January 30, 2015

An ASSIST for NIH R03 and R21

The National Institutes of Health has developed an optional online system known as “ASSIST” to help principal investigators with the preparation and submission of certain types of grant applications through Grants.gov.

Key features of ASSIST:
  • Online data entry
  • Multiple user access
  • Verification of application against agency business rules prior to submission
  • Pre-submission preview of assembled application image in agency format
  • Submission to agency through Grants.gov
  • Tracking application status within single system
Available for some time for NIH’s complex, multi-project grant programs, NIH has just announced that ASSIST is now available for two additional programs:
  • NIH's Small Research Grant (R03)
  • NIH’s Exploratory/Developmental Grant (R21) programs
NIH provide the following resources are available to help applicants prepare their applications using ASSIST:
Throughout 2015, ASSIST will become an option for additional grant programs. The NIH hopes to open up ASSIST as an option for the NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01) by May 2015.

Note: All ASSIST users working on an application must have eRA Commons accounts (all standard registration requirements apply).

For additional information, see ASSIST Now an Option for Submission of R03 and R21 Applications (NOT-OD-15-062).

January 29, 2015

Adjustments to NIH and AHRQ Application Due Dates in February

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are adjusting grant application due dates between February 13 and 18, 2015 to accommodate a scheduled Grants.gov downtime. See NOT-OD-15-057 for more details.

Grants.gov has a planned system outage from Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 12:01 AM ET to Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 6:00 AM ET.

January 16, 2015

NSF Updates to FastLane and Research.gov on January 26

The National Science Foundation NSF Business Applications Team forwarded the following notice on January 16, 2015.


On January 26, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will release updates to FastLane and Research.gov that may impact the way you work. This update will implement revised policy and incorporate feedback received from NSF staff and the research community.

Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 15-1)

A revised version of the PAPPG was issued on November 20, 2014, which incorporates OMB’s Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance), as well as other policy updates. On January 26, 2015, the following changes will be made to FastLane to support the revised PAPPG:
  • Budget Form Update: The budget form will be updated so that the “Residual Funds” line (Line K) will not be editable for all programs except Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR). As this field is currently used for the purpose of collecting fees, “Residual Funds” will be renamed to “Small Business Fee.”
  • Budget Justification Upload: Budget justification can no longer be entered as text. Awardees will be required to upload a budget justification for each organization added to the budget via an upload screen. Already, 95% of proposers take advantage of the upload option.
  • Cost Sharing Notifications Requirement: The existing requirement that only awards with cost sharing of $500,000 or more must submit a cost sharing certificate will be modified to support the revised policy which specifies that cost sharing notifications must be submitted by all awardees with awards that include cost sharing.
  • New Funding Mechanism: The FastLane proposal cover sheet will be updated to include the new funding mechanism type, Ideas Lab. Ideas Lab is designed to support the development and implementation of creative and innovative project ideas. These projects will typically be high-risk/high-impact as they represent new and unproven ideas, approaches, and/or technologies.
Automated Compliance Checks

Beginning January 26, 2015, FastLane will run an additional 24 automated checks on proposals to ensure they comply with requirements outlined in the PAPPG, Chapter II.C.2 of the Grants Proposal Guide (GPG). Detailed below, these checks will validate a proposal for compliance with page count, proposal sections per type of funding mechanism and budget-related rules for proposals submitted in response to the GPG, Program Announcements, and Program Descriptions. At this time, these checks will not be enforced for proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations.
  • Page Count: Page count rules will be enforced on the following proposal sections:
    • Project Description: 15-page limit [exceptions: 8-page limit for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER), and 5-page limit for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)]
    • Budget Justification: 3-page limit for the proposing institution and a separate, 3-page limit for each sub-recipient organization
    • Mentoring Plan: 1-page limit
    • Data Management Plan: 2-page limit
  • Budget: Budget-related checks will focus primarily on proposal duration and requested amount. For example, the system will enforce a maximum requested amount of $200,000 for a RAPID proposal and $300,000 for an EAGER proposal.
  • Proposal Section: Proposal sections will be enforced by their funding mechanism for Program Announcement, Program Description and other GPG-type funding opportunities. For example, an error message will appear if a Project Description was not provided for an EAGER proposal.
The checks detailed above will be triggered when the “Check Proposal,” “Forward to SPO,” or “Submit Proposal” functions are selected by a proposer or proposing organization. Depending on the rule being checked, a warning or error message will display when a proposal is found to be non-compliant. If an error message appears, the organization will not be able to submit the proposal until it is compliant. To view a detailed list of all compliance checks, click here.

Research.gov User Experience Enhancements

On January 26, 2015, NSF will complete another round of enhancements to Research.gov based on feedback received from the community and recommendations from usability experts. These changes will begin to prepare the research community for the Research.gov/FastLane integration while improving the awardee experience. The following enhancements will be implemented:
  • Updated Branding: An update to the logo, header, footer and background to make it consistent with current NSF branding
  • Improved Look & Feel: A modification to page widths and font size in project reports and the Award Cash Management $ervice (ACM$) in order to optimize layout for each visitor’s screen resolution and make it easier to read
  • Streamlined Navigation: A streamlining of the site by removing the left navigation bar and adding top-level navigation across Research.gov
  • Simplified Login: A consolidation of login options onto one page in order to simplify the process
  • Expanded Help: An expansion of the Research.gov Live Help service to now include support for logging in and changing a password
We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. If you have any questions, please contact the NSF Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188, or ithelpcentral@nsf.gov.

Thank you,

The NSF Business Applications Team

January 14, 2015

SPO Service Schedule for March 18, 2015

On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, the majority of Sponsored Projects Office staff will be involved in a regional meeting with sponsored project officers from Stanford University and UCSF. SPO services on this date therefore will be limited to front-desk administrative duties. Proposal and award set-up activity will resume on Thursday, March 19. For the purposes of the VCRO’s five day proposal submission policy, March 18 will not count as a working day. Individuals submitting proposals or other time-sensitive transactions during this time frame should plan accordingly.

January 13, 2015

New NIGMS Guidelines for Funding Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Research Support

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has published new guidelines for awarding R01s and other research grants to investigators with substantial levels of long-term, unrestricted research funding from any source.

NIGMS defines unrestricted funding to mean that it is not project-based and may be used to conduct research on a broad topic at the Principal Investigator’s or Program Director’s discretion. NIGMS considers such support substantial and long-term if it is over $400,000 in direct costs (excluding the PI/PD’s salary and direct support of widely shared institutional resources) and extends for at least two years from the time the NIGMS grant would be funded.

NIGMS implementation is effective for applications submitted on or after January 2, 2016.

See the January 13 NIH Guide notice New NIGMS Guidelines for Funding Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Research Support (NOT-GM-15-102) and the NIGMS Funding for Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Research Support guidance for more information.

NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy for NIH PIs

On August 27, 2014 the National Institutes of Health announced its final Genomic Data Sharing (GDS) Policy. This policy is designed to promote sharing, for research purposes, of large-scale human and non-human genomic data generated from NIH-funded research.

The GDS Policy applies to all competing NIH grant applications and proposals for NIH contracts submitted for the January 25, 2015 deadline and thereafter if the proposed research will generate large-scale human or non-human genomic data or will use these data for subsequent research. In such cases, the GDS Policy applies regardless of the funding level.

Please Note: The following guidance is to assist Principal Investigators at the application stage only. PIs should review additional genomic data sharing requirements at the Just-in-Time (JIT)/post-award stages provided by NIH. A RAC webpage also is being developed to provide the campus with additional guidance on how to indicate in Phoebe that genomic data sharing will be part of the research as well as procedures for obtaining institutional certification for the sharing of genomic data at the post-award stage.


Examples of large scale genomic research projects that are subject to the GDS Policy are available in Supplemental Information to the NIH GDS.

The GDS Policy does not apply to:
  • Institutional training grants (T32s, T34s, T35s, and TL2s);
  • K12 career development awards (KL2s);
  • Individual fellowships (Fs);
  • Resource grants and contracts (Ss);
  • Linked awards derived from previously reviewed applications (KL1, KL2, RL1, RL2, RL5, RL9, TL1, UL1);
  • Facilities or coordinating centers funded through related initiatives to provide genotyping, sequencing, or other core services in support of Genome Data Sharing
  • Smaller studies (e.g., sequencing the genomes of fewer than 100 human research participants) are generally not subject to this Policy.

Unless the Funding Opportunity Announcement states otherwise, applicants preparing grant applications are expected to:
  • Contact the appropriate NIH Institute or Center (IC) Program Official or Project Officer as early as possible to discuss Genome Data Sharing expectations and timelines that would apply to their proposed research.
  • State in the cover letter with the application that the research proposed will generate large-scale human and/or non-human genomic data.
  • Include a Genomic Data Sharing plan in the Resource Sharing Plan section of the funding application or proposal. (A more detailed genomic data sharing plan will need to be provided to the funding IC prior to award.)
  • Outline in the budget section of their funding application the resources they will need to prepare the data for submission to appropriate repositories. NIH will provide additional guidance on these resources, as necessary.
Note: In situations in which the sharing of human data is not possible, applicants should provide a justification explaining why they cannot share these data and provide an alternative data sharing plan. Exceptions to NIH expectations for data submission to an NIH-designated data repository will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the NIH.

Applicants who wish to use controlled-access human genomic data from NIH-designated data repositories (e.g., dbGaP) as a secondary user to achieve the specific aim(s) of the research proposed in the grant application should briefly address their plans for requesting access to the data and state their intention to abide by the NIH Genomic Data User Code of Conduct in the Research Plan of the application.

Note: Researchers should be aware that access to these data is dependent on an approval process that involves the relevant NIH Data Access Committee(s). Researchers may wish to secure access to the data prior to submitting their application for NIH support. Secondary users of controlled-access data are not expected to deposit their findings into NIH-designated data repositories, unless appropriate.


Although the GDS Policy does not apply to research submitted prior to the Policy’s effective date, NIH, nonetheless, strongly encourages investigators to comply with the expectations outlined in the Policy. Investigators should provide an updated genomic data sharing plan to the funding IC in the submission of the research performance progress report. For studies involving human participants that were initiated before the Policy’s effective date and used consents that do not meet the expectations of the GDS Policy, investigators are expected to plan to transition to a consent for future research uses and broad sharing, if possible, particularly for new or additional collections of specimens. There will be reasonable accommodation, determined on a case-by-case basis by the funding IC, for long-term projects ongoing at the time of the Policy’s effective date to come into alignment with NIH’s expectations for consent and data sharing. The goal is to bring these projects into alignment, to the extent possible, in a reasonable timeframe.


Investigators with questions about whether the Policy applies to their current or proposed research should consult the relevant Program Official or Program Officer or the IC’s Genomic Program Administrator (GPA). Names and contact information for GPAs are available through the NIH GDS website.

August 27, 2014 Research Advocate: NIH Issues Genomic Data Sharing Policy

January 05, 2015

Statement of Economic Interests (700-U) Form Revised for 2015

The State of California has issued a revised 700-U Statement of Economic Interests for Principal Investigators for immediate use. The revised form, dated 2014/2015, 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 threshold for gifts of travel has been increased to $460 from the previous $440. The instructions regarding travel gifts have also been revised.

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.

January 02, 2015

NIH Publishes Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards for FY 2015

The National Institutes of Health has issued NIH Fiscal Policy for Grant Awards - FY2015 (NOT-OD-15-050) and related notices that provide guidance for the federal fiscal year 2015 (through September 30, 2015).
From NOT-OD-15-050:

FY 2015 Funding Levels: Non-competing continuation awards that have already been made in FY 2015 were generally funded at levels below that indicated on the most recent Notice of Award (generally up to 90% of the previously committed level) as described in NOT-OD-15-001. Such reductions may be fully or partially restored, depending on the Institute or Center. Non-competing continuation grants (research and non-research) including those that remain to be issued in FY 2015 likely will be made within the range between the commitment level indicated on the Notice of Award and 3 percent below that level. Out-year commitments for continuation awards in FY 2016 and beyond will remain unchanged. The NIH awarding Institutes/Centers (IC) will develop and post their fiscal policies consistent with overall NIH goals and available FY 2015 funds.

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA): Consistent with the 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act and with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee to the Director regarding the Biomedical Research Workforce, the NIH will increase NRSA stipends by 2 percent on average. The full range of stipend adjustments for FY 2015 is described at NOT-OD-15-048.

New Investigators: NIH will continue to support new investigators on R01 equivalent awards at success rates comparable to that of established investigators submitting new (Type 1) R01 equivalent applications. Achievement of comparable success rates should permit the NIH to support new investigators in accordance with the policies established in FY 2009 and subsequent years as described at NOT-OD-09-013 and at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm.

Salary Limits: Section 203 of the 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act prohibits payments for salaries under grants and other extramural mechanisms in excess of Executive Level II currently set at $181,500. See NOT-OD-15-049 for additional information. NOT-OD-15-049 states that the “Executive Level II salary is currently set at $181,500, increasing to $183,300 effective January 11, 2015.”

Other Legislative Mandates: Other statutory requirements will be described in a notice to be released early in January.

Additional Information: Additional details on Fiscal Operations, including specific funding strategies for ICs will be posted at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/financial/index.htm.

January 12 Update: NIH has posted Notice of Legislative Mandates in Effect for FY 2015 (NOT-OD-15-054), with additional information on statutory provisions that limit the use of funds on NIH grant, cooperative agreement, and contract awards for FY 2015.