Opportunities and Resources
- We're From the Government, and We're Here to Help
- Check Out HIV-Related Funding Opportunities
- Funding Opportunities Focus on LGBTI Populations
- Make RePORT Your Go-To Site
In The News
- Will We Face a Budget Storm in FY 2013?
- Choose Your Path for an Administrative Supplement Request
- News Briefs
- Planning an Application? Check With Your Scientific Contact First
- Reader Question: Do you have any R03 or R21 samples that can be shared?
New Funding Opportunities
Ten Steps to a Winning R01 Grant Application series.
Up to this next to last article in our series, we discussed gauging your qualifications, topic, and NIH study sections and began planning for your experimental design.
- Plan your research so you can stay within a reasonable budget level—often that means a modular budget.
- Design a budget that's appropriate to your career level and your research.
- To gauge expenses, add up costs for people—the largest expense category, reagents, and possibly equipment.
- Recheck your research design to make sure your budget stays within your targeted range.
On the Mark
Iterative Approach to Application PlanningHitting that "just right" sweet spot is critical for multiple reasons.
- Staying in your niche, propose a project that:
- Addresses a highly significant problem.
- Is innovative—can create new knowledge.
- Outline draft Specific Aims and one or more hypotheses.
- Identify a potential funding institute and a study section that would likely embrace your research.
- Outline experiments.
- 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.
- If you hit a roadblock, go back to the failure point and revise your plans.
Let's start with the least obvious: your reviewers will view your budget request as a general gauge of your competence.
A request that misses its mark will undermine their confidence not only in your money smarts but also in your ability to manage a major independent project.
And of course the more evident reason to create an appropriate budget is that the success of your project depends on it.
The iterative framework we've been using, shown in the box at right, can help you stay on track.
In the LoopThe best things in life may be free, but research isn't one of them.
So—no surprise—all aspects of your experimental design revolve around your budget.
You can plan only those experiments you can afford, and in this era of scarce resources, you want your budget to be as lean as possible.
For most people, that means a modular budget of $250,000 (or less) in annual direct costs.
Why go the modular route? You will have an easier time on several fronts.
- Reviewers tend to be more skeptical about larger projects, especially in a time of fiscal constraints when everyone is hurting.
- Unlike with a detailed budget, reviewers have no details to critique.
- No details means you have less to prepare for your application.
Reviewers tend to be more skeptical about larger projects, especially in a time of major fiscal constraints like today.Start by calculating how much money each experiment will cost based on the personnel and resources needed to do the work.
If the numbers don't line up with your (no-flab) dollar target, go back and revise, making sure that any new plans you make fit your Specific Aims.
And should those objectives change, be sure that your new aims are still significant to your field.
As you develop your plans, stay in this feedback loop, rechecking that all parts remain in sync.
How Much Is Enough?To gauge expenses, add up costs for people—the largest expense category—reagents, and possibly equipment.
Coming up short will not further your cause—ask for enough money to perform your research and no more.Include your salary and that of other key personnel as well as consultants you need to hire.
Coming up short will not further your cause—ask for enough money to perform your research and no more.
In addition to fitting the work you propose, your budget must be appropriate to your career level.
If you are a new investigator, reviewers may be skeptical if you ask for a lot of money. Most new investigators should stick to a modular budget.
Here are some FY 2010 data on average grant costs for competing R01 applications you can use as a benchmark.
- Average R01 received roughly $290,000 in direct costs (that does not include the institution's overhead, called facilities and administrative costs).
- About 76 percent of new investigators used a modular budget.
- For non-new investigators, 66 percent went the modular route.
And note that though you will stay within the limits of a modular budget, your expenses may vary over time.
For example, your personnel costs may be lower in the first year since you may be able to hold off recruiting some of your people until later, but you may need to spend more on equipment.
If you are requesting funds for a big equipment purchase, create a separate module for it as a one-time request (i.e., do not add it to the base amount). We discussed the ins and outs of buying equipment in Step Seven to a Winning Application—Build Your Team.
You can find more information about application budgets and get more advice in the links below and see examples of budgets from successful investigators at Sample R01 Applications and Summary Statements.
Strategy for NIH Funding
- Part 2. Pick and Design a Project
- Part 3. Write Your Application
Ten Steps to a Winning R01 Application to bring in the bi-weekly articles that narrate each step.
The outline and all articles are now bundled together in one tidy package—and we'll add the last one when the series ends with our March 28 issue.
We hear that some of you find this resource useful for both teaching and learning purposes. Everything we publish in the public domain, so you may repurpose the content as you wish.
Not to forget: our Strategy for NIH Funding gives you additional advice and resources, such as Strategy Timelines that show your time-sensitive actions for a given stage.
For example, when applying for a grant, follow the Timing for Submitting Your Application page so you avoid painful situations like failing to verify that your application made it through the Commons and finding out too late that it did not. Ouch!
Note: Except for the first one listed below, all FOAs are for R01s.
Targeting Persistent HIV ReservoirsBetter hurry if you want to apply for this opportunity, which seeks innovative, high-risk research on tools and strategies for eradicating latent reservoirs of HIV. This year's application deadline is April 25, 2012, with optional letters of intent due March 25. The next application due dates are April 25 of 2013 and 2014.
Unlike the other featured FOAs, this one is a phased innovation award (R21/R33), which covers two phases with little or no funding gap between phases. To learn more, see our R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award SOP.
Check the February 17, 2012, Guide notice for more information.
Delivering Therapeutics to Residual Active HIV ReservoirsWhile we're on the topic of HIV reservoirs, consider applying for this FOA if you can propose ways to eliminate residual reservoirs of HIV that persist despite the use of traditional antiretroviral therapy to suppress plasma viremia.
The objective here is to develop innovative strategies for delivering antiretroviral drugs and other anti-HIV agents to specific cell types or tissue compartments that serve as persistent HIV-producing reservoirs.
Learn more in the February 15, 2012, Guide notice.
Enhancing Cellular Immunity in the Female Reproductive TractYou may want to apply if your research can boost understanding of how to generate effective and persistent T lymphocyte responses against infection by HIV or other mucosal pathogens in the female reproductive tract.
Read the February 14, 2012, Guide notice for full details.
Functional Glycomics in HIV Vaccine DesignThe goal of this opportunity: to stimulate novel areas of research on the role of glycosylation in HIV-1 envelope protein immunogenicity and modulation of the immune response to HIV viral infection.
To effectively carry out proposed research in this area, NIAID encourages collaboration among glycobiologists, virologists, immunologists, biochemists, clinical scientists, carbohydrate chemists, and other relevant specialists.
Find more information in the February 14, 2012, Guide notice.
Mucosal Environment and HIV PreventionThis PA is for you if your project can further our understanding of the interaction of genital (female and male) and gastrointestinal tract mucosal tissue with non-vaccine biomedical prevention candidates and strategies.
Get the full scoop in the February 14, 2012, Guide notice.
NIH reissued three program announcements (PAs)—an R01, R03, and R21—that seek research on the biological, clinical, behavioral, and social processes that affect the health and development of LGBTI populations and their families.
To fill research gaps identified in an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, the PAs seek projects that will:
- Expand understanding of the influences of sexual orientation and gender identity on health, health behaviors, perceptions and expectations about health, and barriers and access to health-related services.
- Address how household and family structure affect the health, development, and well-being of children raised in an LGBTI environment.
- Lead to developing effective supportive, preventive, and treatment interventions and health service delivery methods that will enhance the health and development of LGBTI populations.
NIH encourages interested applicants to read the IOM report The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding.
RePORT Web site to find data on NIH research activities? If not, here are a few uses for RePORT we think you’ll like.
If you're looking for the percentage of reviewed applications that received funding, you can query the success rate data and narrow results by institute and funding year. For example, see Research Project Success Rates for NIAID in 2011.
You can also access various databases from RePORT, such as the NIH Intramural Database to view intramural research or PubMed for journal articles. Or find more systems, such as iEdison.
One tool on the site, called RePORTER (RePORT Expenditures and Results), can help you search for the latest details on NIH-funded research, publications, and patents.
RePORTER also lets you verify that your grant information is correct, and if necessary, submit a request to correct an error.
These are just a few useful tools RePORT offers. Check the RePORT site and FAQs to find out more.
March 14, 2012, NIAID Funding Blog post.
The federal budget will face strong headwinds next fiscal year from both the drive to curb the deficit and the possibility of mandatory budget cuts.
Normally at this point, we are starting the annual process that culminates in our next fiscal year's appropriation.
In February, President Obama submitted his FY 2013 budget request to Congress as the first step.
It requests $30.86 billion for NIH, the same level as FY 2012, and $4.495 billion for NIAID, an increase of $10 million (0.2 percent).
However, in the aftermath of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the inability of the congressional "super committee" to agree to a plan to reduce the U.S. deficit by at least $1.5 trillion casts a shadow on our FY 2013 budget.
As a result, the federal government's discretionary spending, which includes NIH, may be subject to automatic cuts up to 10 percent or more due to a mandatory process called sequestration.
For NIH, that could translate to a loss of approximately $3 billion a year starting in January 2013.
Few in Congress want such severe measures, and Congress has taken on the formidable task of addressing both sequestering and the long-term deficit.
Since it's impossible to know the outcome of Congress's efforts, we have begun designing plans to handle a loss of funds of this magnitude.
A smaller budget would pose a dilemma as we try to balance our commitments to existing grants with the need to fund new applications.
Nevertheless, it appears that if we are forced to absorb a large budget cut in FY 2013, our payline would drop to the 8 percentile.
Other measures are also likely, for example, reducing budgets for noncompeting grants and contracts as well as our intramural program by up to 10 percent, and cutting initiatives up to 20 percent.
We'd Like to Hear From You
Obviously, we recognize that such major cutbacks would have a significant impact on our research programs and investigators.
In trying times such as these, we'd very much appreciate hearing your take on priorities and other possible avenues we could pursue.
For example, should NIH get a flat or even a lower budget, would you prefer that we reduce the number of new awards or cut budgets for noncompeting grants?
Go to FY 2013 President's Budget for HHS to see all data on the President's budget request.
Read and share comments about this article—go to the March 14, 2012, NIAID Funding Blog post.
Parent Announcement for electronic administrative supplement requests, you may be wondering which method to choose. Here's a summary.
- If the parent award type (such as R01) has made the transition to electronic submission, you have three options:
- Electronic request through Grants.gov using the forms in the parent announcement.
- Electronic request through the eRA Commons using the Admin Supp tab.
- Send the PHS 398 forms to your program officer, preferably as an email attachment.
- If the parent award type has not made the transition to electronic submission, you may use only option 3 above.
Keep in mind that the changes just give you more ways to send in your request—there is no new program or set-aside associated with this parent announcement.
Give Input on Using Chimpanzees in NIH-Supported Research. With this request for information, you can have your say on how NIH should implement recommendations outlined in the Institute of Medicine's report Chimpanzees in Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Assessing the Necessity. Submit comments by April 10, 2012. Read the February 10, 2012, Guide notice for full details.
New Report Proposes Standardized Outcome Measures for NIH-Supported Asthma Clinical Trials. For asthma clinical research, NIH plans to require researchers to use a set of common measures and data collection methods. Stay tuned for details on the requirements and schedule. See the March 2, 2012, News Release.
Comment on Proposed Changes in Cost Principles, Administration, and Audit of Grants and Cooperative Agreements. Tell the White House Office of Management and Budget your thoughts on proposals to reduce burdens on institutions by streamlining compliance rules. For details on changes and instructions on how to respond, read the February 28, 2012, Federal Register notice. Deadline for comments is March 29.
We advise you to touch base with the NIAID scientific contact even if you don't need preapproval.You must contact that person to get preapproval before you apply for some types of grant applications, e.g., big grants and conference grants.
But we advise you to touch base with the NIAID scientific contact even if you don't need preapproval.
For example, if you plan an NIAID Resource Related Research Projects for AIDS, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation or phased innovation (R21/R33) application, you benefit from contacting the NIAID staff person listed in the FOA to begin discussing your proposed submission, clarify the scope of the FOA, and get answers to any questions you may have.
With tight budgets and stiff competition for funding, it's particularly important to ensure that your proposed research aligns with the Institute’s scientific priorities. Keep in mind that funding depends on several factors, including relevant program priority areas of interest, scientific and technical merit, and availability of funds.
Before you move ahead with preparing your application, you may want to email your FOA's scientific contact a one-page description of your project to solicit feedback on the viability of receiving an award and get confirmation that you're on the right track. In the long run, this step could save you time and effort.
- Contact Staff for Help in the Strategy for NIH Funding
- Application types that require preapproval
- Guidance for Preparing a Multiproject Research Application
Feel free to send us a question at firstname.lastname@example.org. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.
"Do you have any R03 or R21 samples that can be shared?"—anonymous reader
We are now working with R21 PIs to post their applications, but it will take some time to complete the review and redaction process. We expect to have samples within a few weeks at the earliest.
We don't plan to post R03s because the budget limit of $50,000 makes their value limited. As our Small and Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants SOP states, R03s are for experienced investigators seeking short-term funding.
You can read more about the grant types and get our take on them in Choose the Grant in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
- RFA-OD-12-004, Small Business Alzheimer's Disease Research (STTR)
- RFA-OD-12-003, Small Business Alzheimer's Disease Research (SBIR)