a program announcement with no set-aside funds. Standard R01 due dates apply, so the first receipt date is June 5. Although a letter of intent is not required, we recommend that you contact us (e-mail Barbara in the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry or e-mail Darren in the Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology) to discuss your potential proposal and NIGMS-specific FOA guidelines.

Challenge Contest: Tracing Basic Research to Medical Advances

0 comments LogoThe basic biomedical research NIGMS supports is essential for the groundbreaking advances that enhance human health, but drawing a connection between an NIGMS-funded research project and a specific medical advance can be difficult. First, it can be decades between the study of a scientific question and the application of the resulting knowledge to improving human health. Second, in most cases, it’s not a single project or experiment that leads to a “eureka moment” with tangible benefits, but rather the combination of many projects. Third, the projects may be supported by different funding sources (various NIH institutes, other federal agencies, private organizations and foundations), and these sources often change during the decades of development. What started as an NIGMS project may later get funded by an NIH institute whose mission is disease-specific, followed by private funding as the advance becomes commercialized.

We’re always looking for new ways to identify these connections, and we think you can help. We’re soliciting stories that make a clear association between NIGMS-funded research and improvements in health, well-being or other tangible benefits to the public and/or economy. We’re also interested in applications in medicine, industry, technology or elsewhere that have their roots in NIGMS-funded research projects. We especially encourage our long-time grantees to share their stories of discovery.

We’re not looking for “Nobel Prize”-type stories or scientific breakthroughs that might in the future lead to improvements in the human condition. Rather, we want complete stories that can trace current treatments, therapeutics or diagnostics back to knowledge or insights gained from one or more NIGMS-funded projects. These examples will augment our own staff’s efforts to identify such stories and help us further fill out the historical context of breakthroughs in basic research and their impacts.

We’re using the mechanism for this purpose, which enables us to give monetary awards of $500 to winning entries. We’ll also post the winning stories on our Web site. Submissions are due by October 20, 2014, and we look forward to seeing what you send in!