Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

University of Texas Medical Branch


Research Coordinator's Corner, Dr. David Konkel

October 2006

NIH Changes Application Receipt Dates – In an effort to spread out the workload (and doubtless decrease its required server bandwidth for electronic submission), NIH has announced a major change in application receipt dates, starting with what used to bethe February 1st deadline. To touch on the changes of greatest interest, the deadlines for new R01 applications will be the 5th of February, June, and October, rather than the 1st, with resubmissions (the new term replacing "amended") and competing renewal applications due on the 5th of March, July, and November. The more exploratory R-series (R03, R21, R21/ R33, and R33) and R34 dissertation grants will now be due on the 16th of February, June, and October, with resubmission deadlines a month later. K-series career development grant deadlines will be on the 12th of the same months (again depending on new/resubmission status). Program Project and Center (P-series) and Training grant deadlines will move forward to the 25th of January, May, and September (though some Institutes only accept them at one or two of the three deadlines). Individual fellowship deadlines will move to the 8th of April, August and December, with SBIR/STTR deadlines now on the 5th of those same months. Finally, the AIDS deadlines are the only ones mentioned here that will stay the same, on the 1st of May and September and 2nd of January. For full details and a helpful chart, see the NIH Guide announcement at .

 Full steam ahead for NIH electronic submission – By now I assume everyone knows that beginning with the February 2007 deadlines, almost all NIH grant applications must be submitted electronically, for the first time including R01s. That's why the good people at OSP are working furiously to implement the InfoEd system, which should ease the submission process vs. the less than fully user-friendly Pure Edge product that NIH provides (this is a particular problem for Mac users, as Pure Edge basically doesn't work for them). The initial InfoEd training, and availability of a test environment in which you can familiarize yourself with the system before the crunch time comes, should be announced shortly.

Big changes supported by NIH Peer Review Advisory Committee – that's the headline on an item in the latest Peer Review Notes , and for once it's probably an understatement. Apparently in response to the call for a change in the culture of peer review at NIH contained in the 1999 Report on CSR Panel on Scientific Boundaries, a "Trans-NIH Committee to Shorten the Application" has been established, with a mandate to determine by how much (not whether) to shorten the standard R01 research plan from the current 25-page limit. While the hope is clearly that by shortening the application, Study Sections will be forced to require less preliminary data and fewer experimental details, my experience is that the 15-page NSF grant application is already too short for rigorous discussion of a three-year research plan, let alone the five years most R01 applicants request. As with the plan to bar submission of most current Appendix materials, I fear that in accord with the law of unintended consequences such a change may have an unfortunate impact on new applicants (or those changing research areas) who do not yet have a strong independent publication record in a given research area. As there was for proposed change in allowed Appendix material, I'd expect an initial draft with a request for public comment, though it's not always clear how much attention is paid to any objections from the grantee community once momentum has built up within the NIH.

Important information available via the RAS Web site – The Research Administrative Services Web site is in the process of being redesigned. While I'd normally wait until the improvements are finished before highlighting the site, it already represents a good place for "one-stop shopping" for many useful links to various on- and off-campus resources -- if you know where to look. The most useful place to start is . Among other things, many helpful links to "canned writeups" are available on the left side of this page (notably " Core Labs " and " Resources paragraphs "); the former are more scientific, the latter more administrative, educational, and infrastructural. Other important links to various RAS areas and offices are to be found running down the right side of the "GrantHelp" web page, and many others (mostly to such off-campus sites as CRISP, NIH, and NSF) are in the "Quicklinks" pull-down menu at the bottom right. Note that virtually every OSP division/office name on the right side is actually a link, even though for ease of reading most are not in a link's typical blue font face.

That's it for this month; next time I should have some suggestions about writing alternative approaches in Section D (soon Section 5) of the NIH research plan. Happy Halloween!

-- Dave Konkel x24074; E-mail: (copyright 2006).


The American Heart Association Texas Affiliate recently announced its 2007 grant programs, which have recently had a funding success rate over 20%. The Affiliate funds research that addresses "an important problem broadly related to cardiovascular disease or stroke," and has just announced new program-specific review criteria very similar to those now used by NIH. The Affiliate offers three programs – Beginning and regular Grants-in-Aid (both $65,000 annually for up to two years; the difference is in eligibility criteria and thus the competitor pool) and Post-doctoral Fellowships. The electronic submission deadline for all three is January 4th for July 1st activation (paper copies due on the 9th). For more details, see Texas Affiliate Grant Program descriptions . On that same web page are links for the Fellow-to-Faculty Transition and Scientist Development grants, nationally competed AHA programs that presumably have lower success rates.