Genomes to Natural Products RFA

Last September, I described a concept clearance for an initiative to develop new approaches in natural products discovery that had just been approved by the NIGMS Advisory Council. The resulting request for applications on Genomes to Natural Products (U01) has now been published in the NIH Guide.

NIGMS, along with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), will support multidisciplinary research to develop high-throughput, broadly applicable approaches to natural products discovery that integrate genomics, synthetic biology and bioinformatics. We anticipate that up to four awards will be made through the cooperative agreement mechanism, totaling up to $9 million in Fiscal Year 2014. For NCCAM-specific interest areas and application requirements, see NOT-AT-13-005.

Applications are due by July 17. Potential applicants are invited to participate in an optional online Q&A session on April 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Access this event at and sign in as a “guest” to be able to submit questions.

Letters of intent are not needed, but depending on which funding component’s areas of interest are more relevant to the proposal, I strongly recommend that potential applicants e-mail me or my counterpart at NCCAM, Craig Hopp to discuss submission plans.

Macromolecular Interactions in Cells, Bioengineering Research Funding Opportunities

You may be interested in these recent funding opportunity announcements:

These two announcements are based on a broader initiative for research on macromolecular interactions in cells in vivo. The initiative also includes an additional funding opportunity, Revisions for Macromolecular Interactions in Cells (R01).

  • Collaborations for Macromolecular Interactions in Cells (R01)

Purpose: Establish interdisciplinary collaborative projects to advance studies of macromolecular interactions and their relationship to function in cells, tissues and organisms

  • Research Networks for Macromolecular Interactions in Cells (U54)

Purpose: Establish interdisciplinary collaborative research networks to advance studies of macromolecular interactions and their relationship to function in cells, tissues and organisms

Letter of intent due date: April 30, 2013
Application due date: May 30, 2013
NIGMS contacts:
Alexandra Ainsztein, 301-594-0828
Daniel Janes, 301-594-0943
Vernon Anderson, 301-594-3827
Paul Brazhnik, 301-451-6446

Bioengineering Research Grants (BRG) (R01)

Purpose: Develop an innovative technology, model, technique, design or method that infuses principles and concepts from the quantitative sciences to increase our understanding of and solve problems in biological, clinical or translational science
Application due date: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Pamela Marino, 301-594-3827

In addition, several new NIH Common Fund funding opportunities related to workforce development and diversity are listed at

Pain Research, Animal Stem Cell Funding Opportunities

You may be interested in these recent funding opportunity announcements:

Mechanisms, Models, Measurement, and Management in Pain Research (R01)

Purpose: Conduct basic, clinical and translational studies on pain related to the missions of the participating NIH institutes and center
Application due dates: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Alison Cole, 301-594-3827

Improvement of Animal Models for Stem Cell-Based Regenerative Medicine (R01)

Purpose: Propose research aimed at characterizing animal stem cells as well as improving and/or creating animal models for human disease conditions (see announcement for information on NIGMS-specific interests)
Application due dates: Standard dates apply
NIGMS contact: Susan Haynes, 301-594-0943

SBIR/STTR Program Changes

In late January, NIH issued the 2013 omnibus solicitations for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. As mandated and recently re-authorized by Congress, NIGMS and other NIH components have set aside funds for these programs focused on developing innovative technologies with commercial applications.

Starting with the April 5, 2013, receipt date, all applications must follow the instructions and guidelines in the 2013 solicitations. A few key changes are:

  1. The suggested guidelines for allowable budget requests are now $150,000 in total support for Phase I (R41/R43) and $1,000,000 in total support for Phase II (R42/R44). Note that total support includes the direct and indirect costs and fees for the entire length of the project. With appropriate justification, applicants may exceed the budget guidelines by up to 50 percent ($225,000 in total support for Phase I and $1,500,000 in total support for Phase II, a hard cap). NIH, including NIGMS, has received a limited waiver from the Small Business Administration to exceed the hard cap for specific topics.
  2. As in the past, NIH offers applicants for the SBIR and STTR programs access to various technical assistance programs to help move the funded projects toward commercialization. Alternatively, awardees may now directly request up to $5,000 to use for technical assistance of their own choosing.
  3. All applicant organizations must complete registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) Exit icon, Exit icon and eRA Commons. Soon, all small business concerns seeking SBIR or STTR funding will also need to register with the Small Business Administration Exit icon.

NIH plans to publish guidelines later this year to explain how small businesses with venture capital investors may use the SBIR and STTR funding mechanisms.

The NIH SBIR/STTR Web site has a wealth of information covering all aspects of the two programs, and additional updates will be posted there. I am happy to answer questions and discuss potential proposals with applicants. E-mail me at or call 301-594-3827.

UPDATE: NIH has reissued the SBIR and STTR funding opportunity announcements. View comments section for details.

Improving Homology Modeling

While the Protein Data Bank includes nearly 88,000 protein structures that were determined experimentally, there are millions more proteins whose structures are unknown. Comparative or homology modeling offers a powerful approach for leveraging solved structures to reveal important biological details about the others.

Two efforts, both funded through the Protein Structure Initiative, are evaluating the current state of our ability to model protein structures and complexes and seeking ways to further advance the accuracy and usefulness of homology modeling.

GPCR Dock 2013

The NIGMS-funded GPCR Network Exit icon is hosting its third round of the GPCR Docking and Modeling Assessment, GPCR Dock 2013. This assessment of homology modeling and docking methods is focused specifically on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), seven-transmembrane proteins that help transmit essential signals from a wide range of hormones and neurotransmitters in the body and that are a major target of existing drugs. Participants will submit prediction models for four target GPCR-ligand complexes recently determined by GPCR Network investigators and yet to be published. An analysis of the results will be available a few months after the March 3 submission deadline. To participate, register by February 1 Exit icon. For more information, contact the organizers.

Technology Development for Protein Modeling Funding Opportunity

As I stated last month, we have reissued the Technology Development for Protein Modeling (R01) funding opportunity announcement. It encourages grant applications from institutions that propose to develop novel technologies that will significantly improve the accuracy of comparative modeling methods for protein structure prediction. Applicants should focus on one or both of these goals:

  • Near-crystal-structure quality for close homologs of known structures, and/or
  • High-accuracy models for remote homologs of known structures.

Macromolecular Interactions in Cells, Biomedical Workforce Diversity and Training

You may be interested in these recent funding opportunity announcements:

Revisions for Macromolecular Interactions in Cells (R01)

Purpose: Extend the scientific scope or enhance research capabilities of active NIGMS-funded R01 or R37 projects specializing in the analysis of molecular systems and mechanisms in live organelles, cells, tissues or organisms
Letter of intent due dates: January 19, 2013; August 19, 2013
Application due dates: February 19, 2013; September 19, 2013
NIGMS contacts:
Alexandra Ainsztein, 301-594-0828
Daniel Janes, 301-594-0943
Vernon Anderson, 301-594-3827
Paul Brazhnik, 301-451-6446

Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) (R25)

Purpose: Prepare recent baccalaureate science graduates from diverse backgrounds who are underrepresented in biomedical and behavioral sciences to pursue and complete Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degrees in these fields; and increase the diversity of the host institution’s Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. training programs
Application due date: March 14, 2013
NIGMS contact: Michael Bender, 301-594-0943

Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) (R25)

Purpose: Develop new or expand existing institutional developmental programs at research-intensive institutions that prepare undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds for attaining the Ph.D. degree in biomedical or behavioral sciences and subsequent competitive research careers and leadership positions
Application due date: March 14, 2013
NIGMS contact: Daniel Janes, 301-594-0943

Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program, which offers three funding opportunities based on career level that are designed to increase the research competitiveness of faculty at minority-serving institutions and institutions with a historical mission of training students from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research

Purpose: Conduct high-quality research and increase research competitiveness by progressively enhancing the pace and productivity of projects
Career level: Advanced formative stage

Purpose: Test a new idea or gather preliminary data to establish a new line of research
Career level: Early academic career

Purpose: Continue engaging in meritorious biomedical or behavioral research projects of limited scope in a given biomedical or behavioral area within the NIH mission
Career level: Intermediate stage

Application due dates: March 4, 2013; May 25, 2013; September 25, 2013
NIGMS contact: Hinda Zlotnik, 301-594-3900

Metabolomics, Human DNA Sequence Variants Funding Opportunities

You may be interested in the following funding opportunity announcements:

Collaborative Activities to Promote Metabolomics Research (Admin Supp)

Purpose: Request supplemental funds to current NIH-funded research projects for new interactive collaborations between basic or clinical researchers and metabolomics experts to pursue biomedical studies requiring a metabolomics approach
Application due date: March 15, 2013
NCI contact: Barbara Spalholz, 301-496-7028

New Methods for Understanding the Functional Role of Human DNA Sequence Variants in Complex Phenotypes (R01)

Purpose: Propose experimental approaches for determining the functional relevance of human DNA sequence variants
Letter of intent due date: January 21, 2013
Application due date: February 21, 2013
NIGMS contact: Donna Krasnewich, 301-594-0943

Crystallography Gets Support from United Nations, NIGMS

Laue X-ray diffraction pattern of a single crystal of a dimeric hemoglobin taken at the BioCARS structural biology research center. Credit: Vukica Srajer, BioCARS/University of Chicago, and William Royer, Jr., University of Massachusetts Medical School
Laue X-ray diffraction pattern of a single crystal of a dimeric hemoglobin taken at the BioCARS structural biology research center. Credit: Vukica Srajer, BioCARS/University of Chicago, and William Royer, Jr., University of Massachusetts Medical School

As NIH Director Francis Collins recently noted on his blog, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the first experiment demonstrating that X-rays are diffracted by crystals. Two years later, this discovery was recognized with a Nobel Prize in physics. For this and other reasons, the United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography Exit icon. The designation offers an opportunity for organizations worldwide to increase public awareness of the field and promote access to crystallographic knowledge and activities.

X-ray crystallography is central to many areas of basic biomedical research, and NIGMS supports a number of major crystallographic efforts that may be of interest and use to you.

Since 2000, our Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) has undertaken the high-throughput determination of protein structures by crystallography and NMR methods, resulting in the deposition in the public Protein Data Bank Exit icon of more than 5,000 macromolecular structures. The initiative’s current phase focuses on the determination of biologically relevant and important structures. Members of the scientific community can nominate proteins Exit icon for structure determination, order protein plasmids and empty vectors Exit icon, and access PSI data and other resources Exit icon. Active PSI funding opportunities solicit applications for Technology Development for High-Throughput Structural Biology Research (R01) and Technology Development for Protein Modeling (R01).

We also have been involved in supporting the construction, upgrade and maintenance of synchrotron beamline stations for X-ray crystallographic studies. These activities include a state-of-the-art facility Exit icon at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, which we established in partnership with the National Cancer Institute. Our support of synchrotron facilities and of crystallographic technology development has improved access for NIH grantees and other users and increased the capacity for crystallographic data collection.

In addition, we now oversee the Biomedical Technology Research Centers, several of which focus on developing and applying innovative crystallography techniques. These resource centers provide broad access to instruments, methods, software, expertise and hands-on training.

I look forward to sharing more details about the International Year of Crystallography as activities get under way.

NIGMS Support of Career Development (K) Awards

NIH offers a wide variety of career development (K) awards, and NIGMS participates in a number of them. Here are answers to questions we often get about NIGMS support of these awards.

Which career development awards (K awards) does NIGMS support?

We support:

I’ve found a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for a K award. How can I tell if NIGMS participates in this FOA?

If NIGMS is participating, it will be listed in the “Components of Participating Organizations” section near the top of the FOA. If NIGMS is not participating, consider whether another listed component may be appropriate for your application.

Where can I learn more about NIGMS-supported K awards?

Visit our Mentored Career Development Awards page to find additional information about most of our K awards. You also can contact an NIGMS program director in your area of interest.

Where can I find information on all NIH K awards?

You can find information on these awards at the K Kiosk. Another NIH resource, the Career Award Wizard, can help you identify the K awards that may be right for you.

How to Use RePORTER When Preparing New Grant Applications

NIH offers two tools that can help you search for projects similar to the one you’re thinking about. In this post, I’ll take you on a quick tour of the NIH RePORTER tool, a repository of information about NIH-funded research projects, and show you how to find information that may be useful to know before you start writing a grant application. A future Feedback Loop post will cover the thesaurus-based search tool called Like This.

Main Query Form

From RePORTER’s Main Query Form, you can search by principal investigator name, project number, organization, text term(s) and many other criteria.

If you want to know which NIH institutes or centers fund projects like yours, or which study section would be most appropriate to review your application, then searching by text term(s) would probably be the best approach.

To find projects in a particular research area, you may start with the “Advanced” text query option, which allows for complex queries using the Boolean operators “and,” “or,” and “not” along with parentheses for nesting phrases. The example below searches for projects on telomeres and their relationship to cancer using wildcards (%) and synonyms to encompass variations such as telomere, telomerase, neoplasm, neoplastic, etc.

Text search box

TIP: One way to limit the number of search results is to use the Funding Mechanism field on the Main Query Form to select the mechanism(s) most relevant to your particular search (e.g., “Research Project Grants” or “Training, Individual”). If you already have a funding mechanism in mind, you can type R01, R21, F33, etc., into that part of the Project Number field.

Once you have entered your search and submitted the query, you’ll get a Project Search Results page, which displays the grant number, project title, principal investigator’s name and organization, NIH funding institute or center, and fiscal year total cost.

Project Information Details Page

To get specific information about a particular project listed on the Project Search Results page, click on its Project number (e.g., GM066228). You’ll get the Project Information Details page that lists the grant’s program official with contact information, the study section that reviewed the application, and the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to which the application responded.

By viewing the details of projects most relevant to yours, you can begin to get a sense of which program director(s) to contact to discuss your potential application, which study sections review applications like yours, and whether applications in this area typically respond to a parent FOA or a special initiative.

Other Project Information Page Tabs

From the Project Information Details page, you can use the tabs near the top to get to pages with other information relevant to your search. For example, the Description tab takes you to the grant abstract. Reading these can help you become familiar with other funded projects in your interest area and help you identify and highlight what’s unique about your proposal. The Similar Projects and Nearby Projects tabs offer additional ways to find grants related to your search term and to find potential collaborators.

TIP: To refine your original search term on the Main Query Form, use the results from the Similar Projects tab to identify alternative phrases in project titles and abstracts that can increase the effectiveness of your text search.

Data & Visualize Tab

Another feature, available from the Project Search Results page, is a tab called Data & Visualize. This provides a graph of the NIH institutes or centers that administer research in that area and their levels of support. The table next to the bar chart lets you drill down to see projects by funding component.

Data and visualize graph

Comments Welcome

I hope this sampling has introduced you to some useful ways of exploring the NIH-funded research portfolio. We continue to make RePORTER faster, easier to use, and more informative, and we welcome your comments and suggestions, including topics for other RePORTER tutorials. Send them to or directly to me at