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August 7, 2008

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles
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PAVE 100 -- The Final Word

Following months of discussion with scientists and advocacy groups, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci canceled the Institute's plans for a scaled back PAVE 100 HIV vaccine trial.

This decision reflects more reverberations from the STEP study, whose failure last year sent seismic shock waves through the HIV vaccine community. (You can read more on that topic at Immunizations Are Discontinued in Two HIV Vaccine Trials.)

NIAID is now exploring the possibility of a study even smaller than the recently revamped PAVE 100 to determine whether the vaccine can significantly lower viral load.

After the failure of the Merck & Co., Inc. vaccine candidate used in the STEP trial, PAVE 100 was put on hold and then redesigned as a smaller study. That trial was to test 2,400 men in the U.S. who were circumcised and lacked preexisting neutralizing antibodies to adenovirus type 5.

Although Dr. Fauci now decided that the revamped trial is inopportune, NIAID also issued an announcement (see linked statement below) describing the Vaccine Research Center’s (VRC) vaccine candidate as “scientifically intriguing” and sufficiently different from the STEP vaccine to warrant further study.

A future trial will use the same VRC vaccine regimen as the PAVE 100 would have -- a DNA prime vaccine with an adenovirus-based boost.

Read more in the July 17 statement NIAID Will Not Move Forward with the PAVE 100 HIV Vaccine Trial.

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Conflict of Interest -- Take It Seriously

If you think you can bypass conflict of interest rules, think again. Congressional sleuthing is already underway, and more stringent NIH oversight is in the works.

Congress wants to make certain that financial interests do not influence the design, conduct, or reporting of government-funded awards (except SBIR phase I, which are exempt).

NIH financial conflict of interest rules cover any significant financial interests -- stock, money, property -- that can affect your research.

For example, a PI in charge of a clinical trial would have a conflict if he or she received money from the pharmaceutical company that created the study drug.

To avoid trouble, know and follow the rules.

  • As a principal investigator, you must report any financial conflict of interest to your institution before spending new grant or contract funds.
  • Cooperate with your university, which is required to review and manage conflicts of interest and report them to NIAID.

For details on complying, read the Financial Conflicts of Interest for Awardees SOP.

In the Limelight

As you likely have heard, scrutiny is intensifying. Senator Charles E. Grassley has compared information from pharmaceutical companies and universities about financial support to academic scientists.

He is now disclosing discrepancies -- see Senator Grassley Reports Contacting 20 Universities Over Financial Conflicts. And in June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would require NIH to beef up its oversight of financial conflicts.

Further Action From NIH

Continuing its efforts to improve oversight of awards, NIH recently formed an internal group called the Task Force to Review NIH’s System of Oversight of Extramural FCOI.

That group is delving into such areas as whether institutional policies are consistent with regulations, whether investigators disclose conflicts to their institution, and whether institutions report conflicts to NIH.

It is also exploring tougher actions NIH may take such as requiring assurances for grant applications, site visits, accreditation, and other measures.

We last wrote about this topic in our March 5 article, "Report Any Financial Conflicts of Interest." For additional information, go to NIH’s Conflict of Interest Frequently Asked Questions.

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Stop, Drop, and Roll -- But What About Your Application?

If your institution catches fire and closes, it's ok to submit your grant application late. You don't need permission to submit late, just include the reason for the delay in your cover letter.

For more information, see the July 9, 2008, Guide notice.

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Electronic Training Grant Applications Are Around the Corner

Starting in September next year, Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35) applicants will need to submit their applications electronically using the SF 424.

For NIAID, that means the receipt date after next: September 25, 2009. That’s because NIAID accepts T32 and T35 applications on the September 25 submission date only.

For the latest electronic transition scheme, go to NIH Planned Transition Dates.

If you're interested in directing a training program, check out the updated program announcements for the Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) and Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35) .

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Sign Up for the RCDC Listserv

You can receive email updates on the rollout of NIH’s upcoming Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) system by joining the RCDC listserv.

NIH has scheduled the public launch of the new electronic tool for budget reporting in February 2009. RCDC will enable Congress and the public to generate consistent reports of the money NIH spends on more than 300 predetermined research areas, conditions, and diseases.

Opportunities and Resources
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Stay Savvy With Power Tools

These powerful new Web tools can help you spot the latest innovations and innovators in your field.

WorldWideScience: Unified Search

Rev up your publication searches using, which draws from national and international science databases and portals in medicine, energy, agriculture, environment, and the basic sciences.

The U.S. Department of Energy sponsors this nascent effort, which includes information from many Member Countries and Organizations. See the map at and read more About the resource.

WikiProfessional: Collaborative Intelligence

Check out WikiProfessional, a new collaborative portal on the life sciences, and help it develop by adding your expertise.

To test drive for yourself, see a demonstration of the Concept Web Navigator and then try the search box at WikiProfessional.

The site combines two knowledge management approaches:

  • An automated analysis for each concept, called a "Knowlet," distills information and summarizes relationships based on literature from sources such as PubMed and BioMed Central.
  • A user-editable wiki structure allows participating scientists to annotate concepts and tag them with related terms.

For more background, read About WikiProfessional. Long term the non-governmental WikiProfessional group plans to include disciplines beyond the life sciences.

BioMedExperts: Matchmaker for Biomedical Scientists

Interested in networking? BioMedExperts is a literature-based social networking platform for the life science research community, housing more than 1.4 million PubMed-based profiles of scientists worldwide.

Using BioMedExperts, you can view profiles to gauge who's been published. Explore social networks by following links to co-authors, branching to their co-authors, and so on. Investigators who actively publish will get the most mileage from the site.

This free service was created by Collexis Holdings, Inc.

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Packing More Opportunities Into One List

In the hopes of building a better funding opportunity list for you, we are now including all NIH opportunities relevant to NIAID's research community on our NIH Funding Opportunities Relevant to NIAID. Note the new name reflecting this change.

Yes, it's a long list, so how can you readily identify what's new? Our advice is to check our Latest Funding Updates page for new funding opportunities and their amendments as well as policy notices and site updates. Visit that page regularly to see what's new in the funding and policy worlds since the last time you looked.

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Get Your Education Loans Off Your Back

NIH Loan Repayment Programs could repay up to $35,000 of your educational debt each year, if you're an M.D. or an eligible doctoral-level researcher involved in one of the following types of activities:

And if you come from a low-income family, you may qualify for the Clinical Research Loan Repayment Program for Individuals from Disadvantaged Backgrounds.

Check out the basic eligibility requirements at Five Quick Checks for LRP Eligibility.

NIH will also reimburse taxes that recipients owe as a result of the award. See the Guidelines for Tax Reimbursement Requests.

You can apply online at Apply Here between September 1 and December 1. For information about applying, read the LRP Application Guide.

To learn more, visit NIAID's Loan Repayment Programs or NIH's Applicant Information Bulletin - Extramural Programs, and contact Milton J. Hernández at 301-496-3775 or for help.

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Growing Opportunities in the World of High Containment Biosafety Training

Looking for classroom instruction on the application of biosafety principles? Two universities now offer training in this expanding field.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) Laboratory Biosafety Training Program (LBTP) offers training in biocontainment practices for biosafety levels BSL2, BSL3, and BSL4 -- though you must request a BSL4 class as LBTP does not offer them as part of the regular curriculum.

If you are actively working or accepted employment in a laboratory, you can sign up for LBTP training. The program teaches a solid base of laboratory skills and application of biosafety principles. Both the CDC and NIH's inspecting teams acknowledge that this program meets their training requirements.

Emory University’s Science and Safety Training Courses offers biosafety training for BSL3 and BSL4 level training.

Constructed in its mock BSL3 and BSL4 laboratories, these training courses grew from NIAID’s support of the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infections, which collaborated with the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research to develop a comprehensive education and training program in BSL3 and BSL4, and ABSL3 and ABSL4 (animal biosafety) laboratory safety practices.

Emory University is also implementing an Onsite Biosafety Training Program in several locations, which will bring biosafety experts together and apply biosafety training solutions at the laboratory. It is also launching an e-training program.

If you're interested in finding out fees and registering for classes, go to UTMB Course List or Emory University Science and Safety Training Courses.

Advice Corner
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If You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again

If you submitted your application to a request for applications and it wasn't funded, don't give up! You can submit the same application as a new investigator-initiated application.

When you submit the application, remember that it is new. Don't call it a resubmission or describe any changes that you've made.

For more information, see Not Funded, Reapply in the NIH Grant Cycle: Application to Renewal.

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Reader Question

An anonymous reader asks:

"Will NIH be shortening the length of the R01 application, which was proposed in the new peer review implementation plan?"

A lot of changes have been proposed as a result of the year-long effort to overhaul the NIH peer review system, including experimenting with shortening the length of the R01.

NIH has not announced any changes to the R01 at this time, and we do not know when they will. But we do expect they will give significant lead time for any changes they will make.

Once we hear the news, we will announce it here in this newsletter.

For more information about the implementation plan and enhancing peer review at NIH, go to Enhancing Peer Review at NIH.

New Funding Opportunities
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See these and older announcements on our NIH Funding Opportunities Relevant to NIAID.

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