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Application, Review, Funding, and Demographic Trends for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Awards (MIRA): FY 2016-2018

Fri, 2019-02-22 14:00

NIGMS has made MIRA awards to Established Investigators (EI) and Early-Stage Investigators (ESI) for three full Fiscal Years (FY). In this Feedback Loop post, we provide an analysis of application, review, funding, and demographic trends for the MIRA program.

For the first two rounds of EI MIRAs, eligibility was limited to well-funded NIGMS investigators: PIs with two or more NIGMS R01-equivalent awards or one NIGMS R01-equivalent award for >$400,000 in direct costs. For the FY 2018 EI competition and beyond, eligibility was expanded to include any investigator with a single PD/PI NIGMS R01-equivalent that is up for renewal. For the FY 2016 ESI MIRA competition, ESIs and New Investigators (NI) at the assistant professor or equivalent level were eligible, whereas eligibility was restricted to ESIs in subsequent rounds. As always, a PI can apply for an extension of ESI status for various life and career events, including childbirth.

Table 1 shows the number of awards made and associated success rates by fiscal year for EIs and ESIs.

.entry-content table { border: 0px } .entry-content tr { border: 0px } .entry-content th { color: black; font-size: 15px; font-weight: bold; letter-spacing: normal; line-height: 1.625em; text-transform: none } .entry-content table, th, td { border-spacing: 0; border-collapse: collapse; padding: 0.25em; text-align: center } .entry-content td { border: 1px solid black; } .entry-content caption { font-weight: bold; padding: 0.5em } Table 1. Number of MIRAs Funded by Fiscal Year and Cohort (Success Rate) FY Established Investigators Early-Stage Investigators 2016 136 (76.0%) 93* (29.1%) 2017 95 (68.3%) 100 (28.8%) 2018 115 (50.2%) 112 (36.8%)   *FY 2016 ESI MIRA includes 27 awards to Non-Early-Stage New Investigators.

Because the EI MIRA applications generally proposed continuations of research programs, we compared them to R01 renewal applications during the same time period. As shown in Table 2, the EI MIRA success rates are much higher than the success rates for R01 renewal applications.

Table 2. Number of NIGMS R01 Renewals and EI MIRAs (Success Rate) FY R01 Renewals Established Investigator MIRA 2016 390 (40.0%) 136 (76.0%) 2017 332 (40.1%) 95 (68.3%) 2018 259 (44.1%) 115 (50.2%)

Overall, ESI MIRAs had a significantly higher success rate over the last 3 years (31.4%) compared to the ESI R01s (25.7%). The ESI MIRA success rate was also substantially higher than the success rate for all new (non-renewal) NIGMS R01s during the same time period.

Table 3. Number of NIGMS New R01s, ESI R01s, and ESI MIRAs (Success Rate) FY New R01s: ESI only All New R01s ESI MIRAs 2016 83 (23.1%) 443 (18.1%) 93* (29.1%) 2017 113 (30.2%) 538 (21.3%) 100 (28.8%) 2018 79 (23.6%) 508 (20.8%) 112 (36.8%)   *FY 2016 ESI MIRA includes 27 awards to Non-Early-Stage New Investigators.

Over the last 3 fiscal years, 1,890 investigators were eligible for the EI MIRA program, and 516 (27%) of those eligible chose to apply. For well-funded investigators who had >$400,000 in NIGMS direct costs for their research prior to applying for MIRA, their MIRA budgets were on average 12% lower than their previous level of NIGMS research support. In exchange, MIRA provides a longer funding period (5 years instead of 4), increased funding stability and scientific flexibility, and reduced administrative burden. This trade-off made it possible for the Institute to fund a larger number of PIs and enabled us to increase the budgets for most ESI MIRAs relative to what the PIs would have received with an R01 (median annual direct costs of $250,000 vs. $210,000, respectively). In addition, we are working to generally give established PIs with only one modular R01 who convert to MIRAs budgets of at least $250,000 in order to mitigate some of the losses to inflation that have occurred over the past 15 years. In this manner, the MIRA program has contributed to two key strategic objectives of NIGMS [PDF 702KB]: Investing in and sustaining a broad and diverse portfolio of highly meritorious research, and promoting the ability of investigators to pursue new research directions, novel scientific insights, and innovative ideas. More information on MIRA budgets can be found in our recent Feedback Loop post on factors to consider when applying for an EI MIRA and in the FAQs for the ESI and EI MIRA programs.

In addition to scientific diversity, NIGMS monitors other factors contributing to the breadth of its portfolio, including demographic and geographic diversity. Over all three rounds of MIRA, men submitted 71% of ESI applications and 77% of EI applications (among applicants whose gender was reported). The skewed gender distributions in ESI and EI applicants is, unfortunately, consistent with NIH-wide trends and faculty demographics (e.g., Hechtman et al., 2018 ; Valantine et al., 2016 ). Across all six MIRA cohorts, no significant differences were observed between men and women in the fraction of applications reviewed (some applications are not reviewed if the proposal is outside of the NIGMS mission, the investigator is ineligible, or the application is incomplete), the mean impact scores, or the success rates (Table 4). The fraction of applications discussed during review was also not significantly different in five of the six cohorts, although a significantly greater percentage of applications from women than men were discussed in the FY 2018 EI cohort (87% vs. 69%, p = 0.01).

Table 4. Review Process by Gender, ESI and EI MIRA   ESI MIRA EI MIRA   2016 2017 2018 2016 2017 2018 Percentage of Applications Received: Men 73% 70% 71% 80% 75% 77% Percentage of Applications Received: Women 27% 30% 29% 20% 25% 23% P-value NA NA NA NA NA NA Percentage of Received Applications Reviewed: Men 79% 85% 89% 99% 93% 91% Percentage of Received Applications Reviewed: Women 79% 90% 85% 94% 97% 88% P-value p = 1.0 p = 0.15 p = 0.46 p = 0.18 p = 0.45 p = 0.62 Percentage of Reviewed Applications Discussed: Men 54% 54% 54% 100% 100% 69% Percentage of Reviewed Applications Discussed: Women 46% 54% 57% 100% 100% 87% P-value p = 0.31 p = 1.0 p = 0.60 p = 1.0 p = 1.0 p = 0.01 Mean Impact Scores: Men 40.0 39.2 33.6 27.1 27.4 36.9 Mean Impact Scores: Women 39.2 39.2 32.3 28.1 29.1 34.9 P-value p = 0.73 p = 0.97 p = 0.56 p = 0.72 p = 0.49 p = 0.45 Percentage of Reviewed Applications Awarded: Men 30% 29% 38% 77% 66% 47% Percentage of Reviewed Applications Awarded: Women 25% 30% 38% 73% 74% 62% P-value p = 0.48 p = 1.0 p = 1.0 p = 0.65 p = 0.40 p = 0.08

Analysis of the review process as a function of race/ethnicity groups, on the other hand, did reveal some significant differences in review rates, average scores, and success rates. We focus first on White and Asian investigators, who comprised over 85% of MIRA applicants. Applications from White investigators were reviewed significantly more often than those from Asian investigators in all three ESI cohorts, as well as the combined ESI cohort, but not in either the individual or combined EI cohorts (Table 5; statistically significant values are highlighted in red). Applications proposing research outside the NIGMS mission accounted for a strong majority of the non-reviewed ESI applications while most of the remaining applications in this category came from investigators who were not eligible at the time they applied or from investigators who received other funding after applying for MIRA, thus becoming ineligible before the MIRA application was reviewed. The main driver of the differing review rates between Whites and Asians was the higher rate at which applications from Asian investigators were determined to be outside of the NIGMS mission. Because of this observation, in FY 2017 NIGMS began using a blinded initial assessment of whether an application for MIRA was within the Institute’s mission. This assessment was based on the application title and abstract, excluding the investigator’s name and institution, and was made independently by two program directors. Any recommendations to decline an application were then reviewed by the relevant NIGMS division director and NIGMS leadership using the full application, if necessary. Because the difference in review rates between White and Asian applicants persisted after these new procedures were instituted, beginning with the FY 2018 ESI cohort, the likelihood of an application’s relevance to the NIGMS mission was assessed initially by machine learning tools using only the titles, abstracts, and specific aims of funded NIH R01s as a training set, followed by a blinded process similar to that used in 2017. The results of the machine learning tools largely corresponded with subsequent human assessment. Despite these steps to mitigate potential bias in determining if an application falls within the mission of the Institute, there continued to be a significant difference in review rates between Whites and Asians in the FY 2018 ESI MIRA cohort, suggesting that factors other than bias are responsible for the disparity. We will continue monitoring these outcomes and using a similar multi-tiered process as described above in evaluating applications for relevance to NIGMS’ mission.

Table 5. Review Rate, Whites and Asians   Whites Asians Fisher p-value Individual Cohorts Fisher p-value Combined Cohorts ESI 2016 84.1 73 0.02 ESI combined: 0.00004 ESI 2017 89.9 80.2 0.02 ESI 2018 92.5 82.6 0.02 EI 2016 97.9 100 1.0 EI combined: 0.66 EI 2017 93.6 88.9 0.41 EI 2018 90.6 89.8 0.79

Some differences in average scores between White and Asian investigators were also observed. For the FY 2016 ESI MIRA cohort, Asians had a mean priority score 5.5 points higher (worse) than Whites, which was a statistically-significant difference (Table 6), although this disparity was not observed in the FY 2017 or 2018 cohorts nor in the combined FY 2016-2018 group. When the non-ESI NIs are excluded from the FY 2016 cohort, the mean score for Whites increases by half a point (38.3) whereas the mean score for Asians is unchanged (43.3), a difference that is no longer statistically significant (p = 0.11). Thus, some of the score

Table 6. Mean Scores, Whites and Asians   Whites Asians Wilcoxon p-value Individual Cohorts Wilcoxon p-value Combined Cohorts ESI 2016* 37.8 43.3 0.028 0.23 ESI 2017 40.0 38.1 0.44 ESI 2018 32.2 33.1 0.79 EI 2016 26.2 31.9 0.09 0.01 EI 2017 26.4 32.4 0.07 EI 2018 35.6 37.6 0.44   *FY 2016 ESI MIRA includes 27 awards to Non-Early-Stage New Investigators.

disparity between White and Asian applicants in the FY 2016 cohort could have been driven by more senior NIs who were eligible in that round, but not in subsequent rounds, and were more competitive on average than ESIs because of their more advanced career stage. In all three of the EI MIRA cohorts, the mean score for Asian applicants was higher (2-6 points) than for White applicants. Although these differences did not reach statistical significance in any individual cohort, there is a significant difference for the combined FY 2016-2018 group.

Success rates largely tracked these scores differences, with a significant difference in the ESI FY 2016 cohort but not for any other individual or combined ESI cohort (Table 7). By contrast, success rates were higher for Whites than Asians in each individual EI MIRA FY cohort and, although the difference in the combined cohort was only marginally statistically significant, if future cohorts follow the same trend it would likely become more significant. We are working to understand the sources for these observed disparities, which have also been noted in studies of NIH-wide R01 funding (Ginther et al., 2016 ).

Table 7. Percentage of Reviewed Applications Awarded, Whites and Asians   Whites Asians Fisher p-value Individual Cohorts Fisher p-value Combined Cohorts ESI 2016* 36.1% 18.5% 0.003 0.06 ESI 2017 25.8% 25.8% 1.0 ESI 2018 37.2% 36.8% 1.0 EI 2016 78.3% 72.4% 0.48 0.08 EI 2017 71.8% 58.3% 0.22 EI 2018 53.4% 45.5% 0.40   *FY 2016 ESI MIRA includes 27 awards to Non-Early-Stage New Investigators, who were eligible for ESI MIRA in FY 2016 but not in subsequent years.

The remaining MIRA applications were received from investigators whose race/ethnicity is Hispanic; Black or African-American; American Indian or Alaska Native; and from investigators with multiple, unknown, or withheld race/ethnicity. Because of the small number of investigators in these groups, it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons at this stage, and privacy considerations prohibit presenting the data for individual groups and cohorts. Therefore, we present the data for Hispanic, Black or African-American, and American Indian or Alaska Native investigators collectively (as “underrepresented”) in comparison to the combination of White and Asian investigators (“well-represented”).

Well-represented investigators were reviewed more frequently (86% vs. 71%) than underrepresented investigators in the ESI FY 2017 cohort (Table 8). No statistically significant differences were found in the other five individual cohorts nor in either combined cohort.

Table 8. Percentage of Applications Reviewed, Well-Represented vs Underrepresented   Applications Received, Well-represented Applications Received, Under- represented Applications Reviewed, Well-represented Applications Reviewed, Under- represented Wilcoxon p-value Individual Cohorts Wilcoxon p-value Combined Cohorts ESI FY 2016 340 26 272 (80%) 22 (85%) 0.8 0.07 ESI FY 2017 314 34 271 (86%) 24 (71%) 0.02 ESI FY 2018 278 28 248 (89%) 22 (79%) 0.12 EI FY 2016 170 < 11 167 (98%) < 11 (> 80%) 0.13 0.24 EI FY 2017 137 < 11 127 (93%) < 11 (> 90%) 1 EI FY 2018 229 16 207 (90%) 14 (88%) 0.66

For ESI applicants, comparison of mean scores showed no significant differences between well-represented and underrepresented investigators in any individual FY cohort nor in the combined cohort (Table 9). For EI applicants, well-represented investigators scored significantly better than underrepresented investigators in the FY 2016, FY 2017, and combined cohorts (Table 9).

Table 9. Mean Scores, Well-Represented vs Underrepresented   Mean Impact Score, Well-Represented Mean Impact Score, Underrepresented Wilcoxon p-value Individual Cohorts Wilcoxon p-value Combined Cohorts ESI FY 2016 39.5 36.3 0.44 0.63 ESI FY 2017 39.3 37.9 0.65 ESI FY 2018 32.5 33.5 0.77 EI FY 2016 27.2 43.2 0.02 0.004 EI FY 2017 27.5 21.3 0.34 EI FY 2018 36.0 50.3 0.008

Turning to success rate, no statistically significant differences were found in any individual or combined FY cohorts for ESIs (Table 10). Consistent with the scores shown in Table 9, the success rate for well-represented EIs was significantly higher than for underrepresented EIs for the FY 2018 cohort (Table 10) and for the combined EI cohort (65% vs. 32%)

Table 10. Percentage of Reviewed Applications Awarded, Well-Represented vs Underrepresented   Well-Represented Underrepresented Fisher p-value Individual Cohorts Fisher p-value Combined Cohorts ESI FY 2016 30% 23% 0.63 0.59 ESI FY 2017 26% 38% 0.23 ESI FY 2018 37% 41% 0.82 EI FY 2016 77% 40% 0.09 0.003 EI FY 2017 69% 67% 1 EI FY 2018 52% 21% 0.05

A comparison of the mean ages of the ESI MIRA cohorts and the ESI R01 cohorts from the corresponding years is shown in Table 11. All three ESI MIRA cohorts have a lower average age than their matched ESI R01 cohorts. This difference is statistically significant for the FY 2017 cohort and for the combined cohort, but not for the FY 2016 and 2018 cohorts. This age difference is reflected in the mean ages of applicants for ESI MIRA and NIGMS ESI R01 grants in the FY 2017, FY 2018, and combined cohorts (Table 11) suggesting that the MIRA program is encouraging people to apply sooner than they would for an R01. In addition to encouraging investigators to apply earlier, the MIRA program also appears to be selecting people for earlier awards, as shown by the lower average age of ESI MIRA awardees than ESI MIRA applicants in the combined cohort. The overall decrease in average age observed for the ESI MIRA program relative to ESI R01 awardees represents a step toward an NIH-wide goal of reducing the average age at which investigators receive their first major award.

Table 11. Mean Age (Years) by Cohort   ESI MIRA Applicants ESI R01 Applicants Fisher p-value Applicants ESI MIRA Awardees ESI R01 Awardees Fisher p-value Awardees FY 2016* 38.8 38.8 0.82 37.5 38.3 0.17 FY 2017 37.6 38.7 0.00003 36.7 38.3 0.0009 FY 2018 37.8 39.0 0.0008 37.7 38.7 0.25 Combined 38.1 38.8 0.00001 37.3 38.4 0.00008   *FY 2016 ESI MIRA includes 27 awards to Non-Early-Stage New Investigators, who were eligible for ESI MIRA in FY 2016 but not in subsequent years.

Finally, we examined the geographic distribution of MIRAs. The Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program is intended to build research capacity in states that have had historically low NIH funding levels. Figure 1 shows the number of ESI and EI MIRAs (FY 2016-2018) in each state, with IDeA states highlighted in blue (note: the Institute has already made some EI MIRA awards in FY 2019, but these are not reflected in the map or the data above). Of the 23 states and one territory in the IDeA program, 16 have at least one MIRA. Investigators in IDeA states comprised a much larger fraction of applicants to the ESI MIRA program (11%) than to the EI MIRA program (4%). In both groups, the IDeA state investigators’ success rate was not significantly different from non-IDeA state investigators. A total of 14 EIs and 27 ESIs in IDeA states received MIRAs over FY 2016-2018. Thus, investigators in all but 8 states have MIRAs.

Figure 1: ESI vs. EI MIRA Awards by State or U.S. Territory

As MIRAs become an increasingly large fraction of our research portfolio (from 7.8% of R01-equivalents in FY 2016 to 16.0% in FY 2018), we will continue to monitor these trends and other outcomes measures to help evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Apply to SCISIPBIO: A Joint Initiative Between NIGMS and NSF to Support Research on the Science of Science and Innovation Policy

Mon, 2019-02-11 11:04

We are pleased to announce the Science of Science Policy Approach to Analyzing and Innovating the Biomedical Research Enterprise (SCISIPBIO)  program, a joint initiative between NIGMS and the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) program  in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The longstanding SciSIP program funds research designed to advance the scientific basis of science and innovation policy and is a leader in this field.

The NIGMS-NSF SCISIPBIO program was established to support research that advances the scientific basis of science and innovation policy, with a focus on the biomedical sciences. Consistent with NSF’s SciSIP program, SCISIPBIO will fund the development of models, analytical tools, data, and metrics that can inform science policy and the optimization of the scientific enterprise. As the goals of the two programs are compatible and complementary, coordinated management and funding of a joint research program will have a synergistic effect on the level and scope of research and can leverage the investments of both agencies.

We welcome individual and collaborative research projects and place a high priority on interdisciplinary research and on broadening participation. We aim to build a portfolio of high-quality research to provide scientific analysis of important aspects of the biomedical research enterprise and efforts to foster a diverse, innovative, productive, and efficient scientific workforce, from which future scientific leaders will emerge.

The SCISIPBIO solicitation  has just been published. Applications are due by May 8 and will be submitted to and reviewed by NSF. NIGMS will consider funding those applications that score well.

Webinar for Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) Program Applicants

Tue, 2019-02-05 11:16

Are you preparing an institutional Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) (T32) grant application? If so, please join us for a webinar about the program and the opportunity to ask questions:

Tuesday, March 26, 1:30-3:00 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.

Feel free to send your questions in advance to us (Luis Cubano or Anissa Brown) or post them live in the chat box during the event.

To access the webinar, visit the WebEx Meeting page and enter the meeting number 624 352 823 and the password GRISET32. If you’re 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 26 Webinar:

Anissa Brown, G-RISE Program Director
Luis Cubano, G-RISE Program Director
Stephanie Constant, Chief, Office of Scientific Review
Justin Rosenzweig, Grants Management Specialist

We look forward to talking to you about the G-RISE program. Slides will be posted on the RISE website following the event.

Webinar for NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant Program Applicants

Mon, 2019-01-28 11:38

If you’re preparing an application for the NIGMS Institutional Predoctoral Training Grant (T32) program in either the Basic Biomedical Sciences (PA-17-341) or the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) (PAR-19-036) for the May 25 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Monday, March 18, 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of our expectations for NIGMS-funded training grant applications, share our observations from the first round of review of new T32 applications in basic biomedical sciences, 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 626 141 685 and the password vPPwB3ZT. If you’re 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 18 Webinar:

Jon Lorsch, Director
Alison Gammie, Director, Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity
Shiva Singh, Chief, Undergraduate and Predoctoral Training Branch
Stephanie Constant, Chief, Office of Scientific Review

In addition, other NIGMS staff will be available to answer programmatic, review, and grants management questions.

We look forward to talking to you about the NIGMS-sponsored predoctoral T32 training programs. Slides and videos will be posted on the Predoctoral Training Grant website following the event.

Coming Soon: NIH Global Recruitment for Health Scientist Administrators

Thu, 2019-01-17 12:51

A global recruitment is a way NIH hires for common positions such as Health Scientist Administrators. NIH creates a single announcement in 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 the entire NIH will have access to your application. Most importantly, if your application is determined to be qualified for the recruitment, it may remain active for at least three months. This means that if NIGMS receives approval to recruit, our selecting officials will be able to view your application immediately.

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 grant/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. We encourage anyone with the required background who is interested in an SRO or PO position at NIGMS to apply to the global vacancy announcement for Health Scientist Administrators expected to open on January 22. By doing so, it will allow us to consider your application as new vacancies become available.

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.

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

Wed, 2019-01-16 13:23

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 (NOT-GM-19-015) to develop new curricular and training activities that 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; 2) prepare students for diverse careers in the biomedical research workforce; 3) develop the knowledge and skills of trainees to enhance laboratory safety; and 4) develop the technical, operational, and professional skills of predoctoral biomedical researchers.

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.
  • Applicants should use the Agency Routing Identifier to indicate the training area as specified in the Guide Notice.
  • 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, 2020.
  • 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, 2019, are NOT eligible.
  • Applicants may apply electronically through or eRA Commons as instructed in the parent administrative supplement FOA. 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 area must be submitted.
  • Applications are due by March 25, 2019.

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

Supplements for MIRAs: Clarifying the Policy

Thu, 2019-01-10 11:55

Since supplemental grant funding comes in a variety of flavors, with different purposes, it’s not surprising that there’s confusion about which kinds of supplements MIRA grantees may apply for and which they may not. Here’s a quick run-down.

Type of Supplement Links to NIH Guide Comments Revisions (Formerly known as Competitive Supplements)
For Early Stage Investigator MIRA
For Established Investigator MIRA Revisions are not an allowed application type in the R35 FOAs. Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements

(Parent Announcement under which administrative supplement requests must be made) Unless otherwise noted NIGMS will only accept administrative supplement requests to fund equipment or to address special research priorities, e.g., Alzheimer’s research. (See below.) Equipment supplements Eligible to apply Administrative Supplements to Address Special Research Priorities, e.g., Alzheimer’s Supplement must be for work that falls outside the NIGMS mission ( and therefore, if successful, would not in the future be funded by NIGMS. This type of supplement generally allows MIRA grantees to explore possible applications of their research to clinical or other areas not funded by NIGMS. Diversity supplements Eligible to apply Re-entry supplements Eligible to apply

We strongly encourage you to contact your program director before applying for any supplement.

New Graduate Training Programs Announced

Fri, 2018-12-21 14:37

In May, we shared with you our plans to reorganize the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. Toward that end, we are pleased to announce two new graduate funding opportunities aimed at developing and implementing effective, evidence-based approaches to biomedical training and mentoring. The goal of these funding announcements is to enhance diversity in the biomedical research workforce and to encourage applications from training programs that:

  • Focus on skills development (including an emphasis on quantitative and computational skills)
  • Promote rigor and reproducibility in research and teach the responsible and safe conduct of research
  • Create inclusive, safe, and supportive research training environments
  • Use evidence-based, innovative educational and mentoring practices
  • Employ cohort-building activities and interventions that enhance the trainees’ science identity and self-efficacy
  • Provide individualized mentoring and oversight throughout the trainees’ graduate careers
  • Introduce trainees to a variety of scientific research areas and career paths

The new programs are:

Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) (T32)

Supports Ph.D. training programs at research-intensive institutions (i.e., those with a 3-year average of NIH research project grant funding equal to or above $7.5 million total costs; this information is available through NIH RePORTER)
First application deadline: February 22, 2019
Earliest start date: February 2020

Graduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (G-RISE) (T32)

Supports Ph.D. training programs at research-active institutions (i.e., those with an average of NIH research project grant funding less than $7.5 million total costs over the last 3 fiscal years; this information is available through NIH RePORTER)
First application receipt date: May 21, 2019
Earliest start date: May 2020

Because these are new funding announcements, all applications (including those from previously established programs) must be submitted as new. However, applicants who have previously held IMSD or RISE grants may describe in the narrative their program’s outcomes over the past 15 years.

If you have questions about our new graduate training programs, contact Sailaja Koduri (IMSD) or Luis Cubano (G-RISE). And stay tuned—we expect the new undergraduate funding programs to be announced early in calendar year 2019.

NIGMS Announces New Website

Wed, 2018-11-14 12:49

We’re pleased to announce the launch of our redesigned website, Among the site’s new and improved features:

  • Easier navigation with fewer clicks
  • Modern, visually appealing look
  • Enhanced science education pages
  • Improved search functionality
  • Format that’s both computer- and mobile-friendly
  • And more!

The new NIGMS website was developed according to industry best practices and feedback from our users. Please note that URLs have not changed, but older/outdated content was archived to reduce the number of pages on the site.

We welcome your questions and comments about the new site. If you have feedback, please post your comments below or send them to

Your Perspectives: Strategies for Enhancing Postdoctoral Career Transitions to Promote Faculty Diversity

Thu, 2018-11-08 11:00

Continuing our longstanding commitment to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and support the careers of students and postdoctoral scientists from diverse backgrounds, for example groups underrepresented in biomedical research, we sought input from the community through a request for information (RFI) on strategies to enhance successful postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity, specifically in research-intensive institutions. The RFI was open May 24 to July 20, 2018, and received a total of 89 unique responses from stakeholders including postdoctoral scientists, faculty members, and professional societies.

Figure 1 shows the most frequently mentioned barriers scientists from underrepresented groups face as they progress from postdoctoral training into faculty positions at research-intensive institutions, and potential strategies to overcome these barriers. The five most frequently noted barriers were bias, mentorship, personal finances, current lack of faculty diversity, and position availability. The five most frequently noted potential solutions included institutional responsibility, enhanced mentorship, transitional awards, increased networking, and focused recruitment and hiring/skills development (tied).

Figure 1. Major Barriers to Faculty Diversity and Potential Solutions in RFI Responses. Bar charts showing the number of RFI responses in which a barrier (top) or solution (bottom) was mentioned. A total of 89 unique responses were received for the RFI.

NIGMS thanks everyone who took the time to respond to the RFI and will take this input into consideration when developing new funding opportunity announcements to enhance postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity. For more details about the analysis, including a list of current strategies and resources to enhance faculty diversity employed by the federal government, private funders, institutions, and societies identified through the RFI, we encourage you to explore the report.

Updated Focus of NIGMS-Supported Predoctoral Training in Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science

Tue, 2018-11-06 10:50

Modern biomedical research is becoming increasingly quantitative and reliant on computational methods, with growing use of large and complex datasets to address biomedical research questions and advance human health. To help address the need for biomedical researchers with cutting-edge computational and quantitative skills, we have updated the focus areas of our Predoctoral T32 Training Program in Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science (formerly called Bioinformatics and Computational Biology). In doing this, we aim to better integrate training in data-science approaches throughout the curriculum and during the mentored research period. We are now placing a strong emphasis on programs that:

  • Focus on new and emerging areas of data science, including machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence.
  • Integrate training in biological sciences and quantitative and computational sciences (e.g., data science, computer science, statistics, mathematics, informatics, engineering).
  • Provide multidisciplinary training to students in the fundamentals and applications of computational and information sciences.
  • Include training in fair and ethical data use, data sharing, and data security and confidentiality.
  • Take advantage of the resources and expertise available in the private sector to develop student skills such as the ability to write efficient, industry-standard computer code and the use of emerging technologies and platforms.
  • Help develop career pathways for trainees, including by forming internship/training partnerships with industry and other sectors.


These changes will be effective with the January 25, 2019, application receipt date.
For more information about the changes to the focus areas for this training program, please see the NIH Guide Notice, and the NIGMS Predoctoral T32 Training Program website. As usual, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

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