R01 and R21 Applications & Awards: Trends and Relationships Across NIH

As described on our grants page, the R21 activity code “is intended to encourage exploratory/developmental research by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of project development.” NIH seeks applications for “exploratory, novel studies that break new ground,” for “high-risk, high-reward studies,” and for projects that are distinct from those that would be funded by the traditional R01. R21 grants are short duration (project period for up to 2 years) and lower in budget than most R01s (combined budget over two years cannot exceed $275,000 in direct costs). NIH institutes and centers (ICs) approach the R21 mechanism in variable ways: 18 ICs accept investigator-initiated R21 applications in response to the parent R21 funding opportunity, while 7 ICs only accept R21 applications in response to specific funding opportunity announcements. As mentioned in a 2015 Rock Talk blog, we at NIH are interested in trends in R01s in comparison to other research project grants, so today I’d like to continue and expand on looking at R01 and R21 trends across NIH’s extramural research program. …. Continue reading

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Are You On the Fence About Whether to Resubmit?

When applicants receive their summary statement resulting from the review of an application that was assigned a score outside of the ICs funding range, there are important decisions to be made that, ideally, should be based upon evidence. What is the likelihood that an application like this one will be funded? If I resubmit the application, what changes might improve the chances for a successful resubmission?

Recall that in 2014, NIH relaxed its resubmission policy (OD-14-074) to allow applicants to submit a new (A0) application following an unsuccessful resubmission application. Also, we recently posted a piece showing that review outcomes for new applications submitted following an unsuccessful resubmission had about the same funding success as other new applications. But some applicants may wonder, what is the funding success for a resubmission application? …. Continue reading

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How Are You Doing with Those Grant Submission New Year’s Resolutions?

Back in January we talked about whether there is an advantage to working up to the last minute and submitting your grant application on the deadline. From the perspective of review outcomes, there was no advantage. In fact, applications submitted at the last minute seemed somewhat less likely to be discussed. Need another reason to apply early (by early we mean days, not hours, before a deadline)? We still see applications that fail …. Continue reading

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Are Attempts at Renewal Successful?

On my first day on the job as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, one of my colleagues asked me a question: Is it true that it is more difficult to renew a grant than it is to get one in the first place? Some people wonder whether NIH’s interest in supporting new investigators who are trying to get their first grant negatively impacts the other investigators’ attempts to renew their grants.
To address this question we gathered data on R01-equivalent success rates for new and experienced investigators seeking funding in fiscal years (FY) 2013 through 2015. …. Continue reading

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Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources in NIH Grant Applications

The fourth and final segment in our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications focuses on authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources. Research performed with unreliable or misidentified resources can negate years of hard work and eliminate any chance for a study to be reproduced or expanded upon. For this reason, it is imperative that researchers regularly authenticate key resources used in their research. …. Continue reading

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Consideration of Relevant Biological Variables in NIH Grant Applications

In part three of our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications, we focus on consideration of relevant biological variables. Updated instructions for the Approach section of the Research Strategy ask the applicant to: …. Continue reading

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Scientific Rigor in NIH Grant Applications

In part two of our series on rigor and transparency in research grant and career development award applications, we focus on scientific rigor, the strict application of the scientific method to ensure robust and unbiased experimental design, methodology, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of results. ….. Continue reading

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Scientific Premise in NIH Grant Applications

The NIH recently implemented updates to research grant and career development award applications aimed at enhancing reproducibility through rigor and transparency with a focus on four areas: scientific premise, rigorous experimental design, consideration of relevant biological variables, and authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources. This post is the first in a series addressing each of these four areas, starting with scientific premise. …. Continue reading

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Change is Coming: Updates to NIH Application Forms and Instructions

We periodically need to update our application forms and instructions to accommodate changing policy, new business needs, and sometimes (not often enough) to reduce the amount of information we ask of you. Given our constraints, we have been working to provide systems support to make the mechanics of these transitions easier for you. This particular set of changes implements a number of policy changes impacting applications submitted in 2016, which we announced in a series of recent NIH Guide notices. We would like to give you a quick overview of what is happening. …. Continue reading

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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

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