November 30, 2011

From GRC: NIH Revises AREA Solicitation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a new program announcement (PA) for the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA), the agency’s tailor-made mechanism for supporting excellent, smaller-scale research projects at colleges and universities that receive comparatively little NIH funding. Applications are due by February 25, June 25, and October 25 annually.

The most significant revisions to the PA involve the ways proposals will be reviewed, a shift that bodes well for most GRC members. AREA program director Erika Brown reports that the new PA will more explicitly drive “reviewers to focus on the goals of the program and the unique constraints of the applicants.” The following changes and clarifications are included in the new PA:

  • More focus on inclusion of students in meritorious research. Applications should include plans to expose undergraduate or graduate students to hands-on research (but should not include training plans); 
  • All program directors and principle investigators involved with the proposed project must have a primary faculty appointment at an AREA-eligible institution; 
  • The total budget for all years of the proposed project must be requested in Budget Period 1. Do not complete Budget Periods 2 or 3. They are not required and will not be accepted with the application; 
  • There is more emphasis on the opportunities for AREA awardees to apply for administrative supplements to support and recruit high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in behavioral and biomedical sciences; and 
  • Reviewers will be asked to provide an overall impact/priority score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to make an important scientific contribution to the research fields involved, to provide research opportunities to students, and to strengthen the research environment of the institution. 

“It’ll be interesting to see how things improve with the new review criteria next year,” says Brown. She will lead a December 6, 2011 web conference for GRC members preparing to apply for AREA awards.

Stay tuned for details on the December 6th webinar. The Sponsored Programs Office will host in our conference room. Contact Augusta Wray for more information.

Grants Resource Center

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