Saturday, October 26, 2013

When is my grant getting reviewed?

Have you ever tried to google when a study section meets or when to expect an answer back?  While this is easy to find out for the NIH, it's not necessarily that straightforward for foundations. So as a followup to my list of grants, I thought I'd have a ongoing post with a list of timelines. If you have any additional timeline info for other grants, let me know in a comment and I'll update the post.

NIH grants (see here for full list):

Submission: R01 1st cycle Feb 5 - 2nd cycle Jun 5 - 3rd cycle Oct 5
K99 1st cycle Feb 12 - 2nd cycle Jun 12 - 3rd cycle Oct 12
Renewals, resubmission are a month after first submission
Review: 1st cycle Jun-Jul - 2nd cycle Oct-Nov - 3rd cycle Feb-Mar
Scores: 2-3 days after review
Comments: 2 weeks after review
Decision (council meeting): 1st cycle Aug or Oct - 2nd cycle Jan - 3rd cycle May
Award: 1st cycle Sept*-Dec - 2nd cycle Apr - 3rd cycle Jul
Notes: * Funny things happen in September at the NIH because of the end of the fiscal year, so be mindful of possible Sept awards. I've heard both of grants being pushed through quickly or being delayed or cut.

Simulated resubmission scenario. FAST (13 months): R01 first submission Feb 5/close but not fundable scores back Jul 15/resubmission Jul 5/good score Nov 2/council approval Jan 15/money comes Apr 1
SLOW (17 months): R01 first submission Feb 5/close but not fundable scores back Jul 15/resubmission Nov 5/good score Mar 4/council approval May 20/money comes Jul 1

Muscular Dystrophy Association research grants:
MDA will resume RFAs in the Fall 2014:

LOI submission: Fall cycle Jun 15 - Spring cycle Dec 15
LOI response: 1-3 days after submission (this is very fast and you only have 4 weeks left)
Submission: Fall cycle Jul 15 - Spring cycle Jan 15
Review: Fall cycle October - Spring cycle April
Scores/Decision: Fall cycle Nov/Dec - Spring cycle May/June
Award: Fall cycle Feb 1 - Spring cycle Aug 1 (8 months after LOI)
Notes: 11/2013 - grants below 90% score rejected, top 10% pending Board Meeting decision on funding pay-line
3/2014 - Feb 1 2014 grants funded starting May 1

March of Dimes general research grants:

LOI submission: April 30 (check current RFA)
LOI response: by Jul 15
Submission: Sept 15
Review: February/March
Scores/decision 2014: rejections end of March, acceptance April/May (can be as late as mid May)
Award: Jun 1 (13 months after LOI)
Notes: 8/2013 - following LOI acceptance 22% funding rate

NARSAD Young Investigator Grants:

Submission: in February (keep checking in January for the Call for Applications to come out, in 2014 it was February 19th)
Review: ?
Scores/Decision: August (2014 award decisions starting Aug 7 and rolling)
Award: January 15th (11 months after applications)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The New PI hits the 6th month slump: how do you keep proactive?

Caspar David Friedrich - Der Monch am Meer (detail)
I have been quiet for a while because I did not know what to say. Six months ago, the day before I started my new job I was full of excitement (here), but now I barely feel I can keep my head above water. It is somewhat impossible to describe the tsunami that hits you when you start running a lab: 1) the navigation of a completely new administrations with its quirks and habits, 2) ordering, including choosing things, getting quotes, keeping track of orders, generating relationships with vendors, 3) hiring new people, 4) training new people, sometimes multiple new people at the same time, 5) managing renovations, animal rooms, animal protocols and orders, 6) reconciling budgets, 7) writing papers, 8) writing grants, 9) developing new relationships with colleagues and collaborators, and last but not least 10) deciding where the lab must go and where to place your bets on your future and on the future of everyone you hired. You are hit from every corner, every day with some kind of issue or emergency and because everything is new to you, every decision has to be pondered. Some days I literally feel like I cannot breathe.

The lab is somewhat moving, grinding away slowly, finding a rhythm between having everything we need to get things going and doing experiments. A couple of proposals are out and papers are still lagging. I am exhausted most of the time: most days I have no time to read or write or even think and get home late at night in a stupor. I try to continue to do busy work on the laptop as I watch TV, but not much gets done. I started taking vitamin B and drinking caffeine again to get me going in the morning. It's the 6th month slump: when you still remember how things were moving at a steady clip before and you feel completely enveloped in molasses. It is also vital to keep moving because things need to get done and you can see that sooner or later you will get there. But you are questioning everything.

You do not want to talk to people because they will think you are weak and not worthy, so you weather the bad days and rest a little on the good days. Then you talk to your peers and everyone is going through this or has experienced it at some point. Someone warned you at the beginning that the first year was going to be tough. In light of all this I decided to share because it's not just you, reader, or me, it's growing pains for a lot of people.

In the midst of all this, I opened my iPad after 6 months and discovered that way back then I had bought "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People"by Steven Covey and I started from Habit 1: Be Proactive. I liked that Covey brought up the serenity prayer from 12-step programs "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference". The adrenaline roller coaster of jumping from "crisis" to "crisis" always reminds me of an addiction-inducing paradigm, but that may just be the neuroscientist in me. Fight-or-flight, reward, fight-or-flight, reward. The trick here is to break the vicious cycle and to prioritize, but also to know which battles to take on and focus on those. You hear the words "time management" thrown at you endlessly in your first year, but being proactive is different. It's identifying the things that are important and that you can change (either in yourself or in others) and purposefully act on those. This also require to get out of your shell and to talk to a lot of different people to better understand your field, your institution and your new role. There may be things you didn't know you could change and people you didn't know had the power to change them. There may be things that you truly cannot change or control and you have to find your way around them or don't let them get to you. I'm practicing and we'll see how it goes....