A couple of weeks ago, we talked about preserving your New Investigator or Early Stage Investigator (ESI) status. But how can you be sure if you have those statuses at all? NIH calculates your qualification for ESI based on your funding and terminal degree year, while New Investigator status is solely on past funding type. You can be a New Investigator with qualifying to be ESI, but you can’t be ESI without qualifying to be a New Investigator.
To find out whether you are considered to be an ESI, you can check your status in eRA Commons. To do it, log in and go to your “Personal Profile.” Once you are there, either scroll down to or click on “Education:”
Once you are at your “Education” section, choose “Edit” (don’t choose “View”). This will reveal NIH’s record of your status as an Early Stage Investigator, or ESI:
To check your New Investigator status is a little more nuanced; to do so, choose “Status” from your top menu menu bar and find your most recent submission. If that submission did not result in the funding of a “significant” award according to NIH standards and your “New Investigator Eligibility” reads “Y”, you are still considered a New Investigator. This status is only monitored by NIH at submission:
Remember, to be considered a “New Investigator,” you cannot not yet have been awarded a substantial NIH research grant. To be an “Early Stage Investigator,” you must have both “New Investigator” status and have completed your terminal research degrees or medical residencies (whichever date is later) within the past 10 years. If you check you status and believe that NIH has misclassified your status, be sure to send an email to the Commons Help Desk for assistance.
Have you ever been approached about body donation? Did it catch you off guard?
It isn’t unheard of for patients and participants to contact admins and offer to donate themselves for post-mortem research on their specific condition. Donating one’s body to science can be a great way to make direct contributions to research, other than dollars. The bodies accepted at Wayne State University School of Medicine are in a clean, restricted area, accessible only to medical professionals and students. When the various studies have been completed the remains are cremated and buried in the University burial plot.
The Department of Anatomy facilitates a Body Bequest Program, and the process begins with their bequest form. Special attention should be given to section 10108; there are occasions when Wayne State University must refuse a donation (usually this concerns the condition of the body at the time of death). If you are approached about body donation, encourage the interested party to contact the Body Bequest Office in the Department of Anatomy.
It is important to NIH to fund more new scientists, and have created special programs and higher paylines to do it. To be a “New Investigator,” you must be an NIH research grant applicant who has not yet been awarded a substantial NIH research grant. So, if you have been a PD/PI on an R01, you are no longer considered a New Investigator. If, however, you were a PD/PI on and R21 or an R03, you ARE still New Investigator. If you’re not sure if your previous awards disqualify you from New Investigator status, take a look at the NIH list of non-disqualifying awards.
Keep in mind that multi-PI awards count as being a PD/PI (but Co-I designations do not!). If you and a colleague or two have shared PD/PI status on an R01 that was awarded, you’re not a New Investigator. If you are going to share multi-PI status on an R21, you DO retain your status. The length of your career has no bearing on your status as a New Investigator, but you may have an extra advantage if you are early enough along: there are separate paylines established for Early Stage Investigators, who are those New Investigators who have completed their terminal research degrees or medical residencies (whichever date is later) within the past 10 years.
For further clarification, head over to NIH’s FAQs for New and Early Stage Investigators. If you’re not sure how to strategize when it comes to your status, we’re here to help you figure out your options.
In case you missed it, Joe Schumaker wrote a good piece this month aligning requests for no cost extensions with the classic Dickens novel, Oliver Twist. Here’s your bottom line: there can only be one (yes, that was a Highlander reference riffed from a Dickens reference. All about the classics today, folks).
NIH provides an “expanded authorities” clause in almost all Standard Terms of Award that waives the requirement for prior approval No Cost Extension (NCE), among other actions. If the text of the award allows, the grantee is permitted one NCE (that is, to extend the final budget period of a grant’s project period by up to 12 months, with no new funds). This is usually done within 90 days of project end, when the Extension link appears in the “Action” column of the “Status” search results screen. Anything beyond that one request will require permission.
As NIH adjusts NCE guidelines to meet the requirements outlined in the Uniform Guidance, they have audibly noticed an increasing trend of people asking for NCEs in the middle of the project period. You can do this, but this is your one shot. That is: if you get a permitted NCE in the middle of your project period, you won’t see your Extension link at the end of your project period; you’ve already used your expanded authority, even though you had to obtain permission to do so. Further, if you choose not to use the entire allowable 12 months (like you ask for, say, a 4 month extension), you can’t ask for the remainder of what’s allowable (8 months, in this case) without permission: it still counts as a second extension.
So, Warriors, be careful what you wish for; beyond that, know what you’re wishing for. If you’re unsure of your best strategy, let us know: we’ll help you talk it out and figure what’s best for you!