Responding to Frequent Questions on Flexibilities Related to NIH Funding and COVID-19

The public health emergency due to COVID-19 is causing difficulties in many aspects of our lives. My colleagues and I here at NIH are well aware of the challenges being felt in the research community as institutions are closing, people are being asked to practice social distancing, and resources and attention are justifiably focused on public health needs. We recently updated our website with a slew of additional FAQs, new funding opportunities, as well as a video message from me, where I address some of the most common questions. Continue reading

COVID-19 Resources for Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding

Due to the potential exceptional impact of the declared public health emergency, we want to assure our recipient community that NIH will be doing our part to help you continue your research. Our website on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients has a list of available resources. Continue reading

How Many Researchers: Positive Trends Continue in FY 2019

As we continue to explore the question of how many researchers NIH funds, we have been observing a positive trend over the last few years where the number of unique scientists seeking support on NIH research project grants (RPGs) is stabilizing along with a commensurate rise in the corresponding NIH cumulative investigator rate. Now with fiscal year (FY) 2019 data available on the NIH Data Book, let’s see if this trend continued. Continue reading

What’s Happening With “At-Risk Investigators?”

In December 2018, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) offered a number of recommendations to NIH on the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative.” Among those: The Committee recommended “special funding consideration for “at-risk” investigators. These are researchers who developed meritorious applications who would not have significant NIH research funding if the application under consideration is not awarded. We plan to draw more attention this year, both inside and outside NIH, to outcomes for at-risk investigators, to ensure those submitting meritorious ideas to NIH are not lost to the system. Continue reading

Case Study in Review Integrity: Asking for Favorable Treatment

What happens when a former colleague contacts you, a reviewer, out of the blue to ask if the application on which he is a principal investigator could be treated favorably at the review meeting? Do you brush off the investigator and figure you will not let the contact influence your review of that application? Or do you instead immediately notify NIH? Intrigued? We have a case for you (based on true stories, details have been changed slightly and names have been fictionalized). Read on. Continue reading

Data are Available on NIH Funding Plans

Funding decisions rely heavily on peer review scores, but there is more to the story. NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) weigh those scores together with ensuring their entire research portfolio addresses the wide array of diseases, conditions, or other research areas within its mission. They also account for unmet scientific needs and build on recent unexpected breakthroughs as part of prudent planning. When public health needs emerge, such as for the opioid epidemic or a microbial outbreak, ICs must be nimble enough to respond. Training, work force, and infrastructure needs are also thrown into the mix.

We present FY 2018 data on R01-equivalent applications and R56-Bridge awards, showing percentiles for both funded and unfunded applications. Continue reading

Predicting Translational Progress from Citations of NIH-Supported Fundamental Research

By looking to the past we may be able to better understand the flow of scientific knowledge going forward, and possibly even predict translational research outcomes. In their October PLOS Biology paper, Drs. Ian Hutchins and George Santangelo from the NIH’s Office of Portfolio Analysis devised a machine-learning strategy that taps into the trajectory of science by tracking knowledge flow from bench to bedside. Continue reading

Expanding NIH’s Definition of Socio-Economic Disadvantaged to be More Inclusive and Diversify the Workforce

NIH has considered a different approach to defining scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds. We reviewed a wide variety of criteria, looking for those that are relatively easy to self-evaluate and that capture a large proportion of affected people. Continue reading

Case Study in Review Integrity: Undisclosed Conflict of Interest

This series aims to raise awareness and inspire creative problem solving of the challenges in maintaining integrity in peer review. In this case, Dr. Smith, who is being considered as a reviewer for the application, is a professional associate of Dr. Jones, the PI on the application. However, Dr. Smith had not declared a conflict with that application. Continue reading