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Wayne State University

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Aug 2 / RAS

Hey Fellow[ship]: Don’t Keep Doin’ What You’re Doin’

It’s August 2; do you know where your tuition rates are?  If you’re planning to submit an F-series fellowship application for the August 8 deadline (or an F-31 on August 13/15), watch your bottom line when you are calculating your stipend; credit costs have changed, and so have the associated costs of health coverage.  To check your tuition base rates, be sure to visit the Tuition and Fees resource pages provided by WSU Records and Registration, and factor increases in your budget as averages.  Are you an MD/PhD candidate but not sure how to calculate your credits? Unsure which medical coverage to use in your calculations?  Just overwhelmed by the stipend calculations in general?  Reach out to RAS; we’ll help you figure out into which category you fall and which numbers to use!

 

Pay mind also to the changes present in the Forms-D iteration of the NIH fellowship packages. The following are five (yes, five!) new attachments:

  • Applicant’s Background and Goals for Fellowship Training (6 page limit; G.430 Guide, Section 2)
  • Letters of Support from Collaborators, Contributors, and Consultants (6 page limit; G.430 Guide, Section 10)
  • Description of Institutional Environment and Commitment to Training (2 page limit; G.430 Guide, Section 11; includes Additional Education Information section required for F30 and F31 applications which was previously included as an “Other Attachment” in FORMS-C applications)
  • Data Safety Monitoring Plan (G.430 Guide, Section 16; used with applications involving Clinical Trials)

Note that the “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment has been delayed for fellowships, even though it is listed as “required” in several resources;  don’t use it  yet, as implementation is delayed until after FY2017  (NOT-OD-16-034).

 

Biosketch instructions specifically for research, career development and fellowship applicants are now available as well; pay close attention especially to “D: Additional Information: Research Support and/or Scholastic Performance.”  Instead of “Research Support,” applicants for both predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships should use this section to provide information on their scholastic performance.

 

We think that’s enough for one post, don’t you? 😉

Jul 6 / RAS

Your Amendment Rights for Right Amendments

Ah, the resubmission.  We all want to draw attention to the fact that we understand the concerns of the reviewers and really drive home the fact that the amended application addresses initial concerns (or maybe even did the first time around).  It’s hard to assert your strength in writing, but that’s why we have bold!  And italics!  And underlines!  And colors! But not so fast: should you be using these textual tools to identify the changes you have made since a previous submission?

 

While there is no outright rule against this, the NIH states:

You must include an introduction for all resubmission[s] that:

  • summarizes substantial additions, deletions, and changes to the application

               > individual changes do not need to be identified within other application attachments (e.g., do not need to bold or italicize changes in Research Strategy)

  • responds to the issues and criticism raised in the summary statement
  • is one page or less in length, unless specified otherwise in the FOA or is specified differently on our table of page limits.

 

(Preceding emphasis added, read more at Resubmission Applications.)  When you’re crafting your resubmission, keep in mind that the NIH expects corrections to be addressed in the introduction, and not anywhere else.  While it is not expressly forbidden, your reviewers may be less annoyed that you not only acknowledged previous concerns, but format direction as well.  Happy writing!

Jun 24 / RAS

Personal profiles: not just for online dating

Save yourself – and those with whom you collaborate – some valuable time: update your personal profile in eRA Commons.  When you’re submitting an application through ASSIST, your senior/key personnel fields can autopopulate from your profile, as your Commons ID is linked. Keeping your personal profile updated ensures that the contact and personal information sent with any application has already been sanctioned by you.  So where do you go to ensure you are up-to-date?  First, log in to eRA Commons, and find the “Personal Profile” link in the blue menu bar:

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This will take you to a menu that allows you to update all of your personal information.  Some of this populates to ASSIST, some of it does not:

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* note: “REVIEWER INFORMATION” is one place to find your Continuous Submission status 🙂 

 

Here are some key points to keep in mind as you consider your personal profile:

  • The “EMPLOYMENT” section populates your contact address, and NIH wants three years of history for PIs, and at least one entry for trainees and admins.  NIH states, “this information is vital to NIH and its SROs for determining any conflicts of interest with applications.”
  • Be sure your institutional affiliation is correct! Did you bring your Commons ID with you to Wayne State from a former institution?  You may have to change your affiliation. Go to the “Home” screen and check out your name and affiliation in the top right corner.  If the institution listed under your ID is static (no link), call SPA to have your affiliation switched. If your institution is incorrect and it is linked (blue underline), you may be able to change it yourself by clicking on it:

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As an aside, when filling out your ASSIST applications: two fields that will NOT autopopulate from your profile are “Division” and “Department.”  To be sure that you get proper credit for each:

 

Confused by what you need to include?  Never fear, RAS is here to help walk you through the steps!

Jun 10 / RAS

Don’t fence me in!

The NIH modular budget format is attractive to PIs for a lovely, time-saving reason: the lack of a detailed budget justification.   Modular budgeting may be used for research grant applications requesting up to $250,000 direct costs per year; funds are requested as direct costs in modules of $25,000.  The logic behind modular budgeting is efficiency: less work for the PI, less work for the reviewers.  Modular budgets give PIs a degree of flexibility during the course of the award (i.e. fewer rebudgeting requests).

 

If you are close to the $250,000 mark, however, modular budgeting may not be for you.  Consider the following:

  • Your competing renewal must be modular.  This means, then, that you will be limited to $250,000 for the life AND future of the project.  If your current submission is part of a grander plan, this could lead to some serious research growth-stunting.  Additionally, if it is an NCI application, it generally cannot exceed an increase of 10% over the direct cost budget awarded for the last year of the prior project period. [NOT-CA-08-026]
  • There will be no future year escalations. Annual modular budgets are average budgets for the entire award period; salary escalations may result in a request for more modules than needed for costs in the beginning years to cover escalations in future years.
  • Underfunding is a reality.  You may not have a firm grasp of the project costs at the time of submission, especially if you don’t do an internal detailed budget for yourself and/or SPA. Are costs of materials expected to increase in the out years?  What about salaries?  Space costs?  Supply needs as the project grows? Without a full understanding of the totality of costs, the project could be faced with deficits as salaries and other costs increase annually. Increases in modules can be requested in exceptional circumstances, but the request must be thoroughly justified and acquiescence is rare.

 

Detailed budgets are nothing to be afraid of, and should be done internally anyway to ensure research is adequately funded.  Modular budgets are a great tool for smaller projects but if you’re close to the border, check your figures again: the extra effort of a detailed budget could save you from the pain of future paucity.  If you need help in auditing future needs or budget framework, RAS is here to help!

May 19 / RAS

Free To Be H1B (and still submit)

Researchers here at Wayne State with H1B visa status are not precluded from submitting proposals to the NIH.  Grants given are technically awarded to the university, so submission is allowed as long as the H1B holder is officially employed by Wayne State.

 

You will need to remain at WSU long enough to finish your proposed project, and you’ll have to state in your application that your visa will allow you to be here long enough to be productive.  As you know, H1B visas are held for a maximum of six years, and it may be issued in increments of up to three years by the USCIS.

 

While submissions and award are both possible, there ARE special procedures for funded foreign nationals to perform select agents and toxins research. If your proposed project has an agent or toxin that is considered “select” (go here to find out: http://www.selectagents.gov/SelectAgentsandToxins.html) we’re happy to walk you through the whys/hows.

May 11 / RAS

On May 25, “D” is for “Different”

By now you are most certainly aware that Forms D will be required for all NIH applications on or after May 25. If you are using ASSIST, you will automatically be directed to the Forms D cloud set (in the past few weeks, you were given a choice on the initiation screen, but now we’re very close to the no-option date).  If you are still using the SF424 (why aren’t you using ASSIST?) be sure that any work you are doing is in the correct form set.  The Forms D application guides are revamped and available on NIH’s website.

 

We first warned you of this back in October, so now is a great time to re-familiarize yourselves with the required changes: Brace Yourselves, Forms D Are Coming.  For an exhaustive list of changes, NIH has provided a high-level list of FORMS-D pre-award form changes, as well as a landing page for all things Forms D.  And, as always, drop us a note if anything looks murky; we’re always happy to help find clarification!

 

Apr 27 / RAS

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me Some Money

There’s a new funding mechanism in town, and they want your rejected NIH applications.  OnPAR (the Online Partnership to Accelerate Research) is a public-private partnership established to offer a second funding opportunity for unfunded NIH research applications. OnPAR works to match research applications to non-government funding sources.

 

The process still relies on research applications being subject to the NIH peer-review processes. Unfunded applications that have scored within the 30th percentile (or scored well in programs that do not provide percentiles) will be invited to participate in the OnPAR review and funding process. Applicants submit abstracts through the OnPAR website; here, abstracts are reviewed and provided to OnPAR funding members if/when they meet an organization’s research priorities. If priorities align, applicants are then asked to upload their full NIH application, scores, percentile, and summary statements (NIH will not provide any application material to OnPAR ; that’s all you). Each OnPAR member will review their chosen applications, may select some for funding consideration, and will negotiate final terms with applicants.

 

This concept is still in pilot stage, with high hopes to expand in the near future.  Non-governmental funders participating in the pilot include: Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Children’s Tumor Foundation, JDRF (previously Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Melanoma Research Alliance, National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.  For more information about OnPAR, check out their website.  Happy funding!

 

Apr 18 / RAS

Guess who’s back, back again..?

Calling all Tips & Tools attendees!  It’s time again for our quarterly live meeting in Scott Hall, taking place this coming Wednesday, April 20.  As usual, we will be meeting in Scott Hall room 1358.  Not so usual: we will have a guest presenter in Marty Kuznia, speaking about the ins and outs of putting a project to bed in the waning months of grant support.  The presentation is entitled, “Race to the Finish: Effective Post-Award Management in the Final Months of a Sponsored Project and Beyond;” the agenda for the meting can be found HERE. We look forward to seeing everyone again!

Jan 6 / RAS

An Investigator By Any Other Name

Start your year off right: make sure you’re getting credit for all of your funding!  As new internal funding data is being pulled, it is becoming clear that there are a lot of people that appear with less support than they should for one key reason: they are using the “Co-PI” designation on NIH applications.

 

Here’s a gentle reminder: the “Co-PI” designation is not recognized by NIH.  When applying for NIH funding, don’t select it if you are using the SF424 (also: why are you still using the SF424?) and don’t type it in if you are using ASSIST.  That designation appears for other agencies that DO use Co-PIs; NIH is not the only agency that uses the SF424 and so the SF424 is inclusive of other labels.  For a little more information on how this affects internal candidacy tracks and overall university rankings, check out our previous post, “When Good Labels Go Bad.”

 

Instead, when applying for NIH funding, use the “PD/PI” designation for BOTH if you and another PI are both considered to be PD/PI (or if there are more than two of you, even).  If someone is not sharing principal or directorial duties with you, that person should be designated as “Co-Investigator.”  If you’re still not sure what your label should be, drop us a note and we’ll help you figure it out!  Don’t short yourself (or your department) on support; you work hard and deserve your due credit!