Two big changes at the NIH will affect your research

It has been a busy spring at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Two major changes were made to NIH policies that affect research funding. Here’s an overview of the changes and how to respond to them.

The NIH has revised a major policy for resubmitting grant applications. Previously, an applicant could revise and resubmit a grant application once. If the application was unsuccessful after the revision, the applicant couldn’t repackage the same research into a new application. According to the NIH,

while the new policy still allows a single resubmission per application, ideas that were unsuccessfully submitted as a resubmission (A1) may now be presented in a new grant application (A0) without having to substantially redesign the content and scope of the project.

See the official NIH policy, released on April 17, 2014.

Physician scientists analyzing their research

The other policy change at the NIH relates to including and balancing male and female models in grant applications for preclinical studies. Many studies have shown the profound difference that males and females experience in health and medicine. Despite this evidence, the majority of animal studies do not include females or do not analyze outcomes for each sex. Beginning in October 2014, the NIH will begin to roll out requirements for investigators to balance male and female models in their studies. The policy change was announced by the NIH Director, Francis Collins, and the Director of the NIH Office for Research on Women’s Health, Janine Clayton, in a Comment published by Nature.

If you conduct biomedical research and are applying for grants from the NIH, you need to be aware of these changes and how they apply to your specific projects.

  • Contact a program officer at the relevant NIH institute if you have questions.
  • Talk to a grants administrator at your institution about new strategies for submitting grant applications.
  • Keep an eye out for upcoming training modules from the NIH about how to balance sex in your animal and cell experiments.