MIRA Webinar Q&A

Q. Given the comments that budgets remain flat in the out years, can capital equipment (i.e., instrumentation) be requested in Year 1?

A. Just as for R01s, capital equipment may be requested. It nee​ds to be well justified in the Budget Justification, and within the Research Strategy the need for the instrumentation should be evident. Within the Environment section, the currently available instrumentation that would be replaced could be noted.

Q. Any guess how many MIRA grants may be funded in the first round?

A. The answer depends on the NIGMS budget in Fiscal Year 2018 and on the number of applications submitted.

Q. I already submitted a competing R01 renewal that will be reviewed in the February meeting, but I am interested in the MIRA mechanisms. How should I proceed to be able to submit a MIRA in May?

A. Having a research grant reviewed in February/March 2017 does not affect eligibility for the MIRA application in May 2017. Grants reviewed in February/May will be “pending council” and not “pending review.” No funding decisions will have been made. Nothing special needs to be done to retain MIRA eligibility.

Q. What is the difference in the paylines for an R01 versus a MIRA?

A. NIGMS anticipates that the success rate for the MIRA program will be similar to that of established PIs seeking renewal for their NIGMS R01 grants.

Q. We've heard about a lot of application “kick-outs” in the last round because PIs proposed research programs that were outside the NIGMS mission. Please explain the most common reasons for administrative withdrawals beyond "outside NIGMS scope"?  

A. This question may arise because of the experience with the ESI-MIRA program where applications were returned for being “outside NIGMS’ scope.” Since all of the applications to this MIRA funding opportunity are continuations of NIGMS R01-equivalents, it is anticipated that they will mostly continue to be within NIGMS’ scope. If your research interests have changed and become directly related to a specific disease or organ system, it would be wise to consult with your program director about whether the program remains within NIGMS’ research interests.

Q. How do we deal with subcontracts?

A. Subcontracts may be contained in the budget request. They should be included with the same forms that are used for R01 applications containing subcontracts. The subcontract PI should have a Biosketch and include a letter of collaboration. A significant difference from R01 letters of collaboration is the collaborator needs to indicate why his/her funding cannot independently support the collaborative effort.

Q. In terms of collaborators, what about postdocs, techs, grad students?

A. These individuals can be identified in the Budget Justification, but they are not key personnel. Other significant collaborators can be identified by name, but unless they receive funds from the MIRA, they should not contribute a Biosketch or letter of collaboration.

Q. If a current grant is multi-PI, how will the budget of the MIRA calculated?

A. The MIRA funding level may include the PI’s effort on NIGMS multi-PI, P01 or P50 grant. Please see the MIRA FAQs for a discussion of MIRA funding and award levels and how they are affected by each of these grant mechanisms.

Q. Will it be possible to get $600,000 in direct costs?

A. In the first year of the Established PI MIRA program, some well-funded PIs were awarded budgets in excess of $600,000 in direct costs.  As for every award, individual consideration is provided to the input from the study section, the Advisory Council and the program director when determining a budget recommendation.

Q. I have two grants in vastly different areas. Are MIRAs mostly intended to condense projects in a single area?

A. No, the MIRA program was envisioned as encompassing more than one area (it is one of the reasons we refer to MIRA supporting a research program rather than a research project). However, the space limitation in the application may make it more difficult to describe the proposed program.

Q. Can I apply to other NIH institutes or other agencies if I get a MIRA award?

A. Yes.

Q. I currently have one NIGMS R01, and another one to be reviewed in this February. How does the funding status of the second R01 affect the budget on my MIRA application?

A. The budget requested in a MIRA should reflect the NIGMS-relevant work that is proposed in the application. NIGMS presumes that most, if not all, of this work will reflect an extension of work that has been funded at some point in the 3 years prior to the funding of the MIRA.

Q. In addition to my expiring R01 grant, I am the PI on another R01 with a subcontract to a foreign investigator (we have used this to hire a postdoc). Can this subcontract continue?

A. This MIRA funding opportunity allows for support of foreign collaborators if the collaboration is essential to the PD's/PI's research program, represents a unique scientific opportunity and cannot be supported by the collaborator.

Q. For the May 17 deadline, when is the earliest time that I would (1) know my score, (2) know chances of funding, (3) receive funds?

A. The review will take place in October/November 2017, will be considered by the NAGMS Council in January and will have the earliest funding date of April 1, 2018.

Q. What if we also have a grant through NICHD or another institute? Does this count against the MIRA funding level?

A. In general, no. However, NIGMS considers overall funding to a laboratory when total funding exceeds $1,500,000 in annual total​ costs. A single R01 to another agency/institute has not routinely had significant impact on the MIRA budget.

Q. If my MIRA is not funded, can I re-apply? If so, when is the soonest date possible?

A. Eligibility is determined separately for each year. When a steady state is reached, each R01-equivalent will result in 2 years of eligibility. In this, the first year (2017), those PIs whose single R01 has a project end date in 2017 are only eligible for the May 17, 2017 deadline. There will be two submission dates in 2018: January 17 and May 17.

Q. What are the plans for renewal of a MIRA?

A. The MIRAs will be renewable. Please listen to Dr. Lorsch’s response to this question from 51:00-52:00 in the recent MIRA webinar.

Q. Are there bridge funding opportunities given the inability to submit multiple proposals for several cycles?

A. NIGMS will consider bridge funding for applications submitted for the MIRA May 17, 2017 deadline.

Q. It sounds as though the MIRAs submitted for the May deadline will be reviewed at same time as R01s submitted for March deadline. How about R01s submitted for the July 5 deadline? Is it okay to submit the MIRA application and a R01 competing renewal under these circumstances?

A. MIRA applications submitted in May will be reviewed in October/November 2017, the same timeframe as R01s submitted in June/July. A MIRA cannot be submitted in May and another NIGMS research program grant in June/July. Both of these grants would be pending review at the same time.

Q. Compared to an R01 renewal, does previous productivity count more than the new research proposed?

A. When compared to the review of an R01 renewal, the prior productivity will probably contribute more to the final overall score. In MIRA applications less detail is required for proposed studies, and therefore it would seem that more emphasis might be placed on track record. However, we have not yet correlated any bibliometric data (or other metric of productivity) with priority scores. There is anecdotal evidence of highly productive and highly cited PIs not scoring exceptionally highly and also of moderately productive PIs being scored very highly. As with R01 renewals, there is a threshold of productivity expected to be competitive.

Q. Will the MIRA Special Emphasis Panels be reviewing "only" MIRAs? How specific (or not) will the scientific focus of a given panel be?

A. MIRA applications will be reviewed in Special Emphasis Panels convened by the Center for Scientific Review. These panels will review only MIRAs and will include reviewers with expertise in the broad areas of the applications.

Q. Since annual increases in any direct cost category are not allowed, what if my salary budget can support 55 percent of my research effort in the 1st year, but only 45 percent of my research effort in the 5th year?

A. The award will not be increased to accommodate salary increases.  However, please keep in mind that you must devote at least 51% of your research effort to the MIRA.

Q. How can the scores be interpreted?

A. You should discuss the score with your program director.

Q. Can you submit a MIRA application and then an R01 in the next review cycle (i.e., before a funding decision has been made on the MIRA)?

A. The policy is that the MIRA and the R01 cannot be “pending review” at the same time. A grant application is “pending review” from the time it is submitted until the summary statement is released.

Q. Can a May 17 MIRA submission be followed by a new grant submission for the January deadline (i.e., based on score, without waiting for Council)?

A. Yes, see above answer.

Q. If we have a current MIRA application that has not been funded yet, should we reapply in May?

A. Ask your program director for advice.

Q. Will applicants have access to the instructions given to reviewers?

A. The reviewers will be instructed to follow the Review Criteria in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, GM-17-094.

Q. If I have an R01 in its first no-cost extension year, will the amount awarded for the MIRA be reduced due to overlap of dates with the R01?

A. No.  Since the R01 is in a no-cost extension there will be no overlap with funding.

Q. Who's on the panel?

A. The Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) members are selected by the panel’s Scientific Review Officer. Since the required expertise won’t be known until after the MIRA applications have been submitted, the rosters will not be available prior to submission. It is anticipated that the SEPs will align with the current Integrated Review Groups established by the Center for Scientific Review.