Budget Agreement Boosts U.S. Science

December 18, 2015:  Congress today overwhelmingly passed the 2016 spending bill. The House of Representatives this morning voted 316 to 113, with a majority of Republicans and nearly all Democrats favoring the $1.1 trillion package for all federal agencies. The Senate concurred a few hours later with a vote of 65 to 33. President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law later today.

Early on 16 December, congressional leaders released the text of an omnibus spending bill that will fund all federal agencies for the rest of the 2016 fiscal year. We’ve taken a look at how individual agencies fared under the bill (see bullets below). Science has also compiled a table showing the budgets of key research agencies and programs.

These stories appear following this summary of the legislation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) leads the way among U.S. science agencies getting increases in the final 2016 spending bill released today.

NIH is the winner in absolute dollars. It gets a bump of $2 billion, or 6.6%, from its current budget of $30.1 billion. Spending on science programs at NASA would grow by 6.6%, to $5.6 billion, and rise by 5.6% in the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science, to $5.35 billion. The National Science Foundation would receive an additional $119 million, or 1.6%, to $7.46 billion, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy would get a 6% boost, to $291 million.

“It’s fantastic news. We’re beyond excited,” says Jennifer Zeitzer of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland. United for Medical Research, a Washington, D.C.–based lobbying group, says “this meaningful increase for NIH makes real progress toward catching up from the past decade of underfunding and keeping up with scientific advancements and public health needs.”

 

With the exception of NIH, these final numbers are higher than what was contained in spending bills for individual agencies passed by panels in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. The increases were made possible by a late-October agreement between Congress and the White House that set overall spending levels for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. It added $50 billion this year to the $1.017 trillion spent in 2015, divided equally between civilian and military spending, and $30 billion in 2017. The agreement also negated the threat of a government shutdown this fall from conservatives unhappy with any increase in federal spending.

There could be more to the story, however. Congressional leaders have not yet released the report language that accompanies the 2009-page omnibus spending bill. That language contains specific instructions to agencies about how to allocate their dollars. And those instructions could ruffle some feathers.

In the meantime, Congress did spell out a few things in the overall bill itself. For example, NASA was given $175 million to continue work on a mission to Jupiter’s Europa moon, a pet project of Representative John Culberson (R–TX), who leads the House spending panel that oversees NASA. And DOE was told not to spend more than $115 million on the U.S. contribution to ITER, the international fusion reactor being built in France, until ITER officials present a new schedule for the troubled project. It also requires DOE to recommend, by May 2016, whether the U.S. should stay in ITER or withdraw.

*Originally posted in Science Magazine  (http://news.sciencemag.org/funding/2015/12/budget-agreement-boosts-u-s-science)

Mistakes Are Meant for Learning, Not Repeating – Biosketch Compliance

Biosketch Compliance

Title: oops post-it note On November 5, NIH started sending email notifications to applicants indicating reviewers found one or more biosketches that did not comply with our current biosketch format (NOT-OD-15-032). Hundreds of letters have already gone out. If you’ve received one of these notifications, don’t panic. These letters are currently just warnings and require no action on your part. However, they do demonstrate NIH’s commitment to enforcing compliance with our biosketch policy.

What does it mean to have a compliant biosketch?

eRA systems ensure some biosketch rules are met by flagging errors upon submission. Applications that violate these rules won’t even move forward to NIH for consideration.

  • A biosketch is attached for each and every Sr/Key person listed in the application
  • Each biosketch is less than or equal to 5 pages
  • Each biosketch attachment is in PDF format

But, there are additional rules you must follow to be compliant that aren’t systematically caught by eRA systems.

Did you catch the part where I said “reviewers found” the non-compliant biosketches? We have provided instructions to our reviewers to flag any applications with biosketches that don’t follow current guidelines. Don’t make extra work for your reviewer – give them a clean application without the distraction of non-compliant formatting they have to write up.

Having trouble keeping up with NIH’s biosketch rules and getting your key personnel to follow them? Encourage people participating on your application to use SciENcv. Not only does SciENcv help manage biosketch information, it also creates perfectly compliant biosketches.

If you’ve received a warning letter, learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. Eventually, these warning letters will be replaced with notifications that applications have been removed from consideration.

  • Include each section (A – Personal Statement; B – Positions and Honors; C – Contributions to Science; D – Research Support or Scholastic Performance)
  • Include no more than 5 contributions to science with no more than 4 citations per contribution
  • Ensure that if you include the optional link to a full list of your published work in a site like My Bibliography that the URL is public, accessible without providing any login or personal information, and doesn’t link to websites that may violate page limit rules
    • Note: We will restrict this link to federal (.gov) sites beginning with applications to due dates on/after May 25, 2016 (NOT-OD-16-004)
  • Refrain from including information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application
  • Follow NIH guidance on font type, font size, paper size, and margins (See section 2.6 of application guide)

Original post NIH eSubmission Items of Interest posted November 16, 2015

Change is Coming: Updates to NIH Application Forms and Instructions

We periodically need to update our application forms and instructions to accommodate changing policy, new business needs, and sometimes (not often enough) to reduce the amount of information we ask of you. Given our constraints, we have been working to provide systems support to make the mechanics of these transitions easier for you. This particular set of changes implements a number of policy changes impacting applications submitted in 2016, which we announced in a series of recent NIH Guide notices. We would like to give you a quick overview of what is happening.

We will be rolling out the changes in two phases, as summarized in our notice published in the NIH Guide, since our new application forms will not be ready until the spring.

You may want to pay particular attention to the following changes, effective for applications submitted on or after January 25, 2016:

  • There will be new application requirements and review language regarding enhanced rigor and reproducibility (We’ll be elaborating on these requirements in a separate upcoming post.)
  • We will ask for less information in the vertebrate animal section of the application, to remove redundancy with information already included in IACUC reviews. (Some of this information will be shifted to the research strategy section.)
  • We are updating the NIH policy on inclusion of children to lower the age designation for children to include those under 18 years old. (The current age designation for children includes all research subjects under 21 years old.)
  • For training grants, information requirements will change and lower applicant burden

For due dates of May 25, 2016 and beyond, we will require use of new application forms (FORMS-D). We will remind you again this spring, but please understand that it is imperative that you submit your application on the right form package to ensure successful submission.

We will reissue fellowship, career development, training and all parent funding opportunity announcements this spring, to ensure the announcements include instructions that match the form requirements. We’ll also make a variety of resources available this spring to help ensure you submit using the right forms.

If you have been using the Grants.gov downloadable forms and haven’t tried ASSIST yet, members of my staff (the electronic Research Administration or eRA) are working on enhancing the copy application feature to make it even easier to move your application (including attachments) from one form version to another. During the last round of grant applications, over 25% of the applicants switched from using downloadable forms to ASSIST. They successfully submitted their applications on the first try over 90% of the time compared with only 60% of the time for those still using the standard downloadable forms.

So be on the lookout for new application instructions we will release at the end of November, and for more communications from us as we get closer to the time we move to FORMS-D.

Original post by NIH website on October 29, 2015 by

Simplification of the Vertebrate Animals Section of NIH Grant Applications and Contract Proposals

This Notice is to inform potential applicants and offerors that the requirements of the Vertebrate Animals Section (VAS) of grant applications, cooperative agreements and contract proposals has changed. The changes have been made to remove redundancy with Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee review while meeting the requirements of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Please find link to Announcement here.

Updated VAS Requirements
If live vertebrate animals are to be used, federal policy requires applicants to address the following criteria:

  • Description of Procedures. Provide a concise description of the proposed procedures to be used that involve vertebrate animals in the work outlined in the application or proposal. Identify the species, strains, ages, sex and total number of animals by species to be used in the proposed work. If dogs or cats are proposed, provide the source of the animals.
  • Justifications. Provide justification that the species are appropriate for the proposed research. Explain why the research goals cannot be accomplished using an alternative model (e.g., computational, human, invertebrate, in vitro).
  • Minimization of Pain and Distress. Describe the interventions including analgesia, anesthesia, sedation, palliative care and humane endpoints to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury.
  • Euthanasia. State whether the method of euthanasia is consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals. If not, describe the method and provide a scientific justification.

Anticipated Implementation
These requirements, as applicable, will take effect for all grant applications except Fellowship (F series) and Training (T series) grants for due dates on or after January 25, 2016, and will take effect for all applications for due dates on or after May 25, 2016. For contracts, see individual Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for details.

Summary of Changes
The VAS criteria are simplified by the following changes:

  • A description of veterinary care is no longer required.
  • Justification for the number of animals has been eliminated.
  • A description of the method of euthanasia is required only if the method is not consistent with AVMA guidelines.

Resources
See the Vertebrate Animals Section webpage for more information on the VAS requirements. Here you will find a checklist, detailed instructions, plus links to worksheets.

Text from NIH Notice: NOT-OD-16-006

NSF Revises Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG)

NSF has announced that a revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 16-1) has been issued.

The new PAPPG will be effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 25, 2016.  Significant changes include:

  • Enforcement of 5 p.m. submitter’s local time across all NSF funding opportunities;
  • Implementation of NSF’s Public Access Policy;
  • Submission of proposal certifications by the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) concurrently with proposal submission;
  • NSF’s implementation of the US Government Policy for Institutional Oversight of Life Sciences on Dual Use Research of Concern;
  • Provision of Collaborators and Other Affiliations information as a new single-copy document, instead of as part of the Biographical Sketch;
  • Submission of Biographical Sketches and Current and Pending Support separately for each senior personnel;
  • Electronic signature and submission of notifications and requests by the AOR only;
  • Revision of timeframe for submission of final project reports, project outcomes reports and financial closure of awards to 120 days after the award end date; and
  • Numerous clarifications throughout the document.
Given the number of important revisions, the community is strongly encouraged to review the by-chapter summary of changes provided in the Introduction section of the PAPPG.

A webinar to brief the community on the new PAPPG will be held on October 29th at 2 PM EST.  Registration is required at https://nsfevents.webex.com/nsfevents/onstage/g.php?d=747703895&t=a

While this version of the PAPPG becomes effective on January 25, 2016, in the interim, the guidelines contained in the current PAPPG (NSF 15-1) continue to apply.  We will ensure that the current version of the PAPPG remains on the NSF website, with a notation to proposers that specifies when the new PAPPG (including a link to the new Guide) will become effective.

If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact the Policy Office on x8243 or by e-mail to policy@nsf.gov.

Are you an NIH Applicant or Grant Administrator?

Upcoming Webinars for NIH Applicants and Grant Administrators:

What You Need to Know About NIH Application Submission and Review


Notice Number: NOT-OD-15-154

Key Dates
Release Date:   September 24, 2015

Related Announcements
None Issued by
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

Purpose

The purpose of this Notice is to inform new NIH applicants, their mentors, and grant administrators at their institution about two upcoming webinars the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR) is hosting in November 2015.  These webinars are designed to give participants useful insights into our application submission and peer review processes.  CSR is the portal for NIH grant applications and their review for scientific and technical merit.

Each Webinar Will Have a Different Focus

Webinar Focus Date
University Research Administrators November 5, 2015
Research Project Grants (R01) November 6, 2015

All of the webinars will run from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. EST, including a 30 minute Q&A period.

Viewers Will See Presentations by Five CSR/NIH Experts

  • The Review of Your NIH Grant Application Begins Here
  • What You Need to Know about Application Receipt and Referral
  • How Your Application Is Reviewed
  • Key Things to Know About the NIH Grants Program
  • Jumpstart Your Career with CSR’s Early Career Reviewer Program (R01 webinar only)

How to Participate in the Webinar

  • Go to www.csr.nih.gov/webinar to register for the webinar you wish to join by Monday, October 29.  You will not need to download special software.  You will just need a reliable Internet connection and browser.
  • Submit questions for the Q&A session before or during the webinar by sending them to the moderator at AskExperts@csr.nih.gov.
  • Go to www.csr.nih.gov/webinar on the day/time your webinar is scheduled.  Click on the link that will be provided there to view it.

View Archived Webinars

  • View archived webinars and PowerPoint slides now: Our 2014 Meet the Experts in NIH Peer Review webinars for R01, R15, Small Business and Fellowship grants are available via our webinar webpage.
  • View our 2015 Webinars and PowerPoints about a month after broadcast: They will be posted on our webinar webpage.

If you have general questions about the NIH application and review processes at other times, please visit the Please direct all inquiries to:

Don Luckett
Center for Scientific Review
Telephone: 301-435-1111
Email: AskExperts@csr.nih.gov

Originally posted on NIH website 9/24/15 by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR)

SciENcv Updated to Support New NIH Biosketch Format

In November, NIH announced a new format for biographical sketches (biosketches); the new format is required for grant applications submitted for due dates after May 24, 2015 (see NOT-OD-15-032). SciENcv, a tool available through My NCBI for creating biosketches, has been updated to reflect the format changes and to help users convert their existing NIH biosketches from the old format to the new.

What Changed with the NIH Biosketch

Differences between the old and new NIH Biosketch formats include:

  1. Maximum length increased from 4 to 5 pages
  2. Rearranged data in the table at the top of the Biosketch
  3. Section A, Personal Statement can now include up to 4 supporting citations
  4. Section C is now called “Contribution to Science” and should be comprised of up to 5 brief descriptions of your most significant contributions to science, each with up to 4 supporting citations. In addition,  you may also provide a URL to a full list of your published work as found in a publicly available digital database such as My Bibliography. This section is the most notable difference in the new format.

More information can be found at the following link:

SciENcv Link

PHS Form Use Beyond Expiration Date

Have you ever noticed that potato rolls still taste fresh well after the date on the package? Well, perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on that thought. The point I actually want to make is that lots of things are still good after the date we stamp on them – even grant application forms. Some of you may have noticed our agency-specific (PHS) forms expired yesterday.

 

At least every three years, we are required to reassess our data collection needs, make any needed adjustments, and submit a data collection clearance request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). We are currently working through that process. Once we have OMB approval, we’ll issue notices in the NIH Guide for Grants & Contracts to tell you more about our pending changes and our implementation plans. In the meantime, continue to use the  current forms – despite the August 31, 2015 expiration date (NOT-OD-15-146). We’ll get fresh forms out to you as soon as we can (yes, “FORMS-D” is in our future). For now, the PHS forms are fresh enough.

 

Same Great Service, Slightly Different Name

The eRA Commons Help Desk has a new name – eRA Service Desk (NOT-OD-15-147).  The new name reflects the expansion of the team’s role to support additional eRA services like ASSIST.

The contact information, hours of operation, and friendly service remain the same. If you’d like to provide feedback on service you received, you can always email the support management team at usbmgmt@od.nih.gov. Of course, we want to hear when you are unhappy so we have an opportunity to make things right. We also love to hear the happy stuff – that stuff makes our day!

Browsing eRA Systems

Did you know that eRA recommends Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers for use with eRA systems like eRA Commons, Internet Assisted Review and ASSIST (see eRA browser policy)? Many other popular browsers work just fine, but those are the two browsers the eRA team uses to develop and test our systems. If you use a different browser and your screen doesn’t look quite right, try Internet Explorer or Firefox and see if the issue is browser related.

Also, be sure to upgrade your browser periodically. Internet Explorer version 6.0 users may run into issues following some maintenance over the weekend. Yes, there is already an Internet Explorer 11 and version 6 was released 14 years ago, but some of you (and you know who you are) don’t seem to believe in frequent updates.

Originally posted by Sheri Cummins, Communications & Outreach, NIH Office of Extramural Research

 

NIH PMID vs PMCID: What’s the Difference?

PubMed is an index of the biomedical literature. A PMID, also known as the PubMed reference number, is a number assigned by the NIH National Library of Medicine to papers indexed in PubMed. PubMed Central is an archive of full-text journal articles. The National Library of Medicine assigns a PMCID, also known as a PMC Identifier, to each full-text paper in PubMed Central.
To comply with the public access policy, anyone submitting an application, proposal or report to the NIH must include a PMCID when citing applicable papers that they author or that arise from their NIH-funded research. If it helps to remember, think of the C in PMCID to indicate compliance with the public access policy.

While all abstracts appearing in PubMed are assigned a PMID automatically, NIH awardees may need to take action to obtain a PMCID.  Please remember you need to ensure papers are compliant with the public access policy as soon as the paper is accepted for publication. Try this interactive wizard to determine if your paper falls under the policy, how to bring it into compliance, and how to report it to NIH. We urge you to develop your public access plan as you are writing your paper!

Looking for more information? Visit the public access policy website or contact the help desk at publicaccess@nih.gov.

Originally Posted on August 31, 2015 by NIH Staff

Original Link

More on the topic at NIH Website

NSF Announces Updates to FastLane

Dear Colleagues:On July, 24, 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will release updates to FastLane that may impact the way you work.

 

As part of NSF’s efforts to reduce the workload associated with manually compliance checking proposals, NSF continues to focus on implementing automated proposal compliance checks. The next series of automated proposal compliance checks will be released in FastLane on July 24 to ensure that proposals submitted in response to Program Solicitations comply with requirements outlined in the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (Chapter II.C.2 of the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)).

The new set of automated compliance checks in FastLane will trigger warning messages if the following proposal sections do not exist for proposals submitted in response to a Program Solicitation for the applicable funding mechanism type (Conference, Equipment, Ideas Lab, Facility/Center, and Fellowship):

–          References Cited

–          Biographical Sketch(es)

–          Budget Justification: Primary Organization

–          Budget Justification: Sub recipient Organization

–          Current and Pending Support

–          Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources

For example, if a Conference proposal submitted in response to a Program Solicitation does not include the Current and Pending Support section (required for certain solicitations), FastLane will trigger a warning message directing the proposer to review the requirements specified in the solicitation.

Warning messages will not prevent a proposal from being submitted.  However, proposals that receive error messages will not be able to be submitted.

Please note that the new set of compliance checks are in addition to the compliance checks that currently exist in FastLane. You can view a complete list of FastLane auto-compliance checks, including the new set, by clicking here. The list specifies which checks are run depending on type of submission (GPG, Program Description, Program Announcement, or Program Solicitation) and funding mechanism (Research, RAPID, EAGER, Ideas Lab, Conference, Equipment, International Travel, Facility/Center, or Fellowship). It also specifies whether the check triggers a “warning” or “error” message for non-compliant proposals.

Additionally, proposers submitting through Grants.gov should be aware that Grants.gov will allow a proposal to be submitted, even if it does not comply with these proposal preparation requirements. Should NSF receive a proposal from Grants.gov that is not compliant, it may be returned without review.

We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues. For system-related questions, contact the FastLane/Research.gov Help Desk at 703-292-HELP (x4357) or ithelpcentral@nsf.gov. Policy-related questions should be directed to policy@nsf.gov.

Thank you,

The FastLane Team at the National Science Foundation

 

Important Note on NIH Closeout Report Deadlines

Important Note on NIH Deadlines for Required Final Reports & Grants Closeout

When an NIH awardee’s grant project periods comes to an end, recipients must close out their grant by submitting a Final Federal Financial Report (FFR), Final Progress Report (FPR), and Final Invention Statement and Certification (FIS). The deadlines for these reports has recently changed to align with forthcoming standard award terms and conditions for participating Federal research agencies. All projects with a period of performance end date on or after October 1, 2014 must submit the final FFR, the FPR, and the FIS within 120 calendar days of the end of the period of performance. For any grants with a period of performance (project period) end date prior to October 1, 2014, the reporting deadline will be 90 days from the project period end date.

As announced in the NIH Guide, eRA systems are currently being updated to reflect these changes; we expect the “grants pending closeout” search by institution in Commons Quick Queries to reflect the new deadline by July 17, 2015.

http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/06/30/important-note-on-deadlines-for-required-final-reports-grants-closeout/?utm_source=nexus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=nihupdate&utm_campaign=jun15