RCDeCade: A Case Study to Show NIH Support Trends in an Emerging Scientific Field

A few weeks ago, we touted the value of the NIH’s Research, Condition, and Disease Classification (RCDC) system to give us consistent annual reporting on official research budget categories and the ability to see trends in spending over time. RCDC’s robust scientific validation process, which allows for such consistency, provides public transparency into over 280 different NIH budget categories.
RCDC categories do not encompass all types of biomedical research. So, how can we get this type of data for other research areas that are not encompassed in RCDC categories, especially those which are newly emerging fields? Are we able to use the same thesaurus-based classification system to explore other research trends?
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The NCATS Trial Innovation Network – A Resource Supporting High Quality and Cost Effective Clinical Trials Available to You

Well-conducted randomized trials are considered the best method of providing evidence about the safety and efficacy of treatments to improve health. Each year, NIH Institutes and Centers spend an estimated $3-4 billion supporting clinical trial activities. These activities require high-level understanding of human biology, of manufacturing and pre-clinical research, and of regulatory requirements. The process of translating a new therapeutic from discovery to practice can be robust, but … at the same time is long and expensive – and despite the challenges inherent in complex, multi-disciplinary research sometimes too long and too expensive. Continue reading

Rigorous Resources for Rigorous Research

Over two years ago, NIH rolled out a policy to enhance reproducibility of its supported research through rigor and transparency. Applicants and reviewers were required to devote more attention to four areas: the rigor of the prior research (scientific premise), the rigor of the proposed research (scientific rigor), consideration of biological variables including sex, and the authentication of key biological and/or chemical resources.
When the 21st Century Cures Act was passed later that same year, we were required, amongst other things, to assemble a working group of the Advisory Council to the NIH Director (ACD). These experts were charged with recommending ways to further enhance reproducibility of the research we fund, while being informed by the current policy.
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Teaming with ORCID to Reduce Burden and Improve Transparency

As you know, our NIH Strategic Plan articulated an objective to “excel as a federal science agency by managing for results,” and to manage by results we must harness the power of data to drive evidence-based policies. Sometimes, however, our world can be complicated by requirements to enter the same types of data over and over again in one system after another. These situations do have an upside: they provide us the opportunity to look for opportunities to simplify. 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

Join Us in Chicago to Learn About NIH Program Funding and Grants Administration

In the spring, I attended my first NIH Regional Seminar on Program Funding and Grants Administration. I greatly enjoyed meeting with a diverse group of scientists and science administrators. During two “Open Mike” sessions, I had the opportunity to engage in rich conversations with attendees on topics I frequently include on this blog. The conversations were enjoyable and insightful – there’s nothing like discussing such important issues like funding trends, research accountability, and grants policy face-to-face with new and early career scientists. …. Why am I writing about a seminar that took place in May? Because I have some good news for those of you who didn’t get a chance to come to Baltimore! NIH is hosting a second Regional Seminar this year, from October 26-28 ….. Continue reading

Building a Better Biomarker Glossary

Precise and clear communication across biological and clinical research disciplines supports efficient translation of results from basic research into applied therapeutics and interventions. Both the NIH and FDA are keenly interested in working together to help the biological and clinical research communities speak a common language, so that research results can be clearly understood by both groups. This is especially true in considering the vocabulary used to describe measures of health, disease, or physiological processes….. Continue reading

A Pilot Partnership to Find Private Support for Unfunded Applications

When I was an editor at JAMA, we often considered papers that were strong, received favorable reviews, and yet could not be published for lack of space. As it turned out, we had an option other than outright rejection: we could offer authors a user-friendly pathway by which their papers, and the reviews that went with them, could be forwarded for consideration at another journal (e.g. JAMA Internal Medicine). Later, when I came to NIH I wondered whether it was even theoretically possible for a funding agency to do something similar: arrange a way for highly meritorious but unfunded projects to find their way to willing, even eager, alternate private-sector sponsors. Effectively, we could develop public-private partnerships to extend the system’s ability to fund high-quality science and scientists. …. 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