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Change in Plans – Revised Schedule for Cancelled Review Meetings

My colleagues and I have heard from many of you since Friday, expressing significant concerns regarding delaying the review of applications to the May council round due to the Government shutdown. Applicants faced with a four month delay in a funding decision described serious consequences to their research programs. Additionally, many reviewers contacted us saying they are ready and willing to do anything to get these reviews done. In light of this feedback, our review staff have risen to the challenge, and will be working with reviewers to go the extra mile in exceptionally creative ways to reschedule as many of the 200+ missed October review meetings as possible.

Today my office issued a new NIH Guide notice, announcing that most review meetings originally scheduled during October will be quickly re-scheduled to enable applications to be considered at January council. Today’s Guide notice supersedes the guidance from last week. While we’re going to do everything we can to review of all the applications, scheduling complexities may mean that it will be necessary to reassign some small number of applications to May council. The Guide notice provides additional details about how and when those reassigned applications can be “refreshed.”

The rescheduled October receipt dates have not changed and are described again in the new notice. November deadlines still stand. Progress report due dates that were due in October were extended to November 4.

It is unfortunate that the government shutdown has forced all of us to scramble in this way. I very much appreciate that NIH can pull together with the extramural community in difficult times to ensure that great science continues.

36 thoughts on “Change in Plans – Revised Schedule for Cancelled Review Meetings

      • This committed decision honors an institution that always seems to hold its mission to public health to the highest standards. We can imagine the burden imposed on NIH staff for rescheduling, please receive all the praise that such extraordinary efforts deserve.

  1. Thank you (!!!!) so much for listening, and for taking these concerns and comments seriously. We really, really appreciate the willingness of the NIH staff and study section members to put in the extra hours to make this happen, and are very grateful that you were willing and able to reevaulate the best way forward.

  2. Thank you for being so responsive to the community. As a PI approaching tenure decision, this matter is very important to me. I had two proposals scheduled for review in early October and the outcomes will be critical to my future and that of the people in my research group. I appreciate the hard work of the NIH staff and the extramural reviewers to make many of these peer review sessions possible after all.

  3. Thanks to the NIH leadership and staff for being responsive. The extramural peer reviewers will work to match the example and get the reviews done!

  4. Thank you so much, Dr. Rockey and staff, for listening to the concerns of everyone involved. My faith in NIH is restored. I appreciate how much work this must be for all of you. Please know that the reversal of this decision will have a very positive impact on the lives of many. I, for one, am very grateful. Thank you.

  5. Even though I am not directly affected, I am very grateful to NIH and OER for their flexibility and responsiveness. You are to be commended for doing something that is very difficult — admitting error and quickly fixing mistakes. As a grantee and reviewer, I will be more than willing to go the extra mile for NIH, just as you have done for us here.

  6. I also want to thank you and NIH for your willingness to reconsider the delay and work with us to get these reviews done.

  7. Wonderful news! An anonymous thanks to the reviewers, SROs, POs, and all the others that will work extra hours to get this done! The science community at its best!

  8. I want to send my thanks, too. This announcement is a relief (though I’ll stop sweating once I see the official date on era commons) and it is nice to see the responsiveness from the NIH. Thank you also to the reviewers who will be asked to put in the extra effort.

  9. This plan makes much more sense than a delayed roll-over of all applications until next cycle. Many reviewers had already completed their assessments, e.g. for study sections scheduled the week of Oct 7-11. Plus, the logistics of dealing with 2 cycles of applications at once, a double load, was not going to be fair to applicants or reviewers.
    Thanks for reconsidering, and revising strategy.

  10. Thank you NIH and Dr. Rockey for listening to the concerns of the extramural community and working together with us to arrive at a solution. My research program also needs to know as soon as possible where I stand with my submitted RO1 to be able to develop plans to keep people in the lab and keep certain projects going. The initial delay would have been damaging to many of us. Thank you – we know you are caught in the middle of all this and we all appreciate your tremendous efforts on our behalf.

  11. Thank you NIH for reconsidering,
    Thank you reviewers for your willingness to make this happen,
    THANK YOU to the scientist community for making a loud noise on your concerns about an unfair and unnecessary situation that would damage a lot of young scientist who still believe in what they are doing.

  12. This new plan is career-saving and life-saving. It also reduces the impact of the government shutdown on scientific research in the US. My laboratory and I thank the NIH for listening to our voices and making the change.

  13. Absolutely, thank you, for scrambling to make this happen. The impact of delayed review is quite serious especially when reviewers could be asked to double their already taxing workload and new reviewers could be assigned to revised applications with disastrous results. Moreover, the potential trickle-down negative effects on lab infrastructure is a serious concern.

  14. For those waiting for review of an A1, this is great news. Special thanks to all the SROs who have the unenviable task of sorting out this mess, as well as all the reviewers. For an A0 it’s good, but some study sections likely will not be rescheduled until December, just before the holidays, so the time available to revise for the next round will be cut by as much as two months. Please think ahead about the knock-on effects and consider allowing extra time for A1s next March.

    • Yes, you can. November 12 is the new October 5 deadline. You do not need to have had submitted the A0 in October to apply by November 12.

  15. Thank you so much for reconsidering the decision.
    I also hope this incident which was beyond NIH’s control may help develop a strategic plan in case such situation arises again in the future.

  16. Did the Oct. 22 PN section review happen? Or did it fall into the “immediate post-shutdown” period that will be rescheduled? Thanks

  17. What about the cancelled october council meetings? does this mean that next council meeting will have double the applications in consideration? will there be double the budget to account for this? or is each institute handling this differently?
    ..the solution should be fair for those who had applications from the summer going to fall council too…

      • The council meeting for my grant was rapidly rescheduled and held. Great, right? Not exactly. I had written a letter to council and unbeknownst to me, grants with letters to council were deferred to the next council meeting in January. While I appreciate the efforts to restore normalcy, there are still cracks to fall through. So, beware…

  18. Here is my horror story about the shutdown.

    I submitted my proposal to the university grant office in late September for an October deadline, but the government shutdown prevented the office from submitting it. Then when the new deadlines were released, the grant office got confused about the different new deadlines and thus missed the deadline for my grant. So far NIH has refused to consider the late submission. As the PI of the proposal I did absolutely nothing wrong (submitted the proposal > 1 month before the new deadline), so why should the system punish me? One reason they cited for the rejection of the proposal is to be fair to everyone, but rejecting the proposal because the grant office missed the deadline (which was caused by the shutdown to start with) seems absolutely unfair to me. Shouldn’t NIH try its best to reduce the damage caused by the shutdown rather than adding another innocent victim who had nothing to do with the shutdown or the mistake made by the grant office?

    • Your situation is unfortunate. It is true that PIs are dependent upon their grants offices getting applications in on time. NIH made our best effort at reducing the damage through modifications to deadlines, quick rescheduling of review meetings and lots of communications. Unfortunately, we cannot modify NIH’s late policy to accommodate deadlines missed for these types of reasons.

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