NIGMS wants to advance our understanding of sepsis in order to accelerate improved diagnosis and treatment strategies. Based on the recommendations of our National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council Working Group on Sepsis, we intend to continue our support of fundamental discovery and mechanistic science relevant to sepsis. We recently identified the Institute’s specific priorities for sepsis research in an NIH Guide notice (NOT-GM-19-054). Additionally, the Working Group recommended that NIGMS encourage the use of human clinical materials to facilitate more rapid progress toward better identification, staging, and endotyping of the disease.Continue reading “Request for Information on Human Biospecimens for Research on Sepsis”
We’re recruiting for two accomplished individuals with interest and experience in the scientific areas that comprise the Biochemistry and Bio-related Chemistry (BBC) and the Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences (PPS) Branches of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry. Successful applicants will be responsible for scientific and administrative planning, evaluation, and management of one of the branches, along with supervision of program directors with portfolios of funded research and small business grants. Each Chief will additionally handle a portfolio of research grants consistent with his/her own scientific background.Continue reading “Seeking Two Branch Chiefs for the Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry Division at NIGMS”
Prospective applicants frequently ask us whether their application ideas fit within our mission. NIGMS supports basic research that increases our understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. We also support research in some specific clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems, including anesthesia, sepsis, wound healing, and trauma. In addition, we’re committed to training the next generation of scientists, enhancing the diversity of the scientific workforce, and developing research capacity throughout the country.
Not all applications for fundamental biomedical research projects will ultimately be assigned to NIGMS. Other NIH institutes and centers (ICs) also have strong commitments to basic research that underlie an understanding of their own particular organ systems, diseases, or treatments. Each NIH IC is different and supports distinct research areas, so it’s wise to seek advice from the program where your science best fits. Before submitting an application to NIGMS, we strongly recommend that you contact the program director whose portfolio most closely matches your area of research.Continue reading “Does your application fit the scientific mission of NIGMS?”
UPDATE: The vacancy announcement for this position is now available and is open through May 29.
We’re recruiting for an accomplished scientist with interest and experience in inflammation, innate immunity, and the physiological responses to injury, to join the Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences (PPS) Branch of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC). The successful applicant will have responsibility for scientific and administrative management of a portfolio of research, career development, and training grants.Continue reading “Wanted: Program Director, Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences Branch”
We’re recruiting for an accomplished scientist with experience in the pharmacological sciences to join the Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences (PPS) Branch of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry. The successful applicant will have responsibility for scientific and administrative management of a portfolio of grants, both research and training, in the Division.
The PPS Branch supports research studies ranging from the molecular to cellular to organismal, which can be basic or clinical in nature. This position offers stewardship of grant awards related to modern approaches to examining the effects of drugs on the body and the body’s effects on drugs, as well as how these effects vary from individual to individual. This includes investigations of the absorption, transport, distribution, metabolism, biotransformation, toxicity, and excretion of drugs, as well as determinants and models of pharmacokinetics. The portfolio also includes investigation of drug delivery strategies and the packaging and delivery of molecules and biologics, with an emphasis on drug release and kinetics.
For some time now, NIH has offered the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Award, also known as the MPI award, as an option for investigators seeking support for research projects. At NIGMS, we’ve been thinking about collaborative research, and we want to share some of our observations so you can choose the grant mechanism that best fits your research goals.
An MPI application is a commitment by two or more investigators. Both/all have the authority to direct the research project, should agree on how they are going to accomplish this, and will describe their project leadership plan in the grant application. If awarded, both/all have the shared responsibility to direct the research and ensure that it remains on track both intellectually and logistically. Some examples of these shared tasks include experimental design, resource allocation, supervision of staff, financial management, data sharing, and submission of publications. The responsibilities can be rotated over time. If both/all investigators are not full and equal partners in the award, it isn’t really an MPI project.
The MPI award was developed to share credit among equals on research teams. In contrast, some applicants want to use MPI awards to accomplish unintended goals, for example, to elevate a junior scientist, to entice a luminary colleague who might not otherwise get involved, to add a new technical approach to the research, or to support a collaborator at another institution. However, there can be costs associated with such strategies:
- A young scientist PD/PI will lose her/his early stage investigator (ESI) status, which offers the advantage of having an application grouped with other ESIs at the initial review group meeting, a higher priority funding consideration, and sometimes a fifth year of an award.
- All PD/PIs will be considered under NIGMS’ policy for Support of Research in Well-Funded Laboratories, so that if any investigator has greater than $750,000 in direct costs awarded annually, then the entire application will receive extra scrutiny by our National Advisory Council.
- Furthermore, any PDs/PIs who fall under NIGMS’ policy for funding Investigators with Substantial, Unrestricted Research Support may hold no more than one NIGMS research grant.
Other types of awards, including a single PD/PI regular research grant (R01), may be better alternatives to an MPI award for supporting collaborative research. Here are a few points that investigators should consider:
- Collaborators often play an important role in a project and may commit specific effort and receive funds from an award. If at another institution, funds essential to accomplish the research can be delivered through a subcontract.
- Another viable way to enable an individual to participate in a research project is to name a consultant in the necessary area of expertise. Consultants can receive a fee for their work, if appropriate.
- Almost any relationship can be well-documented in a letter of support, so that the initial review group recognizes an established and committed scientific relationship.
The MPI award fills an important niche. But the mechanism can be misunderstood and may even be misused to the detriment of one or more of the PD/PIs. Always look carefully at the continuum of opportunities to support multidisciplinary research programs and collaborative research.
Starting this fall, NIGMS anticipates offering a new award called the Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1), which is designed to support highly integrated teams of researchers working to achieve a shared objective. Watch the Feedback Loop posts and talk to your NIGMS program director to learn more.
As I wrote in a previous post on the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), we have been transitioning our support of pharmacogenomics research from set-aside funding to regular competition with other scientific areas. This is part of the Institute’s efforts to bolster support for investigator-initiated research. We’ll now fund pharmacogenomics research primarily through regular research grant mechanisms, such as R01s or well-justified P01s.
To learn more about how pharmacogenomics-related applications fare in review, our Office of Program Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation conducted an analysis of NIH-wide pharmacogenomics-related applications assigned to Center for Scientific Review study sections. The analysis showed that these applications have comparable success in the review and award processes as applications in other scientific fields. Even so, I still recommend that applicants include a cover letter describing the kinds of expertise they believe are needed for an appropriate review. This can be particularly beneficial for a multidisciplinary research area like pharmacogenomics.
Mike Rogers, who has directed the NIGMS Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry for the past 22 years, retired today. Throughout his NIH career, Mike has been a champion for chemistry and its important role in biomedical research.
Before joining NIGMS 26 years ago, Mike worked for more than a decade in what is now the Center for Scientific Review, where he oversaw the Bioorganic and Natural Products study section.
Between these two positions, Mike completed a detail assignment on Capitol Hill working for Senator Ted Kennedy’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, an experience that he says allowed him to see NIH from a different perspective.
Throughout his time at NIGMS, Mike has sought to build scientific bridges. He created the chemistry-biology interface predoctoral training program, which aims to cross-train students in both disciplines. He was instrumental in developing the large-scale collaborative project awards program that “glued” together scientists with diverse expertise to tackle big, unanswered questions in biology. More recently, he forged a link between two fields to help form the new field of quantitative and systems pharmacology. Along the way, he mentored and encouraged others to develop major NIGMS and trans-NIH initiatives, such as those in glycoscience, pharmacogenomics and synthetic organic chemistry.
At our September Advisory Council meeting, I presented plans for transitioning the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) from set-aside funding into the regular, competitive research pool. Council approved the plans, so we are now moving forward on them. The reshaped program will continue to fund research and network activities designed to propel discovery and implementation. We will also continue to coordinate our support of pharmacogenomics and precision medicine with other NIH institutes and offices.
Our transition plans include soliciting applications for a limited number of research centers (P50) and network resources (R24) as well as the PharmGKB knowledgebase (R24) and a coordinating center to support network functions (U01). New funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) will be published in early 2014, with application due dates beginning in the late spring. These FOAs will be program announcements with multiple receipt dates that are open for several years and will not have set-aside funds.
All investigators with an interest in pharmacogenomics who are funded through these and other mechanisms may indicate a desire to participate in the network beginning in July 2015. Many network activities will be based on the PGRN and other successful models.
We are seeking input from the scientific community on challenges, opportunities and gaps in pharmacogenomics. Please help us shape future programs in pharmacogenomics by responding to the recently published request for information (RFI). The RFI asks for your input on several topics, such as:
- Critical technological advances that can be applied to pharmacogenomics problems;
- Specific tools, resources, methods and approaches needed to enhance our molecular, genetic and biological mechanistic understanding;
- Ways to advance clinical implementation for improving health care outcomes, including safety, effectiveness, time and costs;
- Synergies that might come from a research network;
- Types of scientific endeavors that would best be funded by R01 grants in the field; and
- Additional interfaces and interactions that should be developed by NIH with other funders or organizations.
Please take the time to comment on any or all of the above topics between now and the May 17 deadline. You may respond as individuals or groups. Working together, we can help advance this research area of great scientific interest and immediate health relevance.