Two Years (or so) of “Open Mike”

Last year, as I reflected on finishing my first full year as NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, I noted five themes that reflected most of the content of this blog: applicant behavior, activity, and outcomes; peer review; basic science; biomedical research workforce and training; and scientific rigor, transparency, and research impact. Looking back on 2017, which was certainly a busy and active year, many of these themes continue to be at the forefront, though one in particular, the make-up and future of the biomedical research workforce, has been the center of much debate. …. Continue reading

Assuring the Integrity of Peer Review

Eight months ago, CSR Director Dr. Richard Nakamura and I posted a blog on “A Reminder of Your Roles as Applicants and Reviewers in Maintaining the Confidentiality of Peer Review.” We asked you to imagine a scenario: you are a reviewer for an upcoming panel meeting, and shortly before the meeting an investigator associated with an application communicates with you, asking for a favorable review in exchange for an academic favor. We asked what you would do – accept the offer, ignore it, or report it?

We used the blog as an opportunity to remind all of us how important it is that we all do our utmost to assure the integrity of peer review. …. Continue reading

Why Project Outcomes Matter in your Interim and Final RPPR

The next time you are filling out your interim or final Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) for your NIH grant, pay special attention to writing the project Outcomes section (Section I). That’s because any project outcomes submitted on or after Oct. 1, 2017 will be made available to the general public via NIH’s Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORTER). Continue reading

NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Policy Now Posted

Today we posted a policy (NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-17-101) describing current plans for the Next Generation Researchers Initiative.  Since I first blogged about it in June, NIH leadership have reviewed data (see accompanying blog) and deliberated about how best to proceed.  Our goal is to increase the number of NIH-funded early-stage investigators and assure, as best we can, that funded early-stage investigators have a reasonable chance to secure stable funding during the earliest stages of their independent research careers. This new policy will supersede previous notices on new and early stage investigators (NOT-OD-08-012, NOT-OD-09-013 and NOT-OD-09-134). …. Continue reading

Monitoring the Impact of Hurricane Harvey on Research

The devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey cause deep concern about the health and safety of people and animals, and about the health of the biomedical enterprise in the affected areas. While everyone’s immediate efforts need to be focused on getting through this immediate crisis, we want to assure our applicant and grantee community that NIH will be doing our part to help you ensure your research continues. We issued a Guide notice reminding the community about our natural disaster policy, Reminder: NIH Natural Disaster Policy – Hurricane Harvey. To give you an idea of the ways NIH can help in these situations, our website on Extramural Response to Natural Disasters has a list of available resources, including guidance on animal welfare issues. …. Continue reading

Perspectives on Evidence-based Funding

At the NIH Regional Seminar this past May, I had the pleasure of giving the keynote talk and presenting different perspectives on how NIH can further the impact of our research funding. …. My staff recorded this talk and has made it available to you on the NIH Grants YouTube channel. If you’re interested in the topics covered here on the blog …. Continue reading

Getting to Know Federal Funders and their Research Interests

Working with NIH applicants and awardees as an extramural program division director, I often shared the NIH RePORTER resource as a tool for exploring the research topics NIH supports. Learning what projects we support, using a robust database of historical and newly-funded projects (updated weekly), provides researchers valuable insight as they consider developing their own research programs and applications for funding.

Another valuable tool which you might be familiar with is Federal RePORTER, which expands the RePORTER concept to support searching over 800,000 projects across 17 Federal research agencies, with trans-agency data updated annually. As Federal RePORTER recently received an update to introduce some new functions and additional agency data we’d like to highlight some of the ways it helps both the public and scientific researchers alike …. Continue reading

Meet NIH & HHS in New Orleans for the NIH Regional Seminar, May 3-5!

Do you remember walking into the person’s office down the hall from you when you needed to ask a question, instead of “popping” them an email, instant message, or text? There’s no disputing that the digital age definitely has its advantages – making information sharing faster, cheaper, and more convenient, and allowing us to communicate locally and abroad in seconds. But in this fast paced world of instant communication – the internet, email, and all of our social media choices – sometimes we forget how valuable face-to-face interactions can be. That is exactly one of the reasons I love the NIH Regional Seminars on Grant Funding and Program Administration. The seminars give me the opportunity to join over 60 of my fellow NIH and HHS faculty in sharing our knowledge and perspectives to …. Continue reading

Research Commitment Index: A New Tool for Describing Grant Support

On this blog we previously discussed ways to measure the value returned from research funding. Several of my colleagues and I, led by NIGMS director Jon Lorsch – chair of an NIH Working Group on Policies for Efficient and Stable Funding – conceived of a “Research Commitment Index,” or “RCI.” We focus on the grant activity code (R01, R21, P01, etc) and ask ourselves about the kind of personal commitment it entails for the investigator(s). We start with the most common type of award, the R01, and assign it an RCI value of 7 points. And then, in consultation with our NIH colleagues, we assigned RCI values to other activity codes: fewer points for R03 and R21 grants, more points P01 grants. Continue reading

One Year (or so) of “Open Mike”

As the year 2016 ends, my first full year in my new role here at NIH, I’d like to reflect on some of the topics covered here on Open Mike. Thanks to our NIH Regional Seminars, I have had the pleasure of hearing feedback from some of you in person, and I am also greatly appreciative of our virtual interactions, through the thoughtful comments posted by blog readers in this space. Our blog opened on October 19, 2015, when I noted that NIH is an extraordinary success story; even skeptics identify NIH as a government program that works. But at the same time, I also noted that all is not well with the biomedical research enterprise. In many respects, the 50+ blogs that followed have dug deeper into our anxieties and challenges. The sidebar highlights five major themes arising over the past year or so, and blogs related to those categories. To get a sense of community interest, we have also compiled some reader statistics. Further below, Table 1 shows which blogs, as of December 27, received the most page views, and Table 2 shows which blogs received the most comments. These themes, your viewership, and your comments …. Continue reading