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May 21, 2008

News Articles

Opportunities and Resources

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

News Articles
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CSR Reorganization Is Done

At its meeting on April 30, 2008, the Peer Review Advisory Committee (PRAC) approved more changes to the organization of CSR's integrated review groups (IRG).

See the new organization chart at Plans Are Five CSR Review Divisions from the Update on CSR Realignments presentation.

While the changes are already operational, they will not become official until all the paperwork is processed. Once that happens, CSR will post the new study section rosters on its Organization Chart.

Note the following changes already in effect.

PRAC also approved a new Clinical Molecular Imaging and Probe Development (CMIP) study section to replace CSR's special emphasis panel on molecular imaging under the Surgical Sciences, Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering IRG (SBIB). General imaging research will still be reviewed by the Medical Imaging (MEDI) study group under the same IRG.

You can see full presentations on CSR's changes at the Agenda, Minutes and Presentation Materials from the April 30, 2008, PRAC meeting. Learn more in the May 2008 issue of CSR's Peer Review Notes.

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NIAID's Research Agendas -- Matching Scientific Opportunities With Public Interest

Where can you find NIAID's priorities? In addition to our Funding Opportunities List and Concepts Approved by Council, check out our research agendas.

NIAID puts together its agendas around scientific opportunities in areas important to public health. These treatises describe why we need to bolster research in a topic and how we plan to do it.

Research agendas often lead to new initiatives and awards.

For example, since releasing the Research Agenda for Multi-Drug Resistant and Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis in June 2007, we've built partnerships with academics, pharmaceutical researchers, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations.

See the March 31, 2008, Guide notice for a new funding opportunity announcement that includes funding for TB research in foreign countries, and visit the Tuberculosis portal for more information.

Our most recent plan, the Research Agenda for Malaria, lays out our research objectives and plans in malaria research for the next few years. Go to the Malaria portal for links to research resources and information about partnerships.

Sometimes Congress tells us what priorities to pursue; sometimes you and your peers let us know about emerging priorities. Regardless of where the idea comes from, we always consult the experts before moving forward. For a list of current research agendas, go to Planning and Priorities.

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NIH Moves to Adobe Submission Forms

The Age of Adobe forms is coming. NIH plans to put all grant application packages -- some 700 funding opportunity announcements (FOA) -- into forms created by Adobe Systems software.

Because of the scale of this project and its technical requirements, NIH will move forward in steps.

This summer, NIH will issue two FOAs that require Adobe submission forms, to test the new system. Then, if all goes well, look for a formal transition to begin in December 2008.

Once the transition is complete, NIH will phase out the PureEdge Viewer, and applicants will have to download an NIH-compatible version of the Adobe Reader software from

In the future, NIH will use the Adobe forms for all new forms, including the training grants (T), career awards (K), and fellowships (F) application packages expected by spring 2009.

For more about the transition, go to eRA Commons Timeline.

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Your Input Will Affect NIH's Roadmap

NIH wants your ideas for its next round of NIH Roadmap initiatives for the FY 2011 NIH Common Fund. When submitting your ideas, remember that Common Fund programs run for 5 to 10 years and must do the following:

  • Transform the way scientists conduct research
  • Cut across the missions of many NIH organizations
  • Address common challenges investigators face when working in multiple disease areas

See the April 22, 2008, Guide notice for questions to consider. Limit your response to one page, and submit them to by June 2, 2008.

You can see other programs at NIH Roadmap Initiatives.

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Review Committee Service Not Appealing? NIH Hears Your Concerns

Once it was an honor. Now, an invitation to be a peer reviewer is seen by many scientists as a chore.

Tight budgets mean fewer applications have a good chance of receiving funding, which can make review committee service as appealing as washing dishes. 

Plus, a sustained increase in application numbers means NIH needs ever more peer reviewers, raising questions about the qualifications of some committee members. See NIH Mulls Ways to Lure Back Veteran Peer Reviewers.

NIH is listening to these concerns, while experimenting with ways to strengthen peer review. Likely changes include shorter applications, more virtual online meetings, and better alignment of critiques to review criteria.

Read about the most recent developments in the May 2008 issue of CSR's Peer Review Notes. For more information, go to Enhancing Peer Review at NIH.

Opportunities and Resources
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Our Foundations List -- Better Than Ever

To keep you better informed about global funding opportunities, we've revamped NIAID's List of Foundations and Other Funding Sources, and we will be adding new opportunities from these organizations to Latest Funding Updates.

This version is a true overhaul. We've contacted all the organizations on the list, so we can tell you about opportunities in the pipeline and give you authenticated information.

Our new list has more details about the awards and other new features:

  • Links to pages that allow you to sign up for automatic notifications.
  • Links to open opportunities.
  • Deadlines and other timing information for open and expected opportunities.
  • Information about the target audience and any restrictions that may apply.
  • More detailed descriptions of the areas each organization funds.

You can easily find out about new opportunities from any of the listed organizations as we add them to our Latest Funding Updates page, starting today with the completion of this major project.

Let us know how you like the new list by sending your comments and suggestions to

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Protect Your Sensitive Data

Here's a friendly but firm reminder from NIH: make sure you're protecting sensitive and confidential data concerning NIH-supported research or research participants.

Sensitive data include personally identifiable information, such as a research participant's name, social security number, and date of birth.

To prevent inadvertent disclosure, release, or loss, you should not keep sensitive data on portable electronic devices, such as laptops, CDs, or flash drives. If you have to go this route, encrypt any device you use.

Keep in mind that organizations collecting, storing, processing, transmitting, or using information for an HHS organization (for example, a contract or a cooperative agreement where the government owns the data) must also comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act, page 48.

But even if FISMA does not apply to you, you are still obligated to protect sensitive data.

If you're a peer reviewer, expect to receive a password-protected CD containing application-related materials, plus instructions for accessing them. Find more details in the May 14, 2008, Guide notice,

For more on this "sensitive" topic, read the following:

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Message From CSR -- Use the Suggested Cover Letter Format

CSR's Division of Receipt and Referral encourages you to use NIH's new Suggested Cover Letter Format to request assignment to an IC, a study section, or both. NIH receives tens of thousands of applications each year, so having your request -- and your reasons for it -- in a standardized format will help CSR assign your application.

Bear in mind that you are making a request, but CSR makes the final decision.

You can find instructions on the cover letter format for electronic applications in "Section 5.2. Cover Letter Component" of the SF424 Grant Application Guide. For paper applications, see the instructions on page I-23 of the PHS 398 Grant Application Guide.

Be careful about your choice, though. Consult a program officer and read Do You Need a Cover Letter? and Consider Requesting an Institute and Study Section in the NIH Grant Cycle: Application to Renewal.

Advice Corner
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Reader Questions

Dawn Hargraves, KeyBay Pharma, asks:

Can I respond to an RFP and RFA at the same time?

While NIH will not pay for the same research twice, you may be able to respond to both a request for applications and request for proposals provided each proposes work on different aspects of your research.

We suggest talking to the program officer listed in the RFA first for an overview of the science and the application process. Then speak with the contracting officer listed in the RFP for contracting advice.

William A. O'Brien, M.D., M.S., Zirus, Inc., asks:

Can we submit an SBIR application electronically without a password?

No. When submitting electronically, you need two levels of registration.

First, your business official needs to complete the eRA Commons Registration to sign up your organization and create your principal investigator account. That account ID must appear in your application.

Second, your business official completes the Registration. When your application is ready, your business official uses the login and password to send it.

Get an overview of the electronic application process at NIH's Electronic Submission of Grant Applications or NIAID's Get Ready Now to Apply Electronically. If you have any difficulties, contact the eRA Commons Help Desk or the Contact Center.

Rebecca Miksad, M.D., Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, asks:

Would NIAID be interested in reviewing my K23 proposal? I've included a draft of my specific aims for feedback.

NIAID staff are not allowed to provide feedback on draft applications. However, you can contact a program officer to determine if your application would be appropriate for NIAID.

The program officer can also give you advice on choosing a topic, preparing the application, requesting a study section, and other topics. See When to Contact a Program Officer for more information.

For a K23, you should contact Dr. Milton Hernandez, director of NIAID’s Office of Special Populations and Research Training, at 301-496-3775 or

Marika Orlov asks:

Can Medical Science Training Program participants apply for NIH grants?

Medical Science Training Program students working toward M.D.s or Ph.D.s have limited choices, especially if they are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

If you are a citizen or resident, you may be eligible for an Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research.

You may also want to consider being a trainee on an Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) or Short-Term Institutional Research Training Grant (T35).

For more information on fellowships and training grants, see our Advice on Research Training, Career Awards, and Research Supplements.

We also encourage you to get further guidance from Milton Hernández, director of NIAID's Office of Special Populations and Research Training, at 301-496-3775 or

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

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