Burden of Disease and NIH Funding Priorities

Recently, many voices have asked how NIH considers public health needs when setting funding priorities. The quick answer is that public health needs are a critical factor in our decision making—in addition to scientific merit, portfolio balance, and budgetary considerations. But the question of how one measures public health need, as it turns out, isn’t as simple as you might think.

Public health needs are not only reflected by how many people have a particular disease, but also by the burden of disease – the impact of a health condition as measured by mortality, morbidity, …. Continue reading

Reminder About Your Responsibilities in Maintaining the Integrity of NIH Peer Review

Today we’d like to start with a little scenario:

Kevin is a principal investigator whose application is undergoing peer review. At a national research symposium, he bumps into one of the reviewers on the study section that is evaluating his application. What should they do or say? The answer: …. Continue reading

A Farewell to NIH

It is bittersweet for me to announce that I am leaving my position as the NIH Deputy Director and will be retiring from NIH and the government to take a new position as Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. This is a newly formed foundation that I will lead through its formative first years. This foundation is a non-profit corporation that will focus on important national and international issues of agriculture where expanded investments will generate innovative solutions. This position brings together my experience at NIH and my previous …. Continue reading

Enhancing Reproducibility in NIH-supported Research through Rigor and Transparency

Nothing could be more important to our enterprise than research rigor, assuring that the results of our work are reproducible. Our conversation with you on this topic began early last year with a commentary in Nature by Francis Collins and today’s guest blogger, Larry Tabak, on the importance of reproducibility and how NIH plans to enhance it. As described in a follow-up Rock Talk post, the topic of reproducibility is not new. Evidence has shown that too many biomedical-research publications are irreproducible. Thus this topic demanded our community’s immediate attention and we have had continued dialog with and participation by you over the course of the last 18 months to describe the issue, request information, launch pilots, and craft a way forward to enhance reproducibility. Continue reading

NIH from 10,000 Feet – 2015

If you are interested in the kinds of issues we discuss on Rock Talk, you might want to check out the video of my plenary presentation at the NIH Regional Seminar. I address the impact of NIH funded research and the challenges of the current NIH funding situation; highlight opportunities, new initiatives, and policy changes; and even discuss the blog. Continue reading

Listening to Our Stakeholders On Considering Sex as a Biological Variable

One year ago, NIH announced a plan to adopt a new policy requiring a deliberate approach to the consideration of sex as a biological variable (SABV) in preclinical research. (Read the article, co-authored by Janine Clayton and NIH Director Francis Collins, here.) Since that moment, we have been working diligently and collaboratively inside and outside NIH to craft meaningful policy that promotes the best science. …. Continue reading

More ASSISTance Options for Submitting Your Application to NIH

I’m excited to tell you about a new option for submitting your R01 applications to NIH. Today, we made ASSIST (the Application Submission System and Interface for Submission Tracking) available as an option for submitting your R01 applications, as well as most individual career development (K) award applications. ASSIST is a web-based system that was developed by NIH, in close partnership with Grants.gov, to address common application submission challenges identified by the community. We first launched ASSIST …. Continue reading

Looking at Recent Data on R21 and R01-equivalent Grants

One topic of frequent interest to NIH leadership is how R01-equivalent awards compare to other research grant awards. The R01 is the standard mainstay of NIH’s research portfolio, and the oldest grant mechanism in use by NIH. As those familiar with the blog and RePORT know, we usually look at R01s in conjunction with other awards providing similar support analogous to an R01, which includes R37s or MERIT program awards. Of the R01-equivalent pool however, R01s make up the overwhelming bulk of these grants so while we call them R01-equivalents for accuracy-in-reporting reasons, it is highly appropriate to consider R01-equivalent data as representative of R01 trends. Over the past years we’ve been looking at trends in R01-equivalents compared to trends in awards through the R21 activity code. …. Continue reading