October 06, 2008

Keeping Current with NIH: Recent News Highlights

The National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research (OER) provides several sources for current news related to grants policy, funding programs, compliance, and electronic research administration.
Some recent important NIH announcements are linked and summarized below.

New NIH Policy on Resubmission (Amended) Applications (October 10 NIH Guide)

Beginning with original new applications and competing renewal applications submitted for the January 25, 2009 due dates and beyond, NIH will accept only a single amendment to the original application. Applicants who fail to receive funding after two submissions (i.e., the original and the single amendment) may resubmit but only if the application is fundamentally revised to qualify as new. A new application is expected to be substantially different in content and scope with more significant differences than are normally encountered in an amended application.

Original new and competing renewal applications that were submitted prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two amendments. For these “grandfathered” applications, NIH expects that any second amendment will be submitted no later than January 7, 2011.

Non-Competing Grant Awards under the Current Continuing Resolution

The Department of Health and Human Services continues to operate on a continuing resolution (CR) that currently extends through March 6, 2009. The CR applies the terms of the FY 2008 appropriations for the period covered by the CR. Until the final FY 2009 appropriation is enacted, NIH will issue non-competing research grant awards at a level below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90 percent of the previously committed level). This is consistent with NIH practice during the CRs of FY 2006-2008. NIH will consider upward adjustments to these levels after the final appropriation is enacted, but expects institutions to monitor their expenditures carefully during this period. NIH plans to publish additional details at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/financial/index.htm.

UC Berkeley questions regarding adjustments applied to individual grant awards amay be directed to the Grants Management Specialist identified on the Notice of Award.

Encouraging Early Transition to Research Independence: Modifying the NIH New Investigator Policy to Identify Early Stage Investigators

The NIH New Investigator policy been changed to encourage early transition to independence. Under the revised policy, New Investigators within ten years of completing their terminal research degree or within ten years of completing their medical residency will be designated Early Stage Investigators (ESIs). Beginning with traditional R01 applications received for the February 2009 receipt dates, NIH will identify applications from ESIs and New Investigators, and the career stage of the PD/PI will be considered at the time of review and award. NIH will be developing and issuing more complete information, instructions, and Frequently Asked Questions before the February R01 receipt dates.

Reminder Concerning Grantee Compliance with Public Access Policy and Related NIH Monitoring Activities

NIH principal investigators are subject to the terms of the NIH Public Access Policy. The policy, issued in January, requires scientists to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts that arise from NIH funds to the digital archive PubMed Central upon acceptance for publication and requires that these papers are accessible to the public on PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.

NIH published a notice in the September 25 NIH Guide describing NIH Public Access Policy compliance monitoring efforts for fiscal year 2009, along with a reminder about grantee compliance with the policy and the location of citations for papers in applications, proposals and progress reports.

1/18/2008 Research Advocate article: NIH Public Access Policy Now Required

Announcing Transition Schedule for NIH/AHRQ/CDC/NIOSH/FDA to Adobe-based forms for SF424 Research and Related (R&R) Electronic Submissions through Grants.gov

Most electronic submissions to NIH on or after January 1, 2009, must use Grants.gov Adobe application forms. NIH has issued a schedule for the transition to Adobe forms.

Investigators planning to apply to NIH should be aware of that new Funding Opportunity Announcements released after September 1, 2008, will not have Adobe application forms for downloading until December 2008. Applicants will need to check the FOA in December to download the new Adobe application forms. Also, applicants should be aware that Grants.gov requires the use of very specific versions of Adobe Reader, currently 8.1.1, 8.1.2, or 9.0. The Grants.gov web site has a list of compatible versions that is updated when Adobe releases new editions.

For additional information, see the NIH Resources for Adobe Transition web page and the September 29 eRA Commons Items of Interest.

Elias A. Zerhouni to End Tenure as NIH Director

Dr. Elias Zerhouni announced his plans to step down as the director of NIH at the end of October 2008. He plans to pursue writing projects and explore other professional opportunities. Dr. Zerhouni has served as NIH director since May 2002.