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Help for Your Unfunded NIH Applications

I’d like to pass along some good news on the where-am-I-going-to-get-my-grant-funded-in-today’s-economy front. The National Health Council External Web Site Policy just announced the availability of a database that will help link unfunded NIH applications with potential non-governmental funding sources.

We all know that you have more good ideas than NIH is able to fund. That makes this a very good time for the National Health Council to roll out HealthResearchFunding.org. External Web Site Policy This database will serve as a kind of clearinghouse for unfunded research proposals.

The way this works is that PIs can choose to put basic information about their scored but unfunded NIH grant applications directly into the National Health Council’s HealthResearchFunding.org database. Potential funders will then be able to search the database to find projects they might be interested in funding.

This approach seems very efficient. Not only does it take advantage of the NIH peer review process, but if it works the way it is intended, it should reduce the amount of time and effort investigators and institutions put into looking for alternative funding sources. Time that can be better spent on research.

I am pleased that my staff had the opportunity to provide input into this effort, and I am looking forward to watching this idea roll out and evolve.

39 thoughts on “Help for Your Unfunded NIH Applications

  1. “scored but not funded”
    How high does this score have to be? Some grant mechanisms do not provide scores for all unfunded applications (such as the new innovator awards). Are these not eligible?

  2. Hello, Anon. Thank you for your question. There is currently no defined range for numerical score you must receive. To be eligible for HealthResearchFunding.org, you must be the principal investigator on a grant application that was submitted to the NIH, the application must have been peer-reviewed, it had to have received a numerical overall impact score, and the NIH made the decision not to fund the project.

    We also accept proposals from principal investigators on research proposals that were submitted to a patient advocacy organization that is a current member of the National Health Council (http://www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/pages/member-roster.php) if the proposal was peer-reviewed and identified as worthwhile, however not funded.

    If you need further clarification or have another question, you can contact me directly at healthresearchfunding@nhcouncil.org. Thanks!

  3. We believe that the National Health Council has plans to expand to other Federal Agencies in the future, but you would need to ask them for more information.

  4. Pingback: Grant not funded? Now what? « OHSU Research News

  5. Thank you for your interest in HealthResearchFunding.Org.

    The grant applications that you upload to the database are viewable only by funding organizations that search by the topic area and keywords which you identified when creating your profile. The only funding organizations currently registered for the site are the patient advocacy organization members of the National Health Council, http://www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/pages/member-roster.php. Investigators are only allowed to search and view information for funding organizations, not the profiles or proposals from other investigators. In the event that a funding organization would like more information about your proposal, they will need to contact you directly.

    I hope this information helps. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

  6. Thanks for your helpful article regarding alternative funding source for
    unfunded NIH applications. Would this apply to NIH applications that were
    reviewed, received a good score according to the OLD scoring system, but
    were not funded? How far back would this provision go (before the new
    scoring system started), if at all?

    Would appreciate your advice.

  7. I would urge people considering this to read the fine print in the User Agreement very carefully. Particularly interesting:

    “By posting Content to any area of HealthResearchFunding.org , you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to National Health Council, its affiliates, licensees, and successors, an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, reproduce, adapt, modify, and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You further represent and warrant that posting and use of your content by NHC will not infringe or violate the rights of any third party.”

    and

    You agree to “participate upon request to all surveys and questionnaires posed by HealthResearchFunding.org within 20 business days of request as “payment” for using the site at no additional cost.”

    • Mr. Schwartz,

      Thank you very much for your interest in HealthResearchFunding.Org and for your insightful comments. The goal of HealthResearchFunding.Org is to connect funding organizations with investigators whose proposals have already been deemed worthy and important. In order to share research abstracts, we believe it is necessary to have full permission to disseminate the information. However, since the language has raised questions about the confidentiality of the abstracts, we are in the process of reviewing the User Agreement. It was never the intention of the National Health Council to create confusion with the language you reference above.

      Please continue to pose your questions and comments about HealthResearchFunding.Org. This project is in its infancy and your opinions will help us build a better database that will work effectively and efficiently.

  8. Is there a date requirement regarding how new the grant/NIH review may be, eg, can one submits old unfunded NIH grant applications? thanks.

  9. It will be tremendously useful if there was a simple flow chart made available here that illustrated the process, ideally with some timeframes for the steps. This doesn’t have to be overly detailed and will be useful for both grant seekers as well as funding organizations.
    Will the grant seekers get a reading about how many organizations looked up their propsal and when and also would it be feasible for your team to send out a quick email notification to all funding organizations as soon as a proposal is uploaded?

    It may sound formidable; newer tools, though, make these alert/notification processes quite simple to implement and intuitive to use.

  10. I have to agree with Alan’s warning about the fine print. It should send off alarm bells to anyone who may have intellectual property associated with their work.

  11. Hi. Thank you Alan for that fine print.

    I have a follow up question to anyone. Does this mean that if we disclose or describe our technology or method in the “content” that we are effectively giving license to NIH, et all to use our technology/methods should they wish too? Thank you.

  12. I don’t entirely understand the logic of including only grant proposals that were discussed in meetings, but not the triaged ones. The triaged grants often have helpful comments on them from the reviewers, and they may have been triaged due to vagaries of the review process, or NIH bias towards particular approaches. A triaged grant might actually be quite attractive to another funding organization that has a different thrust.

    Some proposals might be triaged for a reason that makes them inappropriate for passing them on to other agencies, such as poor writing, or clearly ill-thought-out experiments. Perhaps the panels, in choosing which grants to discuss, could label the triaged grants as “appropriate to pass on to NHC database” or not.

    • I too would like to see ‘unscored’ proposals available for other sources of funding. I suspect some of the most advanced, innovative and best projects get triaged because the topic or idea is outside the comfort zone of study section reviewers. I think some of my best research ideas have been triaged because they were too unconventional.

  13. Please let us know what kind of funding agencies are in the database. If the list of funding agencies is known then we can make an informed decision whether to list our applications or not.

  14. This sounds like an interesting opportunity. I just missed the pay-line and submitted my proposal to the Health Research Funding. Is there any estimate on how long it will take to hear from interested funding organizations?
    Many thanks,

    • Thank you for your interest in HealthResearchFunding.Org. Once your proposal is submitted to the database, you will be contacted directly by a funding organization if there is interest or questions regarding your particular proposal. We ask that you log into the site periodically to ensure that your information is up to date and to complete all necessary surveys you receive related to the database.

  15. Would this opportunity of posting scored but not funded NIH applications be an opportunity for foreign (non-US) researchers that send in applications to the NIH?

  16. Is it possible to get an existing proposal linked to the database that has already been (marginally) scored and awaits final decision?

  17. It is a shame that you are not considering triaged applications. Some day someone should commission a study to look at the quality (everyone assumes ‘lack of quality’) of triaged (unscored) applications. From my experience as an applicant AND as a member of an NIH study panel, there would be some surprises, I think. In many panels, one strong vote to triage is enough to send a proposal to the nether world. In certain instances it can be a means by which some reviewers make certain a proposal does not come up for discussion.

    • Remember, NIH policy dictates that if even one reviewer wants to discuss an application, it is discussed.

  18. The mandatory requirement to take part in every survey that the site conducts is a major turn-off. This looks like one of many clones of Science Advisory Board, except that this one does not pay you back and participation is legally binding. Thus, the site gets indentured people to do for free, what otherwise they would be paid for. Also, common sense suggests that researchers working in a certain area are aware of the granting opportunities from relevant non-profits. A cancer researcher would not shy away from sending a grant that just barely missed NIH funding to ACS. Why would ACS, which is routinely swarmed with highly competitive grants, set aside money to fund out of competition a grant, whose PI was turned down by NIH and is too lazy to re-send it directly to ACS? While the NIH has thrown its reputation behind this web site, the mandatory survey policy, the forfeiture of intellectual property rights (interestingly, the list of members has many biotech firms) and expected negligible chance of success (is there statistics to the contrary?) look very suspicious.

  19. I have recived NIH SBIR grant application score 189 initially in 2008, which was fundable at that time. Howvcer, adivsory committee advised to resubmit the application with increasing budget request. However, resubmitted grant applcation was unsocred claming zinc is a hevy metal (whihc is a essential trace element). I gve up the grant application to NIH.

    • Hi, Gila, thank you for your interest in HealthResearchFunding.Org. We really appreciate the feedback. We are currently reviewing the user agreement based on the feedback we have received from users. Again, we assure you and all others, our goal was to ensure that the National Health Council had the necessary permission to allow the information provided by researchers to be searchable by funding organizations; it was never the intention of the National Health Council to create confusion with the language. We will be sure to be in touch as soon as possible. Thanks again.

  20. Thanks, Emily. We are confident that with a revised agreement this will become a very useful resource. In the meantime, we briefed our investigators and advised them to hold off any submissions to the database.

  21. Hi Gila, I wanted to let you know that the National Health Council (NHC) has updated the user agreement for HealthResearchFunding.Org. As I said previously, it was never the intention of the NHC to create this confusion with the language.

    To see the changes, please visit http://www.healthresearchfunding.org/user-agreement

    We truly appreciate your questions and comments about HealthResearchFunding.Org. Your opinions and comments will help us build a better database that will work effectively and efficiently.

    Please feel free to pass the updated user agreement along to your peers. Thank you!

  22. As someone who has worked for years both inside and outside the NIH, I agree that many high innovation, high risk but potentially high impact applications are the first to be triaged. If the goal of the National Health Council were to support innovative projects, not just applications that fail to score in the top 10th percentile, it would be wise to take a look at all unfunded applications to determine the best places to invest.

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