Archive for: September, 2016

Maximizing Investigators' Research Awards for Early Stage Investigators: A High Percentage of Administratively Rejected Applications

Sep 29 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) recently launched new program the ‘Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award’ (MIRA) program including a variant for New and Early Stage Investigators. The initial results of this program have recently been released. The beginning of this announcement states (bold added):

“We received 320 applications in areas related to NIGMS’ mission, and they were reviewed by four special emphasis panels organized by the NIH Center for Scientific Review. We anticipate making 93 awards, which is more than we estimated in the funding opportunity announcement (FOA); the corresponding success rate is 29.1%.”

This language of this announcement struck me since I have heard from some early stage investigators that their applications had been administrative rejected.

Even though the fiscal year is not quite complete, I decided to request information about this program through FOIA. NIH replied promptly (within four weeks) with the requested information.

The bottom line is that is appears that 83 out of 403 applications that we submitted were administratively rejected. Of the remaining 320 applications, 93 have been or are expected to be funded.

One possible basis for administrative rejection is lack of eligibility as an early stage or new investigator. Another likely basis, given the language in the announcement noted above, is that the applications were deemed to be more appropriate for NIH Institutes or Centers than for NIGMS. This is a problem for Funding Opportunities that are specific to a single Institute or Center. Even though an application may be highly meritorious (although one does not know this since the application was not peer reviewed), it is rejected since it would normally be assigned to a different Institute or Center. With funding opportunities with broader institute participation (such as the parent R01 announcement), an application that does not fit into the areas of interest of one institute can be assigned to another, more appropriate, institute. Since this was an NIGMS-only announcement, that option was not available in this case.

Based on these data, the actual chance of having this type of MIRA application was funded was 93/403 = 23.1%.

The new Funding Opportunity Announcement for this program has been released.

Potential applicants should be very mindful of this comment in the announcement:

Research that involves a major change in scientific focus or that migrates away from the mission of NIGMS and/or into an area of major interest of one of the other NIH Institutes or Centers would warrant a discussion with NIGMS program staff.

Contact the listed program officer

Peter C. Preusch, Ph.D.

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Telephone: 301-594-0828


to ensure that your chosen plan meets that criterion before you spend your time preparing a full application. Be very explicit about your concerns. Of course, this is good advice for any grant application.

There are more data in the FOIA response. Stay turned for more analysis.

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Sep 23 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

I want to add my voice to those thanking Drugmonkey today. I started reading Drugmonkey when I was Director of NIGMS at NIH. While the blog could certainly be a bit strident, the author was generally more well informed about NIH policies, practices, and realities than almost anyone that I had met either inside or outside NIH. Over time, I started to comment on Drugmonkey posts when I thought I could add something to the discussion. This experience led me to start reading other blogs and this, in turn, let me to work with the excellent communications staff at NIGMS to launch the NIGMS Feedback Loop just in time for the ARRA funding chaos. Drugmonkey was very encouraging of this effort and we became frequent cross-commenters.

After I left NIGMS, I remained interested in blogging and was delighted when Drugmonkey and his/her colleagues at Scientopia invited me to join. After some time for consideration, Datahound was born. As this post indicates, Datahound is still alive and well although I am spending much of my blogging time at my newest blog Sciencehound. I greatly appreciate the personal, if mostly indirect, mentoring I have received from Drugmonkey as well as the service Drugmonkey provides to the scientific community in general (especially early career folks). Thanks!

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