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February 20, 2008

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles
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NIH Funding: Hitting the Wall, Not Your Head

There's no joy on the budget front. At least for now, flat budgets are here to stay, stalling paylines at historical lows. And while we are accustomed to dealing with budget cycles, prolonged doldrums are unprecedented.

As NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., said at the Council meeting on January 28, "We've had level budgets for two years in a row, never for three or four. Yet this is the fifth year in a row of a flat budget."

This fiscal year NIAID's budget takes an unparalleled fall of 0.1 percent. For more on that story, see NIAID's FY 2008 Budget -- Not As It Appears to Be. Expect no improvement next fiscal year.

What We Are Doing

We are mindful of the effect the budget blues are having on the community and are doing what we can to minimize the pain.

Dr. Fauci told Council, "This budget level demands difficult choices, and we are doing all we can to support the highest possible payline for both experienced and new investigators."

For FY 2008, we just set the final R01 payline for most investigators at the 12 percentile (the interim level was at 10) and are funding new investigators at the 14 percentile. Remaining paylines are provisional. For breaking payline news, subscribe to Email Alerts.

Even achieving this modest level takes considerable finessing, which includes:

  • Cutting funding for noninvestigator-initiated research, including contracts, intramural research, and center grants.
  • Spending some money on investigator-initiated applications that would normally be targeted to initiatives.
  • Continuing programs that set aside small pots of money for unsolicited R01s that rank just beyond the payline:
    • Selective pay, which provides funds for up to four years.
    • R56-Bridge awards, which give investigators one year of funding as a bridge to an R01.
    • Programs to pay high-priority applications from new investigators, new investigators submitting a first renewal, and established investigators at risk of losing their labs.

There are a couple of bright spots: we are fully funding competing awards, and we have succeeded in stabilizing the number of funded grants.

Even with this stressful budget situation, we are still funding a healthy number of applications. As the chart below shows, NIAID awarded more grants in FY 2007 than in 2006, and the success rate rose during that time.

Awards, Applications, and Success Rates FY 1997 to 2007

FY Number of Applications Number of Awards Success Rates
2007 4,900 1,127 23.00%
2006 5,104 1,049 20.60%
2005 4,611 1,164 25.20%
2004 4,817 1,161 24.10%
2003 3,708 1,278 34.50%
2002 2,712 978 36.10%
2001 2,262 866 38.30%
2000 2,527 896 35.50%
1999 2,681 908 33.90%
1998 2,191 805 36.70%
1997 1,993 860 43.20%

For an historical perspective on factors affecting success rates, read Feature Article: What Influences NIH Success Rates?

Rounding out the financial picture, noncompeting nonmodular grants get a 1.0 percent inflationary increase from the last year's level. We are funding all noncompeting grants at 98.1 percent of the committed amount for this fiscal year except fellowships, training grants, career awards, conference grants, and small business awards (SBIR and STTR), which we are fully funding.

What You Can Do

Here are some suggestions to help you stay afloat.

New investigators. Due to special programs and paylines, it's a relatively good time to be a new investigator.

  • Even so, you must create a top-quality application to succeed in peer review. Learn how on Creating and Submitting an Application in our New Investigator Guide to Funding and other All About Grants tutorials.
  • Lower paylines translate into more resubmissions. Most people do not succeed on the first try -- expect to revise and resubmit. Find out more in Part 11b. Not Funded, Reapply.
  • See the advice below under "All investigators" on submitting another application on a different topic.
    • If you go that route, keep in mind that as a new investigator, you will need to convince reviewers that you're not stretched too thin -- you have enough resources and time to do the work.
    • Your productivity, reflected by publications in peer-reviewed journals, is also important. Don’t neglect this aspect of your career while writing a new application.

All investigators. Explore all funding options.

Renewals. Is your grant scheduled to end during the next year? During both lean and fat years, we all have to live within our means, as difficult as that may be.

Here are some tips for dealing with a tight budget era:

  • Keep expectations modest. Scale back plans.
    • Don't increase your budget by more than 20 percent of the direct costs of the preceding award, since it's very unlikely that you will get more. If that strategy can meet your needs, you won't waste time planning a big expansion.
    • If you need more funds for your research, write another application.
    • Call your program officer for advice.
  • Keep the ball moving. Try to submit in plenty of time to send in a revision if you need to, and most people do. Read How should I time the preparation of my renewal application? and subsequent questions in Renewal Application questions and answers.
  • Stay real. Funding is always dependent on budget constraints, so keep your budgets trim and awards at a reasonable number. If you already have a lot of funding, some peer reviewers may factor that into the review.

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Join NIAID’s Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development

Do you work in basic, pre-clinical, or clinical HIV vaccine research? 

Even if you're just interested in the subject, you are invited to attend or view a Web cast of NIAID’s Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development on March 25, 2008. The event will be held in Bethesda, MD; however, because seating is limited, we are setting up the Web cast so you can you view the event and email us your questions.  

We are holding this summit to review and get input on our HIV vaccine research portfolio. Three panels of experts will lead audience discussion on:

  • Vaccine-Related Basic Research, Vaccine Discovery and Vaccine Development
  • Animal Model Development and Utilization
  • Clinical Research and Trials

Keep your eyes peeled for a link to the registration site -- we'll put it on the Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development soon!

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NIH Makes Public Access Policy Mandatory

What was once a request is now a command.

Starting April 7, 2008, NIH will require all funded investigators to submit a copy of any peer-reviewed article accepted for publication to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central (PMC).

Keep in mind that PMC is different than PubMed. If you have the PubMed ID, you can use the National Library of Medicine's PM ID: PMC ID Converter to find out the PMC ID or vice versa.

After May 25, 2008, you will have to use the PMC reference number when citing any articles in PMC. Read more in the January 11, 2008, Guide notice and visit the Public Access Overview.

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More Select Agents on NIAID's Priority Pathogens List

On February 5, NIAID added select agents Coccidioides immitis and C. posadasii to its list of NIAID Category A, B, and C Priority Pathogens.

The update comes after NIAID senior staff reviewed recent scientific literature reaffirming the danger of these potentially life-threatening pathogens and noted their presence on CDC's List of Select Agents and Toxins.

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New DAIDS Director Is No Stranger

A familiar face takes the helm of our Division of AIDS. Carl Dieffenbach, Ph.D., assumed the role of director, having served as acting director since January 2007.

For more than 15 years, Dr. Dieffenbach has developed, directed, and coordinated program activities for DAIDS. He is committed to maintaining a strong research agenda for HIV and AIDS.

To learn more about Dr. Dieffenbach and his appointment, see the February 1 press release.

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OGR Welcomes New Director

NIAID's Office of Global Research is pleased to welcome its new director, Steven Smith, to the Institute.

Mr. Smith joins NIAID from the State Department, where he served most recently as a consul and economic officer in Haiti and, before that, as coordinator for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in South Africa.

In his new job, Mr. Smith is coordinating NIAID's international activities for global research.

Opportunities and Resources
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Coming Soon -- "HIT-IT" Initiative on Interrupting HIV Transmission

Heads up for HIV researchers: this spring, look for an RFA on Highly Innovative Tactics to Interrupt Transmission of HIV (HIT-IT). The initiative seeks investigators with innovative, outside-the-box approaches to providing long-term, safe protection from HIV infection.

You'll have until the fall to submit your application. The earliest anticipated start date is summer 2009.

If you're interested in applying and want to be notified when the funding opportunity announcement comes out, Subscribe to Email Alerts.

For more information, contact Geetha Bansal, Division of AIDS, at 301-496-5042 or

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Can a Primary Caregiver Supplement Help You Out?

If you're an NIAID-funded PI, you may notice that some of your postdocs have a hard time balancing productivity in the lab with caring for a child or a sick family member.

To help these harried folks, you can apply for a supplement to hire a mid-to-senior level technician to fill in for your postdoc if he or she needs to be away from the lab to care for a loved one.

Read more about Primary Caregiver Technical Assistance Supplements, and see the June 8, 2004, Guide notice.

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NIH Expands Director's Bridge Award

NIH issued its Director's Bridge Award for FY 2008.

Previously, you could receive the award only for first renewals and first resubmissions of renewals. Now, you are eligible for second resubmissions of renewals, too.

NIH also raised the support threshold. PIs can have up to $400,000 in other support from all sources, compared to $200,000 for FY 2007.

NIAID is continuing its own R56-Bridge award, which has broader eligibility. See the NIAID R56-Bridge Award SOP for details.

You can't apply for either of these programs; NIH automatically considers all eligible applicants.

Read more in the January 31, 2008, Guide notice.

Advice Corner
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Reader Questions

Jan Kosmyna, MIS, RN, ACRN, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, asks:

"Is there a good example of a data sharing plan that I could see?"

You can find a sample plan on Sample Data Sharing Plan. Learn more in our Data Sharing questions and answers, Data Sharing for Grants: Final Research Data SOP, and Data Sharing for Grants: Genome-Wide Association Studies SOP.

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Mridul Mukheji, D. Phil., Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Missouri -- Kansas City, asks:

"Can I include my foreign collaborator as a co-PI on an NIH grant?"

NIH allows awards to foreign investigators, so that part is not an issue. However, we do not use co-PIs.

We do have an option of a multiple PI approach, but we strongly suggest you get advice from an NIH program officer before writing a multiple-PI application. This approach is quite complex and has many requirements and caveats.

You can read more at Take Heed -- You Might Want to Avoid a Multiple PI Application in the NIH Grant Cycle: Application to Renewal and use NIAID's Contact Staff for Help to contact a program officer in your science area.

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

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