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February 29, 2012, NIAID Funding Newsletter

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February 29, 2012, NIAID Funding Newsletter

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February 29, 2012

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

Step Eight to a Winning Application: Define Resources

This article is the eighth in our Ten Steps to a Winning R01 Grant Application series. At this point, we have talked about assessing your qualifications, topic, and NIH study sections and helped you get started on your research design.
  • Figure out which resources you will need for your research are already at your disposal.
  • Find out in advance whether your institution will give you support to purchase a major piece of equipment you will require.
  • Request money in the application for small equipment or items not usually shared.
  • If you require a piece of large equipment you cannot access, consider your options, which include requesting funds for it in the application.
In this eighth step in our Ten Steps to a Winning Grant Application series, we explore sizing up and gaining access to the resources you'll need to conduct your planned research.
If you've been following our series, you've read how to start a blueprint for an R01 application. Here we continue the design phase keeping to the iterative process recapped in the box below, to the right.
Iterative Approach to Application Planning
  1. Staying in your niche, propose a project that:
    • Addresses a highly significant problem.
    • Is innovative—can create new knowledge.
  2. Outline draft Specific Aims and one or more hypotheses.
  3. Identify a potential funding institute and a study section that would likely embrace your research.
  4. Outline experiments.
  5. Assess feasibility.
    • See whether you have access to all needed resources and expertise.
    • Make sure the project is not growing too big for your targeted time and budget.
  6. If you hit a roadblock, go back to the failure point and revise your plans.

Take Stock

Convincing your reviewers of your project's feasibility is as critical as wowing them with a project they will view as instrumental to your field.
A key part of "yes we can" is access to needed resources, especially major pieces of equipment.
If you are a new investigator, your reviewers will expect you to have fewer resources at your disposal, but they will also expect you to complete all the work you propose.
As you design your Specific Aims and experiments using our iterative process, you'll factor in the resources you'll need (both those at hand and those you request in the application), staying within the limits of your targeted budget.
Our last article discussed using a modular budget—up to $250,000 in annual direct costs—if that's sufficient to meet your goals.

Fill in the Blanks

As you plan your experiments, you'll note your resource needs, particularly expensive equipment (e.g., costing over $10,000) and then take these steps.
1. See what equipment you can share with other investigators.
Try to gain access to large equipment by sharing it with other investigators at your institution or by sharing the cost of buying it.
2. See if you can find a collaborator who has the equipment you need, and determine whether you can work out a feasible arrangement.
For example, if your collaborator's lab is far from yours, you wouldn't want to rely on a machine you'll need for several hours a day.
3. Explore options to access core facilities that provide services and expertise.
Consider whether you can access core facilities at your or a collaborator’s institution to meet your needs for a major piece of equipment and expertise.
If that works, you can avoid having to purchase the equipment and use time to set it up during the grant.
Reviewers often view this approach favorably since you will be working with established facilities with demonstrated results. Make sure to include any facility user fees in your budget.
4. If the options listed above don't pan out and you're new to your institution, look to your start-up funds to see if you can afford a major purchase.
Take into account expenses you may need to pay for.
  • For example, do your start-up funds pay for office supplies and support services? In some places, indirect costs pay for those items so find out your institution's arrangements.
  • Inquire about policies for access and payments to graduate students (we're counting them as resources rather than personnel on the grant).
Your department chair can tell you which resources and level of support your institution will furnish, so you can then figure out what pieces are missing.
Be aware that you will need to describe your institutional support in your application.
5. Request money in the application to buy the equipment.
This approach is always fine for items such as reagents or small pieces of equipment or other items not usually shared.
But asking NIH to pay for a major purchase is trickier, so we will give you some tips.
  • Be sure the equipment is absolutely essential.
  • Take care that your reviewers would not expect your organization to have the equipment, e.g., because it's unique to your project.
  • If your institution would be expected to have the equipment, explain why you cannot readily access it.
  • Use this rule of thumb to gauge whether reviewers would likely think your request is justified.
    • If you will be using the equipment at least half-time, they'll likely feel it is appropriate.
    • Much less may not be enough.
  • Justify the request in your application by explaining why you need the equipment for your research and why you cannot get it any other way.
Should you end up buying the equipment, keep in mind that you will also need to budget for a maintenance contract and repairs.
You should also be aware that if you move to another institution, you may not be able to take your equipment—or your funds—with you. That decision is made by your current institution, your grant's legal grantee.
It's a good idea to get advice from experienced investigators before deciding whether to request funds for a major purchase.
You can see what approaches your colleagues took in our examples of funded Sample R01 Applications and Summary Statements.
Related Links
Strategy for NIH Funding
Sample R01 Applications and Summary Statements—find examples of outstanding funded application
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Host an Event for National Women's Health Week

Go to Activity Planning Resources for promotional and educational flyers, graphics, and contacts to help you get organized and spread the word.
Consider hosting an event or screening for National Women's Health Week, May 13 to 19, 2012.
If you schedule a related event any time in May, notify the HHS Office on Women's Health so your event can be listed on the National Women's Health Week site.
Then go to Activity Planning Resources for promotional and educational flyers, graphics, and contacts to help you get organized and spread the word.
Can't think of any good ideas? Take a look at a list of Ideas for Celebrating National Women's Health Week.
Last year, more than 100,000 people participated in over 2,000 related activities. Learn more About National Women's Health Week.
Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Upcoming Videocast: Leadership Group for the Clinical Research Network on Antibacterial Resistance

On Monday, March 5, 2012, you may want to tune in to NIAID's videocast to find out about important scientific and administrative issues related to the new Leadership Group focused on antibacterial resistance.
To access it, go to Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Antibacterial Resistance: Information Session. The videocast runs from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
For complete details on the funding opportunity announcement, read RFA-AI-12-019, Leadership Group for a Clinical Research Network on Antibacterial Resistance and go to Restructuring the NIAID Clinical Trials Networks.
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Head to Summer School for Lessons on Computational Immunology

Talk about putting the "knowledge" in immunology. Organizers and speakers at the 2012 Summer School on Computational Immunology will do just that when this year's session opens in June.
Plan to attend if you want an introduction to mathematical and computational modeling techniques and how they apply to problems in immunology.
The summer school runs from June 10 to 14, followed by a symposium through June 15 on modeling immune responses from complex data.
Both will be held at the Center for Biodefense Immune ModelingExternal Web Site Policy, University of Rochester, and are open now for early registration through May 13.
In addition, each event offers a travel award for graduate students and postdocs. The deadline for that is April 15.
For complete details, including a schedule with a list of topics and presenters, go to Summer School on Computational ImmunologyExternal Web Site Policy and 2012 Symposium on Modeling Immune Responses From Complex DataExternal Web Site Policy.
These events are part of the Modeling Immunity for Biodefense program supported by our Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation.
Header: Other News.

From January Council: Welcoming New Members, Clearing Concepts

Among the goings-on at NIAID's first advisory Council meeting of 2012, new members got an official welcome before getting down to one of Council's tasks at hand: reviewing concepts.
And the New Members Are...
To open the proceedings, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci introduced the following freshman members:
DAIDS Subcommittee
  • Adaora Adimora, M.D., is professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Jonathan Karn, Ph.D., is Reinberger Professor of Molecular Biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and director of the Case Center for AIDS Research.
  • Georgia D. Tomaras, Ph.D., is associate professor of surgery, immunology, and molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical Center as well as a faculty member of its Center for Virology and the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Program.
DMID Subcommittee
  • Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D., is professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and director of the Center for Structural Biology in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida.
  • Enriqueta Bond, Ph.D., is a founding partner of QE Philanthropic Advisors and consults with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations on program development and governance.
To read more about their backgrounds, go to Biographical Sketches of NIAID Council Members.
How "Nobel" of Them
Dr. Fauci also took a few minutes to recognize three long-time NIAID grantees who received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Drs. Bruce Beutler of the Scripps Research Institute and Jules Hoffmann of the University of Strasbourg were honored for their discoveries on the activation of innate immunity.
Dr. Ralph Steinman of Rockefeller University received a posthumous award for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.
Greenlighting Concepts
One of the main functions of Council is determining which concepts will move on to possibly become initiatives. To see which concepts members greenlighted in January, go to Concepts: Potential Opportunities.
As we've written before, you can use concepts as clues to NIAID's research interests and topics for investigator-initiated applications. Find out more at Use Our Concepts List, Blend Approaches in our Strategy for NIH Funding.
Note that while our advisory Council must approve all concepts, its approval does not guarantee a concept will become a published initiative. For more on the planning process, go to Concepts May Turn Into Initiatives.
Read More
To learn more about our advisory Council, go to:
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News Briefs

Here's news from around NIH.
NIH Bans Use of Class B Cats in Research. Starting with awards issued in fiscal year 2013, NIH will prohibit the use of cats acquired from USDA Class B dealers. Investigators will have to get cats from USDA Class A dealers or other approved legal sources. Find out more in the February 8, 2012, Guide notice.
Respond to RFI on Scientific Direction of Proposed New Institute. Give your input on a strategic plan for substance use, abuse, and addiction research. Your comments will help NIH determine the scope of the proposed new National Institute of Substance Use and Addiction Disorders. You have until May 11, 2012, to respond. Get full details in the February 8, 2012, Guide notice.
Electronic Administrative Supplement FOA Posted. NIH posted the Parent Announcement for electronic supplements. Get a summary of the process change in our previous article, "Electronic Supplement Applications Coming Soon" and more information in the Administrative Supplements to Grants and Cooperative Agreements SOP.
Header: Advice Corner.

What to Do if Your Multiproject Application Has Humans or Animals

Sometimes your multiproject application must seem like a blur of endless checkboxes and Research Plans. Here's a summary of what goes where when you plan human subjects or vertebrate animal research.
If any project or core includes human subjects or vertebrate animal research (or both), check the appropriate boxes of Form 1 Face Page for the overall application as well as on the Face Page for that part.
In addition, the project or core must complete all requirements for that type of research. For example, if your project will include vertebrate animals, its Research Plan must include a Vertebrate Animal Section that addresses the five required points about research animals.
We've added reminders and crosslinks about these requirements in our Guidance for Preparing a Multiproject Research Application.
Get more advice on human subjects and animal research in:
Header: Reader Questions.
Feel free to send us a question at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
"For my renewal application, do subaward F&A costs count against the 20 percent renewal cap?"—anonymous reader
No. Add these costs on top of your renewal cap. See Plan Your Renewal's Budget in the Strategy for NIH Funding for more information on calculating your renewal budget. For advice specific to your budget, contact your grants management specialist.
"Can I expand my funded R21 into an R01?"—Carla Ribeiro, University of North Carolina
You may apply for an R01 using your R21 results as preliminary data.
State that results came from work supported by the R21, but make sure to propose new Specific Aims—your R01 cannot overlap with your R21.
Be aware that the R21 likely will end before the R01 is awarded, and you can’t increase the funds or duration of the R21.
Header: New Funding Opportunities.
See these and older announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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