...and awaaaaaay we go....

Mar 04 2009 Published by under Careerism, Grant Review, NIH, NIH Budgets and Economics

Get writing people. The NIH Omnibus Challenge in response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is available in pdf form.
The application due date is April 27, 2009.
This is only part of the stimulus but it may be most of the newly-solicited stuff.

As part of the Recovery Act, NIH has designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 - 2010 for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research, to fund 200 or more grants, contingent upon the submission of a sufficient number of scientifically meritorious applications.

To get you quickly up to speed in your buzz-wording:

The NIH has identified a range of Challenge Areas that focus on specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Within each broad Challenge Area the NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices have specified particular Challenge Topics that address their missions. These broad Challenge Areas are provided below. Click on the Challenge Area for the detailed description of the specific Challenge Topics within that area that have been accorded the highest priority by the NIH Institute, Center or Office indicated.

and those would be:
Links to High Priority Topics Within Broad Challenge Areas (PDF - 556 KB):

(01)  Behavior, Behavioral Change, and Prevention
(02)  Bioethics
(03)  Biomarker Discovery and Validation
(04)  Clinical Research
(05)  Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER)
(06)  Enabling Technologies
(07)  Enhancing Clinical Trials
(08)  Genomics
(09)  Health Disparities
(10)  Information Technology for Processing Health Care Data
(11)  Regenerative Medicine
(12)  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEM)
(13)  Smart Biomaterials – Theranostics
(14)  Stem Cells
(15)  Translational Science
NIDA's website page here overviews their areas of specific interest.
oh, and about that title...

You might want to put some o dis on your iPod

34 responses so far

  • whimple says:

    Just moving this comment to a more appropriate location...
    Sure, EVERYONE will be writing (me too). The administrators here have practically wet themselves with excitement.
    All this money is going to be wasted. 80% of grants goes to salary... who's salary can you pay for two years? A post-doc? Where are all these post-docs going to suddenly materialize from? Last I checked there wasn't a huge line of unemployed post-docs waiting for this to happen. The NIH should have given the money back to congress and said, "Sorry, we can't operate this way. Take your $10B back and increase our year-on-year budget by $1B instead. That saves congress $8B! What a deal!"
    I am just amazed and dismayed at this display of concentrated stupid from the people in charge.

  • Pinus says:

    200 awards....that doesn't seem like that many.
    And if you are lucky enough to win the ARRA jackpot and you happen to be a new investigator...BAM! new investigator no more!

  • Two immediate thoughts:
    (1) Basic sciences are fucked.
    (2) All they did was take blurbs from eleventy fucktillion existing PAs and RFAs and string them together.

  • juniorprof says:

    1) I agree, a bit scary
    2) In looking them over I see a remarkable amount of similarity with the eventual goal of making health care more efficient, reliable and cutting overall costs (mainly all this biomarker stuff). I have no problem with enlisting the nation's scientists and NIH to help us move toward a sustainable health care system. Maybe we can actually make alot of progress on this in two years with a concerted effort.

  • OK. Looking over some of the specific Web pages of the ICs, it does look like there are some basic science emphases.
    Am I reading this correctly that modular budgets are not allowed??

  • Thanks, but the link to topic number 12 doesn't work.

  • becca says:

    whifflepoofs theasarus fiddlesticks?
    Am I just an idiot or is NIAID's website awfully hard to find this info on?

  • PP: Most of them are targeted towards either developing new technologies or advancing clinical work but after going through the topics with a fine toothed comb I found a couple that sound like they would be a good fit for two of my basic science proposals ... I'll be calling the POs tomorrow to make sure. And my brief look at the RFA this afternoon didn't find any specific info about the budget requirements ... another job for tomorrow.

  • I just downloaded the Adobe Forms thingie, and there is no modular budget option. Fucknagle!

  • leigh says:

    thank you for the nida link- i was reading the announcement earlier tonight wondering wtf i do that's halfway relevant to the pdf list i was reading through. it was hugely helpful to see what nida is looking for.
    since everyone's all pissing themselves over this, i imagine competition will be fairly intense.

  • I just downloaded the Adobe Forms thingie, and there is no modular budget option. Fucknagle!
    Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh ... shit.

  • sciencegirl says:

    Re Becca above. I still haven't found this on NIAID. Did you find it? My first reading finds very little focus on infectious disease (except HIV and some immunology).

  • sciencegirl says:

    Also, just a request for opinions here. If my lab is not in danger of closing down in the very near future, is it worth losing ESI status for this?

  • Heraclides says:

    I suppose these awards are only available to researchers within the USA, not even to those that might move there if they got an award...? Just kidding. I sometimes think that researchers like the smell of money more than thieves! šŸ™‚

  • Mike_F says:

    Heraclides - Regular NIH grants are open to foreign applications, but this stimulus-funded mechanism is not. See http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OD-09-003.html#SectionIII

  • Heraclides says:

    Thanks, Mike_F.
    Must learn how the regular ones work some time.

  • Pinus says:

    I am debating the same thing. I talked to my program officer about this, and he said that if one was to get one of those, it could serve as a catalyst to really get your work going. My post-doc mentor thinks it is worth trying for it, because money is money, and it is always better to have more.
    On the other hand...there is going to be a shitload of people trying to renew their stimulus funded work all at the same time...so part of me is thinking that it may be best to just work up a great R01 for submission in the next year..in an attempt to beat the crush. I do have the advantage of having another 3 year source of funding (beyond startup) that will accomplish the same thing.
    But....I saw two particular 'RFAs' associated with the stimulus that would be perfect...they are kind of risky though...that coupled with being a NI spells no grant to me, unless I have critical prelim data...which I don't quite have yet.

  • Nat says:

    @ Becca: Yes, NIAID isn't moving so fast these days!

  • Also, just a request for opinions here. If my lab is not in danger of closing down in the very near future, is it worth losing ESI status for this?

    I think it is. Money now is better than money later. And just because you have this money now doesn't mean you have to wait until the 2011 "crush" to submit an R01.

  • epat postdoc says:

    Applications from foreign institutions are not permitted!
    UGH! Why can't they just make it like a regular R01.
    This sucks because I have some ideas ready to fire off ... ERC/FP7, here I come!

  • pinus says:

    @epat postdoc
    because this is not business as usual. This is designed to stimulate the US economy.

  • Horseman says:

    Sciencegirl: If I were you, I would save my early investigator virginity for a five year award.
    Two observations:
    1. 200 million dollars have been allocated and there are about 100 special topics. So unless you can outcompete the 1-3 people the topic was written for (with some snazzy preliminary data perhaps) you are probably wasting your time applying. I mention this because the one I could maybe jump in on is probably a lost cause because the NIH contact person is good buds with the person I know the topic was written for.
    2. Who the hell is going to review all of these things? Should we all take our phones off the hook?

  • gnipgnop says:

    If there are 1000s of applications and only 200 funded, the funding rate will be stupidly low....

  • Lorax says:

    re#23 actually there are 207 special topics. So fewer than 1 grant per topic. So you better have much much more than the lab the topic was written for.

  • qaz says:

    (1) Since NIH-funded scientists don't really know how to write anything but R01s, these are all going to look like pretty typical R01s if massaged to fit into the weird format.
    (2) Since these challenge grants are written for specific labs, but everyone is applying for them, most of them are not going to be funded.
    (3) R01s are now 12 pages [really],
    then I suspect that there is going to be a lot of unfunded challenge grants being submitted as R01s in the very near future. I don't think this is going to change the R01 mess either next cycle or the cycle after.

  • whimple says:


    (3) R01s are now 12 pages [really],
    then I suspect that there is going to be a lot of unfunded challenge grants being submitted as R01s in the very near future. I don't think this is going to change the R01 mess either next cycle or the cycle after.

    This is a good point. For the big-cheeses writing $500k/yr+ R01s, they won't even have to change the budget. šŸ™‚

  • R01s are definitely not 12 pages yet. As far as I am aware, no date certain for transition to 12 pages has been decided on.

  • qaz says:

    CPP #28 - Several of the current R01 RFAs explicitly say "12 pages". See, for example, RFA-RM-08-017 and PAR-09-016 as two recent examples. I think the R01 12-page switch happened with this cycle. I didn't have one in for this cycle, so I don't know for sure, but it's changing very soon.

  • I think the R01 12-page switch happened with this cycle.
    No, it didn't. The unsolicited parent R01 FOA is still 25 pages, and no date for the transition has been set.

  • whimple says:


    Changes to the length and structure of grant applications will not begin until January 2010. See the timeline for more details.

    The timeline is at http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/timelines.html
    Shorter applications starting with the Jan 2010 submission date.

  • Cool! Thanks for pointing us to the timeline, Whimple.

  • becca says:

    @Nat- Thanks!!
    *does the little going off to cure malaria dance*

  • RealChallenge says:

    RE #25: "re#23 actually there are 207 special topics" - actually that's 207 HIGHEST Priority topics, but the total omniibus topics are over 1000!!! (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/challenge_award/Omnibus.pdf) If each topic has 10 applications (I am not surpriced if there is 20-50 applications for each topic) it would be 10,000 competing for 200 winners, 1 in 50 or 2% lottery. I think we'll all likely to waste our time.

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