January 27, 2011

National Science Board Seeks Feedback on NSF’s Merit Review Criteria

The National Science Board has convened a task force to undertake a thorough review of the National Science Foundation’s two merit review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts).

As stated in a January 21 “Dear Colleague” letter from NSB Chairman Ray Bowen, the NSF Task Force on Merit Review is now gathering input from a wide variety of stakeholder groups and is requesting comments by March 15, 2011. The Task Force will be developing its report and recommendations during 2011.

According to Bowen’s letter, the Task Force “has been charged to consider all options when developing their final recommendations, from keeping the criteria just as they are to completely rewriting them, or anything in between.”

LBNL Presentation by Dr. Cheryl Kitt, “What’s New In NIH Peer Review: Advice for Grant Applicants”

LBNL will be hosting a presentation by Dr. Cheryl Kitt, Deputy Director of the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes for Health on Thursday, February 3, 2011, from 10 am to noon in Building 50 Auditorium on the LBNL campus.

Dr. Kitt’s presentation will be on, “What’s New in NIH Peer Review: Advice for Grant Applicants.”

Background: The NIH and CSR have initiated and implemented new efforts to streamline the peer review process that will affect all applicants. Dr. Kitt will be discussing the many enhancements and changes to the NIH peer review process for grant applications during the last two years. The discussion will focus on these enhancements and changes to the peer review process which are particularly important for current and potential grant applicants and for research administrators interested in navigating the ins and outs of peer review at NIH. This is also a unique opportunity for post-docs and young investigators to gain an inside perspective and ask questions about Scientific Review Committees.

Individuals planning to attend should contact Karen Woo (510) 486-5747 or kmwoo@lbl.gov for information on how to access the LBNL shuttle bus and what materials are needed for LBNL security. Karen can also provide information on how to access the presentation electronically.

January 13, 2011

UCOP Offering Webinar on International Collaborations and Complying with Regulations for Researchers and Administrators

The UCOP Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services is holding a 90-minute webinar, “International Research Collaborations & Complying with OFAC Regulations: What You Need To Know,” that will help explain the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations and how they impact our work. This webinar is intended for researchers engaged in international collaborations and the administrators supporting them. The webinar is scheduled for February 16, 2011, from 10–11:30 a.m.

International research collaborations are an important part of our research enterprise. Researchers are often invited by research institutions in foreign countries to collaborate on projects, provide guidance, travel to and teach in these countries. As we engage in these collaborative activities it is critical that we are aware of how the OFAC regulations affect us, and how we should comply.

OFAC broadly restricts research and related business activities with embargoed countries including Iran, Cuba, Syria and the Sudan. Many of these restrictions require that an OFAC license be obtained prior to engaging in such activity. Failure to obtain a license can result in monetary penalties and sanctions assessed against the individual violator and/or UC as an institution. Within the last two years, OFAC has visibly stepped up its enforcement of compliance among major research institutions.

This session will include practical information on the following:
  • Research Collaborations: importing and exporting materials, samples, equipment and technical data
  • Travel to embargoed countries to attend conferences, conduct research and to teach
  • Peer review and editorial services to researchers based in embargoed countries
  • Responding to inquiries from embargoed countries pertaining to published or web-available research results
  • Sending funds directly or indirectly to embargoed countries
  • Screening for restricted end users based in embargoed countries
UCOP plans to publish further information closer to February 16, and that information will be published here. Please contact Tim Mulshine (tim.mulshine@ucop.edu) for questions related to the webinar.

Update: Register with ReadyTalk.

January 07, 2011

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2011

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2010/2011, is available on the Conflict of Interest Committee web site and is the only version that will now be accepted. If you have any questions please contact Jyl Baldwin (jbaldwin@berkeley.edu, 2-8110).

While no changes have been made to the form itself, the instructions have been revised on disclosure of payments for “admission to an event at which you make a speech, participate on a panel, or make a substantive formal presentation.” The new instructions now clarify that the speech must be for “official agency business” and that “the payment is a lawful expenditure made only by a federal, state, or local government agency.” For the full text of the changes, see page three of the revised form.

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. For research projects, the Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators (Form 700-U) should accompany the proposal and Proposal Review Form to the Sponsored Projects Office or to the Industry Alliances Office. For MTAs, the Form 700-U should accompany the Material Transfer Agreement Review Form to the Industry Alliances Office.

January 06, 2011

Preparing for Upcoming NIH Deadlines

As announced previously, beginning with due dates on or after January 25, 2011, NIH, AHRQ and NIOSH will eliminate the two-day error correction window from the application submission process. (For specific program due dates, go to NIH Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.)

Principal Investigators and departments are reminded that even minor errors can cause an electronic proposal submitted through Grants.gov to be rejected. For example, the Sponsored Projects Office recently received an NIH proposal on the day the proposal was due to the agency. Eight hours after the proposal was submitted by SPO, the Grants.gov system issued an error message that the submission had failed because there were too many characters in the proposal title. Fortunately, the two-day error correction window allowed SPO to correct this minor error and resubmit. After January 25, 2011, this will not be possible.

This means that “late” proposals submitted to SPO. i.e., proposals submitted less than five working days before the due date, will definitely be at greater risk for submission failure after January 25, 2011.

To avoid this problem, PIs may want to consider submitting their proposal to SPO with a “draft” technical section if all other administrative sections of the proposal are complete. If such a proposal is submitted to SPO five working days before the deadline, the proposal will be considered “on time.” SPO then will be able to review the administrative section for errors that can affect the submission of the proposal while the PI completes the technical section.

When choosing this option, PIs must make sure that the administrative section in the final version of the proposal does not differ from the administrative section SPO has already reviewed in the draft version, otherwise new errors may not be identified. Also, PIs will need to follow the SPO Research Administrator’s guidance on when to submit the final version of the proposal to SPO to ensure that the final proposal will be submitted on time.

December 1, 2010 Research Advocate article: Reminder: Elimination of the NIH Two-Day Error-Correction Window
August 20, 2010 Research Advocate article: NIH, AHRQ, and NIOSH to Eliminate Error-Correction Window for Applications