THIS ISSUE . . .
November 15, 2006
Research Administration Notes
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
is one of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services. By supporting
basic biomedical research and training nationwide, NIGMS
lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis,
treatment, and prevention.
The NIGMS Feedback Loop is an e-mail newsletter
alerting researchers to NIGMS funding
opportunities, trends, and plans. We encourage your
and feedback on Institute activities.
All NIGMS grantees are automatically subscribed to the
NIGMS Feedback Loop; other interested individuals
are encouraged to subscribe themselves. To subscribe,
change your subscription options, or unsubscribe, visit
the NIGMS Feedback Loop subscription
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Most of my message will focus on the budget situation
for the year just ended and for the future, but I want
to start with news of prestigious awards won by NIGMS
grantees. On September 16, 2006, Elizabeth Blackburn,
Carol Greider, and Jack Szostak were announced as winners
of the 2006 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
"for the prediction and discovery of telomerase, a remarkable
RNA-containing enzyme that synthesizes the ends of chromosomes,
protecting them and maintaining the integrity of the genome."
Long-time grantee Joseph Gall received the 2006 Albert
Lasker Special Achievement in Medical Science Award "for
a distinguished 57-year career—as a founder of modern
cell biology and the field of chromosome structure and
function; bold experimentalist; inventor of in situ
hybridization; and early champion of women in science."
Less than 3 weeks later, Andrew Fire and Craig Mello were
named the 2006 winners of the Nobel Prize in physiology
or medicine "for their discovery of RNA interference—gene
silencing by double-stranded RNA." Two days after that,
Roger Kornberg was announced as the 2006 winner of the
Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his studies of the molecular
basis of eukaryotic transcription." Over its 44-year existence,
NIGMS has supported the work of 62 Nobel Prize winners.
Please join me in congratulating these outstanding scientists
for their discoveries and these significant honors.
This recognition of NIGMS grantees presented opportunities to communicate with the public about NIH support of the scientific research enterprise. We took advantage of the opportunities and were able to do many interviews. For example, the following appeared in the New York Times:
"Dr. Jeremy M. Berg, director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, said the honor showed the importance of taxpayer-supported basic research that is not aimed at a certain goal. His institute has provided financial support for Dr. Kornberg's work since 1979, even when it was unclear if the research would be successful, he said."
The announcement of major awards represents one, but not the only, opportunity to communicate to broad audiences about how tax dollars allocated to NIH fund research by scientists across the country. We all have roles to play in conveying this message.
Budget Results for Fiscal Year 2006
Once the Fiscal Year 2006 budget was enacted, we anticipated that the year would be similar to Fiscal Year 2005 in terms of overall success rate and the portfolio of grants that could be supported. Following up on data that we presented a year ago, Figures 1 and 2 below show the distribution of R01 grant applications received and funded as a function of priority score and a comparison of the Fiscal Year 2006 funding curve with curves for Fiscal Years 2000-2005.
Figure 1. NIGMS R01 applications reviewed (white rectangles) and funded (black bars) for Fiscal Year 2006. All competing applications are included. Figure 2. NIGMS funding curves for Fiscal Years 2000-2006 including all competing R01 grant applications.
As you can see, the distribution for Fiscal Year 2006 is quite similar to that for Fiscal Year 2005. The Fiscal Year 2006 curve corresponds to an overall success rate of 26%.
Despite these similarities, there are some significant differences. Most striking is the distribution of unamended and amended (A1, A2) grant applications, which follows trends that have been in place since the end of the NIH budget doubling. Figure 3 shows the distribution of competing applications across a total of nine categories covering both new (often referred to as Type 1) applications and competing renewal (Type 2) applications and distinguishing between new and established principal investigators (PIs).
Figure 3. The distribution of new and competing renewal R01 grant applications showing unamended and amended (A1 and A2 (or greater)) applications from Fiscal Year 2000 to Fiscal Year 2006. The new applications are separated to distinguish between those from new PIs and established PIs.
This figure shows the substantial growth in the overall number of applications beginning in Fiscal Year 2003 and tapering off in Fiscal Year 2006. The figure also reveals substantial growth in the fraction of amended (A1 and A2) applications compared to unamended applications, particularly over the past 2 years. Figure 4 shows the corresponding distribution of grant awards.
Fig 4. The distribution of awards in response to new and competing renewal R01 grant applications showing unamended and amended (A1 and A2 (or greater)) applications from Fiscal Year 2000 to Fiscal Year 2006. The awards in response to new applications are separated to distinguish between those from new PIs and established PIs.
This figure shows that the overall number of awards decreased from Fiscal Year 2003 to Fiscal Year 2004, when the budget doubling ended, and that the number has been relatively constant over the past 3 years. This figure also shows that the fraction of awards in response to amended applications has increased significantly, particularly over the past 2 years.
To show these trends more clearly, the ratio of the number of awards to the number of applications is presented in Figure 5.
Figure 5. The ratio of awards to applications for R01 grants derived from the data shown in Figures 3 and 4.
This figure shows that the ratio of awards to applications
for new, unamended applications fell from slightly over
0.2 in Fiscal Years 2000-2002 to slightly over 0.1 for
Fiscal Year 2006. Similarly, the ratio for unamended,
competing renewals fell from over 0.5 in Fiscal Years
2000-2003 to slightly over 0.3 in Fiscal Year 2006. At
the same time, ratios of awards to applications for amended
applications—both new and competing renewals—have
been more nearly constant and in some cases, such as the
ratio for A2 applications from new PIs, have increased
from Fiscal Year 2000-2003 to Fiscal Years 2004-2006.
Finally, note that ratios for new PIs closely track—and
often slightly exceed—those for established PIs.
Support for new, unamended applications was the topic
of a recent letter to Science (Mandel HG, Vesell
ES. Science 313(5792):1387-8, 2006). In Fiscal
Year 2006, NIGMS committed $43 million in support of new,
unamended R01 applications. This corresponds to 2.2% of
the overall NIGMS budget. The data that led to the figures
above can put this potentially stunning percentage into
context. With the inclusion of new, amended (A1 and A2)
applications, this value grows to $105 million (5.5%).
With the addition of competing renewals (both amended
and unamended), the value grows to $255 million (13.3%).
Finally, of course, with an average award length of 4
years, approximately three-quarters of the NIGMS research
project grant budget supports noncompeting applications.
The inclusion of these noncompeting awards brings the
total to $1,110 million (58%). This value represents R01
grant awards only and does not include MERIT awards (R37).
With the inclusion of R37 awards, the total is $1,173
million (61% of the overall NIGMS budget), as noted in
my last NIGMS
Feedback Loop message.
Note that NIH has been conducting a pilot project to
examine shortening the grant review cycle. The goal of
this project is to allow the submission of amended applications
in the next review cycle in appropriate cases. The pilot
has been focused on new investigators in a subset of study
sections. A preliminary evaluation of the program was presented at the last meeting of the Peer Review Advisory
Committee, which I co-chair with Toni Scarpa, the Director
of the Center for Scientific Review.
Roadmap Request for Information
Late last month, I sent an e-mail regarding the NIH-wide
"Request for Information (RFI): To Solicit Input and Ideas
for Roadmap Trans-NIH Strategic Initiatives." Responses
are being accepted until November 17, 2006.
I also want to put this request into context. The initiatives
developed based on this input will utilize $30-50 million
in Fiscal Year 2008 funds derived from existing Roadmap
projects that are reaching completion or that have been
scaled back. Note that submissions need not relate to
"big science" projects or even targeted areas, but can
be directed toward new approaches to supporting research.
The Roadmap provides good articulation of selected NIH
goals that is useful in communicating with policymakers
and the public. We consider the Roadmap initiatives an
enhancement to, rather than a substitute for, purely investigator-initiated
Progress Toward an Appropriation for Fiscal Year 2007
The budget appropriation for NIH has not yet passed either house of Congress and we are currently operating under a continuing resolution. The President's Budget request of $1,923,481,000 for NIGMS represents a 0.6% decrease from the Fiscal Year 2006 enacted appropriation. It is unclear if Congress will take up the NIH appropriation during the lame duck session that is just beginning.
On September 26, the House of Representatives did pass
The National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006,
reauthorizing the NIH, with a vote of 414-2. This is a
substantial vote of confidence for NIH. Among its provisions,
the bill includes authorization for a 5% increase in the
NIH budget for each of the years 2007-2009. For this increase
to become a reality, such funds still must be appropriated
by a separate process. Reauthorization of NIH has not
been taken up by the Senate as of yet.
I hope the data I have presented are useful in understanding the present funding climate. We are preparing additional data on this topic and will be posting it on the NIGMS Web site at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/research/application/trends. As always, I welcome your questions and comments.
Jeremy M. Berg
National Institute of General Medical Sciences
2007 NIH Director's Pioneer Award (DP1)
Exceptionally creative scientists with innovative approaches to major challenges in biomedical research are encouraged to apply for the NIH Director's Pioneer Award, which provides $2.5 million in direct costs over 5 years. The application period opens on Friday, December 1, 2006, and closes on Tuesday, January 16, 2007. See RFA-RM-07-005 for application details.
Predoctoral Training in Behavioral and Biomedical Sciences (T32)
NIGMS has announced a new institutional training grant program for predoctoral research training at the behavioral sciences-biomedical sciences interface. The goal of the program is to develop basic behavioral scientists with rigorous, broad-based training in biology and biomedical science. These programs must provide an interdisciplinary research training experience and curriculum for predoctoral trainees that integrate behavioral and biomedical perspectives, approaches, and methodologies. See PAR-06-503 or contact NIGMS program director Alison Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-594-3827.
NIGMS Program Project Grants (P01)
NIGMS has reissued its program announcement for program
project awards. See PA-07-030.
Reissuing of Announcements
NIGMS has reissued a number of funding opportunity announcements for electronic submission. In case the terms or application formats are different, please make sure you are working from the most current version of the announcement by checking the NIGMS Funding Opportunities Directory. If you are reading an older announcement, check carefully at the top to see if the announcement has been reissued.
Knowledge Environments for Biomedical Research Conference
This meeting, convening December 11 and 12 in Bethesda,
MD, will focus on areas critical for sustaining knowledge
environments in biomedical research. The meeting is co-sponsored
by the trans-NIH Biomedical Information Science and Technology
Initiative Consortium and the NIGMS Center for Bioinformatics
and Computational Biology. For details, visit the conference
site or contact NIGMS program director Peter Lyster
at 301-451-6446 or email@example.com.
Research Administration Notes
R01 Electronic Submission
NIH plans to transition to the electronic submission
of R01 grant applications for the February 5, 2007, receipt
date. We encourage you to start the registration process
at least 4 weeks before you plan to submit
an application. In addition, NIH is on track to offer
the multiple principal investigator option for applications
submitted electronically beginning in February 2007. For
more on the multiple investigator policy, see NOT-OD-07-017.
New Standing Receipt Dates
NIH has announced new receipt dates for many grant mechanisms beginning in January 2007. The due dates for new R01s, for example, are now February 5, June 5, and October 5. For a complete list, see NOT-OD-07-001.
Possible R01 Page Limit Reduction
NIH is considering reducing the page limit for the research plan section of the research project grant (R01) application to focus more on key ideas and scientific significance and less on experimental details. An NIH committee is gathering input from the external community (both applicants and reviewers) and exploring possible options. You are invited to respond to a Request for Information (RFI) via a Web form or e-mail. The deadline for responses is January 5, 2007.
Data and Resource Sharing Requirement Reminders
- Applications submitted after October 2003 and requesting more than $500,000 in annual direct costs are required to include a data sharing plan (or an explanation of why sharing is not possible). See NOT-OD-03-032.
- NIH urges all grant recipients to develop patent, license, and material sharing policies to continue scientific advancement. Read the policies and guidelines.
- All investigators submitting an NIH application are expected to include a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organism research resources generated with NIH funding, or state reasons for why such sharing is not possible. The submission of a model organism sharing plan is NOT subject to a cost threshold. See NOT-OD-04-042.
NIH Public Access Policy
The NIH Policy
on Enhancing Public Access to Archived Publications Resulting
from NIH-Funded Research took effect on May 2, 2005.
It requests all investigators to submit their final manuscripts
of peer-reviewed, NIH-funded research to the NIH National
Library of Medicine's PubMed
Central. For more information, visit the NIH
Public Access Web site or contact NIGMS deputy director
for extramural activities Paul Sheehy at 301-594-4499
Revised Appendix Policy
NIH has published a new grant appendix materials policy
that differs significantly from the current one. For more
information, contact NIGMS deputy director for extramural
activities Paul Sheehy at 301-594-4499 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or NIH GrantsInfo at 301-435-0715 or email@example.com.
Human Genetic Cell Repository
The NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository at the Coriell
Institute for Medical Research acquires blood and tissue
samples from a wide variety of individuals and expands
these samples into well-characterized cell lines. The
cell lines and DNA derived from them are available to
investigators for a modest fee. Visit the cell
repository online for ordering information and details
about the available samples, including panels of samples
with molecularly characterized mutations. NIGMS division
director Judith Greenberg at 301-594-0943 or firstname.lastname@example.org
can answer additional questions.
PSI Materials Repository
The NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) has established a materials repository at the Harvard Institute of Proteomics that will house expression and DNA clones generated by the PSI research centers. Researchers will be able to order clones for a minimal fee that covers processing, handling, and shipping. For more information, contact NIGMS program director Jean Chin at 301-594-0828 or email@example.com.
NIGMS Fact Sheets
Three new NIGMS fact sheets track research progress over the past 30 years and highlight future directions in cell biology, genetics, and predictive toxicology. These fact sheets join others on NIGMS Nobelists and using computers to model infectious disease spread. Many more fact sheets are on the NIH Research Results for the Public Web page, including ones from NIGMS on pharmacogenetics and burns and traumatic injury. Send fact sheet questions or comments to NIGMS science writer Alisa Zapp Machalek at 301-496-7301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE Working Group Update
The National Advisory General Medical Sciences (NAGMS) Council working group on NIGMS minority programs issued a report last summer. In line with the group's recommendations, the NIGMS Division of Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) has modified or refocused several of its programs to maximize their effectiveness and will continue to analyze and adjust others as needed. For details, read the Minority Programs Update or contact NIGMS division director Clifton Poodry at 301-594-3900 or email@example.com.
NIH Director Discusses Post-Doubling Era
At the September meeting of the NAGMS Council, NIH Director
Dr. Elias Zerhouni gave a presentation
on NIH in the post-doubling era that described funding
trends and addressed common misconceptions about the NIH
budget. To view additional slide sets and download them
for use in your own presentations, visit the NIH Research
Results for the Public Web page.