Highlights from the the 2011 Society of Research Administrators Conference

Lecturer: Chief Grant Management Officers from the NIH
Blogger: Matthew Robinson, MBA

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There were a number of informative seminars taught by multiple institutional Chief Grant Management officers from the NIH. I learned a great deal about the NIH during the conference and thought I would pass along some of the more applicable/key points.

NIH Key takeaways:

  1. The NIH has a $32 billion (Yes, that is a “B”) annual budget. So while it is competitive, there are plenty of opportunities to connect.
  2. Encourage younger faculty to explore opportunities. Recently the NIH has a big push to involve new and early stage (10 years from residency/fellowship) investigators. New and early stage investigators are clustered and reviewed together with more consideration given to these applications.
  3. NIH has unsolicited opportunities as well as announced funding opportunities (FOA). Unsolicited Opportunities can be found under “parent” announcements. These announcements tend to cover a broad array of investigator initiated studies. RO1 is the most popular.
    However the best source Kidney related research is still going to be announced on the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) website.
  4. Useful listserv:
    Receive the latest funding announcements once a week. Joining this listserv will give us plenty of time to prepare applications. We already get too much email, but this listserv may be well worth our time.
    To sign up, email Listserv@list.nih.gov. Type in the body (not the subject): Subscribe NIHTOC-L Your Name
    For Example: Subscribe NIHTOC-L Matt Robinson
  5. Identify NIH staff, and contact them often (biggest take home). While there are clearly defined criteria that must be met, there is also a great amount of interpretation left in the hands of NIH decision makers.
    A personal connection with both the Scientific Contact and the Grants Management Specialist significantly increases your chances of getting reviewed. (This should be limited to Lead PI.) Those Contacts are found on the announcement.
    Reviewers see hundreds of applications for each announcement. If they can put a face, or conversation with a submission, it tends to stand out. Plus, if they give feedback on the design they may feel a small sense of ownership and would then be more likely to fund the proposal.

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