Author: Paul Sheehy

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Before transferring to NIH’s National Eye Institute in May 2016, Paul worked on various aspects of grants policy. One of his major interests was in IT systems for grant application and administration, including and the eRA Commons.

Posts by Paul Sheehy

NIH Simplifies Its Policy for Accepting Late Applications


While NIH expects applications to be submitted by their deadlines, it may accept a late application and has recently announced a 2-week window of consideration for all types of applications. Beginning with applications due on or after January 25, NIH will consider accepting applications during this grace period provided a cover letter submitted with the application includes an appropriate justification for being late. The new policy includes submissions in response to most requests for applications and program announcements with special due dates. For exceptions, acceptable reasons and other details, see Simplifying the NIH Policy for Late Application Submission.

Test-Drive NIH’s New Tool for Generating Biosketches


NIH’s Sally Rockey recently blogged about SciENcv, a new tool for easily generating and maintaining biosketches for federal grant applications and progress reports. The system also allows users to link biographical information with publication records and to generate a unique international ID through the ORCID  initiative.

SciENcv is presently in beta release. Users—from seasoned investigators creating biosketches for different grant applications to students and postdocs writing a biosketch for the first time—can provide feedback about what works, what doesn’t and what other functionalities they want. Register for SciENcv via MyNCBI, and send your input by using the site’s contact form or by e-mailing

Resumption of NIH Extramural Activities

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One of the biggest challenges facing NIH after the government shutdown is that it occurred during a peak review period and caused the cancellation of several hundred peer review meetings. On October 22, NIH announced that most of these meetings would be rescheduled so as to minimize the disruption of the submission/review/Council/award timeline.

While NIH may not be able to preserve the timeline for all applications, at this point, it looks as though most will still go to January 2014 council meetings. More details are available in a new NIH Guide notice.

Most of the study sections run by the NIGMS Office of Scientific Review were not affected by the shutdown and will proceed as planned over the next few weeks. While a few meetings will have to be rescheduled, we expect the results of the rescheduled meetings to be available in time for our January council meeting.

The other big challenge facing NIH and the extramural community is the disruption in the application process, since funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) could not be accessed and applications could not be submitted during the shutdown. NIH has rescheduled the submission dates that were lost and extended the dates for those FOAs that were adversely affected. More details are available in the same NIH Guide notice.

Sally Rockey’s blog provides more on NIH’s efforts to minimize the disruption of the shutdown’s effects on the extramural community.

Funding Opportunities for Scientists Affected by Hurricane Sandy


NIH has released two funding opportunity announcements to help restore facilities and/or research programs that were significantly disrupted by Hurricane Sandy last fall:

RFA-OD-13-199: Administrative supplements to awards that were active at the time of the storm

RFA-OD-13-005: Grants to new and early stage investigators whose pilot research and data were destroyed or damaged as a result of the storm

Eligibility is restricted to FEMA-declared major disaster states, and funds are limited to those made available by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. As discussed in a blog post from NIH’s Sally Rockey, NIH anticipates announcing additional opportunities and resources related to the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

Post-Submission Application Materials


NIH has recently updated its policy on what materials can be accepted after an application has been submitted but before initial peer review. Here are the changes:

  1. News of a promotion or positive tenure decision will be accepted if received at least 30 calendar days prior to the review meeting and if confirmed by the authorized organization representative;
  2. Exceptions that previously applied only to requests for applications (RFAs) with a single submission date now apply to the last due date of RFAs with multiple submission deadlines; and
  3. Some specific types of personnel information associated with institutional training and training-related grants will now be accepted.

See NOT-OD-10-115 for all other requirements and exceptions.

Compliance with NIH Public Access Reporting Requirements Will Affect Renewals

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Since 2008, NIH has required as a condition of all grant awards and cooperative agreements that scientists make their findings publicly accessible through the widely used PubMed Central repository. To increase the number of papers available to the public, NIH has announced that it will delay the processing of noncompeting renewals whose publications are not in compliance with this public access policy. The change will take effect as early as spring 2013, and it will coincide with the required use of the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for SNAP and fellowship awards.

For more discussion on this topic, including how to ensure you meet the policy requirements, read Improving Public Access to Research Results written by NIH’s Sally Rockey.

FAQs on Application Review, Next Steps


To address questions that investigators frequently ask about the review of their applications and the next steps after review, NIH recently created an online resource, titled Next Steps. It has also added a link to this new Web site on summary statements, just below the impact score and percentile.

Questions include:

The FAQs do not cover all scenarios, but they do provide the basis for discussion with your program director.

NIGMS information on summary statements and just-in-time actions is posted for research grant, fellowship and training and workforce development applications.

Comment on Proposed Changes to the NIH Biosketch


The NIH Biographical Sketch is a standardized format used to present professional information in grant applications. It includes sections for a personal statement, positions and honors, selected peer-reviewed publications, and a list of current and prior research support.

To explore whether the format could be modified to better present an individual’s scientific abilities and accomplishments, NIH formed a working group that has just issued a request for information seeking input from the scientific community. The deadline for responses is June 29, 2012.

Electronic Submission Pilots for Three Common Applications


To further streamline the submission process, NIH has launched a pilot for electronically submitting administrative supplement applications (Type 3s), and it plans to begin pilots for research performance progress reports (Type 5s) and change of institution requests (Type 7s) soon. During the Type 3 and Type 7 pilots, grantees have the option to continue using the paper process.

Administrative Supplements (Type 3s)
The pilot began earlier this month. It’s available for noncompeting supplement applications on grant activity codes that have transitioned to electronic application submission. Grantees may submit through the eRA Commons or For more information, see NOT-OD-12-024 and an NIH Office of Extramural Research overview presentation.

Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR, Type 5s)
A limited pilot for noncompeting progress reports begins in April with a small number of institutions. If successful, it will expand by the summer to include Federal Demonstration Partnership Link to external web site institutions and become mandatory for SNAP and fellowship awards from all institutions in October. The timeline for implementing non-SNAP awards isn’t yet determined. Currently, most grantees submit Type 5s using the PHS 2590. The government has unified progress reports across agencies into the RPPR, which will eventually replace the PHS 2590.

Change of Institution Requests (Type 7s)
This pilot also starts in April. A grantee will be able to submit a relinquishing statement via the eRA Commons and propose a new grantee. The proposed grantee will be notified of the relinquishing statement and asked to submit a transfer application through NIH Guide notices will be published as the pilot period approaches.