Thursday, October 23, 2014

Calling all superstar doctoral students!

The RFA was just released for the NIH Director's Early Independence Awards (DP5).  This program is designed for people who are ready to launch independent research careers without completing postdoctoral fellowships.  Only 2 applications per institution will be accepted, and only 10 total grants will be awarded.  If you are close to the completion of your doctoral training and have a significant record of publication and promising research ideas, talk to your mentors and other senior researchers about applying for this opportunity.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Just in Time for the party?


Hooray!  It's time to celebrate!  My grant was reviewed and the JIT link popped up in the era commons.  This must mean my proposal is within funding range, right? 

WRONG. 

In previous years, the JIT link only became active in the commons if scores fell within certain percentiles.  However, this has been changed, and JIT will appear in the commons after every proposal is reviewed.  The only way to know if it is really needed is if the PI receives an email request for information from NIH. 

For more information about how to access JIT in the era commons and how the requested information should be submitted, view this helpful video from NIH:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New NIH video provides top 10 electronic grant submission tips



The NIH eSub Top 10 video was created by NIH to offer tips to prevent commons errors in electronic grant submission.  Some of these tips are very basic, but overall the video provides a helpful primer for people who are new to electronic submission of grant proposals. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola grant funding opportunity from NSF

A new RAPID response grant opportunity has been issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  This opportunity is designed to fund projects with potential to improve our understanding and treatment of Ebola and its transmission.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Would better NIH funding levels already have led to an Ebola vaccine?

In recent remarks, Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH stated that we would probably already have an Ebola vaccine were it not for NIH budget cuts.   This one outbreak of this one virus demonstrates the broad impact of the recent decline in funding levels for research grants.  A decline in research funding leads to stagnation in research and fewer scientific advances.  The result is not just a slower career trajectory for scientists.  People are dying.  There are experts in this country who surely have the technical ability and scientific knowledge and creativity to develop new vaccines and treatments not only for Ebola, but also for many other potentially deadly illnesses.  The limiting factor here is the lack of resources. 

This Ebola outbreak has me very nervous, and I am typically a rational, logical scientist.  It takes a lot to get me to spend a small fortune stocking up on nonperishables at the grocery store.  (My family now has enough canned tomatoes, pasta, bottled water, and mini muffins to last us for 2 months.)  However, when I think about the recent missteps by healthcare workers, including perhaps the CDC, I begin to lose faith in our system and its processes and procedures. 

Regardless of which end of the political spectrum you identify with, I think we can all agree that the limited budget faced by the NIH and the CDC in recent years has made the American public more vulnerable.  I hope that the economic recovery continues, and that perhaps there will be a way to increase funding to these vitally important organizations. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

If you're not saving the world, don't apply for a Transformative R01

The NIH Transformative R01 funding mechanism is designed to "provide support for collaborative investigative teams or individual scientists who propose transformative research projects, which, if successful, would have a major impact in a broad area of biomedical or behavioral research. To be considered transformative, projects must have the potential to create or overturn fundamental scientific paradigms through the use of novel approaches, to transform the way research is conducted through the development of novel tools or technologies, or to lead to major improvements in health through the development of highly innovative therapies, diagnostic tools, or preventive strategies."  The application does not require preliminary data.  Rather, it requests descriptions of projects that are highly innovative, high-risk/high-reward, and have potential to transform a research area.  Basically to be funded, these projects must be truly ground-breaking. 

Every Fall, it seems I come across a PI or two who are behind on their R01 submission for the Parent R01 deadline of October 5th.  To buy themselves some time, they convince themselves their work is so innovative the proposal should be revamped for the October 10th deadline.  This is a bad idea for a variety of reasons.  First, the Transformative R01 requirements are completely different in terms of formatting and length rules.  Even the biosketches are different.  Second, an idea that has been written up for a Parent R01 is not likely to be as groundbreaking and cutting-edge as the ideas that are typically developed for the Transformative R01 opportunities.  Check out these previously-funded Transformative R01s and decide for yourself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Food for thought...for hungry post-docs


A recent story featured on NPR discussed the limited career options for postdoctoral fellows as they try to move into faculty positions.  According to the article, only 15% of post-docs ultimately obtain tenure-track faculty positions.  Many complete several low-paying fellowships before giving up and moving into other sectors such as biotechnology or pharmaceuticals.  Perhaps there is also a great opportunity for these trained scientists in emerging fields such as research development.  For more information about research development, visit the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Submit your R01 on Sunday!

Per NIH submission policy, if a grant is due on a weekend, the deadline moves to the next business day.  This would mean the Sunday, October 5th deadline would actually move to the 6th.  However, given the high and increasing volume of proposals submitted for the parent R01 deadlines, Grants.gov may be slow on Monday the 6th.  To ensure that your proposal makes it in on time, and that you will have time to review it in the era commons after submission, I highly recommend submitting on Friday, October 3rd if possible.  If you work at an institution that gives you the ability to submit your own proposal directly, you may be able to wait until Saturday, but if you wait longer than that you will run the risk of not having enough time to review your grant and pull it back for changes if you identify any problems.  In case you missed it, NIH eliminated the 2-day error correction window a few years back, which means that all modifications to the proposal must be made prior to the deadline.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ASSIST Overview video from NIH



Given the large number of complex, multi-component grant applications that are due the week of September 25th, I imagine that many of this blog's readers are frantically putting final touches on their applications.  Are you familiar with the ASSIST grant submission system?  Although your research administration staff will likely be spending the most time in ASSIST, it is still useful for you to understand how it works.  The way the application will be put together and the section headers and titles that will be created by the system may influence some of the titles and other information that you plan to include in the research plan or other sections of your proposal.  Take a look at the video and you will definitely have more than a basic understanding of the system.