Wednesday, June 21, 2017

National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) provides grant tips for new applicants

NIGMS has provided a handy page titled Tips for New NIH Grant Applicants.  This list was compiled by soliciting advice from NIGMS staff members.  This is a very introductory list designed for novices who are just learning about the proposal development process.  I highly recommend this list in particular for trainees who are writing career development awards.  The advice may also be helpful to individuals who are writing their first R-series proposals who have had limited training in the area of grant development.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Proposed NIH Cap on Indirect Costs (F&A) is a Research EMERGENCY

There is a strong likelihood that NIH will soon be imposing a cap of 10% indirect costs on all research awards.  This decision will happen soon, and it may take effect by the end of the year.  We need to get the word out and mobilize the scientific community! This is not about politics.  It doesn't matter whether you voted for Hillary, Trump, or Mickey Mouse in the 2016 election.  This is about the future of scientific research in this country.

Why are indirect costs important?  These costs are typically used to fund support staff and resources that help to make research happen.  This includes research administrators, research development personnel, laboratory and animal facilities, and other key research support resources.  In this blog post from approximately 2 years ago, Dr. Sally Rockey, the former Deputy Director for Extramural Research at NIH, included a detailed presentation describing how indirect costs are used.  The formal NIH definition of Indirect Costs is located here.  Here is a great article from AAMC that provides an in-depth explanation of indirect costs and their role in supporting research.

This recent article in Science also helps to better explain the current situation.  Currently, many of the leading academic research institutions have negotiated indirect cost rates with the government that range from roughly 50% to 100%.  This means that, for every $1 spent to conduct a research project, another $0.50-$1 is spent on resources to support high quality research.  A reduction of this magnitude to indirect costs would decimate the infrastructure and ultimately could impact the quality of the science.

Please make your voice heard!  Politicians, NIH decision makers, and the general public need to be informed.  It is hard for many outside of the research world to understand the potential negative impact of this cap, and it is up to us to come together as a scientific community and educate the country as to the vital need for adequate research infrastructure to enable groundbreaking scientific discoveries.

How will we cure cancer if we can't afford to keep the lights on?

Basic scientists: for your viewing pleasure


This video created by the Center for Scientific Review describes the grant submission and review process as it relates to basic sciences.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Helpful video from the Center for Scientific Review with tips for R01 funding success


This video provides some helpful tips for investigators who are trying to get their first R01 funded.  It is easy to forget that your proposal will be reviewed by actual people, who may or may not have scientific expertise specific to your area.  Watch this video for ideas regarding how to make the proposal review process work for you.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

GSI Haters Rejoice! NIH Launches Next Generation Researchers Initiative

Thank you to all members of the research community who made your voices heard in response to the proposed NIH Grant Support Index (GSI).  The GSI would have created a system by which different types of grants were assigned varying numbers of points.  Principal Investigators holding multiple significant grant awards would have been capped based on the point total equivalents of their awards.  The GSI proposal created much concern that team science would be discouraged and that experienced investigators would be penalized.

NIH has listened to our concerns!  Instead of the GSI cap, they have launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.  More details surrounding the background and the goals of the new policy are also provided in a recent blog posting from NIH Director Dr. Collins.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Advice on conducting transdisciplinary research

I recently came across this interesting blog post that provides information on resources that are essential to support the conduct of transdisciplinary research.  We have all been told that cross-disciplinary collaborations are increasingly becoming necessary in order to obtain research grants and make new scientific advances.  However, many disciplines exist in silos and it can be difficult to get started.  The blog post includes mention of the importance of relationships as a resource in transdisciplinary research, emphasizing trust as a key component.  This is an often overlooked area of key importance that crosses into all disciplines.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Funny take on "Twas the Night Before Christmas" with a grant-related twist

Everyone has been sharing this tongue-in-cheek Christmas rhyme 'Twas the night before grant deadline in my various social media circles.  In case you missed it on Facebook or Twitter, you can follow the link from here.

Or if you would like a refresher on the original tale, you can watch this cartoon, narrated by Perry Como.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Advice on managing awarded grants with vertebrate animals

NIAID provides a page with useful advice and links to key resources.  If you are managing a grant award that involved vertebrate animals, click here for helpful information.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Grant application writing help - a technical checklist

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) provides a very useful checklist to guide applicants in development of their grant applications.  The list, located here, is relevant to applicants to other NIH institutes as well.

Perhaps my favorite item on this list is in the Specific Aims section.  It states:
"Are they "win-win" - i.e., will an outcome consistent with the null hypothesis still be a contribution to the field?"
This question is something people often lose sight of as they develop grant applications.  I highly recommend using this checklist as a guide to improve the competitiveness of your NIH grant application.