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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!

Dec 3 / RAS

New Year, New Rules

The brand spankin’ new NIH Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS) was released on November 25, 2015.  This document governs all NIH awards, so be sure you’re familiar with the changes! In case you missed it, here is a handy table of the changes that were made since the March 2015 version: Summary of Significant Changes

 

The new NIHGPS is available in a web-based format HERE; it is also available in PDF, but NIH encourages the use of the web document.  These terms and conditions are applicable to any award made on or after October 1, 2015 (despite the November release date).  Questions about the changes?  We’re here to help sort them out!

Nov 12 / RAS

You’re Just In Time for an NSF Pilot

For fiscal year 2016, the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation will be piloting a just-in-time (JIT) system.  The intent of the pilot is to allow NSF reviewers to focus on the science and to reduce PI workload by requiring only basic budget justifications; think along the lines of the impetus behind NIH modular budgets.   If a proposal is recommended for award, NSF staff will request full budgets and associated justifications at that time (hence the term).

 

Here’s where it gets a little sticky: during the initial proposal submission stage, NSF is requesting a blank FastLane budget (listing zero dollars). Since FastLane prepopulates fields for senior personnel, there is a work-around to erase those fields in Section A if senior personnel are on the project (here’s a hint: they probably are).   Here’s what NSF wants you to do:

  • Go the Budget;
  • Click Funds (or Add a Year, if appropriate, then click Funds);
  • Delete the Senior Personnel from Budget Section A (by clicking on ‘Add/Remove Senior Personnel’) and then click Save; and
  • Click to the Bottom of Page, click Calculate and Save and Go Back.

 

The budget justification will include resource details, but not dollar amounts (except for large equipment).  If they are being requested, information must be provided for:

  • Total number of person-months of Senior Personnel salary for the entire project (such as 3 months, 6 months, etc.);
  • Number of postdoctoral scholars, graduate or undergraduate students, administrative and clerical staff, and a brief overview of their respective roles in the project;
  • Equipment purchases, including estimated cost;
  • Number of domestic and foreign trips anticipated, their necessity for the project, as well as the number of travelers and the location of the trip, if available;
  • Number of project participants for whom travel, stipend, etc., support is requested;
  • Pertinent materials and supplies to be purchased, consultant services, etc.; and
  • Any subawards, to whom, and a brief description of the work to be performed.

 

As you can see, the new NSF JIT framework is a bit nuanced.  Make sure you read the pilot announcement to fully understand the JIT implementation if you are planning to submit a DMS NSF proposal in FY2016.  This is also worth a read if you plan to submit to any NSF division in the future 😉

Nov 4 / RAS

There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Review

…especially when it’s FREE!

 

Don’t forget that Office of Vice President of Research (OVPR) has funds put aside to pay for review or your proposal.  That’s right, YOU get to choose whom you would like to review your proposal, and OVPR has money for that.  You don’t have to cross your fingers and sweat it out; get an expert to review your science!  Here’s what OVPR has allotted for various types of review:

  • $300 for internal review (transferred directly into the reviewer’s indirect cost account)
  • $600 for an external review
  • $500 for mock study sections reviews (transferred directly into the indirect account of the college/department/division doing the mock)

 

All review fund requests are made using the eProp system. Hoping you (or your PI)  qualify for one of these reviews?  Check out the details on the Pre-Submission Review Program. Take a look at the editing seminar stipends too!  If you’re not sure where to take your proposal for review, drop us a note; we’ll help you get connected!