IN THIS ISSUE . . .
October 31, 2005
A Message from the NIGMS
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is one
of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services. By supporting basic biomedical research
and training nationwide, NIGMS lays the foundation for advances in
disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
The NIGMS Feedback Loop is an e-mail newsletter
alerting researchers to NIGMS funding opportunities,
trends, and plans. We encourage your input
and feedback on Institute activities.
All NIGMS grantees are automatically subscribed to the NIGMS
Feedback Loop; other interested individuals are encouraged to
subscribe themselves. To subscribe, change your subscription
options, or unsubscribe, visit the NIGMS Feedback Loop subscription
page on the NIH LISTSERV Web site.
A Message from the NIGMS Director
In these times of budgetary constraint, investigators are
understandably quite conscious of NIH funding policies. In this
message, I will reiterate NIGMS' policies and provide historical
data on their impact. NIGMS does not use a "payline" in making
funding decisions, meaning that the percentile score is not the only
factor considered when Institute staff and Advisory Council members
recommend specific grant applications for funding (see the NAGMS
Council Guidelines for Funding Decisions). Among the other
factors taken into account are whether the applicant is a new
investigator, the level of other support available to the
investigator and potential scientific overlap, and NIGMS scientific
program needs and balance.
Figure 1 below shows the total number of applications assigned to
NIGMS (in white) and the number of applications funded (in black)
versus the percentile score for both new (Type 1) and competing
renewal (Type 2) R01 applications in Fiscal Year 2005. Note the
gradual decline (rather than a sharp cutoff) in the number of grants
funded as the percentile increases.
|Figure 1: NIGMS Type 1&2
R01s Reviewed and Funded, FY 2005
To put this graph into context over time, Figure 2 plots the
percentage of R01 applications funded versus the percentile score
for Fiscal Years 2000-2005. Also shown are the corresponding
published success rates for these years.
|Figure 2: Funding
Curves for NIGMS Type 1&2 R01s, FY 2000-2005
The shift of these curves to lower percentiles over time is due
to two factors. First, the number of funded grants has leveled off
and decreased slightly over the past 2 years after growing by
approximately 30% during the period in which the NIH budget
|Figure 3: NIGMS-Funded
R01 Grants, FY 1997-2005
The second factor—and the one that has had a larger
effect—is the significant increase in the number
of R01 applications that began in FY 2003 and has continued
since then (see Figure 4, which also includes applications
for R29 grants, an award category that NIGMS converted
to R01 in FY 1999).
|Figure 4: NIGMS R01 Applications,
FY 1997-2005 (also includes pre-FY 1999 R29s)
Since the percentile depended both on the priority score and the
number of applications considered, this increase in the number of
proposals has contributed significantly to the decrease in success
rate over the period from FY 2003 to FY 2005.
I hope these data are useful in clarifying Institute policies. As
always, I welcome your questions and comments. We are preparing
additional data on this topic and will be posting it on the NIGMS Web site at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/research/application/trends.
Jeremy M. Berg
National Institute of General
Advisory Council Concept Clearance
Proposed new NIGMS research and training programs are made public
at the open session of National Advisory General Medical Sciences
Council meetings. Council approval of new initiatives (and major
changes to existing initiatives) is called "concept clearance."
Concept clearance authorizes NIGMS staff to develop plans, publish
announcements in the NIH Guide for Grants and
Contracts, and fund grants. During the initiative planning
stages that follow concept clearance, NIGMS welcomes comments and
suggestions from the community.
At its September 2005 meeting, the Council discussed the concept
clearance summarized below. For additional details, see the Council
minutes or contact the identified NIGMS staff member.
NIGMS AIDS Structural Biology
James Cassatt, director of the NIGMS
Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics, proposed a plan to fund two
to three centers for the structural determination of complexes
between HIV proteins and cellular components.
Although researchers have determined the structures of many HIV
proteins in isolation, they know the structures of only a few HIV proteins
interacting with cellular components. Because HIV works through such interactions,
knowing the structures of more of these complexes will provide targets for
new generations of anti-AIDS drugs.
Dr. Cassatt received Council approval to initiate plans for
establishing the AIDS Structural Biology Centers, to replace a group
of program project grants whose funding will expire in FY 2007. The
new centers would take advantage of the technologies developed
through the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) by setting up
automated procedures for cloning, expression, and structure
Structures to be determined would originate from the PSI centers
and individual research grants (R21s and R33s) linked to the
centers. These individual grants would be funded through a separate
announcement issued by the Division of AIDS in the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
For more information, contact Dr. Cassatt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Collaborative Research for Molecular
and Genomic Studies of Basic Behavior in Animal
NIGMS has teamed with the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development to invite
investigator-initiated grant applications for collaborative research
using molecular or genomic approaches to address questions about
basic mechanisms of behavior in animal models. The purpose of the
initiative is to facilitate collaborations between behavioral
scientists and investigators with expertise in state-of-the-art
molecular biology or genomics.
For more information, see PA-06-038
in the NIH Guide or contact NIGMS program director
Laurie Tompkins at email@example.com
Town Hall Meeting on NRSA Tuition,
Fees, and Health Insurance Policies
Warren Jones, chief of the NIGMS Biochemistry and Biorelated
Chemistry Branch, encourages interested individuals to participate
in an NIH Town Hall meeting concerning possible revisions to fiscal
policies governing the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service
Award program, which comprises both institutional training grants
and individual fellowships.
The meeting will be held on November 30, 2005, in Room E1/E2 of
the NIH Natcher Conference Center, Bethesda, MD, and will focus
primarily on the funding of educational costs such as tuition, fees,
and health insurance provided through institutional training grants.
Advance registration for this meeting is required. For more information,
in the NIH Guide or contact Dr. Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org
Annual Meeting of the Protein
John Norvell, chief of the NIGMS Structural Genomics and
Proteomics Technology Branch, invites interested individuals to
attend the Protein Structure Initiative annual meeting on December
8, 2005, in Room D of the NIH Natcher Conference Center, Bethesda,
MD. The meeting will feature presentations from all 10 PSI research
centers, followed by a discussion of the initiative's plans and
Space at this meeting is limited; if you'd like to attend, please
contact Dr. Norvell at email@example.com
Research Administration NotesSummary Statements Now Only Available
As of October 1, 2005, NIH is no longer sending hard-copy summary
statements to grant applicants. Beginning February 1, 2006, NIH will
no longer send hard copies of the notification letters (also known
as "mailers") regarding the review outcome of applications.
Investigators must use the NIH electronic Research Administration
(eRA) Commons Web site to access these documents.
For more information, including instructions on how to register
for the eRA Commons, see NOT-OD-05-075
in the NIH Guide.
NIH Paperless Grant Process Is
NIH continues its move toward a paperless grant process with the
announcement of a new application form and an electronic submission
process that will be phased in by grant type.
Applicants should take particular note of the following
New application form: The PHS398 will be replaced by the SF424
Research & Related application form.
Electronic submission: By the end of 2007, all grant applications
will be submitted through the Grants.gov Web site. Applicants will
need to register for accounts on both the Grants.gov and eRA Commons
The schedule for transitioning to electronic submission is:
For more information about the new application form and
electronic submission, including instructions on how to
register for Grants.gov and the eRA Commons, see NOT-OD-05-067
in the NIH Guide.
• December 1, 2005—Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs (R41, R42,
• December 15, 2005—Support for Conferences and Scientific
Meetings (R13 & U13)
• February 17, 2006—Research Dissertation Grant Program
• February 25, 2006—Academic Research Enhancement Awards (R15)
• June 1, 2006—Small Grant Programs (R03) and
Exploratory/Development Research Grant Awards (R21/R33)
• October 1, 2006—Research Project Grant Program
Hurricane Information for
Investigators and Institutions
NIH is working with researchers and institutions affected by this
season's hurricanes to sustain the biomedical research enterprise
and ensure that NIH-funded research continues.
Those affected by Hurricane Wilma should note that each application
submitted late because of an institutional closure or
evacuation order should include a cover letter explaining
the reasons for the delay. It is not necessary to get
permission in advance for hurricane-related delays in
grant application submissions. For more information, see
in the NIH Guide.
A Web page is available for the biomedical research community
with information related to the NIH response
to Hurricane Katrina. This page includes information of
particular relevance to affected investigators and their
institutions, including NIH Guide notices as well as links
to Federal agencies, professional societies, and investigators
Microarray Services for
NIGMS-funded investigators who study any aspect of neuroscience
are now eligible to use the NIH Neuroscience Microarray
Consortium. The consortium will do start-to-finish expression
profiling, from RNA extraction and labeling through data analysis.
It also provides training, reagents, and ancillary services such as
laser-capture microdissection, hybridization of
investigator-supplied probes, and SNP genotyping. A variety of array
platforms are available for human, mouse, rat, Drosophila, C.
elegans, and other species. Costs are reasonable because the
consortium is subsidized.
For more information, contact NIGMS program director Laurie
Tompkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 301-594-0943, or consortium coordinator Sarah Brautigam at email@example.com
New NIGMS Web
The NIGMS Web site has a
new look—and new features—intended to make it easier to use. The
home page now presents timely information about funding
opportunities and results, while providing ready access to a wealth
of material about the Institute's programs and activities. Some of
the site's other changes include:
• up-to-date lists
of funding opportunities generated through tailored searches of
the NIH Guide;
• an improved staff
contacts page that includes more ways of finding people;
• and an enhanced, Google-based search
We welcome your comments and questions about the new site. Please
let us know what you think by using the main "Contact Us" form
accessible from the footer of any page on the site or by sending
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if a survey form pops up, please consider taking the time to
complete it. We take the results of visitor satisfaction surveys
very seriously, and we are eager to compare your ratings of our new
site to those of our old one.