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Administrative Supplements to Add Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias

Thu, 2018-04-19 15:14

NIGMS, along with other NIH Institutes and Centers, has partnered with the National Institute on Aging to grow the community of scientists actively engaged in research focused on Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias (AD/ADRD). Details of this year’s AD/ADRD supplement program are provided in NIA’s Notice NOT-AG-18-008. If your research, research training, or research capacity-building grant is not currently focused on AD/ADRD and you have an inspiring new idea of potential value to the field that is within the scope of the funded Specific Aims of your current award, please consider this opportunity.

Research related to AD/ADRD might fall within the scope of an already-funded NIGMS award originally focused on, for example, an enzyme, transporter, or metabolic pathway being studied for its basic biological or physiological role (or a non-AD/ADRD-related medical condition) if you have recognized an exciting new implication for AD-type pathologies or their treatment. Funded projects developing analytical methods, tools or technologies, drug molecules, or drug delivery systems not previously intended for application to AD/ADRD might now appear to have potential in this area. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact their program director to discuss their ideas for AD/ADRD research and how those relate to the Specific Aims currently funded. Decisions about scope are strictly the purview of NIH. Center and Resource grants that allow non-specified pilot projects should consider adding AD/ADRD projects if interest and expertise exist.

NIA provides an Alzheimer’s Disease Administrative Supplements webpage that includes NIH’s coding definitions of Alzheimer’s disease and its related dementias, as well as titles and abstracts for several funded projects that meet the definition of AD/ADRD research. These sources can help you determine if your grant is already considered AD/ADRD research and, therefore ineligible for this supplement. If the Specific Aims of your grant are not already AD/ADRD-related and you’d like to apply for this supplement, you are strongly encouraged to use the information on NIA’s supplement webpage as well as the Query and Matchmaker tools in NIH RePORTER to help assure that the research in your supplement request is considered AD/ADRD-appropriate.

Applications must be received at NIGMS by June 8 for funding in FY 2018. Applicants must use NIH’s general Administrative Supplement Funding Opportunity Announcement, PA-18-591. To ensure that NIGMS can quickly identify applications for AD/ADRD supplements, be sure to include the NIA Notice number (NOT-AG-18-008) in the abstract and notify the Program Official of the parent award that a supplement request has been submitted. Applications will be ranked by NIGMS and the most compelling will be submitted to NIA for final consideration.

Additional requirements: Eligible NIGMS grants must:

  • Have a project end date in FY 2019 or later (on or after October 1, 2018).
  • Not be in a no-cost extension or entering a no-cost extension in FY 2018 (on or before September 30, 2018).
  • Be eligible for a supplement. R35 MIRA grants are not eligible for this supplement program, per NOT-AG-18-008. R15 AREA grant PIs should check with their Program Official or Grant Specialist about the possibility of supplement awards.

Please contact me if you have questions regarding the details of this administrative supplement program, and include NOT-AG-18-008 in the subject line of all related email communication.

Administrative Supplements for NIGMS Predoctoral T32 Grants to Develop Curricular and Training Activities

Tue, 2018-04-17 16:04

To continue our efforts to catalyze the modernization of biomedical graduate education, we invite eligible NIGMS-funded T32 predoctoral training programs to submit administrative supplement requests to develop new curricular and training activities to enhance the program’s ability to: 1) provide graduate trainees with a strong foundation in research design and methods in areas related to conducting rigorous and transparent research to enhance reproducibility (PA-18-756); 2) prepare students for diverse careers in the biomedical research workforce (PA-18-757); 3) develop the knowledge and skills of trainees to enhance laboratory safety (PA-18-758); and 4) develop the technical, operational, and professional skills of predoctoral biomedical researchers (PA-18-759).

Grantees should consider the following before applying:

  • Only one application will be accepted per institution per area of curricular/training activity development. We expect that in institutions with two or more NIGMS predoctoral training grants the programs will cooperate to develop a single application proposing activities that are broadly applicable to their trainees.
  • If an institution has received a previous administrative supplement in one of the four areas described above, the institution is not eligible for an additional award in that same area.
  • There’s a budget cap of $80,000 in direct costs per award, and the funds from the supplement must be expended by June 30, 2019.
  • Supplement funds cannot be used to support additional trainee slots.
  • To be eligible for the supplement, the training grant must be active through at least June 30, 2020. Training grants that have received outstanding priority scores and are expected to be renewed effective July 1, 2018, are NOT eligible.
  • Applicants may apply electronically through or eRA Commons as instructed in the FOAs. Applications will not be accepted in other ways.
  • If applying in more than one area of curricular or training activity development, separate requests in response to each FOA must be submitted.
  • Applications are due by May 18, 2018.

Please contact your program director, Alison Gammie, or Shiva Singh if you have any questions.

Webinar for NRMN Coordination Center and NRMN Resource Center Applicants

Mon, 2018-04-09 11:26

If you’re preparing a grant application for either the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) Coordination Center (U24) or the NRMN Resource Center (U24) for the June 11 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, April 30, 1:00 PM ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the NRMN Coordination Center and the NRMN Resource Center funding announcements and answer your questions. You may send questions 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 (access code) 622 059 858 and the password PxH2Dy3Q. If you are unable to attend online, you can call 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and enter the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you.

Webinar for NRMN: The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (U01) Grant Applicants

Thu, 2018-04-05 09:37

If you’re preparing a National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN): The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (U01) grant application for the June 11, 2018 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, April 23, 2018, 1:30 PM ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the NRMN: The Science of Mentoring, Networking, and Navigating Career Transition Points (U01) announcement and answer your questions. You may send questions 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 (access code) 621 810 025 and the password xgmgtxPy. If you are unable to attend online, you can call 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and enter the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you.

NIGMS Administrative Supplements for Equipment

Thu, 2018-03-29 10:08

NIGMS is offering administrative supplements of between $50,000 and $250,000 for the well-justified purchase of single pieces of equipment. In past years, we issued separate funding announcements (PA-15-089 and PA-16-125) for this purpose. This year, however, we will accept requests for equipment supplements from Principal Investigators (PIs) who hold NIGMS R01, R35, R37, or R15 awards under PA-18-591, Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional).

Eligible investigators are strongly encouraged to discuss potential requests with their program directors before submitting applications. Two or more NIGMS grantees at the same institution may submit separate but cross-referenced requests, where the funds requested reflect the actual proportion of the time that the shared equipment would be used by each PI. However, under no circumstances may a joint request exceed $400,000 in direct costs. The requested supplemental budget cannot exceed the total year direct cost amount of the parent award. PIs may not request future year funds. NIGMS strongly encourages investigators to seek matching funds from their institutions or elsewhere, and to ensure that follow-up expenses (such as maintenance contracts) will be covered from other available funds. Institutional contributions and commitment will be factored into funding decisions.

Applicants should include price quotes or other documentation, in addition to a strong scientific justification for the requested equipment supplement.

NIGMS anticipates awarding a limited number of administrative supplements toward the end of this fiscal year. The number of awards given will depend on the funds available. If you have any questions about these supplements, please contact me.

Reviewers Will Be Ready for the New Predoctoral T32 FOA

Tue, 2018-03-27 16:27

The first receipt date for predoctoral T32 applications in response to NIGMS Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) PAR-17-341 is fast approaching—May 25, 2018. While a wealth of information is already available regarding the intent and requirements of this new FOA, including on our NRSA Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants website and a recent Feedback Loop post, we want to reassure prospective applicants that we are also actively preparing for the review of these applications.

All predoctoral T32 applications submitted to NIGMS are currently reviewed by two in-house standing review committees, TWD-A and TWD-B, and this will continue for applications submitted under the new FOA. However, we are mindful that reviewing these applications requires different expectations and considerations, and that reviewers must accordingly be prepared for them. To this end, scientific review officers in our Office of Scientific Review are working closely with program staff in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity to revise the materials and resources currently used to orient review committee members to ensure they understand and address the new review criteria appropriately. We are also exploring options to add expertise to the committees in aspects of the FOA that may be less familiar to reviewers, such as program evaluation, evidence-based approaches to teaching and mentoring, and non-academic career development. In addition, we are considering ways to bring the perspectives of community members who educate and mentor undergraduate students who go on to pursue Ph.D.s in biomedical fields, as well as of those who employ graduates of NIGMS-funded Ph.D. programs, such as representatives from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. And of course, NIGMS review and program staff are available at each step, including during the review meetings, to provide guidance and reminders.

A feature of the new T32 FOA is that all submissions are considered new (Type 1) applications, and there will be no renewal (Type 2) applications received under the new FOA. Since site visits have been part of the review process only for renewal applications, no site visits for peer review will be conducted under the new FOA. Site visits will take place as planned for renewal applications submitted under the parent T32 FOA for the January 25, 2018, receipt date.

Note that applications for our Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) will continue to be reviewed using the criteria of the parent T32 FOA and will be site visited according to the established schedule while a new MSTP-specific FOA is under development.

If you have any questions about these upcoming preparations, please feel free to contact me.

NIGMS Transitions AREA Support to Undergraduate-Focused Institutions

Thu, 2018-03-15 13:13

NIGMS is realigning its support of the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program to focus on providing research experiences to undergraduate students in scientific areas within its mission. Accordingly, we’ve published a new undergraduate research-focused AREA funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and are discontinuing our participation in the NIH Parent AREA FOA. The undergraduate research-focused AREA FOA will allow us to continue to: 1) support small-scale meritorious research projects at institutions that do not receive substantial NIH funding (less than $6 million in total costs in 4 of the last 7 years), 2) enhance the research environment at eligible institutions, and 3) expose students to scientific research so that they consider careers in biomedical sciences. Unlike the Parent FOA, the new announcement allows NIGMS to place its emphasis specifically on undergraduate research.

This new AREA FOA limits eligibility to undergraduate student-focused institutions or academic components within an institution (e.g., School of Arts and Sciences) in which the undergraduate student enrollment is greater than the graduate student enrollment, and it excludes all types of health professional schools. Additionally, the research team must be composed primarily of undergraduate students. This FOA aligns the application instructions and review criteria with the goals of the AREA program. We expect that these clarifications will lead to applications that better fit the goals of the program and provide reviewers the tools they need to evaluate the program as designed.

NIGMS is withdrawing from the Parent AREA FOA after the May 7, 2018, AIDS application due date. Beginning with the June 25 application due date, all AREA applications for NIGMS support, including renewals originally submitted to the Parent FOA, must be submitted to the undergraduate research-focused FOA (see NOT-GM-18-021). Note that this change does not affect existing NIGMS awards or applications that are pending review or funding decision. We will also continue to provide co-funding for meritorious AREA grant applications from institutions in IDeA states to other NIH institutes and centers that fall just outside of their normal funding range, regardless of which AREA FOA they come in under.

NIGMS has been a strong supporter of the AREA Program since its inception and will continue this commitment. We expect that the new FOA will better serve the community and fulfill our mission.

If you have any questions about the new AREA award, please email me or call 301-594-0943.

Planning to Apply for an NIGMS Established Investigator MIRA? Points to Consider

Fri, 2018-03-09 13:09

When NIGMS issued PAR-17-094, Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (R35), in December 2016, we opened the established investigator MIRA mechanism to all NIGMS grantees whose single-PI R01-equivalent grants were set to terminate in the same or subsequent fiscal year as the MIRA application. The purpose of this post is to remind you of important points to keep in mind if you are eligible to apply for a MIRA. Before applying, we strongly encourage you to contact your program director, who can advise you on whether MIRA is the best funding program for you and can help estimate a project budget if your application does well in peer review.

Some key points to know if you are considering applying for a MIRA grant:

  • Your consistent and sustained history of support from NIGMS is a major determinant of an award level.
  • For well-funded investigators, an award will likely be somewhat lower than your current/recent total budget in recognition of the stability, flexibility, decrease in administrative burden, and increased length of award that the MIRA provides.
  • It’s very difficult for most investigators to keep multiple R01s funded simultaneously and we expect that it will become even harder to do so in the future. In general, because NIGMS prioritizes funding for meritorious investigators who otherwise would not have support over providing additional grants to already well-funded investigators, the Institute is unlikely to award more than two R01s to a PI. Thus, for well-funded PIs, even with budget reductions relative to past funding levels, MIRA is likely to provide better and more stable support in the long run than trying to keep multiple R01s going.
  • In general, if your current total research support from NIGMS is between $250,000 and $400,000 in direct costs, your award may be about the same, reduced, or slightly increased.
  • If your current NIGMS research funding is less than $250,000, you might expect an amount similar to or even higher than this level. One of our goals for MIRA is to raise the median award level relative to what it is for our R01s to reverse losses due to inflation over the past decade for investigators who have been supported by a single, modular NIGMS R01.
  • Because every situation is different, our budget determinations are done with a great deal of consideration and on a case-by-case basis.
  • As an example, if you had three concurrently active NIGMS R01s in 2 or 3 of the last 5 years, but only two were active in the past year, we are not likely to consider your recent NIGMS funding history to be three R01s. Similarly, if you have grants in long no-cost extensions prior to submitting your MIRA application, their past budgets are not likely to be included in our calculations.
  • The budgets for non-NIGMS grants will not be included when calculating your funding history. MIRA grants are not intended to take the place of research support you have from other sources.
  • The Institute’s budget, which can change from year to year, is a consideration in making funding decisions and setting award levels.
  • MIRA provides support for a program of research in your lab that is relevant to the mission of NIGMS. It cannot be used to support work that is outside NIGMS’ research areas. If you have questions about the appropriateness of the research for NIGMS, discuss it with your program director.
  • To apply for a MIRA you must have at least one single-PI R01; if all your NIGMS grants are multi-PI awards, you are not eligible to apply for MIRA.
  • While the MIRA mechanism is advantageous for most NIGMS grantees, it is not the best mechanism if your current support is largely obtained through multi-PI grants, or if your focus is solely on technology development. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your program director before you apply.
  • Finally, read the MIRA FOA carefully and refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any additional MIRA questions, contact the program director for your current grant(s).

Webinar for MARC U-STAR Program Applicants

Wed, 2018-03-07 14:09

If you’re preparing an institutional MARC Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U-STAR) grant application for the May 24 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Tuesday, March 27, 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll answer your questions about the MARC U-STAR funding opportunity announcement and data tables. You may send questions 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 621 811 686 and the password “MARC2018.” If you are unable to attend online, you can join by phone by calling 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you about the MARC U-STAR program.

Requesting Your Input on the Draft NIH Strategic Plan for Data Science

Mon, 2018-03-05 11:06

To capitalize on the opportunities presented by advances in data science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is developing a Strategic Plan for Data Science. This plan describes NIH’s overarching goals, strategic objectives, and implementation tactics for promoting the modernization of the NIH-funded biomedical data science ecosystem. As part of the planning process, NIH has published a draft of the strategic plan [PDF 490KB], along with a Request for Information to seek input from stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, academic institutions, the private sector, health professionals, professional societies, advocacy groups, patient communities, as well as other interested members of the public.

As co-chair of the NIH Scientific Data Council, which is overseeing development of the Strategic Plan for Data Science, I encourage your comments and suggestions. Responses should be submitted via an online form by April 2, 2018.

Funding Opportunity for Development of Training Modules to Enhance the Rigor and Reproducibility of Biomedical Research

Wed, 2018-02-28 14:09

It’s crucial that the results of NIH-supported biomedical research are reproducible, unbiased, and properly validated. Establishment and use of rigorous and reproducible approaches require appropriate and sustained training of researchers and students. In 2014, we announced a funding opportunity to develop, pilot, and disseminate training modules to enhance data reproducibility. The products of these grants are posted on the NIGMS website as they become available, together with other relevant training modules about conducting rigorous and reproducible research.

We’ve just reissued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to support the development of additional training modules in three areas that build upon and extend those targeted through the previous FOA. The three new areas of emphasis are: 1) How scientific culture, organization, and incentives influence the rigor and reproducibility of biomedical research; 2) Good laboratory practices and record keeping; 3) Advanced experimental design and analysis.

The application deadline is June 29, 2018. Applicants may request up to $250,000 in direct costs to cover the entire award period (up to three years). More details can be found in the FOA or in the program’s Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have any questions about this FOA or the training modules, please contact me.

NIGMS Rigor and Reproducibility Working Group

Alexandra Ainsztein, Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Erica Brown, Division of Extramural Activities

Luis Cubano, Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity

Haluk Resat, Division of Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences

Lisa Dunbar, Office of Scientific Review

Kristine Willis, Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Dorit Zuk, Division of Genetics and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2017

Tue, 2018-02-27 16:07

NIGMS is committed to ensuring that taxpayers get the best possible returns on their investments in fundamental biomedical research [PDF 702KB]. As part of this commitment to stewardship [PDF 7.89MB], we regularly monitor trends in our funding portfolio.

We recognize the value of a diversified investment portfolio and approach our research investments in a similar fashion. Sustaining a broad and diverse portfolio of talented investigators is a central goal of the Institute, as a wide variety of research questions can be studied by an investigator pool that comprises many different backgrounds, fields, and skills. To monitor this, we track the “cumulative investigator rate,” which indicates the proportion of unique investigators actively seeking funding who had an NIGMS grant in a given Fiscal Year (FY). As shown in Figure 1, the number of investigators seeking support consistently increased between FY 2006 and 2014, but the number of NIGMS-funded investigators remained relatively unchanged over that same period. As a result, the cumulative investigator rate steadily decreased. Since FY 2014, the cumulative investigator rate has steadily increased, as the number of applicants seeking support has stabilized and the number of investigators receiving support has grown by 14%. Currently, 37.4% of investigators seeking R01/R35 funding from NIGMS received support in FY 2017.

View larger image Figure 1. Number of NIGMS R01/R35 Applicants, Awardees, and Cumulative Investigator Rates, FY 2006-2017. The number of investigators actively seeking NIGMS R01 and R35 support (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) increased steadily from FY 2006 to 2014 but has stabilized more recently. These applicants were defined as anyone who submitted a competing NIGMS R01 or R35 application in the fiscal year shown or any of the previous four fiscal years. The NIGMS R01 and R35 awardee counts (green squares, solid line; left axis) remained relatively stable from FY 2006 to 2014 and have increased somewhat over the past three years. As a result, the NIGMS cumulative investigator rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis) declined from FY 2006 to 2014 but has begun to recover since then.

As part of our commitment to a diverse portfolio, we also emphasize support for the next generation of biomedical researchers. Supporting early stage investigators (ESIs), as well as maintaining stable support for investigators through their critical first renewals, is essential to maintaining a vibrant research community. As shown in Figure 2, the number of ESIs receiving their first competing NIGMS major research project grant has increased in the last two years. This is due, in part, to interest in our Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) R35 grant program which includes a funding opportunity for early stage investigators. As we move forward, we will continue to track the stability of support for investigators across all stages of their research careers.

View larger image Figure 2. Number of NIGMS Competing R01/R35/DP2 ESI Awardees, FY 2009-2017. The number of unique R01, R35, and DP2 ESIs (blue bars) receiving their first major NIH research project grant from NIGMS has typically been 90-110 a year since introduction of the ESI designation in 2009. Over the last two years, NIGMS has made more awards to ESIs, many of whom are supported on the MIRA program.

In addition, we track more traditional measures of our grants portfolio, such as the success rate [PDF, 185KB], calculated as the number of applications funded divided by the number of unique project proposals received. As shown in Figure 3, the NIGMS research project grants (RPGs) success rate for FY 2017 was 30.7%, a percentage point higher than the success rate in FY 2016. We received slightly fewer competing applications in FY 2017 than 2016, and made nearly the same number of awards, resulting in a similar success rate. This marks the third year in a row that success rates have remained relatively stable since their lowest point in FY 2013. MIRA applications and grants are included in these counts for RPGs.

View larger image Figure 3. Number of NIGMS Competing RPG Applications, Funded Competing RPGs, and Success Rates for RPGs, FY 2006-2017. NIGMS RPG applications (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) decreased slightly from FY 2016 to 2017. Meanwhile, NIGMS-funded RPGs (green squares, solid line; left axis) remained stable in FY 2017 relative to FY 2016. As a result, the NIGMS RPG success rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis) increased slightly when compared with FY 2016.

As noted above, changes in the numbers of both competing applications and awards influence our success rate. The number of competing applications submitted is largely driven by the research community, although the increasing percentage of investigators with funding since FY 2014 (Figure 1) could have led to a decrease in the number of people submitting applications. In addition, researchers funded through the MIRA program do not submit additional research grant applications to NIGMS, which will lead over time to a decrease in applications. The number of competing grants awarded is affected by our funding policies, budget, and existing commitments to active grants. As stated in our 2015 Strategic Plan [PDF 702KB], we have been making efforts to bolster support for investigator-initiated research and for individual researchers through careful consideration of our portfolio and funding policies.

As mentioned in our previous funding trends posts, we do not use a strict percentile cutoff (“payline”) to make funding decisions. Instead, we take a variety of factors into account, including peer review scores, summary statements, the relevance of the research area to the Institute’s mission, overall portfolio diversity, and an applicant’s other research support. As a result, a significant number of applications each year are in the “fundable” range, as shown in the funding plots in Figures 4 and 5. In FY 2017, approximately 50% of applications that scored at the 24th percentile were funded, identical to the value in FY 2016 (Figure 4). As with last year, a number of well-scoring R01 applications went unfunded, in part due to NIGMS policies on support for research in well-funded laboratories and funding for investigators with substantial unrestricted support. In general, a well-scoring application for an investigator’s third R01 will be a lower priority for funding than a meritorious application for another investigator’s only grant.

Similar figures are not shown for the MIRA program, as applications are not percentiled and the program is still in its early phases. NIGMS has been carefully monitoring the MIRA program and communicating its findings via regular Feedback Loop posts and will continue to do so.

View larger image Figure 4. Percentage of Applications Funded Within Each Percentile for Competing NIGMS R01 Applications, FY 2013-2017. Curves are smoothed by including applications two points above and below the percentile value shown. The percentile at which 50% of the applications were funded for FY 2017 (solid orange line) is near the 24th percentile, as compared with the 24th in FY 2016 (long-dashed green line) and the 24th in FY 2015 (medium-dashed blue line). FY 2016 had a lower proportion of funded applications below the 10th percentile.
View larger image Figure 5. Funding Distribution of Competing NIGMS R01 Applications by Percentile, FY 2017. Funded grants (solid green bars) generally follow the funding curve pattern demonstrated in Figure 4, with unfunded applications (striped black-and-white bars) constituting the remainder of the overall uniform distribution of application percentiles.

In FY 2018, NIGMS has been operating under a continuing resolution , meaning that our budget is at a similar level to FY 2017. During this time, we are following current guidance as it relates to issuance of awards. However, we continue to use every analytical tool at our disposal to ensure that we maximize scientific returns on taxpayers’ investments by supporting a vibrant and diverse portfolio of outstanding fundamental biomedical research.

Webinar on NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant Program in Basic Biomedical Sciences

Mon, 2018-02-26 08:17

If you’re preparing an application for the NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant (T32) program for the May 25 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, March 5, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. ET.

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of the new funding opportunity announcement and answer any questions you may have. You can send questions before the webinar or post them in the chat box during the event.

To join the webinar, visit the WebEx Meeting page and enter the meeting number 627 943 381 and the password W7pyYXW4. If you are unable to attend online, you can join by phone by calling 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the meeting number above.

NIGMS Staff Participating in the March 5 Webinar:

Jon Lorsch, Director
Alison Gammie, Director, Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity
Shiva Singh, Chief, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch
John Laffan and Lisa Newman, Scientific Review Officers
Lisa Moeller, Grants Management Officer

We look forward to talking to you about the NIGMS-sponsored T32 program.

The Diversity Program Consortium – Open Competitions for Phase II

Fri, 2018-02-16 14:59

We are pleased to announce that NIH Leadership has granted clearance for the second, final phase of the Diversity Program Consortium (DPC), a national program that is part of a larger, trans-NIH effort to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce. To accomplish this goal, the DPC takes a scientific approach to evaluating training and mentoring interventions. Two components of the second phase will be open competitions: the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and the DPC Dissemination and Translation Awards (DPC-DaTA). The DPC-DaTA grants will allow sites that are not currently part of the DPC to implement sustainable training, mentoring, or research-capacity building interventions using DPC evaluation methods. NIH intends to release the DPC-DaTA FOAs in 2019.

The NRMN funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) were released on February 16, 2018. They include:

  • The Science of Mentoring and Networking (U01) (RFA-RM-18-004). Applicants may submit proposals for research projects in the following areas: 1) The Science of Mentorship, 2) Professional Networking, or 3) Navigating Critical Career Transition Points. Using randomized control trial approaches, case controls, matched pair designs, or other rigorous designs, applicants will explore their research questions and contribute to building the knowledge base to inform the scientific community about their thematic area.
  • NRMN Coordination Center (U24) (RFA-RM-18-003). One service award will be granted to develop an NRMN Coordinating Center. This Center will build upon and improve the current NRMN Administrative Core and work in conjunction with the Center for Evaluation and Coordination (CEC). It will coordinate trans-NRMN activities, and provide infrastructure and expertise surrounding data collection, storage, de-identification, and reporting.
  • NRMN Resource Center (U24) (RFA-RM-18-002). One service award will be granted for an NRMN Resource Center. This center will be analogous to the current U54 Mentorship and Networking Core and will provide a web-based mentoring tool to facilitate real-time mentor/mentee engagement. It will also oversee management of the NRMN website and serve as a platform for publicly available mentoring resources and tools.

Two components of the DPC for the second phase will be limited competitions. The Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) (U54) (NOT-RM-18-005) will allow meritorious sites to complete their BUILD experiments. Review will include a focus on site-specific and consortium-wide experiments, and emphasize sustainability and dissemination. The Center for Evaluation and Coordination (CEC) (U54) (NOT-RM-18-006) will allow for uninterrupted data collection. The review will focus on the current center’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing for improvements and course corrections. Sustainability and dissemination will be emphasized.

Contact for questions? Mercedes Rubio for NRMN inquiries, Anissa Brown for BUILD inquiries, Michael Sesma for CEC inquiries, and Alison Gammie for DPC-DaTA inquiries.

Discontinuing Our Participation in the NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31) Program

Mon, 2018-02-05 10:58

We recently issued an NIH Guide notice informing the community that we will discontinue participation in the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31) (PA-16-309). As stated in the notice, we will not accept new or resubmission applications for this program, and its subsequent reissuances, starting with the April 8, 2018, receipt date. We will continue to accept NRSA Individual Predoctoral Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31) (PA-16-308) and NRSA Individual Predoctoral MD/PhD or Other Dual-Doctoral Degree Fellowships for Students at Institutions Without NIH-Funded Institutional Predoctoral Dual-Degree Training Programs (F30) (PA-16-306). This decision does not affect those F31 (parent) applicants who have already received an award from NIGMS or whose applications have already been received by NIH and have been reviewed or are currently pending review.

NIGMS supports approximately 3,000 graduate students on our T32 training grants in basic biomedical sciences disciplines and the Medical Scientist Training Program each year. This investment represents nearly half of the total number of graduate student T32 NRSA slots that NIH as a whole funds. We feel that T32 grants supporting early-stage, fundamental training for graduate students provide NIGMS with its biggest impact on biomedical research training because they positively influence programs and institutions as a whole, rather than simply supporting individual trainees. Because the T32 and F31 programs necessarily compete for funding with each other, in order to limit negative effects on our graduate student T32 grants, our investment in the parent F31 awards has been very limited since Fiscal Year 2014 when the Institute was first required to participate in the parent F31 fellowship program. Thus, we have made only 86 F31 (parent) awards to date, and over 90% of these awards went to individuals at institutions with at least one NIGMS predoctoral T32 grant. In fact, the average number of NIGMS predoctoral T32 training grants held by institutions that received at least one NIGMS F31 (parent) award was nearly four, and institutions that received three or more NIGMS F31 (parent) awards had, on average, over six NIGMS predoctoral T32 grants. Given the tight budget and correspondingly low success rate (~9.6%) for these fellowships, along with the fact that most institutions receiving them were already well-supported by NIGMS predoctoral training grants, we concluded that the F31 (parent) program was not serving our community well, and the Institute made the decision to refocus these resources on supporting additional graduate students through NRSA T32 Institutional Predoctoral Training Grants.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Webinar for RISE Program Applicants

Thu, 2018-01-25 10:34

If you’re preparing an institutional Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) grant application for the May 25 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Wednesday, February 7, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. ET.

During the webinar, we’ll answer your questions about the RISE funding opportunity announcement and data tables. You may send questions before the webinar or post them in the chat box during the event.

To join the webinar, visit the WebEx Meeting page and enter the meeting number 628 101 292 and the password PcyVj2JT. If you are unable to attend online, you can join by phone by calling 1-650-479-3208 from anywhere in the United States or Canada and entering the meeting number above.

We look forward to talking to you about the RISE program.

We Asked, You Responded: Community Input on Enhancing the Medical Scientist Training Program

Tue, 2018-01-23 11:45

Continuing our efforts to help modernize graduate education, we sought input from the community through a Request for Information (RFI) on strategies to enhance our physician-scientist training grants to medical schools across the country. These grants, funded through the Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant (T32) Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), provide M.D.-Ph.D. dual degree students with an integrated program of biomedical sciences and clinical training. The RFI was open from June 9 to August 9, 2017. There were 16 themes in the RFI that were broadly binned into the following categories:

  • Trainees (e.g., time of recruitment to the MSTP, diversity of the applicant pool, and selection criteria)
  • Financing/funding (e.g., how different M.D.-Ph.D. funding models influence the range of institutions that apply for MSTP support, the pool of trainees, and the trainees’ commitment to research careers)
  • Dual-degree training (e.g., time-to-degree, integration of curriculum, training areas, mentoring, and career advising)
  • NIGMS management of MSTP grants (e.g., size, number, and distribution of training programs; evaluation of outcomes; and peer review)

A total of 253 unique responders submitted comments through an online form, the Feedback Loop blog, and direct email to NIGMS staff. Most responses were anonymous, but the content indicated that they were submitted by current and former M.D.-Ph.D. students, faculty, institutions, and professional societies. Not everyone provided feedback on all 16 areas, however, on average each respondent provided input on 10 themes resulting in a total of more than 2,500 comments (Figure 1).

View larger imageFigure 1. Number of Comments Received Across the Themes of the MSTP RFI

Given the volume and richness of these responses, we did our best to distill down the comments in the summary report. We appreciate the thoughtful and thorough feedback provided to us through this RFI. These comments will inform us as we develop a new MSTP funding announcement that would incorporate MSTP-specific training needs and align with the new funding announcement for non-MSTP predoctoral training programs funded by NIGMS.


Mon, 2018-01-22 11:13
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Wanted: Program Director, Biochemistry and Bio-related Chemistry Branch

Fri, 2018-01-12 17:05

We’re recruiting for an accomplished scientist with experience in the chemical sciences to join the Biochemistry and Bio-related Chemistry Branch (BBC) of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC).  The successful applicant will have responsibility for both scientific and administrative management of a portfolio of grants (both research and training) and fellowships, to include:  stimulating, planning, advising, directing, and evaluating program activities for the portfolio of research awards.

The BBC Branch in PPBC Division supports basic research in areas of biochemistry, bio-related chemistry, and the glycosciences. This position will include stewardship of grant awards related to creation of new synthetic methodologies, biosynthesis and structure of macromolecules, synthesis of natural products, development of novel medicinal agents and mimics of macromolecular function, and/or the chemical basis of regulation and catalytic properties of enzymes.

Applicants should have expertise in chemistry, chemical biology, biological chemistry, or biochemistry, and should have experience in applications of chemistry to biological systems and/or therapeutics (for example, organic synthesis and methodology; biological catalysis and regulation; biotechnology, biosynthesis and bioengineering; or chemical tools for manipulation of biological systems).  Candidates should also have outstanding written and oral communication skills.

The position is included in the global recruitment for Health Scientist Administrators.  The vacancy will only be open for five days, beginning on January 22, 2018.  Do not hesitate to ask questions about this position or the recruitment process.  In preparing an application, Applying for Scientific Administration Jobs at NIGMS may offer other useful information.

Not looking to become a Health Scientist Administrator right now?  Please help us out by forwarding this information to others who might be interested in this opportunity.

Wanted: Developmental and Cellular Processes Branch Chief

Fri, 2018-01-12 15:22

We’re recruiting for an outstanding individual to serve as branch chief within our Division of Genetics and Developmental Biology (GDB). This person will oversee the scientific and administrative management of the Developmental and Cellular Processes (DCP) Branch and will be responsible for advising, directing, and evaluating program activities for a portfolio of research grants in one of the branch areas.

The GDB Division supports research into the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie inheritance, gene expression, and development. The DCP Branch focuses on the genetic and biochemical pathways that cells utilize in development and in normal physiological processes. The research supported by the branch spans the spectrum from the genetic basis of development and cell function to biochemical signaling pathways that underlie normal cell physiology. Candidates should have expertise in any area of research supported by the branch. Familiarity with NIH extramural funding as an applicant, reviewer, or NIH scientific administrator is a plus, and outstanding written and oral communication skills are essential.

This position is included in the global recruitment for Health Science administrators which will only be open for a few days beginning on January 22, 2018. For additional information about this position, see the announcement on the NIGMS website. In preparing an application, Applying for Scientific Administration Jobs at NIGMS may offer other useful information.

Not looking for a position right now? Please help us out by forwarding this information to others who might be interested in this opportunity.

Contact Information:

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