July 3, 2013Feature Articles
- Support NIAID's BRC RFP
- Get Funding to Improve Health of Native Americans
- Sign Up for Grants Policy and Management Training in Thailand
- Apply to Attend the Immune Epitope Database User Workshop
- FY 2013 Paylines for More Grant Types
- New Scoring Guidance Applies to Applications Reviewed by CSR, Not NIAID
- You Should "C" Which SF 424 Forms to Use
- “ImmPort” Yourself Over to New Immunology Data
- Corrections to SCORE FOAs
- News Briefs
- Sometimes You Can Wait to Send Just-in-Time Information
- Shrewd Search Skills Find Facts Faster
- Reader Questions
- I’m hoping that my competing renewal application will be assigned to a different NIH institute than the one that funded my prior grant. Is that possible and if so, how should I make that request?
- I am planning to resubmit an R01 proposal. Should I provide a point-by-point response to the reviewers' comments or just prepare a one-page Introduction to Resubmission Application?
Ten Steps to a Winning R01 Application series, which we are updating.
After you have decided the area of research to pursue, you are ready to start designing a high-impact project for an application that you can complete within the four to five years of an R01 grant.
Your project should tackle important research within your niche: it must be able to move your field forward. Beware of concepts that can’t be strongly supported with your own preliminary data or published data from other laboratories.
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 reasonably achieve within the timeframe of a grant. Start broadly with an emphasis on significance, and then focus on generating experiments with clear endpoints reviewers can readily assess.
While you could design a project around two to four Specific Aims, many people create three.
Limiting your application to a 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.
There Are Good Aims and There Are Poor Aims
A common type of Specific Aim would ask a question like “Does A cause B?” However, your project may come to an end if A doesn’t turn out to cause B.
It’s better to design an aim where the result doesn’t depend on only one outcome, but where one or more different outcomes would also be of interest. Then the question becomes “Does A cause B or non-B,” so make sure the “non-B” outcomes make sense based on both your central hypothesis and preliminary data.
Another common type of Specific Aim is descriptive. For example, “We will measure levels of X in 1,000 samples of Y to characterize the pattern of expression of X."
Though this may be very doable, it is rarely a highly significant finding in itself and often should be avoided unless you have no other choice. Such descriptive findings should usually be part of your preliminary data, not part of your proposal.
Like your topic, your Specific Aims should build on your previous experience.
Form a GestaltAlthough it may seem an early stage to think about specific experiments, cost of those experiments, needed expertise, and resources, these variables go hand-in-hand with picking a project that is both impactful and feasible. If the project is not feasible, you will need to rethink your experiments or even your Specific Aims.
Because you have several items to juggle, we recommend using the following iterative process:
- 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.
Hypothetically Speaking . . .Why do you need a central hypothesis (or multiple hypotheses)? Because that's what reviewers expect and what anchors your different Specific Aims to a common theme, not just a common field of research. Following a central hypothesis also keeps you focused with both writing the proposal and actually doing the research if the grant is funded.
Some people write their Specific Aims first and then develop a hypothesis; others do the reverse. The correct method will depend on the approach that works best for you and your proposed research.
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 and their level of interest in light of your draft aims and hypothesis.
Strategy for NIH Funding
- Part 2. Pick and Design a Project
Bioinformatics Resource Centers (BRCs)?
Consider applying for a new request for proposals (RFP) for a contract to support maintaining, expanding, and enhancing the existing BRCs by providing the following:
- BRC database systems containing integrated data from human pathogens and invertebrate vectors of infectious diseases.
- Analysis tools and algorithms as open source.
- User friendly Web interfaces for data query, retrieval, and display.
- Community outreach and training.
- Interaction with NIAID funded programs.
- Bioinformatics infrastructure and data services for one of the following groups of organisms:
- Bacterial species
- Viral families
- Protozoan species and fungi
- Invertebrate vectors of human pathogens
BRCs have provided the scientific community with publicly accessible systems that store, update, integrate, and display genomics, functional genomics and other "omics" data, and other associated data and metadata for a large variety of human pathogens and vectors of human pathogens and related microbial species and strains. BRCs also allow users to query and analyze this data with user friendly interfaces and computational analyses tools.
They have also provided bioinformatics services and training to the scientific community and rapid response to the immediate needs and changing priorities of the scientific community.
Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH).
To check out the list of NIAID's relevant scientific priorities, go to the June 14, 2013, Guide notice. and scroll down to the "National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases" header.
For more guidance, send an email with subject line "NARCH" to the NIAID Training Help Desk at AITrainingHelpDesk@niaid.nih.gov.
We’ve designed this training for principal investigators, business officials, budget coordinators, and other grant administrators so you can better understand and comply with NIH and U.S. government funding policies and regulations.
Come learn about a variety of topics, including tips and resources for managing an NIAID award, subcontract requirements, grants management policies, how to prepare financial status reports, and information about foreign financial system reviews.
We’ll also hold breakout sessions to provide hands-on training for completing NIH reports and give you time to ask grant-specific questions.
This workshop runs from July 17 to 19, 2013, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Act quickly, because you only have until July 8 to secure your seat.
For information on session topics and registration, go to Upcoming NIH Grants Policy and Management Training Workshops.
The IEDB is an NIH-supported and free resource that provides access to and analysis tools for published data related to epitopes recognized by both antibodies and T cells.
During the two-day workshop, IEDB staff will cover the IEDB data structure and content, demonstrate different query and browse features, highlight epitope analysis and prediction tools, and more.
Staff members will also be available to advise participants on an individual basis.
The workshop costs $45 and space is limited. To request an application, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due August 1.
For more information, see Immune Epitope Database User Workshop.
NIAID Paylines for the following grant types:
- F31: 30 overall impact score
- F32: 25 overall impact score
- R03: 23 overall impact score
- R15: 20 overall impact score
- R21: 23 overall impact score
- STTR: 26 overall impact score
- SBIR: 22 overall impact score
For NIAID-reviewed applications competing for FY 2014 funding, we aren't adopting this new guidance yet.
This means our guidance to reviewers will differ from NIH's for the following applications:
- Training grant (T) applications submitted on or before September 25, 2013 (January 7, 2014, for AIDS-related applications).
- Career development award (K) applications submitted on or before November 12, 2013 (January 7, 2014, for AIDS-related applications).
- Applications in response to funding opportunity announcements where NIAID is listed as the locus of review and Council review date is May 2014 or earlier. You can find out if NIAID is locus of review by checking Section V. Application Review Information of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA).
What scoring guidance are you talking about?
When we say "scoring guidance," we're talking about instructions to peer reviewers. Specifically, the following guidance is provided to reviewers when applications are reviewed by CSR:
- Additional Scoring Guidance for Research Applications
- Additional Scoring Guidance: Applications for Fellowships, Career Awards, and Institutional Training Grants
For NIAID-reviewed applications, we use this guidance: NIAID Grant Application Review Guidance.
Why not adopt the new guidance?
Here's why we're not adopting the new guidance at the moment:
- We don't want to use different scoring guidance within the same fiscal year.
- Since applications compete for funding within the same fiscal year, a single standard should make it easier to make a funding plan across review rounds.
- Except for Ts and Ks, NIAID-reviewed applications do not easily accommodate CSR's guidance.
- These applications are usually reviewed by a single special emphasis panel with review criteria that are specific to the respective FOA.
- Solicited applications compete for a set-aside pool of money and are funded based on priority score and programmatic needs.
Use the table below to check when the requirement kicks in for your chosen grant type.
Transition Timing for Adobe Forms C Applications
** For small business applications, NIH will announce a specific date later after working out the form changes related to the Small Business Reauthorization Act.
Meanwhile, if you're working on an application using the older version of the forms, ask your business office how to handle the upcoming transition. Your institution's chosen application system might transition automatically. If not, then you may need to manually copy your information over into the new forms package.
For a summary of form changes in this version, see Updating Grants.gov Forms: FORMS-C.
NIH announced the transition dates above in a May 30, 2013, Guide notice.
ImmPort) system, check out new data from 12 immunology studies and trials.
Research areas include:
- Immune responses in autoimmune populations (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Immune response to hepatitis C virus infection
- Recombinant DNA plasmid vaccine development for influenza
- Immune system modeling and systems biology
ImmPort is a free data sharing and data analysis resource funded by NIAID to promote open science. The portal’s new MySQL data packages allow you to download and build your own database with these publically released datasets. The site now houses 48 shared human studies and 566 experiments. This data resource is designed to facilitate data mining and further leverage the impact of NIH-funded research.
Not yet registered to use ImmPort? Go to Register for ImmPort and sign up as a life science researcher.
Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program, which we wrote about in our May 15, 2013, article "Your Institute Can SCORE in the Eligibility Department."
|Support of Competitive Research (SCORE) Program (SC1, SC2, SC3)||Corrects eligibility information and application instructions.|
RFI on Application Process for Three NIH-Industry Pilot Funding Opportunities. In June of last year, NCATS issued three funding opportunities (PAR-12-203, RFA-TR-12-004, and RFA-TR-12-005) on discovering new therapeutic uses for existing molecules. NCATS would like your feedback on the preapplication and application process by July 18, 2013. Learn more in the June 14, 2013, Guide notice.
eRA Commons. But, depending on your situation, you or your business office shouldn't send it.
If that sounds contradictory, keep in mind that NIH doesn't know which applications are likely to receive awards. That's NIAID's responsibility, and we need JIT information only if your application is likely to be funded.
Which begs the question: to send, or not to send?
Send JIT information if...
- Your application scores within or near our published paylines. Check NIAID Paylines.
- You receive a JIT email request from your grants management specialist separate from NIH's notification.
Don't send JIT information if...
- Your application scores well outside of our published paylines.
- Your program officer informs you that you're not likely to receive funding.
- There are no published paylines.
Contact your program officer if...
- You have any question about your application's status.
- You receive a JIT email from your grants management specialist and NIH even though your application scores well outside our published paylines. Your application may be considered for a select pay award or other funding reserved for programmatically-important applications that score outside our paylines.
Why are you receiving a JIT request if NIAID doesn't need JIT information?
NIH enables the JIT option in eRA Commons and emails your business office if you receive an overall impact score of 40 or better, even though this score is higher than our paylines will support.
That notification is sent automatically from NIH and does not reflect NIAID's intent to fund or not fund an application.
- Just-in-Time SOP
- Just-in-Time questions and answers
- Strategy to Prepare the Forms and Just-in-Time in the Strategy for NIH Funding
Converting Search into Navigation article.
Here are our tips to hone your search skills.
Choose the Right Search VenueYou could cast a wide net using Google or the Google Advanced Search. But if you already know which site houses the information you want, you may be better off going there to use the local search form instead.
So for example, if your topic is related to NIAID, you could use the default search box shown at the top right of all NIAID pages or try NIAID's Advanced Search.
For NIH searches, you have several options:
- NIH sites have a default search box at the top right of every page.
- NIH Guide has an Advanced Funding Opportunities and Notices Search form.
- Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) includes the RePORTER search form for funded research.
- Office of Extramural Research includes an Advanced OER Web Search page.
- PubMed offers PubMed Advanced Search.
Finer Filtering With Advanced Search CommandsWeb search engines accept advanced commands to filter results. These commands work for most NIAID and NIH search forms, too.
Here are the top three command options from Google's More Search Help:
- Quotation marks let you search for an exact phrase.
- Example search: "disease transmission"
- Result: pages that use the words together, in order, as shown.
- Minus sign before the term excludes that term from the search.
- Example search: disease transmission -engine -car
- Result: pages that mention transmission but not engine or car.
- site:____ lets you narrow Web-wide searches to focus on a specific site.
- Example search: site:www.cdc.gov "transmission rates"
- Result: pages only at www.cdc.gov that use the phrase "transmission rates."
Almost There? Search the Page You're OnInstead of visually skimming down a page, you can search it for a particular word or phrase using Control-F (or for Mac, Command-F.) This keyboard shortcut works in most Web browsers.
Stuck on Search? See Site NavigationIf your searches only take you so far toward what you seek, hopefully your favorite sites provide excellent navigation.
As an example, NIAID Research Funding offers the standard left-hand navigation, but we also have the following:
- Indexes for our Standard Operating Procedures, Questions and Answers, and Grants topics.
- Alphabetical Find It! A-Z list.
- Easy access to other popular resources such as Funding Opportunities, Paylines, and Concepts.
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.
"I’m hoping that my competing renewal application will be assigned to a different NIH institute than the one that funded my prior grant. Is that possible and if so, how should I make that request?"—anonymous reader
Although it’s rare, grants can be funded in situations where the previous competitive segment was funded by another institute or center (IC). Check with a program officer in the other IC to see whether there is interest in your application before you submit the application. Request that IC as the primary institute in your cover letter. If your application is able to fit a different IC’s mission, you can work with your program officer to request a dual assignment if you didn't request it when you initially submitted the competing renewal application. Many ICs will accept a transfer before review but not afterwards, so it's best to inquire whether there is interest in accepting the application at another IC before review.
If the assigned IC doesn’t wish to fund the application, then a secondary IC can determine that it’s important to their mission and request that the application moves to their IC. The secondary IC will generally only fund the application if the score is within their payline.
For more information, see the Request for Primary IC Assignment SOP.
"I am planning to resubmit an R01 proposal. Should I provide a point-by-point response to the reviewers' comments or just prepare a one-page Introduction to Resubmission Application?"—anonymous reader
You should include a point-by-point response to reviewers’ comments in your one-page introduction. See our sample Introduction to Resubmission Application. Your program officer can also advise you. For more information on resubmission, see How to Resubmit in the Strategy for NIH Funding.
- RFA-AI-13-038, Innovative Assays to Quantify the Latent HIV Reservoir
- PAR-13-254, NIAID Investigator-Initiated Program Project Applications
- RFA-AI-13-043, Sexually Transmitted Infections Cooperative Research Centers (STI CRC)
- PAR-13-250, NIAID SBIR Phase II Clinical Trial Implementation Cooperative Agreement
- RFA-AI-13-023, Integrated Preclinical/Clinical Program for HIV Microbicides and Biomedical Prevention (IPCP-MBP)
- PAR-13-239, Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)
- RFP-NIAID-DAIDS-NIHAI2012150, Immunology Quality Assessment Program (IQA)