NIH Grant Basics: That post-Council pause

September 29, 2010

My feed for writedit’s comments keeps being populated with impatient applicants who have managed to land a decent-looking score on a NIH grant proposal. See this one.

The September council met on the 21st, and I have heard nothing. My R01 was scored at the 12th percentile and I am an ESI. I haven’t heard a thing yet, and my Commons status is “Council Review Completed.”

or this one:

The council meeting was over on September 1, and 3rd, mt erA commons sais `council review completed’. It still says the same. My PO is unreachable (has gone back to India until October 1st week). Does this mean I did not get the grant?

for the type.
This is understandable, given the importance of each grant award to the PI in question. But still, this is not mysterious stuff here folks. The timeline for getting a grant awarded is pretty clear.
Let’s take the current Fall Council rounds as an example. The applicants submitted their proposals back in Feb-Mar in most cases- with continuing submission, HIV-related grants and the odd RFA-related study sections, anywhere from January to mid April. These proposals were reviewed for the most part in Jun-Jul with the applicants receiving their scores about a week after the meeting and the summary statements several weeks later.
So they’ve been waiting a long time already. A borderline score makes things extra important when it comes to information about likely funding. Will the proposal sneak under the wire after all funds are accounted for in the IC? Will it really have zero chance, no matter the theoretical nonzero chance? Should, in point of fact, the applicant busy herself with revising the proposal for November or working on a new one for October? Or start planning preliminary studies for a Feb/Mar submission?
But folks, this part of the process is readily understandable.
Even if you have a 1%ile grant, NIH is not going to tell you it is funded until the Notice of Award is actually prepared. And that takes place in the week or two just before the first possible funding date. In this scenario, December 1. So no, you will not hear anything definitive until late November at the very earliest. Stop driving yourself crazy asking over at writedit’s place if the Commons status line will tell you anything. It won’t.
Now the bad news is that this particular round for funding has an extra-special annoying caveat. It is the first one of the new US federal fiscal year. That means that the ICs can’t commit to new awards until Congress passes the appropriations bill funding the NIH for the next year.
They never seem to get that passed on time and it often waits until Congress returns from vacation in late Jan/early Feb.
Sorry about that but you just have to chill.

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5 Responses to “NIH Grant Basics: That post-Council pause”

  1. Jen Says:

    “This is understandable, given the importance of each grant award to the PI in question. But still, this is not mysterious stuff here folks. The timeline for getting a grant awarded is pretty clear.” – it is not always clear for new investigators who did not have a PI who was willing to fill them in on the details, and who have been learning-as-they-go about the process. Please have a little patience with the newbies.

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  2. DrugMonkey Says:

    well, that IS why I bother to blog this stuff Jen. In partial defense of my tone here, one of the comments I link to comes from someone who describes him/her self as an experienced investigator.

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  3. expat group leader Says:

    Jen … grow up.
    If you want to be a PI, read the manuals. All this stuff is clearly spelled out by the NIH.

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  4. Grumble Says:

    The precise meaning of “Council review complete,” as it relates to the question a PI wants answered (did I get it or not?), is very confusing. It means that either Council recommended the grant for funding, or it didn’t. Very useful. Ask your PO which one it was.
    And anyway, doesn’t Council recommend a bunch of grants for funding even though it knows it doesn’t have money for them?
    And related to that, how are funding decisions are made in the case where Council meets, but doesn’t know what it’s budget is going to be (because Congress hasn’t provided it yet)? When that quantity is known, who are the deciders and how do they decide?
    Neither of these questions are answered anywhere on NIH’s web site, AFAIK.

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  5. Confused Administrator Says:

    You might find this information helpful:
    http://funding.niaid.nih.gov/researchfunding/grant/cycle/pages/part10.aspx#b
    Why You May Not Get Funded Right Away
    Many applications do not get funded right away.
    Time to Funding Factors
    Time from application to award can vary by as much as a year. Here is a partial list of timing factors:
    Whether we have a congressional appropriation. If your application goes to the September or October Council, it would be funded in the next fiscal year. At the start of a fiscal year, funding can be delayed because we do not have a budget. Go to our Paylines and Funding page.
    Whether you are in the funding “gray zone.” Many high-quality applications that scored somewhat above the payline are deferred for a funding decision until later in the fiscal year. If you want more information now, read Is Your Application Deferred for a Funding Decision?
    Whether your application undergoes expedited Council review. If you want to read more now, see Second-Level Review Is Faster for Some Applications.
    Whether you are submitting an AIDS application. It will have a later receipt date for the same funding date. See NIH’s Standard Due Dates for Competing Applications.
    Whether you are responding to a request for applications. Learn more about this topic in Part 3. Define Your Project at RFA.
    Whether we need a foreign clearance for your application. Contact your program officer.
    Is your application on a list for a possible R56-Bridge award or selective pay, or is it deferred for possible end-of-year funding?
    No. Revising and resubmitting is the next logical step if problems are fixable. Go to Part 11b. Not Funded, Reapply.
    Yes.
    For selective pay, R56-Bridge awards, or deferred applications, we advise you to revise and submit your application right away. Get advice on revising at Part 11b. Not Funded, Reapply.
    To learn more, continue reading here and see the NIAID R56-Bridge Award SOP and the Selective Pay SOP for important details.

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