Nexus July 2013

Rock Talk

Individual Development Plans for NIH-supported Trainees

We continue to make progress on implementing the recommendations proposed by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD) working group which studied the biomedical research workforce. We have just posted a Notice in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts announcing that NIH encourages grantees to develop an institutional policy requiring an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for every graduate student and postdoc supported by any NIH grant, regardless of the type of NIH grant that is used for support. We have gone further by encouraging grantee institutions to describe the use of the IDP in the Research Performance Progress report (RPPR) for all projects reporting graduate student and/or postdoctoral researchers. Instructions for reporting IDPs in the RPPR will be available on October 18, 2013, but we understand that it will take time to develop and implement IDP policies. So, we are encouraging institutions to begin reporting IDPs in the RPPR by October 1, 2014. Institutions that have institutional IDP policies already in place are encouraged to begin reporting as soon as possible after instructions appear in the RPPR.

We do not expect to collect the actual IDPs as we are asking our grantee institutions to put in place the type of IDP that works for their students and postdocs and their internal administrative systems. While this is an expectation on our part and not a requirement, we are following the community’s lead fostering early engagement in career planning for our talented workforce.

To give you an idea of how this all came about, the ACD working group recommended establishing IDPs for postdocs receiving any form of NIH support (individual fellowships, support off an R01, etc.). We felt that graduate students also would benefit from developing IDPs with their mentors so decided to expand implementation of this recommendation to include both groups (as described in the plan I presented to the ACD in December).

In addition, we posted a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on several of the recommendations including the one calling for IDPs. The commenters nearly unanimously agreed with the implementation plan and thought that IDPs should be used to assist in tailoring individual training as part of the overall mentoring process. Many stressed that active and engaged faculty participation is essential for IDPs to be effective.

I agree with the commenters completely. IDPs are a useful tool to help graduate students and postdocs identify their career goals and what they need to accomplish to achieve those goals. Perhaps more importantly, the IDP process can facilitate communication between faculty mentors and their trainees. However, IDPs will be meaningful only if mentors and mentees make full use of their potential as career development tools. My hope is that institutions and faculty will join NIH as full partners in the effort to better prepare graduate students and postdocs for their chosen careers, and that IDPs will be embraced by faculty as an important component of career preparation for the next generations of biomedical researchers. We plan on monitoring the outcome of this effort, so stayed tuned for more on the subject as this unfolds.

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NIH Wants Your Feedback on LGBTI Health Research

In January I blogged about NIH’s support of health research in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities (LGBTI communities). NIH Director Francis Collins announced that a trans-NIH LGBTI research coordinating committee would be permanently established, and provided a statement on NIH’s plan for advancing this area of research. (See my earlier blog post for more background.)

NIH continues extensive outreach to identify research priorities and gaps, and opportunities to capitalize on ongoing projects in this field. A listening session brought LGBTI health researchers and community advocates together to discuss their work with NIH leadership (the videocast is archived here). We’ve also recently published a request for information (RFI) to allow broader input on NIH’s strategic plan for LGBTI research. We’re interested in your comments on research opportunities involving LGBTI health, as well as feedback on how to engage the LGBTI populations in this work, and training in the research and clinical settings – see the full details in the NIH Guide, including how to submit formal comments before the October 28 RFI deadline.

As always, we welcome comments here as described in our blog policies, but for your comments to be formally considered by the LGBTI coordinating committee, you’ll need to follow the submission instructions in the RFI.

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Top Stories

Applications to NIH Loan Repayment Programs Accepted Sept. 1 through Nov. 15

Dedication to the path of research can be rewarding and fulfilling as a career choice. The National Institutes of Health want to encourage outstanding health professionals to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research, and to develop their skills into a lifelong passion for discovery and knowledge. However, far too often, the pursuit of research can be a challenge, especially when faced with high levels of student loan debt. This is how the NIH Extramural Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs) can help!

On July 16 NIH announced the next application cycle for the NIH Extramural  Loan Repayment Programs. If you are a researcher who has incurred significant educational debt, then the NIH LRPs are for you. In exchange for a two-year commitment to conduct biomedical or behavioral research funded by a nonprofit or government institution, the awards repay up to $35,000 of student loan debt annually. On average, nearly 40% of all new LRP applications are funded, and these awards are renewable.

To qualify for this program applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, possess a doctoral-level degree (with the exception of the contraception and infertility research LRP), and have educational loan debt equal to or exceeding 20 percent of your annual institutional base salary.

In addition, applicants must devote at least 20 hours per week to research that fits within one of five program areas:clinical research, pediatric research, health disparities researchcontraception and infertility research, or clinical research for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The 2014 application cycle opens September 1, 2013 and closes on November 15, 2013.

Please visit for applications, LRP office contact information, and resources such as a brief overview of the loan repayment programs, a newly-launched step-by-step Application Guide, and the LRP Payment Estimator.

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Register Today for the 15th Annual NIH SBIR/STTR Conference in South Dakota

Are you a small business that is looking for funding opportunities to support innovative technological research that has high-potential for commercialization? Or a current NIH grantee that is looking for additional information and networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, small businesses and NIH staff?

If so, be sure to register for the 15th annual NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Conference:  “How to Be Competitive in a World of Change: Opportunities through SBIR/STTR Awards in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on October 28 – 30, 2013. At this conference you will learn more about NIH’s SBIR and STTR programs that provide approximately $700 million dollars each year to U.S. small businesses that perform innovative biomedical and behavioral sciences research with commercialization potential.

Conference attendees will:

  • Learn about the three different phases of the SBIR and STTR programs, and the technical assistance programs offered to NIH SBIR/STTR awardees.
  • Network with NIH staff representing most NIH Institutes and Centers through one-on-one meetings.
  • Discover previously NIH-funded SBIR and STTR projects during the poster session.
  • Find out effective strategies for pitching to investors and developing strategic partnerships with healthcare organizations and corporations.

Check out the 2013 agenda for more specifics about speakers, conference tracks and session offerings. The wide variety of topics offered make this conference ideal for SBIR newcomers, Phase I companies looking to advance to Phase II, and Phase II companies looking for commercial assistance, strategic partnership and investors.

For questions about the SBIR/STTR programs or conference information, please contact

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A Webinar to ASSIST You With Electronic Submission of Multi-Project Applications

As announced earlier, NIH will require electronic submission for all P01, P20, P50 and U19 applications intended for due dates on or after September 25, 2013. (View the full transition timeline here.)

On Tuesday, August 13, from 2:30 to 4:00 PM Eastern time, NIH will hold a webinar to help potential applicants get acquainted with ASSIST, NIH’s system for electronic submission of multi-project applications. (Applicant organizations that submit applications using system-to-system solutions to will be able to use those services for submitting multi-project applications if their system provider offers that service.)

The ASSIST webinar is open to anyone involved in the preparation and submission of multi-project applications to NIH. Webinar topics will include user registration, application preparation and troubleshooting, application submission and tracking, and much more.

Space is limited, so register early. To maximize participation and improve communication within our grantee institutions, NIH strongly encourages institutions to promote classroom-style viewing, and host a central location where individuals can view and participate in the webinar using one log-in/registration.

The webinar will be held using GoToWebinar; please visit the registration website to sign up, and visit the GoToWebinar support website to view system requirements and test your connection for the webinar.

If you can’t join us on August 13, this webinar will be recorded and archived for later viewing on and the NIH Grants YouTube channel.

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New Resources

New Podcast on Reporting Inclusion Information on Race and Ethnicity

In the latest episode of All About Grants, Dr. Meredith Temple-Icon for the NIH All About Grants PodcastO’Connor, NIH Inclusion Policy Officer, joins us to talk about the distinction between race and ethnicity and how grantees should report inclusion information to the NIH.

NIH recently modified the forms used to report enrollment in accordance with the NIH Inclusion Policy. Learn more in our new podcast, “NIH’s Inclusion Policy: Understanding Race and Ethnicity” (mp3 and transcript), and on the NIH Inclusion of Women and Minority website. For more background on the NIH Inclusion Policy itself, you might be interested in our earlier podcast, “Including Women, Children, and Minorities in Clinical Research” (mp3 and transcript).

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You Ask, We Answer

What Dimensions Do My PDF Attachments Need to Be When I Apply Electronically?

Your PDF attachments need to be 8.5 inches by 11 inches, or smaller. If they are larger than this size, you will receive an error message. Please review our PDF guidelines for electronic applications for more information.

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How Can My Institution Support Public Access Compliance and Prevent Delays in Funding Due to Public Access Issues?

Here are some strategies awardee institutions are using to ensure compliance with the public access policy:

  • reminding principal investigators (PIs) to compile their publication lists on My Bibliography for their Type 5 applications at least 3 months before they are due so they have time to fix any issues
  • developing publication agreement addenda to ensure their authors always retain the right to post their manuscripts when they need to, and to minimize risk caused by publisher delays or errors in submitting manuscripts
  • developing model agreements that PIs can use with collaborators to ensure that all papers arising from the award still comply with the public access policy even if the PI is not an author
  • ensuring PIs and potential authors are trained on the public access policy. We offer training tools for offices of sponsored research as well as researchers at

For more information for institutions’ research administrators and offices of sponsored programs, visit

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September 2, 2013: NIH Closed for Federal Holiday

NIH (including help desks) will be closed Monday, September 2, 2013 (Labor Day).

If a postmark/submission date falls on this federal holiday, the application deadline is automatically extended to the next business day.

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