May 18, 2016

NSF Requests Comments on Large Facilities Manual Draft

On May 9th, the National Science Foundation published a Federal Register notice announcing the availability of a “For comment” draft of the NSF Large Facilities Manual (LFM). NSF is accepting comments on the LFM  and the accompanying Large Facilities Financial Data Collection Tool by July 8, 2016.

For more information, see the Federal Register notice, Comment Request: National Science Foundation Proposal—Large Facilities Manual, and the draft LFM on the NSF website.

April 28, 2016

Grants.gov and Adobe Reader DC Compatibility Workaround

According to a Grants.gov Blog post, Grants.gov Adobe Reader DC Compatibility Issue Workaround, a recent version of Adobe Reader DC (version 2015.010.20060) is compatible with Grants.gov.

Grants.gov applicants may continue to use Adobe Reader version 9 through 11 and, now, Adobe Reader DC version 2015.010.20060 or later. Versions of Adobe Reader DC prior to version 2015.010.20060 are still incompatible with Grants.gov.

Applicants who would like to use Adobe Reader DC must download the application package from Grants.gov again and use Adobe Reader DC Version 2015.010.20060 or later. Then after installing Adobe Reader DC, uncheck the “Show online storage when saving files” option. For more detailed instructions, see the Grants.gov Adobe Software Compatibility page.


January 25, 2016 Research Advocate: Grants.gov and Adobe Reader DC Compatibility Issue

April 14, 2016

Mobile Health Apps Interactive Tool

Researchers—if you are creating and testing an app in a human subjects research project, there is regulatory guidance on mobile apps that you should know about. See the Mobile Health Apps Interactive Tool from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for more information.

March 28, 2016

New Streamlined Subrecipient Commitment Form

The Sponsored Projects Office has issued a revised Subrecipient Commitment Form. The form has been streamlined and reduced in length from five to three pages. SPO has also provided new instructions to make it easier for subrecipients around the world to understand and complete the form.

SPO encourages the campus to begin using the new form as soon as possible for the benefit of our subrecipient organizations. If an older version of the form has already been submitted to SPO, there is no need to submit the new form. However, the new form will be required for proposals submitted after April 15, 2016.

March 23, 2016

New Partnership to Help Fund Unfunded NIH Proposals

Dr. Michael Lauer, the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, published A Pilot Partnership to Find Private Support for Unfunded Applications in his Open Mike blog at NIH.

Excerpted from the March 23, 2016 blog post:
The Online Partnership to Accelerate Research (OnPAR) program, operated by Leidos Life Sciences, will act as a matchmaker between unfunded NIH applicants and private research funders. OnPAR’s growing list of private funders currently includes the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Children’s Tumor Foundation, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Melanoma Research Alliance, and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. We anticipate that more private funders and federal research agencies will be added to this program in the future.

To begin the process, NIH program officers will inform select applicants about potential funding opportunities via the OnPAR pilot. Select applicants include those who have a) have undergone Council review within the past year, b) have scored well (i.e., within the 30th percentile or promising non-percentiled applications), c) were unfunded and d) have research proposals that fall under the missions of the participating private funders. Applicants, at their discretion, can decide whether to submit materials to OnPAR for consideration of private funding.
More information is available in a March 23 Science Translational Medicine article, Funding unfunded NIH research application.

March 01, 2016

Getting Ready for Revised Forms from NIH: FORMS-D

The National Institutes of Health has been developing updated application forms, identified as FORMS-D, that must be used for all applications submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2016. NIH intends to have the new forms available by March 25. NIH Guide notice NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (NOT-OD-16-004) provides information on planned changes to the forms.

To prepare for the change, NIH is developing resources for applicants, including a “completely revamped application guide that is much easier to use and understand.” NIH Extramural News Gearing Up for FORMS-D gives a brief summary. For more details, see NIH eSubmission Items of Interest – February 29, 2016. This covers topics such as FORMS-D application changes, timing, impact on continuous submission, impact on administrative requests, and identifying which form version was used for an application.

March 23, 2016 update: Reminder: NIH & AHRQ Grant Application Changes for Due Dates On or After May 25, 2016 (NOT-OD-16-081)
March 28, 2016 update: Restructured and Streamlined Application Guides and Supplemental Instructions Available for Applications Due Dates On or After May 25, 2016 (NOT-OD-16-084)

February 23, 2016

SPO Service Schedule for March 24, 2016

On Thursday, March 24, 2016, the Sponsored Projects Office staff will be involved in a regional meeting with sponsored project officers from Stanford University and UCSF. Friday, March 25 is the Cesar Chavez Day holiday. Proposal and award set-up activity will resume on Monday, March 28. For the purposes of the VCRO’s five day proposal submission policy, March 24 and 25 will not count as working days. Individuals submitting proposals or needing SPO assistance with other time-sensitive transactions should plan accordingly.

Revised Proposal Processing Guidance for UC Berkeley PIs

A Revised Proposal Processing Guidance for UC Berkeley PIs CALmessages notice was issued by Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Christopher McKee to inform the campus  of a change to the VCR’s Policy on On-Time and Late Proposal Submissions. This revised guidance is in effect March 1, 2016.

It is critical that principal investigators and research administrators read both the notice and the full guidance and frequently asked questions published on the SPO website. This information clarifies and explains how the process will work after March 1, 2016.

If you have any questions about the policy, please contact your SPO Contract and Grant Officer for assistance.

January 25, 2016

Grants.gov and Adobe Reader DC Compatibility Issue

On January 20, the Grants.gov Program Management Office posted the following information:

The Adobe Reader DC Version 2015.010.20056 released on January 12, 2016 was identified to blank out form field contents when attaching files. Below is the current workaround as we work on a permanent solution for the latest Adobe Reader DC version. Current Resolution:
  1. Uninstall Adobe Reader DC.
  2. Go to https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions/.
  3. Select Reader 11.0.10.
  4. Download installation file and install.
  5. Applicant should be able to successfully complete their application without issue.
For more information, please visit the Grants.gov Adobe Software Compatibility page.

January 21, 2016

Paul Alivisatos Appointed Vice Chancellor for Research

Professor Paul Alivisatos will assume the role of Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley on March 1, 2016.

From his profile on the Berkeley Research website:
As Vice Chancellor for Research he will have overall responsibility for UC Berkeley’s research endeavor and primary leadership in research policy, planning and administration including relations between the university and industry, research compliance, research communications and research support for the Berkeley campus. His administrative portfolio includes management of over fifty campus research units, twelve research museums and remote field stations, and research administration offices including the Office of Research Administration and Compliance, Office of Intellectual Property & Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA), and the Office of Lab Animal Care.
For more information, see the campus news article, Outgoing Berkeley Lab director to take research helm at UC Berkeley, and the CALmessages announcement from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

January 06, 2016

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2016

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2015/2016, is available on the Conflict of Interest Committee website and is the only version that will now be accepted. If you have any questions please contact Jyl Baldwin (jbaldwin@berkeley.edu, 2-8110).

This year, the requirements for reporting travel have changed. If an individual receives a travel payment for travel occurring on or after January 1, 2016, which is reportable as a gift, he or she must disclose the travel destination.

State of California law requires disclosure of financial interest in the sponsor of a research project; the donor of a research gift; and, under certain circumstances, the provider of materials under a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) when that sponsor, donor, or provider is a non-governmental source. Please see State of California Financial Disclosure for more information.

December 30, 2015

NIH Issues Legislative Mandates FY 2016, Including Salary Cap Increase

The National Institutes of Health has issued the Notice of Legislative Mandates in Effect for FY 2016 (NOT-OD-16-044). The notice provides information on statutory provisions that limit the use of funds on NIH grant, cooperative agreement, and contract awards for FY 2016.

The notice includes an increase to the salary limitation, or salary cap, with further information available in the Notice on Salary Limitation on Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Contracts (NOT-OD-16-045). NOT-OD-16-145 states that for “FY 2016, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015, restricts the amount of direct salary to Executive Level II of the Federal Executive pay scale. The Executive Level II salary is currently set at $183,300, increasing to $185,100 effective January 10, 2016.”

January 20, 2016 update:
January 26, 2016 update:
January 28, 2016 update:

December 22, 2015

NIH ASSIST Available for All Competing Grant Applications and Some Post-award Actions

ASSIST is the National Institutes of Health system for the preparation, submission and tracking of grant applications through Grants.gov to NIH. Throughout 2015, ASSIST support expanded to a variety of grant programs according to a timeline which is now complete.

ASSIST is now an option for:
  • all single and multi-project, competing grant applications;
  • single-project administrative supplements;
  • single-project, post-award successor-in-interest (type 6) requests; and
  • single-project, post-award change of institution (type 7) requests.
For more information, see ASSIST Now an Option for All NIH Competing Grant Applications and Some Post-award Administrative Actions (NOT-OD-16-042), as well as SPO’s NIH Proposals and Awards at Berkeley.


November 20, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Now an Option for Fellowship Grant Applications
July 20, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Available for Ts, K12, and Other Training and Research Programs
May 1, 2015 Research Advocate: NIH ASSIST Now an Option for R01, Most K, and U01 Applications
January 30, 2015 Research Advocate: An ASSIST for NIH R03 and R21

December 17, 2015

NIH Issues Strategic Plan for FY 2016-2020

The National Institutes of Health has published a new NIH-Wide Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2016–2020: Turning Discovery Into Health.

The plan focuses on four objectives, to:
  1. advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
  2. foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases;
  3. enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research workforce, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
  4. excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the “science of science,” balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.
See the NIH press release, NIH Unveils FY2016–2020 Strategic Plan, for more information.

December 02, 2015

New Version of the Subrecipient Commitment Form

The Sponsored Projects Office has made some necessary changes to the Subrecipient Commitment Form under “Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest.”

This change was needed because subrecipients without an active and enforced conflict of interest policy consistent with the provisions of the National Science Foundation or the Public Health Service are no longer going to be allowed to rely on Berkeley’s Conflict of Interest policy.

All subrecipients now will have to have an appropriate COI policy in place prior to Berkeley issuing a subagreement under a prime award from NSF/PHS or any organization that has adopted the PHS or NSF Conflict of Interest requirements.

This is explained under Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest.

Important: Before a proposal is submitted to the NSF or the PHS or any organization that that has adopted PHS or NSF COI requirements, subrecipient investigators (as defined by applicable regulations) from entities without an active an enforced conflict of interest policy must complete the PHS Financial Disclosure (Form 5) or the NSF Financial Disclosure Form (as appropriate) and attach it to the Subrecipient Commitment Form before it is submitted to SPO. Failure to do this will prevent the submission of the proposal.

The new Subrecipient Commitment Form dated (12/2015) must be used by January 15, 2016. All other versions of the Subrecipient Commitment Form submitted to SPO after this date will be returned.

During the interim period, the previous version of the form will be accepted by SPO as long as a new Section F: Certifications 6. Conflict of Interest also is provided with appropriate disclosure forms.