Author: Laurie Tompkins

Headshot of Laurie Tompkins.

Before her retirement in December 2012, Laurie was our expert on the genetics and genomics of behavior and circadian clocks in a wide variety of model organisms. She also managed grants on transcription mechanisms.

Posts by Laurie Tompkins

How the Change of Fiscal Year Affects Your NIGMS Grant

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It’s autumn: cool, crisp weather; bright-colored leaves; the beginning of another fiscal year for NIGMS.

The new fiscal year brings with it a special set of circumstances for funding applications, activating fellowships and making changes to existing grants. Some of these circumstances are related to the NIGMS budget, while others are related to NIH policies and regulations.

Here are answers to some questions that applicants and grantees often ask after the September Advisory Council meeting and during the beginning of the new fiscal year, which started on October 1. We hope that telling you what to expect will help you plan accordingly.

September Council’s over. My application did well in review. When is my grant going to get funded?

NIGMS funds a very limited number of R01s in September after the Council meets. Most pending applications are funded after January 1, depending on when NIH gets its budget appropriation from Congress. However, if your renewal application did exceptionally well in review and your current award expires on November 30, we may be able to start the renewal on, or close to, December 1.

Would my grant application be funded more quickly if it went to a different Council round?

Most likely, yes. Applications that go to the January or May Council meetings are typically selected for funding and processed sooner, relative to when Council meets, than applications that go to the September Council meeting. If you want to minimize the receipt-to-award time and you have a choice about when to submit your application, you may want to submit it for the June/July or October/November deadlines, so that it goes to the January or May Council meetings, respectively. Be aware, though, that there is a large volume of awards to be made after January and May Council meetings, which may impact award processing time.

Why can’t I activate my NRSA fellowship in October or early November?

Many NIH institutes and centers, including NIGMS, do not activate fellowships during the first 6 weeks of a new fiscal year so that future-year anniversary dates align with the NIH funding guidelines (i.e., continuation awards typically do not start before December 1).

I’m moving from one institution to another on October 1. Can my grant or fellowship be transferred when I move? I want it to start on the day that I arrive or, if that’s not possible, later in October.

For the same reason as above, a change of grantee institution action cannot be processed from October 1 through mid-November. However, if we receive your change of institution request at least 8 weeks before the desired start date, we may be able to make the transfer date retroactive. Contact your grants management specialist for details.

I’ve applied for a diversity supplement for an individual who’s arriving on October 25. Will the supplement be available on the day that she arrives?

No, since NIH generally begins issuing grant awards after mid-November. If the supplement application is received at least 10 weeks prior to the desired start date, then the supplement could be issued as early as mid-November. Your institution most likely has pre-award cost authority, so you may opt to start spending the supplemental funds on October 25, when the candidate arrives. If you’re considering this option, be sure to confirm with the director of the diversity supplement program that your supplement will be funded, since submission of a diversity supplement application does not guarantee funding. You’ll also want to know when the supplement is likely to start and whether the budget has been cut.

My grant’s anniversary date is December 1. Why are the awards late most years?

Two factors may contribute. One is that program and grants management staff must wait, often until mid-November, to start the process for issuing grant awards until funding guidance and financial systems are in place. Another factor is that NIH may be operating on a short-term continuing resolution (CR) at a reduced budget level in lieu of a full-year appropriation, which may affect the award process.

Why was my continuation budget reduced? Is the likelihood of a budget cut higher if my grant’s anniversary date is in the winter? Will the cut funds ever be restored?

If NIH is operating on a CR, it may have implemented temporary across-the-board budget cuts on noncompeting continuation awards (years 2, 3, etc. of a grant). This is because we must fund conservatively in case of a further CR or an appropriation that is at a lower level. The likelihood of a temporary budget cut is highest in December and January, since the probability that NIH will be on a CR is highest at the beginning of a fiscal year. It’s possible that some or all of the budget reductions will be restored after NIH gets an appropriation. However, it may take several weeks or longer after an appropriation bill is passed and signed for your award to be adjusted.

Got Questions About Administrative Supplements?


Are you thinking about applying for an administrative supplement for your NIGMS-funded grant?

Before you apply, check out our new administrative supplements Web site, which focuses on administrative supplements to address unforeseen circumstances or opportunities. It answers such questions as:

  • What types of unforeseen circumstances or opportunities qualify?
  • Why should I contact my program director before working on a supplement application?
  • When should I submit my application?

In addition to addressing these and other questions, the site also provides links to information about other NIGMS-funded supplements (e.g., workforce diversity, research career re-entry and collaborative science) that can help you determine which type would best meet your needs.

Wanted: Program Director, Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology


We’re looking for a program director (also known as a “health scientist administrator/program officer”) to manage research grants and other types of awards focused on the mechanisms of DNA replication, recombination and/or mutagenesis and repair. Candidates should have expertise in the use of state-of-the-art molecular genetics and/or genomics-based approaches to elucidate mechanistic aspects of DNA metabolism, gene expression or related cellular processes. Familiarity with NIH extramural funding as an applicant, reviewer or NIH scientific administrator is a plus, and outstanding communications skills are a must.

The position is in the Genetic Mechanisms Branch of NIGMS’ Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology. Please see the NIH HSA Website for position requirements and detailed application procedures. Note that this is a global recruitment for program officer positions throughout NIH. In the application materials, be sure to emphasize aspects of your training, expertise and research interests that make it clear you’re a good fit for what we’re looking for, as described above.

The vacancy announcement closes on September 2.

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

Wanted: Program Director, Genetic Mechanisms


We’re looking for a program director (also known as a “health scientist administrator/program officer”) to oversee research grants and other activities related to mechanistic aspects of one or more of the following areas: DNA replication, recombination, mutagenesis and repair; gene expression; protein synthesis; or related cellular processes. Candidates should have expertise in state-of-the-art genetics, molecular biology and/or genomics. The position is in the Genetic Mechanisms Branch of our Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology.

Please see the NIH HSA Web site for position requirements and detailed application procedures. Note that this is a global recruitment for program officer positions throughout NIH. To be considered for the genetic mechanisms position in NIGMS, be sure to emphasize aspects of your training, expertise and research interests that make it clear that you’re a good fit for what we’re looking for, as described above.

If you’re interested, act quickly, as this vacancy announcement closes on March 14, 2011.

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

Wanted: EUREKA Applications!


If you’ve got an exceptionally innovative idea that has the potential to jump-start a field, take a look at this year’s EUREKA funding opportunity announcement. Wondering whether EUREKA is appropriate for what you want to do? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions (Link no longer active). If your question isn’t there, ask me!

If you do decide to apply, start working on that application right away, because this year’s receipt deadline is October 21, 2010—a month earlier than last year’s deadline.

Collaborate to Study Mechanisms of Behavior in Animal Models


We’ve reissued the Collaborative Research for Molecular and Genomic Studies of Behavior in Animal Models program announcement. Applicants must be new collaborators with complementary expertise in animal behavior and in genetics, molecular biology or genomics.

The first deadlines for new applications or resubmissions are June 7, 2010, and July 6, 2010, respectively. You also can submit an application for any of the subsequent standard NIH R01 application deadlines through May 2013.

Want more information? See the funding opportunity announcement, read my post from December or contact me.

Update on Funding Opportunities for Collaborations between Investigators with Animal Behavior and Molecular/Genomics Expertise

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The Collaborative Research for Molecular and Genomic Studies of Basic Behavior in Animal Models program announcement (PA-07-096) will expire on January 8, 2010. We will be reissuing this program announcement in 2010, but not in time for you to submit an application for the February or March R01 deadlines.

The purpose of PA-07-096 and its successor is to facilitate collaborative research between investigators with expertise in animal behavior and those with expertise in molecular biology and/or genomics that addresses questions about the mechanisms of behavior in animal models. The long-term goal is to develop new or enhanced animal models for studying aspects of behavior relevant to the NIH mission. We encourage applications from multiple PIs.

The first deadlines for applications submitted in response to the reissued program announcement will be June 7, 2010 (for new applications) and July 6, 2010 (for resubmissions). Beginning in June and July 2010, we’ll start accepting applications for the standard R01 deadlines: June/July, October/November and February/March.

Regardless of when you apply or resubmit an application for this reissued program announcement, you’ll need to use the new R01 application forms and instructions with shorter page limits.

Curious about what the reissued announcement will look like? Ask me!

Back By Popular Demand…EUREKA!


We’re once again soliciting applications for exceptionally innovative research projects whose outcome, if successful, could have a major impact on a broad swath of the scientific community. NIGMS is the lead institute for the EUREKA initiative, and eight other NIH institutes are also participating this year.

If you’ve got an idea that could change the world, and your research interests mesh with those of any of the participating institutes, you should consider applying for a EUREKA grant. In general, we’re looking for projects that can be started and completed during the term of the award. The exceptionally innovative component can be the hypothesis that you’re testing—a novel, unconventional idea that challenges prevailing wisdom—or a clever solution to a technological or conceptual problem that’s impeding progress in your field.

Interested? Check out the funding opportunity announcement in the NIH Guide. You can apply for up to $250,000 (direct costs) per year for a maximum of four years. NIGMS has set aside $6 million for EUREKA awards in fiscal year 2010.

When you look at the application instructions, you’ll see that EUREKA applications are very different from conventional R01s. In your biosketch, you’ll be citing up to 10 publications, patents and meeting abstracts that demonstrate your ability to use innovative approaches to challenge conventional wisdom or solve difficult problems, rather than simply listing your most recent publications. In the research plan, which is only seven pages long, you’ll be answering questions that are designed to focus your attention on the importance of the problem, the novelty of your hypothesis or approach and the magnitude of the potential impact, rather than on experimental details. It’s not as formidable as it sounds. Many of the investigators who applied for EUREKAs in past years have told me that they enjoyed writing their applications—not a comment that we hear very often from the scientific community!

The receipt deadline for EUREKA applications is November 24, 2009. This is a special receipt date, so you won’t be able to get an extension for personal reasons or study section service. We’ll be reviewing applications in March or April 2010, and plan to make awards (around 20) in the summer of 2010.

For more information about EUREKA, check out our Frequently Asked Questions (Link no longer active).