NIGMS council approves innovative, collaborative funding opportunity announcements

By | February 2, 2017

The Advisory Council to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) approved three proposals for new funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) at the public portion of their meeting on January 27. The FOAs address innovation in graduate education and new means of collaboration.

The first proposal, or concept clearance, to gain the Council’s approval was the development and issuance of a new Program Announcement (PA) for a National Research Service Award Institutional Predoctoral Research Training Grant that would be specific to NIGMS. Institutional training grants, or T32s, provide funding to institutions and/or graduate programs to support the recruitment and training of graduate students in specific research areas. Currently, most National Institutes of Health Institutes and Centers use a common “Parent T32” application, although there are other institute-specific PAs.

The new PA will encourage the recruitment and retention of a diverse cohort of scientists whose training will focus on acquisition of technical and professional skills and the responsible, ethical conduct of research. NIGMS plans to publish the FOA in September 2017, with the first round of applications due in May 2018 and the first awards expected in July 2019.

The new T32 PA is a continuation of efforts by NIGMS to catalyze changes in the conduct and evaluation of biomedical graduate education. During the summer of 2016, NIGMS sought input from the training community on strengths and weaknesses of, and strategies to promote changes in, the current graduate education system. FASEB was one of 90 stakeholders who submitted a response.

The second concept clearance approved was a Collaborative Program Grant supporting a team science approach to addressing complex research questions and mentoring new scientists. The grant will utilize the RM1 award mechanism (“research project with a complex structure”) and will support research projects broader in scope than those typically funded for individual investigators (e.g., through R01 awards). The program requires three-to-six principle investigators whose diverse but complementary areas of expertise are crucial to the success of the project. The FOA for the Collaborative Program Grant Initiative will be published in April 2017 and the first round of awards will follow in April 2018.

Similar to the new T32 PA, NIGMS asked for feedback from interested stakeholders on supporting team science, which was instructive in developing the Collaborative Program Grant FOA. FASEB responded to the Request for Information in June 2016.

Finally, the Council endorsed a collaborative program between NIGMS and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Social, Behavioral and Economic Directorate to study innovation in the biomedical research enterprise. This joint program, the Initiative to Support Research on the Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP) would build on and replace the extant NIGMS Scientific Workforce Analysis and Modeling program. Applications will be reviewed by NSF first and subsequently by NIGMS. By engaging the NSF community, the FOA may bring new investigators to the study of the biomedical research community, said NIGMS Director Jon Lorsch, PhD.