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Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

NIGMS-Managed HIV/AIDS Research Transitioning to NIAID

Mon, 2019-05-13 10:32

For the past few months, NIGMS has been reviewing its HIV/AIDS grant portfolio. As the HIV/AIDS field has matured and the necessary research directions have become clearer, the HIV/AIDS-related grants we’ve supported have, appropriately, become more narrowly focused. Because of this, and after close consultation with leadership at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), we’ve concluded that it’s in the best interest of the research to transition NIGMS’ HIV/AIDS portfolio to NIAID to allow improved scientific coordination, prioritization, and efficiency of management.

The HIV/AIDS budget is separate from the general NIGMS appropriation and thus transferring the HIV/AIDS portfolio, along with the funding, to NIAID will not adversely affect NIGMS’ ability to support research in our mission areas, nor will it diminish the overall funding available for HIV/AIDS research. NIAID has a strong commitment to basic research related to HIV/AIDS and the expertise necessary to manage grants in these areas, including in the structural biology of HIV and related immunology.

Grants related to HIV/AIDS that are not supported by the HIV/AIDS budget, including those funded by the Institutional Development Award (IDeA), Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH), and the Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) programs, will not be affected by this change and will remain at NIGMS.

This transition is effective for applications received for funding consideration and active awards with pending non-competing continuation funding commitments. Accordingly, HIV/AIDS applications submitted for the May 7 AIDS and AIDS-related applications due date will not be accepted by NIGMS for funding consideration but will instead be referred to NIAID. NIGMS grantees with active HIV/AIDS awards that will transfer to NIAID will be contacted by NIGMS and NIAID staff with further information regarding the transition. For more information, see NIH Guide Notice NOT-GM-19-039.

Also read a blog post about the transfer by NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

NIH Global Recruitment for Health Scientist Administrators

Fri, 2019-05-10 15:54

On May 20, 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.

We’re currently recruiting for a Program Director. However, we may have additional vacancies in the future. If you are interested in serving as a Health Scientist Administrator at NIGMS but the current vacancy does not fit your area of expertise, 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 20 to find the links to the global recruitment.

Wanted: Program Director, Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences Branch

Thu, 2019-05-09 12:45

We’re recruiting for an accomplished scientist with interest and experience in inflammation, innate immunity, and the physiological responses to injury, to join the Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences (PPS) Branch of the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry (PPBC). The successful applicant will have responsibility for scientific and administrative management of a portfolio of research, career development, and training grants.

The PPS Branch of PPBC supports research studies that can be basic or clinical in nature. This position offers stewardship of grant awards related to investigations directed toward improving understanding of the total body response to injury and shock, including biomedical and physiological changes induced by trauma and burn injury. Research supported in this branch includes studies of the mechanisms of immunosuppression, wound healing, hypermetabolism following injury, and prediction of body-wide recovery. The portfolio also supports research on the cellular and molecular mediators of the onset, regulation, and termination of inflammation and the innate immune response. The research supported by the portfolios covers from the time immediately following injury through ultimate resolution and includes aspects of critical illness.

Applicants should have experience and a degree in one of the sciences underlying these research areas (for example, immunology, pathology, microbiology, cell biology, physiology, or medicine). Candidates should also have outstanding written and oral communication skills. The job responsibilities involve working collaboratively with other staff to stimulate, plan, advise, direct, and evaluate program activities for the portfolio of research awards.

This position is included in the Global Recruitment for Health Scientist Administrators at NIH. There will be two GS-12/13/14 HSA (Program Officer) vacancy announcements: one for federal employees (candidates with current or former federal employment status) and one for the public (candidates without such status). The vacancy announcement opens on May 20 and closes on May 29. You also may find the NIGMS “Tip Sheet” for Global Recruitments to be helpful. We encourage all interested candidates to contact one of us to ask questions about this position or the recruitment process.

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.

Funding Opportunity: NIGMS Technology Research and Development

Thu, 2019-05-02 12:16

We’ve just re-issued two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) for technology research and development grants that support biomedical research areas within the NIGMS mission.

They are:

Exploratory Research for Technology Development (R21)
PAR-19-254
Two-year grants that support innovative, high-risk concepts for developing a new technology or radically improving an existing one. The R21 supports only novel concepts that haven’t yet been tested for feasibility. Thus, unpublished data are not allowed. Because proof of concept must not already be developed, NIGMS expects the projects to be high risk.

Next application receipt date: June 16, 2019


Focused Technology Research and Development (R01)

PAR-19-253
Four-year grants that support development projects to validate and optimize a new technology. The R01 is for technologies that already have been shown to be feasible but need further technical work to produce a useful prototype. Projects with partial demonstration of feasibility but with substantial risk remaining could be submitted as a 3-year R01 with a reduced budget under this FOA.

Next application receipt date: June 5, 2019


For both the R21 and R01 programs, we’re seeking inventive technology that significantly advances the state of the art. Examples would include instruments, devices, processes, algorithms, software, chemicals, biomolecules, or cells that have potential value for enabling new basic biomedical research. Applicants should not include use of the technology to solve biological questions in their applications. The research plan should be rigorous, with defined objectives.

Neither FOA will support testing new biological hypotheses, but we encourage validation with well-characterized models or gold-standard biological samples. Once the technology is ready to be applied to answer untested biological hypotheses, the application should be submitted to the Parent NIH R01 FOA.

KEY DIFFERENCES:

R21 (PAR-19-254) R01 (PAR-19-253) Years of support 2 3 to 5 Criteria Novel and innovative Innovative with future utility Feasibility Not yet tested Already established Unpublished data Not allowed Encouraged Final objectives Proof of concept Working prototype

KEY SIMILARITIES:

Applications should:

  • Show significant advance over state-of-the-art technology
  • Have future utility for NIGMS-funded research
  • Have rigorous research plans and defined intermediate and final objectives
  • Exclude untested biological hypotheses, which won’t be funded

You can learn more about these programs on our Biomedical Technology webpage. Standard application due dates apply. If you have any questions about these funding opportunities, please email NIGMS_TechDev@nigms.nih.gov. We’ll also host a webinar to discuss these new programs. See details below.

NIGMS Technology Development Webinar

Join us to learn more about our technology research and development R21 and R01 programs. During the webinar, NIGMS staff will provide a broad overview of the programs and will share expectations of applications for the upcoming receipt dates.

Tuesday, May 14, 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET
Learn More

Change in NIGMS Phone System

Mon, 2019-04-29 15:02

Like most organizations, NIGMS has been modernizing many of its systems. One recent change is our phone system. To increase efficiency and to enable our support staff to handle higher-level responsibilities, we want you to know that the best way to now reach a program director or scientific review administrator is to send him or her an email. If you want the person to call you back, please provide your contact information and grant or application number. If you don’t know the email address of the NIGMS staff member, it can be found easily by entering the name in our Staff Directory. This directory also provides direct phone numbers of each staff member where you can leave a voicemail message.

The NIGMS website provides information that you may find helpful in determining the staff member you want to contact. If you are still uncertain about who to contact, you may call the main NIGMS phone number (301-496-7301) and leave a message.

NIGMS’ program staff are, as always, interested in hearing from you, answering your questions, and addressing your concerns.

Application and Funding Trends in Fiscal Year 2018

Thu, 2019-04-11 15:00

On September 28, 2018, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019  was signed into law. The law includes an NIGMS budget of $2,872,780,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019—a 3.1% increase from FY 2018. This budget increase follows a 5.1% rise in funding in FY 2018.

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.

NIGMS recognizes the value of a diversified investment portfolio and, to this end, supports both a wide variety of research topics, as well as a diverse set of investigators. To monitor our investigator pool, we continually track our “cumulative investigator rate.” This statistic indicates the percentage of investigators who held funding in a given fiscal year relative to those actively seeking funding at some point in that fiscal year or in the previous 4 fiscal years. Figure 1, below, depicts this cumulative investigator rate (gray line) for NIGMS R01 and R35 applicants, from FY 2007 to FY 2018. As illustrated, the cumulative investigator rate has been on the rise since 2015, recovering from a period of high applicant numbers (blue line) but steady awardee volume (green line). In 2018, the cumulative investigator rate (39.7%) increased for the fifth consecutive year. Awardee numbers have been increasing over these 5 years, while applicant numbers have been steady, or—as in FY 2018—slightly declining.

NIGMS Competing R01/R35 Applicants, Awardees, and Cumulative Investigator Rates

Figure 1. Number of NIGMS R01/R35 Applicants, Awardees, and Cumulative Investigator Rates, FY 2007-2018. The number of investigators who had been actively seeking NIGMS R01 and R35 support at some point in the indicated fiscal year or in the previous 4 fiscal years (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) increased steadily from FY 2007 to 2014 but has stabilized more recently and slightly decreased in FY 2018. The NIGMS R01 and R35 awardee counts (green squares, solid line; left axis) have increased over the past 5 years, resulting in a higher cumulative investigator rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis). The cumulative investigator rate indicates the percentage of the applicants seeking NIGMS funding who have it in the year shown. In this and all subsequent figures, grants associated with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 are not included.

As part of our commitment to maintaining a diverse and vibrant research portfolio, we also emphasize support for early stage investigators (ESIs). As shown in Figure 2, the yearly number of ESIs receiving their first competing NIGMS major research project grant has doubled since 2013. Increases are partly due to the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) R35 program ESI funding opportunity introduced in 2016. The small drop in the yearly number of ESIs funded in FY 2018 relative to 2017 may be due to a leveling off of the ESI applicant pool as more ESIs received funding. Consistent with this, MIRA (R35) and R01 ESI applicant numbers both decreased in 2018 (not pictured)—a drop that mirrors the lower number of applicants across all career stages in 2018 (Figure 1). Additional information on our R35 trends can be found in our recent Feedback Loop post on MIRA awards.

NIGMS Competing R01/R35/DP2 ESI Awardees

Figure 2. Number of NIGMS Competing R01/R35/DP2 ESI Awardees, FY 2009-2018. The yearly number of unique R01, R35, and DP2 ESIs (blue bars) receiving their first major NIH research project grant from NIGMS has increased since 2013, especially after the introduction of the MIRA program in FY 2016.

Considering award rates more traditionally, NIGMS also tracks application success at the grant level, in addition to the investigator level. This metric is reported as the success rate [PDF, 185KB], calculated as the number of applications funded divided by the number of unique project proposals received. Figure 3 depicts the success rate for competing research project grants (RPGs) from FY 2007 to 2018. Overall, the RPG success rate (gray line) follows a pattern similar to the cumulative investigator rate, generally increasing since FY 2013. In FY 2018, the RPG success rate was 29.2%, slightly lower than in FY 2017 (30.7%). This change since 2017 reflects a slight increase in competing applications along with a slight decrease in awards. The increase in applications was largely driven by a new R21 Exploratory Research for Technology Development award. Consistent with this, when only R01s and R35s are considered (Figure 4), success rates were stable in FY 2018 (29.7%), largely due to a decrease in applications.

NIGMS Competing RPG Applications, Funded RPGs, and Success Rates

Figure 3. Number of NIGMS Competing RPG Applications, Funded Competing RPGs, and Success Rates for RPGs, FY 2007-2018. NIGMS RPG applications (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) increased slightly from FY 2017 to 2018. Meanwhile, NIGMS-funded competing RPGs (green squares, solid line; left axis) decreased slightly in FY 2018 relative to FY 2017. As a result, the NIGMS RPG success rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis) decreased slightly when compared with FY 2017.

NIGMS Competing R01/R35 Applications, Funded R01s/R35s, and Success Rates

Figure 4. Number of NIGMS Competing R01/R35 Applications, Funded Competing R01s/R35s, and Success Rates for R01s/R35s, FY 2007-2018. NIGMS R01/R35 applications (blue circles, dashed line; left axis) decreased from FY 2017 to 2018. Meanwhile, NIGMS-funded competing R01s/R35s (green squares, solid line; left axis) decreased to a lower degree over the same time. As a result, the NIGMS R01/R35 success rate (gray triangles, dotted line; right axis) remained stable when compared with FY 2017 (29.9% in FY 2017 versus 29.7% in FY 2018).

Changes in success rates are a function of both changes in the number of competing applications and in the number of awards. The number of competing grants awarded is affected by our funding policies, budget, and existing commitments to active (noncompeting) grants. As more investigators pursue funding through the MIRA program, we expect a lower number of competing awards, as fewer investigators will apply for and receive multiple concurrent grants. Despite this effect, overall the Institute supported a record number of RPGs (competing plus noncompeting) in FY 2018 (Figure 5).

NIGMS-Funded RPGs, Competing and Noncompeting

Figure 5. Number of NIGMS Competing and Noncompeting RPG Awards, FY 2007-2018. Considering both competing (bottom, hashed blue bars) and noncompeting (top, solid orange bars) RPG awards, NIGMS supported a record number of RPGs in FY 2018. During FY 2017 and 2018, the number of noncompeting RPGs increased from previous years, while competing awards decreased slightly.

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, Institute priorities, 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 6 and 7. In FY 2018, approximately 50% of applications that scored at the 26th percentile were funded (Figure 6). Additionally, a shallower curve in FY 2018 compared with many previous years reflects a wider “fundable” range for applications.

NIGMS Competing R01 Funding Rates by Percentile

Figure 6. Percentage of Applications Funded Within Each Percentile for Competing NIGMS R01 Applications, FY 2014-2018. Curves are smoothed by averaging application and award counts two points above and below the percentile value shown. The point at which 50% of the applications were funded for FY 2018 (solid gray line) is near the 26th percentile, as compared with the 24th in FY 2017 (dashed orange line) and FY 2016 (dashed green line).

Figure 7 further illustrates scoring and award distributions for FY 2018. Applications were roughly evenly distributed across percentiles, and a wide range of application percentiles were funded. 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, funding for investigators with substantial unrestricted support, and prioritization for ESI and other at-risk investigators. MIRA awards are not included, but NIGMS carefully monitors this program and communicates our findings through regular Feedback Loop posts.

NIGMS Competing R01 Funding Distribution by Percentile, FY 2018

Figure 7. Funding Distribution of NIGMS Competing R01 Applications by Percentile, FY 2018. Funded grants (solid green bars) generally follow the funding curve pattern shown in Figure 6, with unfunded applications (striped black-and-white bars) constituting the remainder of the overall uniform distribution of application percentiles.

Overall, outcomes in FY 2018 indicate positive trends in funding more investigators and more awards. We will continue to monitor these trends and other data related to the outcomes of our investments in fundamental biomedical research.

Webinar on NIGMS Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams

Thu, 2019-04-04 14:56

If you’re preparing an NIGMS Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1) (PAR-17-340) application for the May 25 receipt date, don’t miss our upcoming webinar:

Tuesday, April 16, 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

During the webinar, we’ll provide an overview of our expectations of RM1 applications and how they will be assessed for fit to the program, and we’ll 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 620 198 293 and the password 871594. 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 April 16 Webinar:

  • Jon Lorsch, Director
  • Susan Gregurick, Director, Division of Biophysics, Biomedical Technology, and Computational Biosciences
  • Peter Preusch, Chief, Biophysics Branch

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 RM1 program. Slides will be posted on the NIGMS Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams website following the event.

New Undergraduate Training Programs Announced

Tue, 2019-04-02 08:21

In May 2018, we shared with you our plans to reorganize the undergraduate and graduate programs in the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity. As part of this reorganization, in December we announced two new graduate training programs. Now, we are pleased to announce two new undergraduate 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, rigor and reproducibility, the responsible conduct of research, and promote safe, inclusive, and supportive research environments
  • Use evidence-based, innovative educational practices
  • Promote cohort-building activities and interventions that enhance the trainees’ science identity and self-efficacy
  • Provide individualized mentoring and oversight throughout the trainees’ undergraduate careers
  • Introduce trainees to a variety of scientific research areas and career trajectories
  • Encourage program director/principal investigator teams to broaden program leadership and provide complementary expertise
  • Display coordinated interactions and synergies with other NIGMS-funded training programs at the institution
  • Improve long-term tracking and posting of program trainee outcomes

These new undergraduate programs are:

Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) (T34)
PAR-19-218
Supports undergraduate 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 per year over the last 3 fiscal years; this information is available through NIH RePORTER).

First application receipt date: May 21, 2019
Earliest start date: April 2020

Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) (T34)
PAR-19-219
Supports undergraduate 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 per year; this information is available through NIH RePORTER).

First application deadline: May 21, 2019
Earliest start date: June 2020

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

If you have questions about our new undergraduate training programs, contact Anissa Brown or Luis Cubano (U-RISE), or  Sailaja Koduri or Luis Cubano (MARC). We’ll also host webinars to discuss these new programs. See details below.

U-RISE and MARC Webinars

Join us to learn more about our new undergraduate training programs. During the webinars, NIGMS staff will provide a broad overview of the programs and will share expectations of applications and the required data tables for the upcoming May 21st receipt date.

Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) Webinar

Wednesday, April 3, 1:30-3:00 p.m. ET

Learn more Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Program Webinar

Thursday, April 4, 1:30-3:00 p.m. ET

Learn more



Clarification About Support for Conferences and Meetings

Tue, 2019-03-19 11:03

NIGMS has published a Notice in the NIH Guide to clarify the types of conferences and scientific meetings that the Institute will support through the R13 activity code. If you are thinking of requesting NIGMS funding for a meeting, it’s important to know that:

  • NIGMS funds very few meetings;
  • Those R13 meeting applications that it accepts for review and considers for funding must meet all three of the following criteria: 1) they must be closely aligned with NIGMS’ mission; 2) they must be non-recurring; and 3) they must include participants who do not frequently interact in other venues; and
  • NIGMS will not support scientific courses through the R13 activity code.

NIGMS will consider support for freestanding meetings that focus on research training and/or workforce development or are in support of programs in the Division for Research Capacity Building that do not fit within the Innovative Programs to Enhance Research Training (IPERT) (R25).

Further information about NIGMS’ support of scientific meetings is at https://www.nigms.nih.gov/research-training/resources/support-for-scientific-meetings.

Pathways: Inspiring Future Scientists Through a New Collaboration with Scholastic, Inc.

Mon, 2019-03-18 11:59

I’m pleased to announce the debut of Pathways , a collaboration between NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., that provides a collection of free educational resources about basic biomedical science and research careers.

Cover of Pathways student magazine.

Pathways, designed for grades 6 through 12, includes a student magazine, teacher lesson plans, activities, and videos, all available at http://www.scholastic.com/pathways . The Pathways student magazine is also being distributed this month to subscribers of Scholastic’s Science World magazine, reaching nearly 500,000 students in all 50 states. The magazine and accompanying resources feature our very own NIGMS scientists, including:

  • “Beetle Guy” Ryan Bracewell, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley;
  • “Viral Star” Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, a professor at the University of Florida;
  • “Gene Detective” Melissa Wilson, an assistant professor at Arizona State University (and our upcoming ECI lecturer);
  • “Powerhouse” Christian J. Garcia, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University;
  • “Bacteria Spy” Alecia Dent, a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, School of Pharmacy; and
  • “Science All-Star” Michael Young, Nobel laureate and a professor at Rockefeller University.

By informing students about careers in basic science—and exciting advances in basic biomedical research—we hope to inspire the next generation of scientists. Please share this information with any teachers or 6th through 12th graders you know.

Planning for Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) Renewals

Wed, 2019-03-13 10:21

As we work on issuing a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the established investigator (EI) MIRA program, we thought it would be useful to address a few common questions we’ve been hearing. The new FOA will allow applications from NIGMS grantees who have one or more single-Principal Investigator (PI) R01-equivalent awards, just as the current FOA does. In addition, the new FOA (to be published by Fall 2019) will allow renewal applications from PIs who already have MIRA grants.

One key goal of the MIRA program is to increase funding stability for researchers. This was accomplished in part by making the awards a year longer than are typical of NIGMS R01s for established investigators. In addition, we intend to ensure that the success rate for MIRA renewals will be higher than for R01 renewals and will be at least as high as the success rate for new EI MIRA applications, which is currently more than 50%.

Another approach to increasing the stability of funding is to change the funding decision paradigm for renewal applications away from being necessarily yes or no. Instead, the Institute can modulate a PI’s budget downward rather than not funding the renewal application at all. This approach can be used for MIRA renewal applications that are deemed meritorious but not as strong as would have been expected based on the previous budget or other factors. In such cases, the application could be funded for the full 5 years but at the new, lower level, allowing the PI’s research program to continue, albeit at a reduced scale. When we were developing the MIRA program, we frequently heard from the community that applicants would rather get a grant at a lower funding level than no grant at all.

In some circumstances, we might also provide bridge funding for unsuccessful MIRA renewal applicants to give them a chance to apply for other sources of funding. In particular, we would consider this approach when it is deemed that MIRA was not the optimal funding mechanism for the investigator’s research (for example, because a highly integrated multi-PI team was required).

We plan for the eligibility window in the new FOA to allow those PIs who are unsuccessful in their first attempt to have a second chance at renewal.

It is important to note that in addition to decreasing the budgets of some awards based on the outcomes of review, we also plan to increase the budgets of other renewing MIRA grants that are judged to warrant additional funds. For example, early-stage investigator (ESI) MIRA grantees who have programs that are on steep upward trajectories and whose research would strongly benefit from increased funding levels can be awarded higher budgets upon renewal. We expect this principle will hold true for all future MIRA renewals, including for grantees whose budgets were reduced at their first renewals; if the situation warrants it, their budgets can be increased when they come in for their second renewals. Thus, a decrease in budget is not necessarily permanent. We also expect that there will be a minimum budget level below which further reductions wouldn’t make sense, and that the type of science being conducted (e.g., if it requires animals or human subjects) would influence this budget level.

Although well-funded grantees (having more than $400,000 in direct costs from NIGMS research grants) applying for new EI MIRAs will generally receive budgets about 12% lower than their previous average NIGMS research funding levels, the Institute does not intend to use a similar blanket policy when setting budgets for MIRA renewals. Instead, the funding levels for each MIRA renewal will be independently determined based on a variety of considerations, including the results of peer review, the PI’s other support and commitments, and the Institute’s scientific priorities and available budget. Overall, we expect most budgets for MIRA renewals to be similar to what they were in the previous funding period, although some grants will have increased or decreased budgets, as described above.

Once a MIRA grant has been terminated, either because a grantee chooses not to renew it or is unsuccessful in doing so, the PI is once again eligible to receive other NIGMS research funding. A MIRA PI may apply for an NIGMS R01 while they still have an active MIRA but cannot have both a MIRA and NIGMS R01 application under review simultaneously and would be required to relinquish the MIRA award before accepting the NIGMS R01. Only ESIs can have MIRA and NIGMS R01 applications under review at the same time. As long as the MIRA grant is active, the PI is subject to its requirements, including a commitment of 51% research effort. Note that research effort includes all time spent by the investigator on research and excludes time spent on other activities such as teaching, administration, and clinical duties.

Finally, because of the disparity in career stages between PIs renewing ESI and EI MIRAs, NIGMS intends for the applications of PIs who have had 5 or fewer years of R35 or R01-equivalent grant support (i.e., their first renewal of a major NIH award) to be clustered during peer review. Reviewers will also take the applicant’s career stage and available budget into account when making assessments of productivity.

We believe that the approaches outlined above will meet the goal of improving funding stability for PIs supported through the MIRA program. No system can—or should—fund every researcher who applies for a grant, and it’s essential for us to ensure that all work we support through the MIRA program is promising and meritorious. We will also need to balance the rate at which new researchers enter the system with an appropriate exit rate from existing MIRA grants and other research award mechanisms such as R01s. Because the MIRA program limits the number of grants a PI can have from NIGMS, it enhances the Institute’s ability to bolster funding stability for investigators, relative to systems that allow unlimited applications and multiple awards to individual PIs. We hope that the MIRA program will result in substantial benefits for investigators and correspondingly improve the returns on the taxpayers’ investments in fundamental biomedical research.

Early Notice: Concept Clearance for the Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Program (UE5 and K99/R00) to Promote Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce

Mon, 2019-03-04 15:27

At the recent NIGMS Advisory Council meeting, the Division of Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity received approval to write two new funding opportunity announcements as part of our efforts to enhance postdoctoral career transitions to promote faculty diversity in the biomedical research workforce.


Watch the MOSAIC presentation at the January Advisory Council meeting.

The Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) program is designed to facilitate the transition of talented postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds into independent faculty careers in research-intensive institutions. The program has two components: an institutionally-focused research education cooperative agreement (UE5) and postdoctoral career transition award (K99/R00) to enhance diversity.

MOSAIC Institutionally-Focused Research Education Cooperative Agreement (UE5)
NOT-GM-19-019

This program will support awards to independent organizations (e.g., scientific societies) with a membership of scientists conducting research within the NIGMS mission, an established record of providing professional development and networking activities for the next generation of biomedical researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to enhancing the diversity of the biomedical research workforce.

This program will allow these organizations to:

  • Assemble cohorts of MOSAIC K99/R00 fellows based on scientific areas;
  • Facilitate the establishment of strengths-based individual development plans for MOSAIC fellows, and provide mentoring and skills development courses to promote their successful transition to independent faculty positions at research-intensive institutions;
  • Enhance the scientific and professional networks of MOSAIC fellows beyond their local institutions; and
  • Convene regular meetings with appropriate leaders at the institutions where MOSAIC fellows conduct research to exchange ideas and employ evidence-based approaches to promote diversity.

FOA announcement anticipated: Spring 2019
First application deadline anticipated: September 2019
Earliest start date anticipated: Fall 2020

MOSAIC Postdoctoral Career Transition Award (K99/R00) to Promote Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce
NOT-GM-19-020

This program will support postdoctoral scientists from diverse backgrounds (e.g., underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, scientists with disabilities, women, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and other groups as described in the NIH Notice of Interest in Diversity) conducting research in areas within the NIGMS mission. It will provide awardees with at least 12 months of mentored research training and career development (K99 phase) before they transition to the independent research (R00 phase) of the program. Applicants are expected to have a demonstrated commitment to enhancing diversity and promoting a supportive and inclusive environment within the biomedical research enterprise. During both the K99 and R00 award phases, fellows will participate in mentoring, networking, and professional development activities coordinated by the institutionally-focused research education cooperative agreements to promote diversity (MOSAIC UE5) described above.

FOA announcement anticipated: Fall 2019
First application deadline anticipated: February 2020
Earliest start date anticipated: December 2020

We encourage the community to watch the presentation at our Council meeting.

Update on NIH’s Efforts to Address Sexual Harassment in Science

Fri, 2019-03-01 15:28

I’d like to draw your attention to a very important statement issued yesterday outlining actions NIH is taking to address the issue of sexual harassment in science. The full statement is also available below. For additional information, please visit NIH’s webpage: Anti-Sexual Harassment: for NIH Awardee Organizations and Those Who Work There.

February 28, 2019

Update on NIH’s efforts to address sexual harassment in science

As the NIH Director stated in September, sexual harassment is about power. The goal of the perpetrator, most commonly but not exclusively a man, is to objectify, exclude, demoralize, diminish, and coerce the victim, most commonly a woman, to exert power over her.  It’s morally indefensible, it’s unacceptable, and it presents a major obstacle that is keeping women from achieving their rightful place in science.

Victims of harassment know this all too well. Sexual harassment does not just damage the careers of those who have encountered it, it can leave deep scars and psychological effects that reverberate for a lifetime. The reports of scientists and students shared through the #MeTooSTEM movement portray a heartbreaking story of opportunities lost, pain suffered, and a systemic failure to protect and defend. To all those who have endured these experiences, we are sorry that it has taken so long to acknowledge and address the climate and culture that has caused such harm. The National Academies report on sexual harassment of women in science  found that “federal agencies may be perpetuating the problem of sexual harassment.” We are concerned that NIH has been part of the problem.  We are determined to become part of the solution.

This month, the Working Group of the Advisory Council to the Director (ACD) on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment met for the first time and heard from a wide-range of experts and perspectives, including Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin, whose leadership of the #MeTooSTEM movement has provided a voice for victims of harassment. We have heard similar, harrowing accounts from scientists in the NIH intramural program during meetings of the NIH Anti-Harassment Committee. These conversations have made it abundantly clear that NIH needs to do better in tackling the underlying culture that enables sexual harassment to take place, admit our contributions to perpetuating this culture, and elevate the seriousness with which the agency takes this issue through our actions.

The discussions of the ACD Working Group, who will report interim recommendations in June and provide a final report and recommendations to the ACD in December, centered around a number of themes that were similar to those identified by our internal Anti-Harassment Committee. As the senior leadership of NIH, we are taking  actions including those listed below, and we look forward to receiving the ACD recommendations and other input to strengthen our efforts:

  • Demonstrating accountability and transparency: We want to send a clear message to the institutions we fund and researchers who lead the research that sexual harassment is unacceptable. Discussions from both the NIH Anti-Harassment Committee and the ACD Working Group strongly endorsed an ethos of transparency and accountability to demonstrate the agency’s serious commitment to addressing harassment and deterring future inappropriate behavior. To bolster that transparency and accountability, we want to be clear that NIH has not and will not just look the other way when accusations come to our attention. In 2018, NIH followed up on sexual harassment-related concerns at more than two dozen institutions resulting in the replacement of 14 principal investigators named on NIH grant awards, disciplinary actions taken by awardee institutions against 21 principal investigators including termination of employment, and removal of 14 individuals from peer review. Over that same time period, NIH conducted administrative inquiries into 35 allegations of a sexual nature by NIH staff (both federal employees and government contractors). While some of these incidents remain under review, formal disciplinary actions ranging from reprimand to termination of employment were taken against 10 staff members, and informal disciplinary actions, including counseling/training and cease and desist warnings, were taken against another 10 staff members.

    We recognize these numbers seem small compared to the disheartening incidence of sexual harassment described in the recent National Academies report, but we are continuing to expand our outreach to the extramural community to bring these concerns to our attention, and have enhanced our internal systems to act on all allegations of sexual harassment.

  • Clarifying expectations for institutions and investigators to ensure a safe workplace and inform the agency: If a principal investigator or other key personnel named on an NIH grant award is no longer able to fulfill their obligations to conduct research because they are under investigation or have been removed from the workplace because of sexual harassment concerns, NIH requires institutions to notify the agency of this change. The ACD Working Group discussions revealed that the requirement and appropriate timeline to notify NIH of changes in the status of key personnel named on an NIH grant award is unclear in the current guidance.

    Those discussions, and ultimately the ACD’s recommendations, will help inform further actions, including clarifications in our guidance. In the meantime, NIH will provide written communication to the leaders of all NIH-funded and applicant institutions outlining NIH’s expectations relating to preventing and addressing sexual harassment, including the expectation that awarded institutions have implemented policies and practices that foster a harassment-free environment; maintain clear, unambiguous professional codes of conduct; ensure employees are fully aware and regularly reminded of applicable laws, regulations, policies, and codes of conduct; provide an accessible, effective, and easy process to report sexual harassment, and protection from retaliation; and respond promptly to allegations to ensure the immediate safety for all involved, investigate the allegations, and take appropriate sanctions.

  • Providing clear channels of communication to NIH: We can and will take action if there are concerns that sexual harassment is affecting NIH-funded research. For concerns related to NIH-funded research, an email can be sent to GranteeHarassment@od.nih.gov. We are working to create additional channels intended for confidential sharing of such information and hope to make those available in the next several weeks. While this communication does not constitute or substitute for a report of sexual harassment for legal action or investigation, NIH  will follow up with the relevant applicant/grantee institution on all concerns related to NIH-funded research. NIH also strongly encourages people to report allegations of sexual harassment or assault to the appropriate authorities, which may include your local police department or your organization/institution equal employment opportunity (EEO) or human resources offices. Individuals may contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR)  to obtain additional information and file a complaint. Please see NIH’s Anti-Sexual Harassment website for other information and resources.

  • Listening to victims and survivors of sexual harassment and incorporating their perspectives into future actions: Just as patients remind us every day why medical research is about real people, we cannot forget the intensely personal impact of sexual harassment. Those people whose careers or lives have been derailed by sexual harassment provide a critical voice in shaping the agency’s next steps in helping them re-enter the research workforce and reminding the entire research enterprise of the urgent need for culture change. NIH leadership, the NIH Anti-Harassment Committee, and the ACD Working Group are committed to working with scientists affected by sexual harassment and gender discrimination and will be planning listening sessions to provide a forum for input on proposed recommendations to the ACD.

These steps are only the beginning and are not meant to usurp the charge of the ACD Working Group, which will result in concrete recommendations to the ACD, or the continuing efforts of the internal NIH Anti-Harassment Committee. There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, and we are confident that these two groups, with the input of all affected communities, will provide a roadmap for meaningful and sustainable culture change.  

We can do better. We must do better.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., Principal Deputy Director and Chair, NIH Anti-Harassment Committee

Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D., Acting Chief of Staff, Associate Director for Science Policy, and Co-Chair ACD WG on Changing the Culture to End Sexual Harassment

Michael S. Lauer, M.D., Deputy Director for Extramural Research

Michael M. Gottesman, M.D., Deputy Director for Intramural Research

Hannah A. Valantine, M.D., Chief Officer for Scientific Workforce Diversity

Alfred C. Johnson, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Management

National Institutes of Health  

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.

Contact Information:

Vermont Genetics Network
University of Vermont
120A Marsh Life Science Building
Burlington, VT 05405-0086
(802) 656-9119
(802) 656-2914 - FAX
vgn@uvm.edu

Contact the Webmaster:
vgnwebstaff@list.uvm.edu

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