Author: Dr. 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 Grants.gov and the eRA Commons.

Posts by Dr. Paul Sheehy

Electronic Application Correction Period Temporarily Extended

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To accommodate the transition to new application forms and instructions, NIH has temporarily extended the electronic application error correction window to five business days for applications due between January 25 and May 7, 2010. This allows additional time for applicants who may have inadvertently used the wrong forms to correct their applications. Please remember that applications using the wrong forms or that exceed the new page limits will not be reviewed.

For more on the application changes, see my October 13 post.

Major Application Changes Come in January

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Two major recommendations of the NIH Enhancing Peer Review Initiative were to shorten grant applications and restructure their content. These changes will affect applications due on or after January 25, 2010.

Here’s a brief overview of the changes and their implementation. Be sure to follow the links for other details and important information.

New Application Structure and Length

These changes affect ALL applications (new, renewal, resubmission and revision). Exceptions will be considered only for AIDS applications from members of review committees. Specifics vary with the type of application (research, training, resource, etc.). For more, see:

Implementation

  • When submitting an application due on or after January 25, you must download the new application forms. You may sign up to be notified when new application packages become available, which will be in December.
  • Applications submitted early must follow the instructions for the actual due date (e.g., applications submitted on January 24 for the February 5 R01 due date must use the new forms).
  • You can begin working on your applications now and paste the text into the appropriate form when it’s available.
  • NIH will not accept any applications using any part of the old forms, including biosketches.
  • All existing Funding Opportunity Announcements (both electronic and paper) will be revised to incorporate these changes and will be reissued by December 2009.
  • Parent announcements will be reissued and have new Funding Opportunity Announcement numbers.

If you have specific questions, please contact the NIH Grants Information Help Desk at grantsinfo@nih.gov.

Got a Progress Report Due on October 15?

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Progress Report for a Public Health Service Grant PHS 2590NIH recently announced policy changes for progress reports (aka PHS 2590 and noncompeting continuation). These will take effect on October 1, and corresponding changes to the eSNAP Commons Module will follow on October 9.

The biggest change for most NIGMS grantees is the replacement of the Senior/Key Personnel Report with an All Personnel Report (Form page 7) that collects information on all personnel who participate in the project for at least one person month. The All Personnel Report also implements a new NIH requirement that all individuals with a postdoctoral role with one person month or more of measurable effort must have an eRA Commons user ID.

Other progress report changes address the use of human embryonic stem cells, revisions related to the NIH Enhancing Peer Review initiative, and data required for institutional training awards that support graduate students.

Revised instructions and forms are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm.

Inquires about preparing a specific progress report should be directed to your program official and/or grants management specialist.

Explaining Recovery Act Faculty Recruitment

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Recovery.gov - NIGMS InformationWe’ve received a lot of questions about the Recovery Act faculty recruitment funding announcement. In addition to posting the questions and answers in our Recovery Act FAQs, I thought I’d share them here on the Feedback Loop.

What is the intent?

The intent is to contribute to startup packages for junior faculty so that they have a good foundation for becoming independent, tenure-track faculty members who are competitive for NIH awards.

Why does this use the P30 mechanism?

For technical reasons, this funding opportunity uses a research core. Despite the use of this mechanism, NIGMS does not intend our awards to be anything like a conventional resource or service core.

How will applications be reviewed?

Applications will be reviewed by standard NIH review procedures, in this case a special emphasis panel. Reviewers will consider the institutional selection process and environment, including how candidates will be identified and selected, the departmental and institutional track record for attracting junior faculty and programs available for their professional development.

Please note that we do not intend to make awards based on area of science or specific faculty candidates (more on this later).

How do I format the application?

It is difficult to address application requirements using the standard format of Aims, Background, Preliminary Data and Design and Methods sections. My suggestion is to play it straight! For example, include the history of the search in the Background section and describe the recruitment process in the Design and Methods section. Using subheads also helps.

Should I include a description of the general resources for the whole department, or a general description of what the resources might be for a new faculty member?

My best advice is to frame it in terms of what would be relevant to the area of research–computational clusters, 2P microscopes, MALDI-TOF spectroscope, etc.  Departmental resources are undoubtedly sufficiently multi-purpose that you can make access to them a positive feature of your application.

Can we use the award to support more than one recruitment effort?

Yes, but bear in mind that our intent is to produce competitive startup packages in cases of demonstrable need.

Can we use the award to support collaborators and/or co-investigators?

No, funds should be for the support of the new faculty member.

Would a junior faculty recruit who has recently (within the last month) received and accepted an offer be eligible for funding under the P30 mechanism?

No, the funding opportunity announcement specifically precludes this.

Is it appropriate and/or expected to identify potential specific new faculty candidates by name and with a brief description of credentials?

Specific identities are not appropriate, but you should describe the characteristics of the desired applicant pool—high-impact publications, prestigious awards, etc.

The funding opportunity announcement states “describe plans for how their research ideas will be selected, developed and conducted as pilot research projects.” Does this mean we should include funds for supporting pilot research projects in the P30 application budget?

Pilot research projects per se should not be proposed.  Rather, you should discuss the general research context and how the interests of a candidate will align with and expand your strategic vision.  You should discuss drivers of your funding timeline—when you anticipate the recruit to start, anticipated salary, equipment needs, etc.

Clearing Up Confusion about Supplement Length and Budget Limits

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Recovery.gov - NIGMS InformationI’d like to address several questions about supplement length and budget limits that were submitted after my last post on requesting Recovery Act administrative supplements.

Supplement Length

You can request a Recovery Act administrative supplement for the remaining active period of a current award. The supplement should not exceed two years if you have more than two years remaining on your award.

Please note that after July 15, 2009, NIGMS will only consider requests for one-year supplements. Also note that you can invoke a no-cost extension (NCE) of your grant through the Commons when your grant is within 90 days of its end date. This applies only to the first request; subsequent ones must be reviewed by NIGMS.

Let’s look at two scenarios:

Situation Approaches
Your award is within 90 days of its end date in Fiscal Year 2009 You may invoke a one-year NCE through the Commons and then submit an administrative supplement request with the same end date as the NCE
Your award end date is in FY 2010 If your grant is already in an extension, you should request support not to exceed the current end date. If you think you need additional time as you approach the 2010 end date, you can request another extension and another administrative supplement.If your grant is active but not in an extension, you can in your supplement request state your intent to invoke an extension and request support through the projected end date.

NOTE: Your institution is responsible for processing the NCE at the appropriate time.

Budget Limits

Formally, you may request any amount for an administrative supplement that fits within the scope of the parent grant and can be justified accordingly. In practice, this means that supplement awards are almost always much less than annual budgets.

As for equipment, $100,000 is a longstanding threshold. But in today’s world, there are many examples of equipment used by a single lab that cost north of that amount, and we will carefully consider such requests. We look at the total amount requested, whether it’s for one piece of equipment or several.

Tips for Requesting Recovery Act Administrative Supplements

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Recovery.gov - NIGMS InformationAs you may well expect, we’ve had a vigorous response so far from grantees inquiring about submitting requests for the Recovery Act administrative supplements funding opportunity.

We think we’ve set up a pretty good system to expeditiously process requests—once they are complete.

If you’re thinking about submitting a request, you should know:

1. A complete package on the first submission makes everyone’s life easier, and

2. We have our own NIGMS-specific requirements.

Our experience to date is that submissions need to be clearer about:

1. How the proposed activities fall within the current aims (i.e., are not a change in scope), and

2. The money stuff—other current and pending support, including Recovery Act requests; current status of funds and expenditure plans.

We also need a brief (25-word) summary of the proposed activity that indicates its public health relevance, as appropriate. HHS intends to post this text on its Recovery Act Web site. Some examples are in our guidance document.

I get many questions about whether there is a deadline for administrative supplement requests. We need your submissions by July 15, 2009 for FY2009 funding consideration. Please don’t wait until the last minute to send us your materials. Getting them in early is in everyone’s interest.