January 27, 2015
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has just issued the first funding opportunity announcement (FOA) in its new Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) program. MIRA is an experiment in funding science by supporting investigators’ overall research programs through a single, unified grant rather than individual project grants.
The goals of this new model are to increase investigators’ funding stability, their freedom to take on ambitious challenges and approach problems creatively, and their flexibility to follow important new research directions as opportunities arise. The approach could also reduce the time researchers spend managing multiple grant awards and writing grant applications.
According to NIGMS Director Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., “The overall goal is to increase scientific productivity and improve the chances for important breakthroughs, in part by distributing funding more widely among the nation’s highly talented and promising investigators.”
Awards will provide support for all of the NIGMS-relevant research in an investigator’s laboratory and will be for 5 years, which is a year longer than the current NIGMS average of 4 years.
The program’s development was informed by input from the scientific community in response to a request for information.
To test the concept under well-controlled conditions, initial eligibility is restricted to a small group: established investigators who have received two or more R01-equivalent awards or a single award of $400,000 or more in direct costs from NIGMS in Fiscal Year 2013 or 2014 and who have at least one grant expected to end in Fiscal Year 2016 or 2017. In the future, NIGMS plans to expand the pilot to additional groups of investigators, including new investigators. If the pilot is successful, the Institute will open the program to any investigator working on research questions related to its mission.