Tag: Funding Policies

A Closer Look at the NIGMS AREA (R15) Program

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Continuing our regular posts detailing funding trends for NIGMS programs, here we provide a closer look at the NIGMS Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) R15 program. AREA grants support small-scale research projects involving primarily undergraduate students at institutions that received no more than $6 million in funding from NIH in 4 of the past 7 years. Awards can be up to $300,000 in direct costs for the entire project period of up to 3 years. Unlike most of our other Research Project Grant (RPG) awards, which have noncompeting renewals on an annual basis, R15 funds are obligated in the first year and last the duration of the project period. Grantees can renew these awards in a competitive proposal process.

NIH offers two different R15 awards: AREA and the Research Enhancement Award Program (REAP). The key distinction between them is that AREA grants are available to undergraduate-focused institutions, while REAP grants are available to health professional and graduate schools. See the FAQs about the programs for a list of common questions. NIGMS participates in only the AREA program.

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Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2021

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NIGMS maintains a diverse biomedical research portfolio, supporting a wide range of topics and investigators. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, NIGMS received a congressional appropriation of $2,991,417,000. As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, this budget increased by 3.4% to $3,092,373,000 for FY 2022. The majority of these funds support research project grants (RPGs) at research institutions throughout the country. In alignment with its commitment to transparency, NIGMS publishes data on annual trends in its grants portfolio. In this post, we first describe investigator-level trends for RPGs, then review the trends associated with competing RPGs, and lastly examine trends in the Institute’s Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program.

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Do MIRA Investigators Apply for More Grants From Other NIH Institutes and Centers Than R01 Investigators?

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NIGMS’ Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) provides investigators with flexibility and stability for their research programs. Investigators who receive MIRA support must dedicate 51% of their research effort toward the grant and are ineligible to apply for or receive other NIGMS research support (with some exceptions). One question frequently asked is whether the NIGMS funding restriction changes the likelihood that MIRA grantees will submit applications to other NIH institutes and centers (ICs). In this post, we compare data on post-award grant applications from NIGMS-funded investigators.

To compare application behavior between MIRA and R01-funded investigators, we created sets of both established (EI) and early stage (ESI) investigators supported by NIGMS R01s (called the comparator group) who have not received a MIRA. The EI comparators were matched according to race/ethnicity, gender, time since acquisition of first R01, and average annual NIGMS funding. For the ESI comparator group, we used all ESI NIGMS R01 awardees.

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MIRA Renewals: Award Rates and Budget Changes

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NIGMS funded its first round of renewals for the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. In this post, we compare data on the award rates and award sizes of MIRA renewals and R01 renewals to provide some insights into the early outcomes of MIRA renewals. We also examine award rates and budget changes for investigators applying to convert their NIGMS R01s to MIRAs.

In the first section, we present award rates (the percentage of reviewed applications that receive funding), considering both programs overall and then FY 2021 renewal applications specifically. The second section describes the award sizes for the two types of grants collectively, followed by award size changes for FY 2021 renewals. Where sample sizes and privacy concerns allow, we distinguish between established investigators (EIs) and early stage investigators (ESIs) renewing their first grants (“ex-ESIs”) as they often have different characteristics for award rates and sizes. All budget values shown in the post are yearly direct costs.

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Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2020

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On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, was signed into law. The appropriation provides NIGMS with a budget of $2,991,417,000, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, a 1.8% increase over the FY 2020 appropriation. With this increased budget, NIGMS is committed to providing taxpayers with the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research. As part of this commitment to stewardship, we regularly monitor trends in our funding portfolio.

NIGMS maintains a diversified biomedical research portfolio, supporting a wide range of topics and investigators. NIGMS and NIH programs and policies aim to increase the number of funded investigators and to maintain researchers’ funding stability over time. In this post, we describe NIGMS investigator-level trends for selected R01-equivalent grants as well as overall research project grant (RPG) trends for FY 2020 compared to previous fiscal years.

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NIGMS Training Application and Funding Trends: Individual NRSA Postdoc and Pathway to Independence Awards

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Our Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity (TWD) supports programs at multiple career stages to foster the development of a strong and diverse biomedical research workforce. This post is the first in a series focused on data from NIGMS training programs and is similar to the ones we have done for our research project grant portfolio. Below, we examine trends in NIGMS applications and awards for the Individual Postdoctoral National Research Service Award (NRSA) (F32) and Pathway to Independence Award (K99) programs. NIGMS also supports institutional postdoctoral awards that include the Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards (IRACDA) (K12) and NRSA Institutional Postdoctoral Training Grants (T32) focused in clinical areas, and data on these programs were shared previously.

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Funding Trends: MIRA Applications and Overall Impact Scores

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One of the most common questions we receive about the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program is the likelihood of an application’s funding given a certain overall impact score.

Frequent readers of this blog may note that we typically provide statistics as they relate to our R01 portfolio, but we’ve yet to provide a similar “funding curve” for the MIRA program. One reason that MIRA applications haven’t been included in these analyses is that, unlike most R01 applications, MIRA R35 applications don’t receive a percentile score. The percentile score allows for normalization of overall impact scores across study sections to account for any differences in scoring behavior that are observed in review panels. See the Office of Extramural Research’s comprehensive blog post for more information about overall impact scores and percentiles.

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Policy on Late Submissions of NIGMS Applications Due in May 2020

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Because many people in the research community are facing considerable challenges trying to juggle various responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak, NIGMS will accommodate late application submissions for due dates in May 2020 for all NIGMS-specific FOAs (see NOT-GM-20-029). For applications submitted through June 30, 2020, institutions do not need to request advance permission or provide a cover letter to justify a late submission to these FOAs. Applications with due dates prior to May 25 should use FORMS E and those with due dates on or after May 25 should use FORMS F, regardless of the date of submission.

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Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2019

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UPDATE: Figure 2 of this post was updated slightly in March 2021 to reflect NIGMS-supported Early Stage Investigator counts more accurately.

On December 20, 2019, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 Link to external web site, was signed into law. The appropriation provides NIGMS with a budget of $2,937,218,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, a 2.2% increase over the FY 2019 appropriation. With this increased budget, NIGMS is committed to providing taxpayers with the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research [PDF]. As part of this commitment to stewardship [PDF], we regularly monitor trends in our funding portfolio.

NIGMS maintains a diversified investment portfolio, supporting a wide range of research topics and investigators. Recent NIGMS and NIH programs and policies aim to increase the number of different investigators funded, and to maintain researchers’ funding stability over time. Consistent with our focus on supporting a broad group of investigators, we monitor two statistics that describe our investigator pool.

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How do I know if my work fits in the mission of NIGMS?

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Ninety percent of the applications to our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for Early Stage Investigators (known as the ESI MIRA program) that were submitted in October are about to undergo peer review. The remaining 10% were administratively withdrawn, mostly because the research proposed fell outside the NIGMS mission. This is comparable to the proportion that was withdrawn over the past 3 years.

Withdrawn applications represent a lot of wasted time and effort on the part of affected PIs and are the source of considerable frustration. So what can you do to minimize the chance of this happening to your ESI MIRA application in the future?

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