August 31, 2009

NIH Issues Revised PHS 2590, Implements Policy Changes

The National Institutes of Health has revised “Continuation Progress Report for a DHHS Public Health Service Grant” (PHS 2590, rev. 06/09). The newly revised instructions and forms are available at The revised PHS 2590 form will will be accepted immediately for all progress reports and will be required for all annual progress reports due on or after October 1, 2009.

NIH will release corresponding changes to the eSNAP Commons Module on October 9, 2009. For eSNAPs due October 15th, NIH encourages grantees to delay submitting eSNAP reports until after the October 9th enhancements are in production in order to implement use of the revisions for all progress reports submitted for FY 2010 funding. For eSNAPs due by October 15th, NIH encourages grantees to submit them on time; however, an additional grace period to November 1, 2009 is permitted to accommodate these changes.

This revision of the PHS 2590 implements a number of important policy changes, including:
  • New All Personnel Report: Replacement of the Senior/Key Personnel Report with an All Personnel Report (Form Page 7) that collects information on all personnel who participate in the project for at least one person month or more. The All Personnel Report also implements a new NIH requirement that all individuals with a postdoctoral role with one person month of more of measurable effort must have an eRA Commons user ID (see NIH Guide Notice OD-09-140, New Requirement for eRA Commons User IDs for Individuals in a Postdoctoral Project Role with Measurable Effort on an NIH Annual Progress Report (PHS2590), for details and background on this new requirement).

  • New Assurance for Institutions Receiving Awards for Training of Graduate Students for Doctoral Degrees: For institutions receiving NIH awards for graduate training through certain Institutional training grants, a new Graduate Student Assurance, required by the NIH Reform Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-482) is now included. In addition, for annual progress reports for Institutional training grants Table 12A is modified to collect data related to the Graduate Student Assurance. More details on this new institutional assurance are described in NIH Guide Notice OD-09-141 , New Reporting and Assurance Requirements for Institutions Receiving Awards for Training of Graduate Students for Doctoral Degrees.

  • Inclusion of Changes to Innovative Potential: As part of the NIH Enhancing Peer Review Initiative, PD/PIs are asked, if applicable, to address any changes to the innovative potential of the project. This information is now part of the Progress Report Summary, Section B. Studies and Results.

  • Changes to the Biographical Sketch: Another change associated with the peer review initiative is the addition of a Personal Statement to the biographical sketch. The statement is for the senior/key personnel to address why their experience and qualifications make them particularly well-suited for their role on the project. Instructions for the biographical sketch also encourage applicants to limit the list of publications to no more than 15. Reminder: A new biosketch is only required as part of the progress report for new senior/key personnel since the previous submission.

  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESCs): A new item is added to the Progress Report Summary, under D. Plans, as Item E. Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line(s) Used, for grantees to note if proposed research involving hESCs is different from that proposed in the previous submission, including use of a different cell line (Form Page 5).

DOE Requests Input on Future ARPA-E Funding Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a Request for Information requesting public input on potential programmatic areas and opportunities to overcome technological roadblocks to the development of transformational technologies relevant to the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) mission. Information collected will assist ARPA-E in developing new programs and funding opportunities.

ARPA-E was authorized by the America COMPETES Act (PL 110-69) and charged with the mission to fund projects that will develop transformational technologies that reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy imports; reduce U.S. energy related emissions, including greenhouse gases; improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the U.S. economy; and ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.

Responses are due by September 25, 2009.

NSB Issues Report with Recommendations on NSF Cost-Sharing Policies

In October 2007, the National Science Board established the Task Force on Cost Sharing to examine issues related to National Science Foundation cost-sharing policy. In February 2009, NSB sought public comment on a draft report. On August 27, 2009, NSB issued the final report, NSB-09-20, Investing in the Future: NSF Cost Sharing Policies for a Robust Federal Research Enterprise.

From the Executive Summary of the report:
In this report, the National Science Board (Board) prescribes a set of recommendations with two primary objectives:

(1) to allow, but narrowly circumscribe, the application of mandatory cost sharing requirements in NSF programs in which cost sharing is foundational to achieving programmatic goals, and

(2) to prohibit voluntary committed cost sharing in NSF proposals and thus eliminate post-award tracking and reporting requirements associated with such cost sharing.

These recommendations are intended to improve consistency and clarity of NSF cost sharing practices and policy and to maximize the effectiveness of institutional dollars invested in research. The Board firmly believes that prohibiting voluntary committed cost sharing, and permitting mandatory cost sharing requirements only in limited and appropriate circumstances, will not reduce institutional commitment and financial contributions to NSF-sponsored projects or negatively impact institutional stewardship of Federal resources. Instead, it likely will enhance the ability of institutions to strategically and flexibly plan, invest in, and conduct research projects and programs, and will promote equity among grantee institutions in NSF funding competitions.
Selected Recommendations:
NSF should reinstate mandatory cost sharing for the following programs for which cost sharing is foundational to strategic programmatic goals: the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (ESPCoR), and the Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) program. In the case of EPSCoR, mandatory cost sharing requirements may be met in aggregate by contributions across all institutions and/or organizations in the jurisdiction. In accordance with the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), mandatory cost sharing is also implemented in the Major Research Instrumentation Program and the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

NSF should prohibit voluntary committed cost sharing in all components of both solicited and unsolicited proposals. To ensure that reviewers, NSF program officers, and grantee officials have sufficient information regarding investigator capabilities and institutional resources, NSF should broaden the intent and usage of the existing Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources (FER) section of proposals. Specifically, the FER section should contain a comprehensive description of all resources necessary for and available to a project, without reference to cost, date of acquisition, and whether the resources are currently available or would be provided upon receipt of the grant. The prohibition of voluntary committed cost sharing will eliminate tracking and reporting requirements, imposed externally on institutions, previously associated with such resources. In recognition of the culture shift in the research community necessitated by this change, NSF should clearly and regularly communicate this new policy to program officers, external reviewers, and the proposer community.
The full report is available at

February 3 Research Advocate article: NSB Requests Comments on NSF Cost-Sharing Policy

August 06, 2009

NIH Stem Cell Guidelines to Apply to All Federal Agencies

In a July 30 memorandum to the heads of federal agencies, President Obama directed agencies to adopt the new NIH guidelines governing federally funded research on human stem cells, including human embryonic stem cells.

The memo states:
In order to ensure that all federally funded human stem cell research is conducted according to these same principles and to promote a uniform Federal policy across the executive branch, I hereby direct the heads of executive departments and agencies that support and conduct stem cell research to adopt these Guidelines, to the fullest extent practicable in light of legal authorities and obligations. I also direct those departments and agencies to submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), within 90 days, proposed additions or revisions to any other guidance, policies, or procedures related to human stem cell research, consistent with Executive Order 13505 and this memorandum.

July 6 Research Advocate article: Final NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research

NIH Updates Conflict of Interest FAQ and Web-based Tutorial

The National Institutes of Health has updated two resources provided on the NIH Office of Extramural Research Conflict of Interest web page:
  • Frequently Asked Questions - Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Requirements for NIH-Supported Institutions, and

  • Web-based Tutorial on Financial Conflict of Interest (FCOI) Requirements for NIH-Supported Institutions (also available in PDF). The tutorial now includes the mandatory use of the eRA Commons FCOI Module for grantees submitting FCOI reports beginning July 1, 2009.

August 22, 2008 Research Advocate article: NIH Publishes Web-based Tutorial on Financial Conflict of Interest Requirements

August 04, 2009

SPO Subrecipient Commitment Form Now Available

Since the fall semester of 2008, the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) has been conducting a pilot test of Berkeley's Subrecipient Commitment Form in several departments across campus. The purpose of this form is to expedite the process of setting up subawards after Berkeley receives a grant so that work on the sponsored project can be initiated as soon as possible. The form also is designed to help subrecipients understand at the proposal stage what will be required of them by Berkeley should an award be made. This includes compliance with federal regulations such as those governing research with human or animal subjects, conflict of interest disclosures, and OMB Circular A-133.

The pilot test of the form has been completed and user evaluations have been used to improve and finalize the form for general campus use. The Subrecipient Commitment Form and directions for completing the form are now available on the SPO website:

The Subrecipient Commitment Form for each subawardee should now be provided to SPO at the proposal stage with other proposal documents. To ensure that the information provided on the form is accurate and up-to-date, the form must be signed by an authorized institutional representative of the subawardee. Subawardees included in previously submitted Berkeley proposals that did not have an opportunity to submit a signed Subrecipient Commitment Form will be asked to do so prior to the establishment of a subaward between the subawardee and Berkeley.

Questions about the form at proposal stage should be directed to SPO research administrators (; questions about the use of the form at the award stage should be directed to the SPO subaward coordinator, Jennifer Nadeau (