June 3, 2015
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has just expanded the pilot of its experiment in funding science. The new model, called the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, or MIRA, supports investigators’ overall research programs through a single, unified grant rather than individual project grants. A funding opportunity announcement issued today adds new and early stage investigators to the group of scientists who are eligible to apply.
Awards will provide all of the support from NIGMS for research related to its mission in an investigator’s laboratory. [Editor’s note: Awards will be for 5 years, similar to the current average length of an NIGMS R01 award to new investigators.]
MIRA’s goals are to increase investigators’ funding stability, ability to take on ambitious challenges and approach problems creatively, and flexibility to follow important new research directions as opportunities arise. The program could also reduce the time researchers spend managing multiple grant awards and writing grant applications. A further benefit could be to enable principal investigators to devote more time and energy to mentoring junior scientists.
The overall goal of the program 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.
According to NIGMS Director Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D., “We are pleased to extend our strong and long-standing commitment to supporting new and early stage investigators by offering them the same benefits we expect the MIRA program to have for established investigators. We hope that MIRA will help newer investigators get off to a good start in thinking about their science broadly, emphasizing the significance of the questions they are asking and the impact of the answers, and focusing less on experimental details in their applications.”
The development of the MIRA program was informed by input from the scientific community in response to a request for information.
To test the concept under well-controlled conditions, eligibility is currently restricted to two small groups. The first, announced earlier this year, is established investigators who 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. The second, just-announced group is early stage investigators and new investigators who are at the assistant professor or equivalent level.
If the pilots are successful, the Institute will open the program to any investigator working on research questions related to its mission.
More information about MIRA is at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/research/mechanisms/MIRA.