December 21, 2011, NIAID Funding Newsletter
Opportunities and Resources
- New NIH Site Helps Companies License Research Materials in Only a Few Days
- RFA Seeks Sites for Expanded Women's HIV Study
- Do You Have Your WITS (Specimens) About You?
- Bring an International Collaboration Into Your Grant
- More Details on Subaward F&A Costs
- No January AIDS Receipt Date for AREA (R15) Applications
- News Briefs
- Avoid an Identity Crisis
- How to Tell if Your Application Passes Grants.gov
- Reader Questions
New Funding Opportunities
This article is the third in our Ten Steps to a Winning Grant Application series.
At this point, we have covered finding a field and a more focused area of research to work in. You can find links to the previous articles in the box at the right.
- Create two to four Specific Aims that you can achieve in four or five years.
- Make sure they have clear endpoints reviewers can readily assess.
- Use an iterative process to check feasibility.
- Create a strong hypothesis: well-focused and testable by the Specific Aims and experiments.
- Check again whether the review committee is likely to applaud your ideas.
Your project will tackle important research within your niche: it must be able to move your field forward without being too risky.
At the Drawing BoardYou'll start to hone your ideas by drafting objectives, known in NIH lingo as Specific Aims.
Thinking high level, ask yourself what objectives you could achieve within the timeframe of a grant.
Your goal is to create aims that are achievable in that period and have clear endpoints your reviewers can readily assess.
While you could design a project around two to four Specific Aims, most people create three.
Limiting your application to few Specific Aims keeps you clear of the very common mistake of being overly ambitious. It's much better to think small and propose less than to do the opposite.
Like your topic, your Specific Aims should build on your previous experience.
Form a GestaltAlthough it may seem an early stage to think about experiments and resources, these variables go hand-in-hand with picking a project.
You can't plan experiments with expertise, resources or funds you won't have, so you must take into account all aspects of your research.
Because you have a lot of items to juggle, we recommend using an iterative process:
- Staying in your niche, propose a project that addresses a highly significant problem and can create new knowledge.
- Outline draft Specific Aims and a hypothesis.
- Outline experiments.
- Assess feasibility.
- See whether you have access to all needed resources and expertise.
- Check the scope of the research to make sure it's not getting too big for your targeted time and budget.
- If at any point you hit a roadblock, go back up the list and revise your plans.
If the project is untenable, you will need to rethink your experiments or even your Specific Aims. Read more in Ten Steps to a Winning Application.
Hypothetically Speaking . . .Why do you need a hypothesis (or multiple hypotheses)? Because that's what reviewers expect!
Some people write their Specific Aims first and then develop a hypothesis; others do the reverse—use the approach that works best for you.
A strong hypothesis should be well-focused and testable by the Specific Aims and experiments.
After you create your hypothesis, go back and take stock again of your prospective reviewers in light of your draft aims and hypothesis to gauge whether you think they will applaud your ideas.
Your reviewers must believe that your hypothesis is sound and important so your research can make a high impact on its field, a topic we'll explore in our next article.
Strategy for NIH Funding
- Part 2. Pick and Design a Project
- Part 3. Write Your Application
There you’ll find a list of unpatented NIH intramural research tools—including some developed by NIAID’s scientists—that can be licensed in a few days with a ready-to-go contract and online payment.
Examples include cell lines used to test new therapies, such as NIAID’s norovirus replicon in human (Huh-7).
You can get the materials under a royalty-bearing license agreement with NIH, and you can pay online.
Do you work at an academic or nonprofit organization?
Though you cannot execute a transaction online, you may still find eRMa useful as a catalogue of tools.
If you want to obtain materials, you’ll need a Material Transfer Agreement, not a license. After you search the catalogue and find something you’re interested in, contact Dr. Michael Mowatt in our Office of Technology Development.
Visit the eRMa site to view the catalogue and get more information, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions. NIH will continue to add new items as they come in.
NIAID and cofunding institutes reissued a request for applications (RFA) last month to introduce WIHS-V.
Changes to the program include broadening the study's reach with a new clinical research site in the southern U.S. and moving to a rolling, rather than closed, cohort design.
The RFA encourages applications from domestic institutions with the capacity to enroll the target population of women who are HIV-positive or HIV-negative but at risk in the southern U.S.—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Applications are due February 22, 2012, with optional letters of intent due a month before.
WIHS is a unique global resource as a longitudinal study of predominantly minority women who are not well represented in other clinical studies. It documents comorbidities and is a source of information on highly characterized, rare phenotypes.
The goal of WIHS-V is to continue the clinical, epidemiologic, and basic research that will characterize the long-term, natural and treated history of HIV infection.
By recruiting new women into the cohort and retaining them, it will provide fresh insights into the demographics of the HIV epidemic among U.S. women.
For details on the RFA, read the November 29, 2011, Guide notice. Also see NIAID's WIHS Q&A, which covers administration and oversight, renewal and expansion, and budgeting.
Completed in 2007, WITS explored the natural history of HIV-1 infection as well as the safety and efficacy of antiretroviral therapy.
It followed over 2,000 HIV-infected pregnant women and their infants, children, and adolescents living in the U.S.
WITS specimens—which are available until the end of 2013—include:
- Peripheral blood collected in EDTA, ACD, and heparin tubes.
- Cord blood collected in ACD and heparin tubes.
For both the supplements listed below, requests follow a parallel track: you need to meet NIH's requirements, and foreign collaborators must meet their country's requirements. Likewise, your funds will come from NIH, and collaborators will be funded by their government.
Your collaborator can also perform cancer or mental health research if that work fits into the scope of your research.
Start a Russian HIV/AIDS Collaboration
Does your HIV/AIDS research cover basic science, microbicides, vaccines, behavioral and social science research, HIV-related comorbidities, or genomics?
Depending on what type of award you have, you may qualify for a supplement of up to one year to support a collaborative research partnership with a Russian investigator.
Learn more in the October 12, 2011, Guide notice. Send your request by January 15, 2012.
Expand Your Allergy, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases Research to China
You can get up to $100,000 for up to one year to establish or expand collaborative research with Chinese investigators in allergy, immunology, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and its comorbidities.
For details, including a list of prohibited activities, read the December 2, 2011, Guide notice. Requests are due by February 21, 2012.
Read the Guide notices carefully and make sure to note all steps, such as sending certain information to both NIH and its foreign counterpart: Russian Foundation for Basic Research or Natural Science Foundation of China.
Are facilities and administrative costs for subawards counted as direct costs on my grant?"
Each funding opportunity has instructions on how to account for subaward facilities and administrative costs.
The rules depend on activity code, scientific area, availability of funds, and sometimes whether you submit a modular or detailed budget, so it's vital to read the funding opportunity announcement for instructions.
We suggest you also contact your grants management specialist for advice. If you don't know who this is, find one for your region at Grants Management Program Contacts.
Before you contact the specialist, you may want to read our advice on how to Get a Speedy Response From Grants Management in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
Because the AREA program announcement opens January 25 and uses standard receipt dates, NIH does not have any way to accept your application before then. You have to wait for the May 7 receipt date to submit.
We wrote more about the AREA announcement in the November 23, 2011, article "AREA Applicants: Get to Know Your New Parent . . . PA."
Use the New Sample Interinstitutional Assurance for Animal Research. Starting in January, follow the format of the revised sample Interinstitutional Assurance. You do not have new requirements.
Observe Revised Guidelines on Animal Care and Use. Starting January 1, 2012, your institution and institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) must follow guidelines in the eighth edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Read the December 2, 2011, Guide notice for more details.
Upcoming Change of Receipt Date. If you're planning to apply for the standard January 7, 2012, receipt date, take note. That date will roll forward to January 9, 2012, following standard practice when a receipt date falls on a weekend or holiday.
Check and Update Your Profile
Visit your Commons profile to make sure NIH has correct information. Log in and go to the Personal Profile tab. For detailed steps, see how To Edit Personal Profile Information.
If you're too busy to do this yourself, you can delegate it. Learn how To Delegate Authority to Another User.
Have Too Many Accounts?
It's fine to have multiple accounts due to different roles, such as signing official and PI. But if you have two accounts for the same role, Commons Help Desk staff can merge them to ensure that all your award information and history is properly associated with you.
You may have more than one account if, for example, you had a trainee account and your institution added a regular PI account later. Or perhaps you have two PI accounts from different institutions.
To get accounts consolidated, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk.
You can't look inside the black box yourself. Only your institution's business official gets the Grants.gov notifications and status reports.
But you can—and should—keep track of your application's status using what you do know: inputs and outputs.
Input. As you complete the application forms, use the built-in checks to maximize the chances of passing Grants.gov.
Then for the submission stage, keep in close communication with your business office so you know when your application goes to Grants.gov.
Output. You can watch the Commons Status tab to confirm when your application emerges from Grants.gov.
You may also get an email alert from the Commons, but don't rely on that. Learn more at eRA's Steps for PI to Track Submission Status.
Contact your business official right away for any Grants.gov status messages if your application doesn't appear in the Commons within 24 hours after submission or the deadline is drawing near.
For applications that don't pass Grants.gov, you can fix the issues and have your business official submit a corrected application. But your corrected application will be late if it does not pass Grants.gov and get a timestamp by the deadline.
- Part 4 of the Strategy for NIH Funding
- eRA's Tracking Your Application—from the Commons stage onward
Feel free to send us a question at email@example.com. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
"If I relocate to another country, can I take my NIH funding with me?"—anonymous reader
Possibly. Though you are allowed to take your funding to a foreign country, you need prior approval from your grants management specialist—including a review by your program officer—plus another approval from NIAID's advisory Council.
You may also need to take other steps depending on your circumstances and the country you wish to move to.
For your very first step, contact your business office. Your institution must be willing to transfer your grant to a new institution. This move can be complicated, and NIAID is not involved with that decision or any negotiations related to it.
If your institution approves your move, submit a prior approval request to your grants management specialist. Follow the instructions in our Prior Approval for Post-Grant Award Actions SOP.
NIAID Funding Opportunities List.