NIGMS Funding for Investigators with Substantial Research Support

Reporting Other Research Support

When reporting other support, applicants should describe their other research projects in sufficient detail that NIGMS staff and Council members can determine the differences between the proposed NIGMS project and research supported by other sources. Applicants are encouraged to explain any appearance of overlapping research goals and should report the time commitment to each existing project.

Background

Council Review and Oversight Policy for the Support of Research in Well-Funded Laboratories

In May 2021, the NAGMS Council adopted updated operating procedures regarding support of research in well-funded laboratories (now defined as those with over $1,500,000 in annual total costs for research support at the time of the Council meeting. Staff evaluates the other support information and makes recommendations to the Council about possible consideration for funding. If the Council does not concur with a staff recommendation for possible funding, the grant will not be funded.

For both renewal (Type 2) and new (Type 1) grant applications from well-funded laboratories, the Council expects the Institute to support projects only if they are highly promising and distinct from other funded work in the laboratory and only when the principal investigator has sufficient time to commit to overseeing the totality of his/her laboratory's research activities. Though Council review and oversight isn’t required, the Council expects the Institute to implement, where appropriate, reasoned budget reductions for awards made to laboratories with less than $1,500,000 in annual total costs.

Starting May 25, 2021, an NIH-wide expectation is that Other Support will be reported in applications and Progress Reports as Total Costs (Direct plus Indirect Costs) for the full term of the award rather than annual Direct Costs. This change in Other Support reporting will become required as of January 25, 2022. Until the new Other Support and JIT documents are required, NIGMS anticipates receiving some JIT documents that list other support as Direct Costs, some that list Total Costs and some that list both. During this transition NIGMS will use the $1,500,000 annual Total Cost threshold for Council Review and Oversight if Total Costs are reported. If only direct costs are provided for support, NIGMS will use a $1,000,000 annual threshold.

  • If a well-funded investigator is included as a member of a multi-PI team on a grant application, it could adversely affect the chances that the application will be funded. In addition, although NIGMS encourages collaborations, PIs who are already well-funded are strongly encouraged to enter into collaborations using their current funding rather than requesting additional support. In applications, collaborators should provide strong letters of support that explain their commitment to the proposed research, and PIs should include clear descriptions of the collaborators' roles.

Support of Research for Investigators with Substantial Unrestricted Support

Because research funds are limited and many outstanding biomedical scientists are deserving of support, NIGMS believes that, to sustain the research enterprise and maximize opportunities for significant scientific advances, it is essential to have a diverse research portfolio with a wide array of investigators and topics. Awarding R01s and other research grants to investigators with substantial levels of long-term, unrestricted research funding requires careful consideration, because these researchers already have resources from other agencies or organizations that support overall research programs rather than individual projects. Although moderate levels of additional research funding to such well-supported investigators can in some instances produce significant returns on NIGMS’ investment, these investments need to be carefully managed to ensure that the Institute’s research portfolio is optimally diversified and that it can support as many talented and productive research groups as possible.

In advising potential applicants and making funding decisions, NIGMS staff carefully considers each investigator’s overall research support, including institutional support.

Investigators with substantial, long-term, unrestricted research support may generally hold no more than one NIGMS research grant. For the purposes of these guidelines, investigators with substantial, long-term, unrestricted support (“unrestricted investigators”) would have at least $400,000 in unrestricted support (direct costs per year excluding the principal investigator’s salary and direct support of widely shared institutional resources, such as NMR facilities) that extends at least 2 years beyond the onset of funding the NIGMS grant. As in all cases, if NIGMS funding of a grant to an investigator with substantial, long-term, unrestricted support would result in annual total costs from all sources exceeding $1,500,000, National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council approval is required.

  • An unrestricted investigator with no other significant research support may be awarded one new or renewal NIGMS project-based research grant (e.g., R01 or R35).
  • Except in rare, well-justified situations within the sole discretion of NIGMS (such as highly unique scientific opportunities or research in areas that NIGMS considers to be of very high priority that would otherwise not be supported), an unrestricted investigator with additional significant research support (NIH or other grant) will not be awarded a new NIGMS research grant, consistent with NIGMS’ Council Review and Oversight Policy.
  • If an NIGMS-funded investigator who has two or more NIGMS research grants becomes an unrestricted investigator, the investigator will be expected to renew no more than one of the existing NIGMS grants. At the time the earliest competing continuation application is due, the investigator will need to choose which grant(s) to terminate.
  • Funded participation in an NIGMS center grant (e.g., P41, P50, U54) or multi-PI R01 will usually be counted as an unrestricted investigator’s NIGMS research grant support. In rare, well-justified situations within the sole discretion of NIGMS (such as highly unique scientific opportunities or research in areas that NIGMS considers to be of very high priority that would otherwise not be supported), such support may be permitted in addition to one NIGMS R01or R35. An unrestricted investigator who participates in one of these grants as an associate member but derives no support from the grant would still be eligible to hold another NIGMS research grant.
  • The following types of grants are not counted for the purposes of these guidelines: training grants, support for educational and diversity-enhancing programs, resource grants, conference grants, SBIR/STTR and clinical trial grants. Unrestricted investigators may be PIs on these types of awards without having it count as their one NIGMS research grant.