What we’re watching in 2015: National Institutes of Health

In this four-part series, we will take a look at important issues for the research community in 2015. Today’s final topic is the National Institutes of Health. We already looked at 21st Century Cures, federal research funding and the National Science Foundation.

The National Institutes of Health has a number of new initiatives coming in 2015. First, the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award, or MIRA, program will begin at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The first part of the pilot program, targeted at established investigators with two or more NIGMS R01 awards or a single R01 award over $400,000 in direct costs, is now open. The second part of the pilot, targeting early career investigators, will begin afterward. MIRA represents a new type of funding mechanism for the NIH—funding research programs instead of individual projects. MIRA awards will be renewable five-year grants of up to $750,000 for direct costs each year, and applications will not require specific aims. More information will be available in the February issue of ASBMB Today.

Second, as part of an emphasis on diversity in science, the NIH issued a request for applications (RFA-MD-15-005) earlier this month entitled Big Data to Knowledge Enhancing Diversity in Biomedical Data Science. The opportunity will fund R25 education grants to “implement innovative approaches to research education for diverse students in big data science, including those from underrepresented backgrounds in biomedical research.” Applications are due Feb. 19.

Third, scientists can expect to see additional recommendations to improve data reproducibility. As the Blotter reported in November, in response to several studies showing at least 50 percent of pre-clinical research is not reproducible, the NIH developed an agreement with over 70 journals to establish new rules for publishing research studies. While it is unclear what reproducibility issue the agency will tackle next, the journal agreement is certainly not the end.

Follow the Policy Blotter to stay up to date on issues concerning the NIH and science policy news.

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