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 to use the feedback form to send us your comments, questions, suggestions and examples.

Remarkable Ruth Kirschstein: New Biography of an NIGMS Director

As the director of NIGMS from 1974 to 1993, Ruth L. Kirschstein molded the Institute’s agenda for basic science, research training and promoting diversity. She also set a tone for the Institute that remains to this day. After leaving NIGMS, Ruth went on to serve as the deputy director of NIH, and, for two periods, she was NIH’s acting director.

From the time she recruited me to NIGMS in 1981 until her death in 2009, Ruth was also my mentor and friend, as she was to many others who worked for or interacted with her.

A new biography by science writer Alison Davis, Always There: The Remarkable Life of Ruth Lillian Kirschstein, M.D., tells the inspiring story of a scientist, physician, administrator, leader, humanitarian, classical pianist, lover of music and art, and devoted wife and mother. This amazing, multitasking woman really was “always there.”

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about an extraordinary woman and her dedication and many contributions to NIH and beyond. The book is available for free in several digital formats.

NIGMS Reorganizes

In the first major reorganization of NIGMS since 1994, we have just established two new divisions that bring together existing NIGMS programs with programs transferred to NIGMS from the former National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). These changes give us the opportunity to create synergies and strengthen efforts in areas that are central to our mission.

The Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) merges NIGMS research training programs with activities that were previously in the Institute’s Division of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE). It also houses the Institutional Development Award program from NCRR. Our decision to create this division was informed by input we received from many stakeholders, and it responds to key goals and recommendations of our strategic plans. Its director is Clif Poodry, who formerly directed the MORE Division.

The Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology (BBCB) combines programs of our Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB) with biomedical technology programs from NCRR. Karin Remington, who previously directed CBCB, is the director of this new division.

You might be wondering what the reorganization will mean for your current or future funding. The amount of money allocated to programs in the new divisions will not change as a result of the reorganization or the transfer of NCRR programs to NIGMS. The review of applications will stay the same, too, as will most of the staff who manage the grants and review the applications.

Our current organizational chart shows all six NIGMS divisions, including the two new ones.

I’ve been at NIGMS for many years—first as a program director, then as a division director and twice as acting Institute director. One of the things I like best about all these jobs is having a bird’s-eye view of the rapid evolution of science. The reorganization that is taking place at NIGMS reflects this evolution and, I expect, will enable NIGMS to further enhance the pace of science.

NIGMS Welcomes NCRR Programs, Staff and Grantees

About a year ago, NIH proposed creating a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) that would incorporate the Clinical and Translational Science Awards program of the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). NIH decided to transfer the remaining NCRR programs to other NIH components, with the Institutional Development Award (IDeA) and some Biomedical Technology programs slated to go to NIGMS.

The recent passage of an appropriation for Fiscal Year 2012 allows these plans to be implemented. A number of NCRR staff members will move to NIGMS, including many who have been associated with the IDeA and Biomedical Technology programs. The staff who administer and review these programs will continue to do so, and the resources allocated to the programs will not change as a result of the organizational adjustments.

We have a long history of working with NCRR, and we value and respect its staff and programs, which are also held in high regard by the scientific community. We welcome the infusion of new colleagues, new talents and ideas, and new research areas from NCRR. We also look forward to working with the new institutions, investigators and stakeholder groups associated with the NCRR programs.

As we move forward, we want to continue to engage and learn from the scientific community, and we welcome and value your input and feedback.