The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research issues letter in support of the NIH peer review system

Posted by Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW on August 19, 2009 at 11:12am

The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research issued a request earlier today for organizational endorsements to a letter that have written in support of the NIH peer review system. The letter will be sent to all Senators prior to Senate floor action on the FY 2010 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill. If your organization would like to sign the Ad Hoc Group’s letter, please contact Hayzell Gollopp at [email protected] The deadline for sign-ons is 4 p.m. on Wednesday, September 2.

See below for text of the Ad Hoc Group’s letter:

September #, 2009

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

The undersigned patient groups, scientific and medical societies, research institutions, and industry organizations urge you to uphold the competitive, scientific peer review system and vote against any amendment to the Senate FY 2010 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill that would eliminate funding for specific research grants supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The medical research supported by NIH over the past 60 years has made the United States the world leader in science and medicine and has added to the length and quality of life of millions of Americans. Congress has been responsible for investing the resources that have made NIH’s extraordinary success a reality.

To be sure, Congress has oversight responsibility for ensuring that proper policies and procedures are in place to ensure that these funds are effectively allocated based on sound scientific judgment and competitive, merit review. The remarkable advances achieved through NIH-supported research confirm the effectiveness of those policies and procedures. By protecting the scientific peer review system, which subjects research proposals to rigorous evaluation for scientific and public health merit, Congress ensures that the highest-quality research – research that contributes directly to public health – is funded with federal dollars. The scientific merit and public health benefit from an individual study is not always apparent outside this careful review.

Eliminating funding of individual NIH grants undermines vital research as well as the peer review system –the best system for ensuring scientific and fiscal accountability on behalf of the American taxpayer. For our nation’s public health, and for the continuing success of the U.S. medical research enterprise, we urge you to oppose any amendment that targets individual NIH research grants in this manner.



Update on NIH Stimulus Funds

Posted by Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW on February 25, 2009 at 4:31pm

Dear Colleagues,

Attached please find the latest update from NIH regarding the Stimulus and NIH. The document contains information consistent with previously-released information, but also contains additional details that will be helpful to advocates and researchers at your institutions. I will continue to keep you posted as additional details about the NIH Recovery Act funds become available. Likewise, if you have information that you think would be beneficial to share with members of The Friends of NIA, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or give me a call.

My Thoughts on Strategy for Members of Friends of NIA

Although the NIH Challenge Grant RFA has not yet been released, researchers nationwide are ramping up their efforts to prepare competitive proposals for submission in the coming months. In order to ensure a robust field of proposals related to aging, researchers at your institutions may want to consider beginning the proposal-writing process now as well if they haven’t already done so. The more aging-related proposals, the better – with increased competition comes increased quality and ultimately, significant advances in the field of aging research.

While no details have been released, intimated, or implied by individuals at NIH, it seems as though certain things might logically be called for in the RFA. DISCLAIMER: I could be totally wrong about these assumptions. I’m basing my assumptions on the language contained in ARRA as well as on the guidance provided in the White House implementation guidance memo, but my assumptions are mine alone and could be totally off base. I’m providing this information in the hopes that it may prove to be helpful to you in the proposal-preparation process, but please recognize that these tips are based on my conjecture, not on any reliable source of info. At this point, your guess is as good as mine regarding what the RFA’s might look like. Now that we’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way, here goes:

1) In your proposal, make sure to note whether you are proposing a project that will enable you to re-open a lab you had to close for economic reasons, create positions that will enable you to expand your lab/research program, etc. Be clear, right up front, regarding the economic impact your proposed project will have.

2) If I were drafting the NIH Challenge Grant RFA (which, thankfully, I am not), I would limit the length of the narrative to 12 pages or so. The actual maximum length of the proposal may be longer than this, but I can’t imagine NIH would want 15-20 page proposals given the huge volume of proposal that will be submitted.

3) As researchers at your institutions draft their proposals in anticipation of the release of the RFA, I’d recommend including two sections (in addition to the usual sections seen in NIH proposals):

Provide the estimated number of jobs to be created and the number of jobs to be retained by the project or activity. Describe how you will measure and track job creation and job preservation. Describe the estimated short- and long-term economic impact of the project on the local community. If you are partnering with an institution located in an under-represented geographic area (an area that typically has little NIH funding), make sure to note that here, as well as to note the number of jobs to be created/preserved in the partner institution’s local area.

Provide a detailed description supporting the institution’s demonstrated ability to deliver programmatic result and accountability objectives included in the Recovery Act. Describe systems and processes to be used in the execution of the proposed project to ensure timely reporting of data and tracking of the achievement of programmatic results and accountability objectives.

Again, these recommendations are based more on my own conjecture than anything else. If the RFA doesn’t require this info, I would still recommend including the information listed above in #1 and #3. Given the fact these are ARRA funds, it seems reasonable to assume that information about the impact of your proposed project on the economy would be welcomed and appreciated by the IC’s.

I’ll keep you posted in the days and weeks to come as information becomes available. Until then, I would encourage researchers at your institutions to read the NIH update (see attached), read through my unofficial suggestions listed above, and begin getting proposal drafts ready so that your institution is poised to take action once the RFA’s are issued. A little advance planning could go a long way towards ensuring your institution is ready to apply for these funding opportunities.

Take care-


NIA Summer Institute on Aging Research – 2009

Posted by Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW on January 13, 2009 at 2:52pm

**Deadline: Application and letters of recommendation deadline March 6th, 2009**

Event: Summer Institute on Aging Research – 2009
Location: Aspen Wye River – Queenstown, MD
July 11-17, 2009

Meeting Description
The Summer Institute on Aging Research program includes lectures, seminars, and small group discussions in research design relative to aging, including issues relevant to aging of ethnic and racial minorities. Lectures will cover topics in research on aging, including: the biology of aging; genetics and Alzheimer’s disease; and health, behavior, and aging. Discussion sessions will focus on methodological approaches and interventions. The program also will include consultation on the development of research interests and advice on preparing and submitting research grant applications to NIA.

Who Should Apply?
Applications will be accepted from emerging researchers, including those who may have had limited involvement in research on aging. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, or lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Forty participants will be selected based on:

Previous experience and training
Affiliation with a research university or laboratory
Letters of recommendation (send with application)
A brief statement of objectives for attending the Summer Institute on Aging Research
Significance of research proposal abstract to include significance of the problem, approach, and innovation.

Application Deadline
Applications and letters of recommendation deadline March 6th, 2009. Applicants will be notified regarding acceptance within 60 days. Include the following with the application form:

Typed statement of 150 words or less describing your objectives in attending the Summer Institute on Aging Research.
Letters of recommendation from two people who are familiar with your professional interests and scholastic achievements. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure letters of recommendation are received.
One-page research proposal abstract, describing research hypothesis or questions, significance of research, and proposed methodology to include a plan for analysis. Set the abstract’s title in bold.
Copy of a recent resume or curriculum vitae.


Fill out the online application form or mail all application materials to:

Summer Institute on Aging Research
National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
Building 31, Room 5C35
31 Center Drive, MSC 2292
Bethesda, Maryland 20892-2292

Contact Information
Office of Special Populations
National Institute on Aging
National Institutes of Health
Phone: 301-496-0765
[email protected]