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Grants and Funding: Extramural Programs (EP)

FAQ Pages – New Investigator and Early Stage Investigator (NI/ESI) R01 Grants

Detailed information about the NIH NI/ESI Policies is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/index.htm.
An extensive list of FAQs regarding the NIH NI/ESI policies is available at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/investigator_policies_faqs.htm .

Q: What is the difference between the NLM Express R01 and the NIH Parent R01?
A: The NLM Express R01 (PAR-13-300) is an NLM-specific funding opportunity announcement (FOA) inviting applications focused on NLM areas of research interests, and all applications are assigned to NLM. The NIH Parent R01 (PA-13-302) is an NIH-wide FOA and applications are assigned by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) according to each Institute/Center’s research interests. In a cover letter accompanying your application you can request an appropriate Institute assignment for your application. There is also a difference in the budget and project period. NLM Express R01 allows for budget of up to $250,000 direct costs per year for up to 4 years. NIH Parent R01 allows for budget of up to $500,000 direct costs per year up to 5 years, without preapproval. For requests of more than $500,000 direct costs per year, you have to contact a program officer and get preapproval. Please note that in these times of budget cuts, NLM is unlikely to award more than a 4-year project period even if the application comes in on the NIH Parent.

Q: Can I find NLM’s research interests on your website?
A: In addition to the specific funding opportunity announcement you can take a look at the Research Objectives section in PAR-13-300 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-13-300.html ) to get a good idea of NLM’s research interests. Also, take a look at our list of Recent Awards on our website.

Q: Are all of the priorities on the priorities list equally weighted?
A: There is no a priori weighting of the NLM priority areas listed in the funding opportunity announcements. In addition to the impact score assigned by the peer reviewers, the final award decisions reflect considerations of program relevance, portfolio balance, recommendations of the NLM Board of Regents, and availability of funds. See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/Payplan.html for more information about the NLM funding plan.

Q: Can I get a one-on-one feedback before applying?
A: Yes. You can send a program officer an email, with a one page description/specific aims page (see funding opportunity announcement). Check the NLM website to identify the program officer listed for the particular program and the research area you are interested in. The program officer will read your description/Specific Aims page and tell you whether your project is within scope for the program, or may need further work. Please note that this will not be an in-depth evaluation of the scientific merit of the proposed project. We can only tell you if it is in scope; the scientific review will be carried out via the peer review process.

Q: What is the average number of publications for a successful New Investigator R01 applicant?
A: Investigator qualifications is one of the review criteria for NIH research grant applications. The peer reviewers are given the following questions to help guide their evaluation - "Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project? " One way peer reviewers evaluate experience and record of accomplishment is by reviewing the information presented in the biosketches. Training, experience, and relevant publications are listed in the biosketches. Publications provide an indication that the research team can successfully disseminate the results of their research in a scholarly manner and recognition by peers in the field of the importance of the previous related research. There is no recommended scale for evaluating the number or impact of publications. The peer reviewers use their professional judgment in this area. In general, researchers in the early stages of their career would have fewer publications. One common way to compensate for a new investigator's lack of experience in an important area of a project is to involve experienced collaborators and consultants in a meaningful way on the research team. Be sure to carefully describe the roles of these collaborators and consultants, include their biosketches if they are key personnel, and include letters of commitment specific to your project if they are outside your organization.

There has been no analysis of the average number of publications for a successful New Investigator or experienced investigator for NLM. Also, there are no differential criteria applied to clinical or basic researchers. The number of publications is not the relevant factor. The applicant must convince the reviewers that the proposed PI and other key personal have the ability to successfully complete the project. Factors that are considered include the training, professional experience, and demonstrated performance in the areas relevant to the project.

Q: Historically, do successful NLM applicants possess a research degree, clinical degree, or both?
A: NLM applicants and awardees possess both research and clinical degrees, some have both (such as MD and PhD). Also the membership of the NLM study section called the Biomedical Library and Informatics Review Committee (BLIRC) includes both clinical and basic researchers. See http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/Reviewers.html for a list of the current BLIRC members.

Q: What is the funding rate (number of applicants versus number funded) for each type of award?
A: NIH RePORT provides a powerful tool called Funding Facts (http://report.nih.gov/fundingfacts/fundingfacts.aspx ) that enables you to query the entire NIH grants database to obtain success rates, number of awards, number of applications, etc. for NLM and all other Institutes.A wide range of reports on NIH grant success rates is also available at http://report.nih.gov/success_rates/index.aspx

Q: How do budget cuts effect NLM funding and the number of new independent investigator awards?
A: The NLM and NIH are committed to supporting the research of New Investigators as an important way of strengthening the vitality of health-related research. There is no plan to modify this focus based on any reduction in the NIH budget. NLM supports as many meritorious competing grant applications as possible, across the array of grant programs it offers. However, the total number of awards made in a particular budget period is affected by the amount of money that is available.

Q: I am an early stage investigator and I received a priority score of 34 on my R01 grant application. Why wasn't I funded?
A: An impact score of 34 places the application from an Early Stage Investigator into the pool of applications that is likely to be considered for funding. However, NLM like other NIH Institutes receive many more meritorious applications then they have available funding. Although the peer reviewer's impact score is an important factor, final award decisions reflect considerations of impact score, program relevance, portfolio balance, recommendations of the NLM Board of Regents, and the availability of funds.

Q: Would my being a PI on a multi-PI R01 grant leads to my losing my new investigator status?
A: Yes. NIH considers a PI on a multi-PI R01 as being equivalent to a PI on a single-PI R01.

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