We see a lot of NIH projects coming through on parent announcements for investigator-initiated applications (PA-13-302, –303 and –304 are by far the most popular). These are great catch-all funding opportunities, but did you know that you can search for standing announcements that fit more specifically with your area of research? When using announcements that are more tailored to your area of expertise, you are more likely to get better study sections, and that understand your work. While a study on body mass/asthma linkage is certainly submissible under 13-302, a quick search of the Funding Opportunities and Notices database reveals that a standing R01 opportunity exists for Obesity and Asthma.
Take a look around and see if any open opportunities fit your work. Remember, if your application is AIDS-related, your next due date is Tuesday, September 8 thanks to Labor Day!
Like Jack’s beanstalk, ASSIST continues to grow and change as it becomes more firmly rooted in our administrative lives and takes us to heights we never thought possible (OK, maybe not *that* high). Here are a few changes we’ve confirmed in the ASSIST system since we began using it in January:
- Adding users to simultaneously work on the application. Before, the initiator of the application could add users and control what rights they had to the application (view-only, edit, etc). This is no longer the case. Now, only users with signatory authority in eRAcommons can add and control user access. This means that you are likely going to have to ask your GCO to change your settings to “Access Maintainer” if you are going to need to add users to your application at any time. FWIW: you don’t need to add your GCO. They automatically have access on the back end; just let him/her know the application is there.
- Changing the submission status. Before, you had to change each individual component of the application to “Ready to Submit” before your GCO could push the button. Now, you only have to change to “Ready for Submission” one time. This saves a lot of time and frustration, especially since “Work in Progress” and “Ready for Submission” are now your only options, other than to abandon.
- Validation and submission functions. If you try to run validation on your application and nothing happens, or you try to submit to your GCO and you receive an “unable to complete action at this time” message, likely you have a PDF that is non-compliant. Unfortunately, ASSIST will not tell you which one it is. If either of these happen to you, go through your application and view each file you’ve uploaded. When you come across one that ASSIST tells you it is unable to access, that is your problem child and the one you will likely need to replace.
ASSIST continues to be a helpful form of submission with value that lies in the ability to have NIH check for compliance BEFORE you submit. As we continue run across these little nuances, we’ll share them with you, so please share the ones you find with us as well! If you haven’t have a chance to look over ASSIST yet, take a look at some of our previous posts and/or familiarize yourself with the user guide. We think you’ll like it once you get to know it
Federal stipends are certainly helpful in supporting research and experience for early investigators. Even so, there are strict limits on amounts and sometimes a PI wants to reward extra work with extra pay. This is allowable, but the supplement cannot come from another federal source. Consider NIH Grants Policy section 184.108.40.206 which states:
Kirschstein-NRSA fellows receive stipends to defray living expenses. Stipends may be supplemented by an institution from non-Federal funds provided this supplementation is without any additional obligation for the fellow. An institution can determine the amount of stipend supplementation, if any, it will provide according to its own formally established policies governing stipend support. These policies must be consistently applied to all individuals in a similar status regardless of the source of funds. Federal funds may not be used for stipend supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program from which funds are derived. Under no circumstances may PHS funds be used for supplementation.
An individual may use Federal educational loan funds or VA benefits when permitted by those programs as described in Other Income: Educational Loans or GI Bill in this chapter.
If your department chooses to supplement the stipend of a fellow, be sure that your source of supplementation is not another federal award. Further, be sure there is no federal flow-through (not a subcontract with federal origins, for instance). Feel free to drop us a line if you’re not sure!
Here comes August, and you know what that means: NIH F Series application deadlines (F Series is due August 8; F31 Diversity is due on August 13). Whether you’re a bit stuck or late to the party, templates are available to help you put together your submission. Check out our NRSA form templates and the NIH general annotated SF424 (the initial checklist will guide you on what is mandatory. If you have any questions, we’re here to help!
As you’re wrangling project budgets and preparing submissions, be aware that Wayne’s fringe rates have changed, as have some of the employee groups of job classes. Think your PI is going to be 26.6%? Think again; most investigators will fall under a fringe rate of 24.7%. The biggest difference you will note is that research assistants will no longer have the same rate as faculty; most research personnel will now have a fringe rate of 33.2%. This will significantly affect your budgets, so plan accordingly.
Take a look at the new composite fringe rates here, which are in effect for any proposal of project period starting after October 1, 2015 (eProp rates are being updated to reflect the changes). For a comparison to other years, Fiscal Operations keeps past composite fringe rates posted for reference.
Federal government systems are constantly evolving, and sometimes what was fine yesterday is an error today. During the submission process for an SF424 on Monday, we received the following error, even though the PD/PI eRA Commons ID was very clearly and correctly present in the proper field:
NIH has received the electronic grant application Grants.gov Tracking # GRANT00000000 / PI XXXXXXX. NIH was unable to process your application because it was missing critical information required by NIH. NIH requires that the PD/PI’s correct eRA Commons User ID be entered in the ‘Credential’ field for the PD/PI on the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) component of the application.
Because the Credential field was not completed accurately, your application was considered incomplete; therefore the eRA Commons could not fully check the application against the instructions in the application guide and the funding opportunity announcement. You may receive new error and/or warning messages once you submit a changed/corrected application to Grants.gov.
After some trial and error, and intrepid GCO found that re-entering the eRA Commons ID in all capital letters (‘GSMITH’ instead of ‘gsmith’) allowed the application to go through. As a precautionary measure, you may wish to use all caps on your PD/PI credentials going forward!
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about preserving your New Investigator or Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status. But how can you be sure if you have those statuses at all? NIH calculates your qualification for ESI based on your funding and terminal degree year, while New Investigator status is solely on past funding type. You can be a New Investigator with qualifying to be ESI, but you can’t be ESI without qualifying to be a New Investigator.
To find out whether you are considered to be an ESI, you can check your status in eRA Commons. To do it, log in and go to your “Personal Profile.” Once you are there, either scroll down to or click on “Education:”
Once you are at your “Education” section, choose “Edit” (don’t choose “View”). This will reveal NIH’s record of your status as an Early Stage Investigator, or ESI:
To check your New Investigator status is a little more nuanced; to do so, choose “Status” from your top menu menu bar and find your most recent submission. If that submission did not result in the funding of a “significant” award according to NIH standards and your “New Investigator Eligibility” reads “Y”, you are still considered a New Investigator. This status is only monitored by NIH at submission:
Remember, to be considered a “New Investigator,” you cannot not yet have been awarded a substantial NIH research grant. To be an “Early Stage Investigator,” you must have both “New Investigator” status and have completed your terminal research degrees or medical residencies (whichever date is later) within the past 10 years. If you check you status and believe that NIH has misclassified your status, be sure to send an email to the Commons Help Desk for assistance.
Have you ever been approached about body donation? Did it catch you off guard?
It isn’t unheard of for patients and participants to contact admins and offer to donate themselves for post-mortem research on their specific condition. Donating one’s body to science can be a great way to make direct contributions to research, other than dollars. The bodies accepted at Wayne State University School of Medicine are in a clean, restricted area, accessible only to medical professionals and students. When the various studies have been completed the remains are cremated and buried in the University burial plot.
The Department of Anatomy facilitates a Body Bequest Program, and the process begins with their bequest form. Special attention should be given to section 10108; there are occasions when Wayne State University must refuse a donation (usually this concerns the condition of the body at the time of death). If you are approached about body donation, encourage the interested party to contact the Body Bequest Office in the Department of Anatomy.
It is important to NIH to fund more new scientists, and have created special programs and higher paylines to do it. To be a “New Investigator,” you must be an NIH research grant applicant who has not yet been awarded a substantial NIH research grant. So, if you have been a PD/PI on an R01, you are no longer considered a New Investigator. If, however, you were a PD/PI on and R21 or an R03, you ARE still New Investigator. If you’re not sure if your previous awards disqualify you from New Investigator status, take a look at the NIH list of non-disqualifying awards.
Keep in mind that multi-PI awards count as being a PD/PI (but Co-I designations do not!). If you and a colleague or two have shared PD/PI status on an R01 that was awarded, you’re not a New Investigator. If you are going to share multi-PI status on an R21, you DO retain your status. The length of your career has no bearing on your status as a New Investigator, but you may have an extra advantage if you are early enough along: there are separate paylines established for Early Stage Investigators, who are those New Investigators who have completed their terminal research degrees or medical residencies (whichever date is later) within the past 10 years.
For further clarification, head over to NIH’s FAQs for New and Early Stage Investigators. If you’re not sure how to strategize when it comes to your status, we’re here to help you figure out your options.