We’re pleased to announce our participation in the Accelerating Leading-edge Science in ALS (ALS2) program (NOT-RM-20-019). ALS2 is a $25 million NIH Common Fund initiative to spur innovative research into the basic biology of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) through the NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award. NIGMS encourages our community of basic scientists working on relevant processes to consider applying for this opportunity.
ALS is a devastating disease with no known cure. The development of effective therapeutics can benefit tremendously from basic ALS research that 1.) tests highly novel concepts, 2.) brings together researchers from different scientific perspectives, and 3.) applies powerful emerging technologies from a variety of disciplines.
Applications that use one or more of the following approaches are encouraged:
Applications must be submitted through the Transformative Research Award mechanism (RFA-RM-20-13), which is particularly well suited to interdisciplinary teams of scientists looking to combine their expertise and pursue new ideas with the potential to transform ALS research.
Application receipt date: September 30, 2020
Earliest start date: September 2021
We’re hosting a webinar for students and fellows interested in the PRAT Program for the October 2, 2020, receipt date:
Tuesday, July 14, 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
PRAT is a competitive 3-year fellowship program that prepares trainees for leadership positions in biomedical careers. Training includes a mentored laboratory research experience and intensive career and leadership development activities. PRAT fellows conduct research in laboratories in the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) in basic biomedical research areas within the NIGMS mission. These areas include, but are not limited to, biological chemistry, biophysics, bioinformatics, cellular and molecular biology, computational biosciences, developmental biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, physiology, and technology development.
Graduate students considering postdoctoral research opportunities at NIH, or current NIH Intramural Research Training Award postdoctoral fellows who started no earlier than June 1, 2019, are eligible to apply. All applications require connecting with an investigator in the NIH IRP in advance of writing the application.
To access the webinar, visit the WebEx meeting page and enter the meeting number (access code) 126 419 4975 and the password PRAT. You can also attend by phone by calling 1-650-479-3208 and entering the meeting number. Slides will be posted on the PRAT webpage following the event.
We look forward to talking with you about the PRAT Program.
Last summer, we published a notice of information on our priorities for sepsis research that applies to all active NIGMS funding opportunity announcements. We’ve now published a notice of special interest (NOT-GM 20-028) to promote early-stage research and development projects through the NIH SBIR/STTR program.
We’re interested in receiving applications from small businesses or from small businesses and their academic partners that propose to develop novel tools and technologies for sepsis research, detection, and treatment. We’re specifically interested in diagnostic tools, predictive clinical algorithms, and technologies to facilitate molecular phenotyping of sepsis patients.
If you have any questions about NIGMS priorities for small business development of sepsis diagnostics and therapeutics, please contact me.
We’re pleased to announce our participation in Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP), a $500 million NIH-wide initiative to reduce morbidity and mortality disparities for vulnerable and underserved populations disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The initiative will fund a national coordination center and a group of interlinked projects across the United States aimed at improving COVID-19 testing and understanding COVID-19 health disparities.
The announcements for RADx-UP are:
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, in addition to the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on African Americans, are wrenching reminders of the many harms that societal racism, inequality, and injustice inflict on the Black community. These injustices are rooted in centuries of oppression—including slavery and Jim Crow, redlining, school segregation, and mass incarceration—that continue to influence American life, including the biomedical research enterprise. Despite leading an NIH Institute whose mission includes building a diverse scientific workforce, at NIGMS we’ve struggled with what an adequate response to this moment would be, knowing that the systems that mediate the distinct and disparate burdens Black students, postdocs, and scientists face are complex and often aren’t easily moved with the urgency that they demand. With that in mind, below we share thoughts on what each of us who is in the majority or in a position of power can do to help break the cycles of racial disparities that are woven into the fabric of the biomedical research enterprise and that limit opportunities for Black scientists .
Institutional structures, policies, and cultures , including those in the biomedical research enterprise, all contribute to racial inequality and injustice. This fact was laid bare for us by the responses to the request for information (RFI) we issued in 2018 on strategies to enhance successful postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity. Respondents cited bias and discrimination—including racism—most frequently as a key barrier to postdoctoral researchers attaining independent faculty positions.
In the words of one response from the postdoctoral association at a well-known NIH-funded institution:
“A major barrier that underrepresented minority scientists face is discrimination and harassment. As postdocs at [major research university], many of us have witnessed or have been the target of numerous forms of discrimination and harassment ranging from the covert (e.g. microaggressions and implicit bias) to the overt (e.g. hate speech, isolation, and intimidation). Examples include having inappropriate and hurtful comments about our intelligence, race, ethnicity, religion, and national origin directed at us and our peers; being scrutinized more harshly by our peers and advisors based on our race and/or appearance; consistently being ignored or talked over during meetings; having our contributions and accomplishments undermined, devalued or overlooked entirely; being isolated within laboratories such that colleagues neither acknowledge us nor respond to formal requests for research materials or information; having our access to reagents and equipment restricted by colleagues; and, being stopped and questioned by campus/city police while going about our university business. Even when witnessed by our supervisors, most of these incidents were overlooked, which served to increase our sense of isolation and not belonging. The effect of such a hostile work environment is detrimental to underrepresented minority scientists’ research productivity and a severe mental health burden. This is compounded by the fact that underrepresented minority scientists will most likely continue to face hostility and isolation as they advance through the faculty ranks. Together, the reality of a hostile work environment coupled with the prospect of future hostile work environments at the faculty level saps underrepresented minority scientists of their energy, creativity, and resolve to pursue a career in academia.”
Another respondent, who identified as a Black woman and postdoc, noted:
“It feels strange to hear people say “we don’t have enough Black faculty” and I’ll be sitting here talking to other Black colleagues about how we are running out of grant funding or are underpaid and we’re trying to get faculty positions and not having any luck…I read all these articles online and see all these people saying they do diversity work for the university, and then I still see me and the other Black staff scientists (many of whom hold PhDs from ivy leagues schools) and we are just sitting here unsure of how to find our way into a faculty position. If diversity in academia is such a problem, why doesn’t anyone look under their nose and see that we are right here and try to give us a leg up?”
What Is NIGMS Doing?
We at NIGMS are committed to using every strategy we can to enable and incentivize institutions to develop structures, policies, and cultures that are inclusive, safe, and supportive of all community members, including those from groups that have historically been and continue to be subject to racial discrimination, such as African Americans. For example, we recently launched the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) program to enhance diversity within the academic biomedical research workforce. We hope the program will help address the significant underrepresentation of Black (as well as Latinx and Indigenous) faculty in the professoriate , and we have been encouraged by the fact that over half of the applicants to the first round of the MOSAIC K99s were Black/African American.
Additionally, we completely reworked the expectations for all of our training programs, incorporating strong emphasis on the creation of safe, supportive, and inclusive institutional cultures; enhancing faculty and student diversity; and training culturally competent mentors. Institutional change in these areas is necessary because diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just about fairness, they are integral to excellence in research and research training. Reviewers are carefully considering these criteria when evaluating training grant applications, and programs that are making strong progress in these areas are doing well, whereas programs that are not focusing on them are not. These review outcomes have been and will continue to be reflected in our funding decisions. To monitor progress and be fully transparent, we are working on a report showing the demographic data for NIGMS-supported trainees over time and intend to update and release the information annually.
We have also been carefully monitoring the applicant and awardee demographics in our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program to look for and try to mitigate any signs of potential bias. Thus far, for the early-stage investigator MIRA program, applicants from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are getting funded at the same rates as those from well-represented groups, although this is not yet true of the established investigator program. In partnership with the Center for Scientific Review and the NIH Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity, we will be piloting bias awareness training for reviewers, scientific review officers, and program officers involved in review and funding recommendations for the established and early-stage investigator MIRA programs.
However, we recognize that these steps will not be enough on their own to reverse the decades of discrimination and inequity in the biomedical research enterprise. As with the rest of NIH, Black scientists represented around 1% of NIGMS R01/R35 investigator pool in FY 2019. With the community’s help, we will redouble our efforts to find additional strategies to advance the careers of Black students and scientists.
What Can Those of Us in the Majority Do?
At an individual level, those of us who have not truly acknowledged the gravity of the situation in the biomedical research workforce must recognize that there is a very real problem that needs to be solved. We must educate ourselves using the many resources available, including university Africana studies departments and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). We must carefully listen to the experiences and views of our Black trainees and faculty, such as those expressed above in the responses to the RFI. These conversations can be facilitated through the NMAAHC’s “Talking About Race ” website. And then we must use what we learn as the basis for making positive change at our institutions.
Researchers who study bias and discrimination have pointed to some of the following actions for creating environments in which Black students and scientists can thrive:
We at NIGMS and the organizations and researchers we support must use this information to continually improve the institutions in which we work and make them safe, inclusive, and supportive scientific and training environments for Black students and researchers, as well as for students and researchers from all backgrounds. For example, anyone with concerns that harassment is affecting an NIH funded project at a grantee institution should submit information regarding the situation through the anonymous reporting portal.
We encourage you to also get involved in diversity-enhancing programs such as those supported by NIGMS. If your institution does not have such a program, consider taking the lead in starting one. If you want guidance on how to do this, please contact one of the program directors in our Divisions of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity or Research Capacity Building. Finally, for principal investigators on NIH research grants, consider applying for diversity supplements to enhance the diversity—and scientific strength—of your laboratory.
Our commitment to a diverse workforce can’t be realized until our Black students, postdocs, and colleagues have the same opportunities to enter and advance within the biomedical research community as anyone else. Eliminating biases of all kinds—scientific, institutional, regional, gender, and racial—is essential to the continued strength of the biomedical research enterprise in our country. At NIGMS we are committed to doing everything we can to achieve this goal.
We recognize this is a limited list of ideas and welcome your comments.
As I described in my last post, we recently released a progress and outcomes report [PDF] highlighting the work we’ve done to meet the goals and objectives of the NIGMS 2015-2020 strategic plan [PDF].
We’re now beginning development of a new strategic plan that will describe NIGMS’ overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics in support of the Institute’s mission over the next 5 years.
We recently posted a draft strategic plan framework [PDF] that describes these goals and objectives and are seeking your input on this framework via a request for information (RFI). The RFI will help us receive vital feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, students and trainees, academic institutions, professional societies, the private sector, health professionals, patient communities, and other interested members of the public.
We’re requesting comments focused on:
To facilitate your responses to the RFI, we’ve created a web form that will remain open until July 17. Your comments, suggestions, and feedback will ensure that our new strategic plan guides our work in the coming years.
We’re pleased to announce that the NIGMS Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) for the basic biomedical sciences has been reissued (PAR-20-213). This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) continues our efforts to ensure biomedical graduate research training keeps pace with the rapidly evolving biomedical research enterprise. The goal of the T32 program is to develop a diverse pool of scientists with the technical, operational, and professional skills needed to advance their chosen fields and transition into productive careers in the biomedical research workforce.
In addition, the new FOA:
We intend to include these changes in all of our institutional training programs as their FOAs are reissued.
For additional information, including a list of active programs, see the Predoctoral T32 webpage.
First application receipt date: September 25, 2020
Earliest start date: July 2021
In my first post as NIGMS director in 2013, I discussed the need to develop a new strategic plan to guide our efforts and to ensure that we invest taxpayer money as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our current strategic plan emerged as a product of collaboration between all functional units of our Institute, with valuable input from external stakeholders, and it’s been used to guide management decisions at NIGMS for the last 5 years.
Since publication of this strategic plan in 2015, the Institute has undertaken programmatic and organizational changes to better achieve the goals set forth in the plan. I therefore wanted to reflect on these activities as we consider our priorities for the next 5 years.
To aid in this organizational reflection, we’ve put together a progress and outcomes report outlining how the Institute has acted upon each aspect of our 2015-2020 strategic plan, including descriptions of key results and outcomes data. The report also addresses principles laid out in the Evidence-Based Policymaking Act by providing transparency about how NIGMS makes decisions, sets priorities, and measures results.
I invite you to read the report as we think about what we’ve accomplished over the past 5 years and what we hope to achieve over the next 5. A request for information to guide the development of our new strategic plan will soon be out for public comment, and we hope to receive your feedback when it’s released.
I’m pleased to announce that the Institutional Development Award Networks for Clinical and Translational Research (IDeA-CTR) funding opportunity announcement (PAR-20-175) has been reissued.
IDeA-CTR funds statewide or multistate regional networks that support:
For more information about the program, please visit the IDeA webpage.
First application receipt date: October 7, 2020
Earliest start date: July 2021
If you have questions about IDeA-CTR, please contact me.
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.CURRENT NIGMS FUNDING ANNOUNCEMENTS IMPACTED BY THIS POLICY: Title FOA Number Applicable Application Due Date Applicable Forms Package Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (R35 – Clinical Trial Optional) PAR-19-367 5/18/2020 FORMS E IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) (P20 – Clinical Trial Optional) PAR-20-102 5/20/2020 FORMS E Maximizing Access to Research Careers (T34) PAR-19-219 5/21/2020 FORMS E Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) (T34) PAR-19-218 5/21/2020 FORMS E Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) (T32) PAR-19-102 5/21/2020 FORMS E National Institute of General Medical Sciences Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Predoctoral Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) PAR-17-341 5/25/2020 FORMS F Medical Scientist Training Program (T32) PAR-19-036 5/25/2020 FORMS F Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Continuance Award (SC3 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed) PAR-20-041 5/25/2020 FORMS F Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Pilot Project Award (SC2 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed) PAR-20-040 5/25/2020 FORMS F Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Research Advancement Award (SC1 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed) PAR-20-039 5/25/2020 FORMS F Biomedical Technology Development and Dissemination Center (RM1 – Clinical Trial Not Allowed) PAR-20-104 5/26/2020 FORMS F Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1 – Clinical Trial Optional) PAR-20-103 5/27/2020 FORMS F Limited Competition: Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase III – Transitional Centers (P30 – Clinical Trial Optional) PAR-20-115 5/28/2020 FORMS F
NIH’s late application submission policy for institutions closed due to the effects of COVID-19 (NOT-OD-20-082) still applies to these FOAs for institutions that aren’t able to submit by June 30 and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. As much as NIGMS would like to extend flexibility further, this rapidly evolving situation creates multiple challenges for conducting both initial peer review and advisory council review by January 2021. Therefore, applicants should assume that late applications submitted after June 30, 2020, may not be reviewed for the current council round.
Please direct all inquiries to NIGMS_DEA_Mailbox@nigms.nih.gov.
On May 18, NIH will open a global recruitment for Health Scientist Administrators. A global recruitment is a way NIH hires for common positions by creating a single announcement in USAJobs.gov , which can be used by any institute or center with an approved vacancy. Applying to a global recruitment means that, with a single announcement, hiring officials throughout NIH will have access to your application.
While we do not have an approved vacancy now, we may have vacancies in the future. If you have a broad knowledge of the biophysical sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular, cellular and structural biology, experimental and computational approaches, and experience working with relevant scientific communities, organizations, and institutions, we encourage you to apply to the global announcement. If your application is determined to be qualified for the recruitment, it may remain active for at least 3 months. This means that if NIGMS receives approval to recruit for additional positions in the near future, our selecting officials will be able to view your application.
Generally, NIGMS hires Health Scientist Administrators to fill two types of positions: Scientific Review Officers (SROs) and Program Officers (POs).
An SRO conducts the initial administrative and scientific merit review of grant applications for research programs and/or research training and career development grants. An SRO ensures the fairness and consistency of the scientific peer review process and provides guidance to applicants, reviewers, and Institute staff on peer review policies and procedures.
A PO is responsible for stimulating, planning, directing, and evaluating a portfolio of activities for research projects, research program and other grants/awards, cooperative agreements, and/or contracts in the assigned program area.
At NIGMS, we’re always looking for talented and diverse candidates. Visit our website to learn about NIGMS’ research and training programs or to learn more about global recruitments. You can also search public sites such as NIH RePORTER to learn more about the grants we fund.
Visit our Job Vacancies page on May 18 to find the links to the global recruitment.
We’re pleased to announce a new webinar series for students, postdocs, and faculty. Each hour-long webinar will include a 10- to 15-minute presentation by the speaker followed by a moderated question and answer session. Our hope is that these webinars will enhance our trainees’ ongoing learning experiences.
The webinar series kicks off next Monday, May 4, and a tentative list of dates and speakers is below. As plans are finalized, additional details will be posted on our website.Date Topic Speaker Monday, May 4
We strongly encourage our sponsored trainees and other interested students, postdocs, and faculty to participate in these webinars, and we ask that you to share this information with anyone who may be interested in attending. Participants requiring sign language interpretation should email firstname.lastname@example.org at least 3 days prior to the event. Recordings will be posted on the NIGMS website following each webinar.
Are you preparing a grant application for the Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) institutional research training program? Please join us for an informational webinar about the program and application components, and the opportunity to ask us questions:
Tuesday, April 14th, 2020, 12:00-2:00 p.m. ET
During the webinar, we’ll provide a broad overview of the program and share our expectations of applications and the required data tables for the upcoming May 21 receipt date. You may send questions to me before the webinar or post them in the chat box during the event.
To access the webinar, visit the WebEx meeting page and enter the meeting number 626 019 230 and the password mmFJBmM2r36. If you’re unable to attend online, you can join by calling 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the meeting number.
NIGMS Staff Participating in the March 24 Webinar:
We look forward to talking to you about the program. Slides will be posted on the RISE webpage following the event.
The safety of trainees and other lab workers from accidents, violence, harassment, and inappropriate behavior is a high priority for NIGMS. Because the Institute has such a large training and workforce development portfolio, we feel that we should play a central role in promoting the development of a robust culture of safety in biomedical research training environments.
As part of this effort, we recently announced the availability of supplements for research education, training, and career development grants to enhance laboratory safety curricula and to build a culture of safety in biomedical research training environments (NOT-GM-20-016). To provide additional resources to enhance safety, we have now launched an NIGMS website highlighting laboratory safety training and guidelines. On this page, you’ll find links to a number of online resources including:
Although I know most of you are not working in lab at the moment, I encourage you to visit this page, explore the featured resources, and give some thought to how you might enhance safety in your lab or institution, and how you might incorporate these resources into your training program to help develop a strong culture of safety once we return to normal research operations.
We’re pleased to announce that the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) (PAR-20-125) has been issued.
NARCH fosters opportunities for biomedical research and career enrichment to meet health needs prioritized by American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes and tribally based organizations. The NARCH initiative also supports research capacity building, including the development of research infrastructure to enhance the biomedical research capabilities of AI/AN communities. NARCH grants are awarded directly to federally recognized tribes or tribal organizations that may partner with research-intensive institutions.
This funding opportunity will support a combination of components including: 1) career enhancement, which encompasses both student and faculty career development; 2) both pilot and research projects; and 3) capacity building, which encompasses development of infrastructure to support both career development and research sustainability.
For additional information about this initiative, including lists of participating NIH institutes and offices and currently funded NARCH programs, please visit the NARCH webpage.
First application receipt date: June 24, 2020
Earliest start date: April 2021
We’ve published a notice of special interest (NOSI) (NOT-GM-20-025) to address the urgent need for research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We’ll accept competitive revisions (supplements) in three specific scientific areas:
Please note that applications that aren’t responsive to these three areas will be withdrawn without review.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until February 5, 2021, and will be evaluated quickly by an internal review panel convened by NIGMS staff. In addition to other review criteria, applications will be judged on the urgency, significance, and feasibility of the proposed research.
Awards will be made for 1 year. Competitive revisions to R15, R21, and R00 grants may provide support above the established budget limits for the parent awards.
Investigators interested in applying for competitive revisions in response to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact NIGMS staff. For inquiries related to predictive models, contact Daniel Janes. For inquiries related to SBIR/STTR, contact Dmitriy Krepkiy.
We’re pleased to announce that the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) Phase 3 funding opportunity announcement (FOA) (PAR-20-115) has been reissued.
COBRE supports thematic, multidisciplinary research centers that establish and strengthen institutional biomedical research capacity in IDeA-eligible states through three sequential 5-year phases.
This funding opportunity will 1) support the scientific and technical cores developed during COBRE phases 1 and 2 to facilitate their transition into independent research service facilities and 2) sustain the research environment developed in the first two phases by supporting pilot research projects and career guidance and enhancement activities.
For additional information about the program, including a list of active programs, visit the COBRE webpage.
First application receipt date: May 28, 2020
Earliest start date: April 2021
If you have questions about this funding opportunity, please contact Hongwei Gao.