Perusing the list of NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices for this week I find two notices of great interest.
PureEdge and CCR registration are dead!
First, the much hated Pure Edge system for assembling a grant application will be replaced with an Adobe PDF based system starting December 2008. About time. Pure Edge was an absolute nightmare from most PI's perspective and it was unbelievable to me that the first electronic submission solution wasn't PDF based. I did hear rumor in the early part of this year that there were some bugs in the new PDF-based system from an institutional representative to some roll-out meeting. Apparently the issue was that one could not open the files with Adobe Acrobat, which was perplexing at the time. The fact that this notice specifies Adobe Reader is a bit worrying that perhaps there is still an issue. I haven't used Adobe Reader based fillable forms but surely they corrected the most annoying flaw with Pure Edge? Namely the nightmarish inability to re-use previous grants as the template for the next one?
Second, grant reviewers will no longer have to sign up with the CCR system. This thing is a government-wide registration for contractors and was previously required in order to receive one's honorarium for grant review service. Registration for it was annoyingly complex and one was required to update one's registration each year. Worse, this put one on the junk mail list and I keep getting useless solicitations. Apparently they will now just send you a check (imagine!) while they look for a better solution to automatic deposit.
All PI geekery aside, a little tidbit for the trainees. You did sign yourself up to receive the weekly NIH guide table of contents via listserv or for the RSS feed, right?
"But DM", you say "I'm just a postdoc, why do I need to read about RFAs that I can't possibly apply for?"
Well, first of all, plenty of the Notices are just NIH bid'ness of one type or another. It is just good practice to be aware of what is going on in the larger world in which your career exists. You'll start gradually absorbing all sorts of tidbits that will be useful to you later as a PI. And trust me, the more you can learn before week 1 of your new appointment, the better.
Second, many of the items are Program Announcements rather than Requests for Applications. PAs run for three years and are frequently renewed. These give you a broad look at the sorts of things ICs that are most relevant to your work and therefore most likely to fund your future work concentrate on. Who knows? You may even find that they trigger some ideas that lead to little side projects which you can take with you after leaving your current lab.
Third, your PI may be overworked and just not notice a perfectly targeted RFA that says "This is for YOUR lab" in big blinking lights. Maybe this will turn into your opportunity for practicing writing a grant. Maybe it will turn into funding for the lab that gives you a chance to do something cool? Maybe you can put together the cool multi-lab collaboration from the ideas triggered.
Fourth, I've just recently noticed that even RFAs can be re-issued, sometimes for several years running. I mentioned one example here. So even these can get you on a long term plan for work that you might be considering.