February 4, 2015
Opportunities and Resources
In The News
- NIH Reissues K99/R00 Parent FOA
- News Briefs
- Wondering Whether Wintry Weather Delays Due Dates?
- The True Last Step for Grants.gov Submission
- Reader Questions
New Funding Opportunities
NIH lets you submit your research grant application repeatedly, which begs the question: when should you stop trying?
Even experienced PIs miss key clues that signal whether to head in another direction. Know what to look for.
Lay Out the Possible Outcomes
It's possible that you'll improve to a fundable score with subsequent revisions—which may lead you to believe you should always revise your application and submit your research grant proposal again.
Our experience suggests that's not always a good approach.
While the new submission policy hasn't been around long enough to give us a crystal clear picture of how applications fare after many rounds of resubmission and revision, we can draw on our experience from a time when you could submit your application three times.
Substituting the third attempt with a new application on the same topic as your previous attempts, your application can go one of four ways:
- Score within our paylines on the first attempt.
- Score outside our paylines on the first attempt, then come back as a revised application that scores within our paylines.
- Score outside our paylines on the first attempt and resubmission, then come back as a new application that scores within our paylines.
- Score outside our paylines on the first attempt and resubmission, then come back as a new application that also scores outside our paylines.
Ideally, you should see a better score each time you send your application. If you don't see improvement, reflect on whether another attempt will do you any good.
For example, your unfundable score in the first attempt might have been due to the absence of information that reviewers needed to judge your application. Once reviewers saw that information in your resubmission, did your score improve? If not, did the resubmission critiques mention issues that are easily fixable?
Mull over our Strategy to Assess Your Options, including What to Do if You Get Bad News, in the Strategy for NIH Funding. Also consider the advice below.
Look for Trends
After your second and subsequent attempts at funding, compare your summary statement and overall impact score.
If they move in the same direction—e.g., more glowing comments with a better score, or less favorable comments with a worse score—assume that trend will hold.
Whenever those trends differ, beware.
Did reviewers speak more highly of your application but give you the same or worse score? Did they still indicate there were serious concerns, even though your score improved?
Whenever you see those red flags, you should think long and hard before submitting the same research application again.
We don't recommend reading too much into your reviewers' word choices.
Under NIH's scoring system, a "very good" application should receive an overall impact score of 4—which translates into a 40 overall impact score and typically well beyond our payline.
Reviewers may also give faint praise to an application they're not excited about. When a reviewer describes an application as being "very good," they are giving it faint praise.
Instead of reading reviewer comments literally, step back and dig for substance within the specific suggestions or flaws reviewers identify.
Ask Your Program Officer to Fill In the Blanks
You can glean further insights by talking to your program officer.
He or she has likely attended the review meeting (or listened in by telephone), understands your field, knows NIAID's priorities, and can give you perspective to help you assess whether to try again.
Some key questions you should ask:
- Did conversation at the review meeting reveal strengths or weaknesses that aren't reflected in your score or included in reviewer comments?
- If your score and summary statement diverge, is there anything from the review discussion that could shed light on why?
- Strategy for NIH Funding
- How Reviewers Score Applications
- Options if Your Application Isn't Funded
- When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer
Don't miss this chance to get funding for innovative big data research experiences or curriculum development for undergrads, particularly students from underrepresented backgrounds.
A new request for applications (RFA) can provide up to $200,000 each year for up to five years.
And, you'll have an opportunity to partner with one or more researchers from the following recipients of BD2K's FY 2014 Awards:
For details, including eligibility requirements and application institutions, read the January 13, 2015, Guide announcement. Application deadline is April 7, 2015.
This RFA comes out of the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program, NIH's effort to develop new approaches, standards, methods, tools, software, and competencies to improve scientific use of big data.
The Laboratory of Malaria Immunology and Vaccinology (LMIV) seeks contractors to conduct clinical trials that investigate initial safety, immunogenicity, and biologic impact of LMIV-developed vaccine candidates. Contractors may also be called on to carry out clinical studies of pathogenesis research.
Offerors’ proposals will be evaluated based on technical factors, cost, and past performance.
The technical evaluation will consider each proposal’s approach to:
- Ensuring the safety of uninfected and malaria-infected participants and staff.
- Screening, recruiting, retaining, and following target populations for malaria vaccine, challenge, and infectivity studies.
- Conducting malaria vaccine clinical trials, malaria challenge, and experimental infection studies, to include organization, management, and quality control.
It will also evaluate the education, training, experience, and qualifications of:
- The principal investigator, professional staff, subcontractors, and consultants.
- Support staff for nursing, recruitment, laboratory, pharmacy, and data management.
Finally, the technical evaluation will assess the ability of each offeror to:
- Maintain facilities, equipment, and other resources needed to carry out the malaria vaccine, challenge, and infection tasks.
- Ensure delivery of fresh specimens according to protocol requirements, e.g., human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), to LMIV in Rockville, Maryland, within two hours of initial processing.
- Deliver cryopreserved PBMCs to LMIV by 4 p.m. Eastern time one business day after a request by the contracting officer's representative.
NIAID will also consider each proposal’s protection and inclusion of human subjects, data sharing plan, and accessibility of electronic information and technology.
For complete details, see the January 5, 2015, FedBizOpps.gov solicitation. Be sure to also read the January 24, 2015, Amendmentto the solicitation, which includes questions from potential offerors and NIAID's answers. The deadline to respond is March 12, 2015, at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
Last month, NIH reissued the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00) parent funding opportunity announcement (FOA). The reissue encapsulates several notices that amended the previous version of the FOA.
These changes include:
- Clarification that parental leave, active military duty, illness, and clinical training that does not involve research may not count against the four-year research training eligibility limit.
- Additional application directions, including a requirement for itemized budget information for each budget period during the K99 phase.
Read the January 9, 2015, Guide notice for additional details.
NIAID also has Institute-specific instructions for prospective applicants, which are listed at Table of IC-Specific Information, Requirements and Staff Contacts. They have not changed.
- Advice on Research Training and Career Awards
- Pathway to Independence Awards (K99/R00) SOP
- Career Development Grants Questions and Answers
Adjustment to February Receipt Dates. Because of scheduled downtime for Grants.gov, due dates that fall on or between February 13 and February 18 have been moved to February 19, 2015. The change affects standard due dates, including the R03, R21, and R21/R33 deadline that was originally scheduled for February 16, 2015. For more information, including a full list of affected funding opportunities, read the January 27, 2015, Guide notice.
NIH Issues Updated Diversity Statement. In a January 12, 2015, Guide notice, NIH published an updated diversity statement to emphasize its continued commitment to a diverse NIH-funded workforce. The statement identifies underrepresented populations in biomedical research. It also stipulates that NIH institutes can include women as eligible candidates in faculty-level, diversity-targeted programs. The notice does not override diversity language in existing funding opportunity announcements.
See the List of Legislative Mandates That Affect NIH Funding. Review the full list of Congressional mandates that have an impact on FY 2015 NIH funding in the January 12, 2015, Guide notice. Learn the requirements governing salary limitations, gun control, lobbying, acknowledgement of federal funding, abortions, human embryo research, legalization of controlled substances, false or misleading information, sterile needles, public access to scholarly publications, restriction of pornography on computer networks, and compliance with guidance on the spread of the Ebola virus.
Recognition of Same-Sex Spouses and Marriages. NIH recognizes any same-sex spouses and marriages that are legally recognized, as explained in the January 8, 2015, Guide notice. NIH requires that its grant and contract recipients do likewise. NIH includes spouses in the term “close relative,” thus regulations such as reporting financial conflicts of interest are applicable to same-sex marriages.
Upcoming Funding for Global Infectious Disease Research Administration. Look for an upcoming funding opportunity announcement on global infectious disease research administration development awards for low- to middle-income country institutions. We encourage investigators and senior grants management officials to consider applying and begin to establish collaborations with U.S. grants management offices that manage NIH awards. Read the December 17, 2014, Guide notice.
Welcome to midwinter in the northern hemisphere! Here's a table summarizing how snow days at NIH or your institution might affect your application's due date and lateness.
|NIH Status||Your Institution's Status||Does Your Due Date Change?||Late Application Allowed Due to Closure?|
|Closed||Closed||Probably not. NIH issues a Guidenotice if the date changes.||Yes. Your application's lateness should not exceed the time your organization was closed. Explain in your cover letter. Learn more and find key contacts atNIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies.|
|Closed||Open||Probably not. NIH issues a Guidenotice if the date changes.||Not due to closure; your institution wasn't closed. You may still be able to apply late for some other valid reason as described in the December 17, 2014,Guide notice.|
So when NIH's Current Status is closed, why does NIH usually keep the same due date? It's because even during a weather closure, key staff still come to the office or telework so NIH can maintain basic functions such as receiving applications and operating the Help Desk.
All that said, inclement weather may interfere with the federal computer systems that process electronic applications. If you encounter a technical issue, contact the Help Desk to confirm the problem is on the federal end. If so, your application won't be considered late as long as you work with the Help Desk to complete the submission in a timely manner.
For more on NIH's late policy, see our January 8, 2015, article "New Policy on Late Applications."
Here’s a tip from our friends at NIH eSubmission Items of Interest: after you submit an application to Grants.gov, you should be able to view every part of the application in the eRA Commons. Be sure to check the application image within the allotted two-day window.
You may discover that pages weren't loaded correctly, or despite never encountering any errors during the submission process, you get a blank screen when you click the eApplication link in the Commons. If you see a blank screen, then staff in NIH's Center for Scientific Review will too when the time comes to review your application.
Should you discover that any aspect of your application is not displaying properly, notify the eRA Help Desk immediately. You do not need to contact your program officer, as he or she cannot help you with an electronic submission problem.
Feel free to send us a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. After responding to you, we may ask your permission to include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
Expedited Council review involves one Council member from each of the three National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Diseases Council (NAAIDC) subcommittees. He or she acts on behalf of all members to perform second-level review of certain types of grants so the Institute can issue awards quickly. This review occurs about eight weeks before the Council meeting.
For more information, including which grants can be expedited, read our Expedited Council Review and Award SOP. To learn what happens at full Council meetings, go to NIAID's Council—Our Chief Advisory Committee.
“If my application is submitted and reviewed in one fiscal year, but the grant is not awarded until the next fiscal year, under which fiscal year is the award classified?”—anonymous reader
The application and grant are classified by award year. An application that was submitted in FY 2014 and awarded in FY 2015 is considered an FY 2015 application in tools like NIH RePORTER.
For another example, see the dates listed on R01 Planning to Award Timeline by Review Cycle. On that page, the February 5, 2015, receipt date falls within FY 2015. However, NIH still considers it a receipt date for FY 2016 because any resulting awards would be paid using FY 2016 funds.
- PA-15-107, Role of Exosomes in HIV Pathogenesis
- PA-15-106, Novel Biomarkers for the Development of HIV Incidence Assays with Improved Specificity (R21)
- PA-15-105, Novel Biomarkers for the Development of HIV Incidence Assays with Improved Specificity (R01)
- RFA-AI-14-064, Systems Biology and Antibacterial Resistance
See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.