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April 16, 2008

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles
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Damaged Pipeline in the Spotlight

In the face of a persistent funding crisis, the research community is warning of the dangers posed by dwindling NIH budgets: since 2003, NIH funding has shrunk by as much as 13 percent after inflation.

Two reports caution against major decay in the U.S. biomedical research enterprise should weak funding levels persist.

Focusing on the plight of new investigators, seven academic research institutions released A Broken Pipeline? Flat Funding of the NIH Puts a Generation of Science at Risk on March 11, 2008. A Broken Pipeline? signals the danger of losing an entire generation of researchers and their potential contributions, through the stories of 12 talented junior investigators.

Like them, scientists in early career stages are facing wrenching choices. Many are forced to abandon academic research, and those who stay are shying away from high-risk research to pursue more conservative, safer paths.

The report was issued by Brown University, Duke University, Harvard University, The Ohio State University, Partners Healthcare, the University of California Los Angeles, and Vanderbilt University.

It follows a similar report from March 2007 called Within Our Grasp—Or Slipping Away? Assuring a New Era of Scientific and Medical Progress. Released by nine universities and one research hospital, that paper showed how stagnant NIH funding is hampering discovery and leading to missed opportunities for breakthrough research.

Find both reports and other materials including congressional testimony and press releases at A Broken Pipeline? Read about NIAID's budget in NIH Funding: Hitting the Wall, Not Your Head.

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CSR Rearranges Study Sections, IRGs

NIH's Center for Scientific Review is continuing to reorganize its integrated review groups (IRG). All study sections will remain intact though some will be under a new IRG.

According to CSR Director Toni Scarpa, the reorganization will enhance peer review, spread workloads more evenly, and promote closer interactions among institutes and centers, professional societies, and other stakeholders.

CSR has placed the AIDS and Related Research IRG under the new Division of Healthcare, Population and Behavioral Sciences, which also contains the following IRGs:

  • Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes
  • Epidemiological and Population Sciences
  • Healthcare Delivery and Methodologies
  • Risk, Prevention, and Health Behavior

More changes are on the way. CSR will discuss other proposals at the April 30, 2008, meeting of its Peer Review Advisory Committee. We'll report on the outcome in a later issue.

For more information, read the January 2008 and September 2007 issues of CSR's Peer Review Notes, and see presentations from the December 3, 2007, PRAC meeting.

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NIAID Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development

On March 25, NIAID successfully held its Summit for HIV Vaccine Research and Development. The Summit tackled key issues facing HIV vaccine discovery and development, animal model development and use, and clinical research and trials.

Over 200 people participated in the Summit, which featured three panels of expert speakers.

If you missed the meeting, you can view a video and slide presentations at Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development.

Send comments or questions about NIAID's HIV vaccine research and development activities by emailing We informed you about the Summit in our March 5 article, Summit on HIV Vaccine Research and Development.

In upcoming newsletters, we will keep you posted on related future events.

Opportunities and Resources
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What's New on Immunology Database and Analysis Portal

Looking for immunology-related data? Data analysis tools?

Immunology Database and Analysis Portal (ImmPORT) archives data from the research community supported by NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation.

On March 19, ImmPORT added these features:

  • New sources of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) data in the public reference data section.
  • New public interfaces for HLA data query, data display, and data download.
  • Improved efficiency of data submission for DAIT-funded scientists.
  • Increased capacity of online data submission from 100 MB to 1 GB.
  • New graphical user interface for Data Validator, which checks data integrity to facilitate data submission.
  • Upgraded Google Maps-style mouse dragging technology incorporated into image navigation in Haploview and ImmPORT Microarray Analysis Component (IMAC) analysis tools.
  • Improved analysis options in IMAC.

For a complete list, check out the Release Notes.

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HHMI Offers $300 Million to New Investigators

Last month, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced it will provide $300 million in competitive funding to as many as 70 early career scientists who are struggling to get their first independent federal research grant.

"This is a critical time for these scientists because many have not yet been able to obtain the kind of stable funding that would permit them to move their research in creative new directions," said Jack Dixon, HHMI vice president and chief scientific officer.

One-time, six-year appointments will average about $700,000 a year for research, salary, and institutional support.

To be considered for funding, you must devote 75 percent or more of your time to the research, show that you've managed your own lab for two to six years, and have the following:

  • Doctoral degree.
  • Tenure or a tenure-track faculty position. First faculty appointment must be between two and six years ago.
  • No more than one other early career award.

If you're interested, act quickly. Register your intent to apply by April 30, 2008, at 2009 HHMI Early Career Scientist Competition Sign In. HHMI is accepting applications from May 1 to June 10, 2008.

For more information, go to 2009 HHMI Early Career Scientist Competition, and read $300 Million in Private Money for New Investigators in Science magazine.

We've included this opportunity on NIAID's List of Foundations and Other Funding Sources.

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Gain "International Insights" Into Foreign Collaborations

Could your research benefit from collaborating with investigators in other countries? If you're considering it, you may want to become familiar with the basics, such as terminology, types of agreements, and partners' responsibilities.

For a resource that covers these bases, go to Collaborative Research: Key Terms and Roles, the latest addition to International Insights on our International Grants and Contracts page.

Learn more about collaborating in general at Using Consultants and Collaborators in our NIH Grant Cycle.

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Web Resources: Reports, Conflict of Interest, and Flu Planning

Check out these new Web resources:

Advice Corner
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Your Next Grant: Planning That Renewal

When it's time to plan a sequel to your NIH grant, you'll need to decide whether to submit a renewal application or apply for a new grant. Whatever method you follow, be sure you have a plan well before your grant ends.

New or Renewal?

Your situation and the science will dictate which route is best for you. For example, it is advantageous to apply with a renewal if you have made progress and accomplished some of your Specific Aims, and you plan a logical continuation of your project using the same funding mechanism.

Going in a new direction or expanding the scope of the research calls for a new application.

Some investigators do both: split and expand their research into one new and one renewal. In this era of low paylines, however, be careful not to dilute the quality and increase your risk of receiving an unfundable priority score.

If your research has gone well, peer reviewers are likely to give you an edge no matter which approach you take because you have a proven track record, and they know it takes time to build a successful research team.

Show your accomplishments though publications, invitations to present, and conference abstracts.

"New" Rules Apply When Resubmitting

Another effect of low success rates: using up your two resubmissions even though your application received an outstanding score.

If you are in that situation, keep the following in mind:

  • Your next application to NIH must be new, which doesn't mean unconnected to your previous work.
  • Be sure to follow all procedures for a new application. For example, don't include a progress report or an introduction or highlight previous reviewers' comments.

Describe your work and highlight your successes in your progress report (for a renewal) or the Background and Significance section of your Research Plan (for a new application).

Want to read more? Our NIH Grant Cycle has an entire section devoted to the subject: Part 12. Renewal Application.

Reader Question on K08s and Professional Licenses

A reader asks:

"For a K08, does NIAID require a professional license to practice in the U.S.?"

Yes. For other eligibility requirements, go to Career Development Awards in our Advice on Research Training, Career Awards, and Research Supplements. Note that other institutes may have different requirements.

New Funding Opportunities
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See these and older announcements on the NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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