Issue No. 11, 2021
Insights from NIH notices and reviewer comments, so you can focus.

I need biosketches and letters of support from various people for my February submission, when should I request them?

Now! It is never too early to request documents from other people in support of your application.

As soon as you know the role the person will play on the project, make the request for biosketches and letters of support. You might even draft a portion of the LOS or supply a paragraph to include in the personal statement of the biosketch, to make certain that what is written about the person’s role aligns with the rest of the application package. Remember that this submission is your top priority, but it isn’t theirs -- others are busy with their own full schedules. Any materials you need from other people are often the rate-limiting step to completing the application package. So make those requests early. For the largest grant I ever landed ($100 million HRSA construction grant), we still did not have the letter of support from the governor on the morning of the agency deadline! We did manage to get it, but that day caused me to sprout a few more gray hairs. Since then, I have always put this task at the very beginning of my checklist.

  1. NCI K08 funding line drops from 25 to 14
  2. NIH Forms-G required for applications due on or after Jan 25th
  3. NIDA T32 high priority research areas
  4. NIH operating under continuing resolution
  5. NIH Requests for Information
  6. The latest roundup of some NIH-sponsored COVID-19 research
1. NCI K08 funding line drops from 25 to 14
NCI K08 funding line has dropped from 25 (FY21) to 14 (FY22). This information was gleaned from a direct communication between two separate clients and Yansong Bian, MD, PhD, Program Director in the Cancer Training Branch, NCI. Upon questioning, Dr. Bian made it clear that this funding line drop is not a result of the institute operating at 80% of the FY21 budget as they await an FY22 funding bill from Congress. This is, in fact, the new funding line. Grantees will need to carefully consider whether it is worth pursuing an NCI K08 at this time. Other options to consider would be K08 at other institutes/agencies; or pursuing smaller format funding through universities, foundations, or the NIH small-format R series to build data/publications toward the future R01.
2. NIH Forms-G required for applications due on or after January 25, 2022
Remember that NIH will require use of the new Forms-G for applications due on or after January 25, 2022. The key changes include: (1) transition from use of DUNS to UEI; (2) updated biographical sketch and other support format pages; and (3) requirement that all Senior/Key Personnel listed in the R&R Senior/Key Person Profile have an eRA Commons username. The NIH NOT has complete details, including which application forms have substantive changes.
3. NIDA T32 high priority research areas
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified 2 high priority research areas for T32 training grants: data science; translational science; and HIV and drug use/addiction. Additionally, NIDA encourages increasing the pool of national underrepresented trainees, including those from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. For more information on the high priority research areas and how to make an inquiry to NIDA, please see the NOT.
4. NIH operating under a continuing resolution
The Department of Health and Human Services, including NIH, is operating under a continuing resolution through at least December 3rd as Congress hashes out an FY22 funding bill. NIH Institutes and/or Centers may issue (for now) non-competing awards at a level below what is indicated on the most recent Notice of Award. Upward adjustments may be considered once the FY2022 appropriations are enacted. Details regarding legislative mandates in effect in FY2021, salary caps, and Kirschstein NRSA stipend and tuition levels are provided in the NOT.
5. NIH Requests for Information
NIH goes through an agenda-setting process for research areas, in which they will often ask for input from the research community via Requests for Information (RFIs). This is your opportunity to argue persuasively for NIH emphasis in your research area! Here are two current ones: Joint Pain and Innervation Research and Technology Needs for Cancer Control and Population Sciences Researchers.
6. The latest roundup of some NIH-sponsored COVID-19 research
Over the past year, the NIH has maintained the scientific community abreast of COVID-19 developments via a website with news releases regarding research findings and clinical trials attempting to address the pandemic. As the situation evolved, so has NIH’s information. 
The site now lists NIH’s strategic priorities for COVID-19 research, as well as a PDF of the 2021 NIH-wide COVID-19 Strategic Plan. Additionally, there is a page outlining COVID-19 research initiatives across its centers and institutes. 
We’ll continue sharing COVID-19 related headlines, but we encourage you to visit the resources above. 

Here are some other COVID-19 related headlines:

Exciting News!
Our new course library platform is now live!

Margaret Bouvier received her PhD in 1995 in Biomedical Sciences from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. After an NINDS post-doctoral fellowship, she worked as a staff writer for current NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins in the Office of Press, Policy, and Communications for the Human Genome Project and NHGRI. Since 2007, Meg has specialized in editing and advising on NIH submissions, and began offering virtual courses in 2015. She currently supports 2 of the top 3-ranked hospitals; 4 of the top 6 cancer hospitals; and 3 of the top 6-ranked medical schools for research in the country. She has helped clients land over $380 million in federal funding. Meg Bouvier Medical Writing, LLC is a woman-owned, small business.

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