NIGMS to House New, Trans-NIH Office of Emergency Care Research

Many NIH components, including NIGMS, support research and training relevant to care in the emergency medical setting. To facilitate and coordinate its activities in this area, NIH has created an Office of Emergency Care Research (OECR) that is housed in NIGMS.

Although OECR will not fund grants, it will serve as a focal point for basic, clinical and translational emergency care research and training across NIH. The office’s activities will include:

  • Coordinating funding opportunities that involve multiple NIH institutes and centers.
  • Working closely with the NIH Emergency Care Research Working Group, which includes representatives from many NIH institutes and centers.
  • Organizing scientific meetings to identify new research and training opportunities in emergency settings.
  • Catalyzing the development of new funding opportunities.
  • Informing investigators about funding opportunities in their areas of interest.
  • Fostering career development for trainees in emergency care research.
  • Representing NIH in government-wide efforts to improve the nation’s emergency care system.

OECR’s creation is a culmination of more than 5 years of discussions between NIH and the emergency medicine community. The initial impetus for these conversations was three Institute of Medicine reports on emergency care in 2006.

While a search is being conducted for a permanent director, OECR is being led on an acting basis by Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Assisting him is Alice M. Mascette, M.D., senior clinical science advisor in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

You can learn more about OECR at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/About/Overview/OECR/.

Workforce Development and Diversity Recommendations to NIH Resonate with NIGMS Training Strategic Plan

Last week, the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) of NIH released two reports that are very relevant to the NIGMS missions of supporting research training and promoting a diverse biomedical workforce. The reports, produced by working groups with impressive membership rosters, have many elements in common with our training strategic plan.

For example, the report from the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group suggests that institutions provide graduate students with experiences to better prepare them for various career options, recommends testing ways to shorten the Ph.D. training period, and calls for individual development plans for postdocs regardless of the NIH grant mechanism that supports them.

The report from the Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce affirms the importance of a diverse biomedical workforce and NIH’s role in helping to achieve it.

NIH’s Sally Rockey, who co-chaired one of the working groups, has a blog post on these ACD reports, plus an additional report on large biomedical research datasets.

We look forward to working with other parts of NIH to advance our shared commitment to training and diversity.

Continuing Our Commitment to Research Project Grants

Last September, I posted our funding allocation for research project grants (RPGs) in Fiscal Year 2012. I noted our strong commitment to RPGs—the vast majority of which are investigator-initiated R01 grants—and showed that we expected to spend 67% of our budget on them.

I want to update you on our Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which now includes programs transferred from the former National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), and offer some historical perspective on our RPG funding.

Figure 1 shows the amount NIGMS spent on RPGs compared to the total budget from 1998 to the present. From 2003 through 2011, the total RPG budget increased nearly every year, but not at a pace sufficient to maintain the same number of grants. Nevertheless, we expect to fund 184 more RPGs in Fiscal Year 2012 than we did in Fiscal Year 1998.

RPGs as a Proportion of the NIGMS Budget
Fiscal Years 1998-2012

Figure 1. Comparison of research project grant (RPG) budgets in Fiscal Years 1998-2012, compared to the total NIGMS budget.
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Figure 1. Comparison of research project grant (RPG) budgets in Fiscal Years 1998-2012, compared to the total NIGMS budget.

The increase in the total budget for Fiscal Year 2012 reflects the transferred NCRR programs, many of which are centers. During the 1998-2003 budget doubling period, the proportion of centers rose from 0.6% to 8.6% and remained at about 8% through Fiscal Year 2011. These centers enabled NIGMS to address important scientific opportunities and enhance the basic science infrastructure.

Following the transfer of the NCRR programs, 58% of our budget will support RPGs and 20% will support centers, as shown in Figure 2. Despite the percentage shift, the amount of money spent on RPGs is comparable to that in recent fiscal years, and maintaining RPGs and investigator-initiated R01s will remain our focus.

Figure 2. Fiscal Year 2012 breakdown of the NIGMS budget into its major components. About 58% of the budget will support RPGs and about 20% will support centers.

Guidance for Implementing NIGMS’ Training Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research TrainingEarlier this year, we issued a Blueprint for Implementation of our Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training. Since then, we’ve developed guidance to help the academic community implement the plan. This includes several short documents on the topics below:

All the links above are available on our Optimizing the Research Training Partnership page, which also includes links to these two statements of NIGMS principles:

As always, we welcome your input and comments—on these particular documents as well as on research training in general. We particularly encourage you to share suggestions based on your own training experiences. Send your comments to me or post a comment on the Feedback Loop to share them with other readers.

Director Search to Resume

Chris Kaiser, who had been selected as the NIGMS director, withdrew his candidacy on April 23 for personal reasons, so a new search for a permanent NIGMS director will need to be initiated. I will continue to serve as acting NIGMS director during this process. When a vacancy announcement for the position is available, we’ll share it with you. In the meantime, you can read a post about the previous search process.

Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Hearings Under Way

The House hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for NIH happened on Tuesday, March 20, and the Senate one will occur this Wednesday, March 28.

My written statement to the House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations highlights recent research advances in model organism research, systems biology, AIDS-related structural biology, disease modeling, chemical synthesis and pharmacogenomics. I also mention our ongoing efforts to strengthen the biomedical research workforce.

NIH Director Francis Collins’ written testimony on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget is also now available.

These statements are part of the process that ultimately leads to an appropriations bill for NIH, including NIGMS. In a future post, we will describe the entire budget process so that you can better understand how and when we make funding decisions.

Reflecting on Our Golden Anniversary

NIGMS 50th Anniversary BannerLast October, I told you that NIGMS would be commemorating its 50th anniversary in 2012.  We hope you will help us mark this milestone by participating in our upcoming anniversary events, which include sessions at scientific meetings and a special symposium on the NIH campus that will feature talks by three outstanding NIGMS-funded investigators as well as poster presentations by NIGMS-supported undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral scientists.

Another way to get involved is to provide a personal reflection about NIGMS. I want to thank those who have already sent theirs and encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read them. I hope they will inspire you to send in one of your own. We welcome individual or group contributions of any length and in any format (text, audio or video).

Budget Update for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013

The Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation provides NIH with $30.86 billion and NIGMS with $2.43 billion. The NIGMS figure represents an increase of 19% over Fiscal Year 2011 due to an increase in funds for programs transferred to NIGMS from the former National Center for Research Resources.

NIGMS will implement its fiscal management policies in a manner consistent with NIH’s fiscal policies:

  • Noncompeting research project grants (RPGs), both modular and nonmodular, will be issued with no inflationary increases for Fiscal Year 2012 and all future years, except for special needs such as equipment and added personnel. Fiscal Year 2012 competing awards will be held at an average cost comparable to Fiscal Year 2011 competing awards. Fiscal Year 2012 awards that have already been issued will be revised to adjust the award level in accordance with the above policies.
  • For Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA), all stipend levels will increase by 2%.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget request Exit icon, which was released on February 13, maintains the current NIH budget of $30.86 billion, similar to the Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations. The President’s Fiscal Year 2013 request for NIGMS provides a budget of $2.38 billion, a slight decrease from Fiscal Year 2012 but comparable to the Fiscal Year 2011 level of support. The Fiscal Year 2013 request includes a decrease for the IDeA program, which received a 1-year increase in Fiscal Year 2012.

Details of the budget request for NIH are posted on the NIH Office of Budget Web site. The NIGMS request is detailed in our Fiscal Year 2013 budget justification, which includes a budget mechanism table, budget graphs, a Director’s overview and a justification narrative.

Fiscal Year 2011 R01 Funding Outcomes and Estimates for Fiscal Year 2012

Fiscal Year 2011 ended on September 30, 2011. As in previous years, we have analyzed the funding results (including percentiles and success rates) for R01 grants, shown in Figures 1-5. Thanks to Jim Deatherage for preparing these data.

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2011.
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Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2011.

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2007-2011. For Fiscal Year 2011, the success rate for R01 applications was 24%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 19th percentile.
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Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2007-2011. For Fiscal Year 2011, the success rate for R01 applications was 24%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 19th percentile.

Although the number of competing R01 awards funded by NIGMS in Fiscal Year 2011 was nearly identical to those in the previous 2 years (Figure 3), the success rate declined in 2011. Factors in this decline were a sharp increase in the number of competing applications that we received in 2011 (Figure 4) along with a decrease in total funding for R01s due to an NIH-wide budget reduction. For more discussion, read posts from Sally Rockey of the NIH Office of Extramural Research on NIH-wide success rates and factors influencing them.

Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1997-2011.
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Figure 3. Number of R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting) funded in Fiscal Years 1997-2011.

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including revisions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Figure 4. Number of competing R01 applications (including revisions) received during Fiscal Years 1998-2012.

Below are the total NIGMS expenditures (including both direct and indirect costs) for R01 and R37 grants for Fiscal Year 1995 through Fiscal Year 2011.

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2011. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

Figure 5. The upper curve shows the overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 and R37 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2011. The lower curve (right vertical axis) shows the median direct costs of NIGMS R01 grants. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

In Fiscal Year 2012, we have received about 3,700 competing R01 grant applications (including revisions) and anticipate funding about 850 of these with the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation. We expect the R01 success rate to be between 24% and 25%.

Because the competing application numbers and the total R01 budgets for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 are similar, the funding trends will likely be comparable.

Optimizing the Research Training Partnership

Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research TrainingIt’s been nearly a year since we posted our Strategic Plan for Biomedical and Behavioral Research Training. In August, I announced that we were on course to implement most of the plan in early 2012. I’m very pleased to tell you that our Blueprint for Implementation is now available. As you’ll see, it’s truly a blueprint, and in the months ahead we’ll be posting more details and guidance about each of the action items.

One of the most important messages in the blueprint is that research training is a partnership between NIH and the academic community. We recognize that addressing many of the action items depends on those of you in the front line of training. We also know that many of you already do an excellent job of training and mentoring students and postdocs. Nevertheless, training outcomes can always be improved, and our blueprint aims to provide our view of what excellent training is, along with encouragement and resources to adopt and improve certain practices to achieve the goals of the action items. These ideas are based on the broad input we received over the course of our strategic planning and implementation process.

I encourage you to read the blueprint and the other documents that we post on our new training partnership Web page and send us your comments, questions, suggestions and examples.