Recent Grant Awards

Neuroscience Ph.D. candidate Melanie Gainey received an NRSA Fellowship from NINDS. Working in the Turrigiano lab, Melanie plans to study the role of the AMPA receptor subunit GluR2 in synaptic scaling in cultural neurons and in vivo using a conditional GluR2 knockout mouse.

Assistant Professor Suzanne Paradis received a Smith Family New Investigator Award from the Richard & Susan Smith Family Foundation. $300,000 in support over three years will support the lab’s efforts to study synapse development and specifically the role of the Sema4B protein in controlling synapse formation.

Professor Leslie Griffith received $1.1 million over 5 years from NIMH to study why sleep is required for effective memory formation. To understand this linkage at a cellular and molecular level, the Griffith lab is defining the circuits that regulate sleep in Drosophila and how these circuits affect memory formation.

Professor Larry Wangh received $1.38 million over the next year from Smiths Detection to continue research and invention of LATE-PCR et al., platform technologies for highly informative detection and diagnosis of nucleic acids in a single tube.  There are ongoing projects looking at applications to cancer, prenatal genetics, and several infectious diseases in people and animals.

NIH grants — review criteria change

The NIH recently posted several notices outlining changes to grant proposal review criteria and the timeline for their implementation. These are probably worth checking out if you are in the business of writing and/or reviewing NIH grants.

  • “After careful deliberation and consideration of the recommendations resulting from this year-long effort, a number of key actions will be implemented in the NIH peer review system.  These actions include the implementation of enhanced review criteria for evaluating the scientific and technical merit of applications […]
  • Side-by-side comparison of the enhanced review criteria
  • The new scoring system will utilize a 9-point rating scale (1 = exceptional; 9 = poor).  Although a 7-point scale was planned initially, a 9-point scale was selected based on the desire for a scale with sufficient range.

There is concern […] that applications from New Investigators frequently do not fare as well in peer review as those from established investigators […]  Accordingly, the NIH will, wherever possible, cluster applications from New Investigators for discussion during initial peer review with the expectation that those applications will be more effectively evaluated when judged against other applications from individuals at the same career stage.

The NIH has found that the use of Small Grants (R03) and the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grants (R21) has increased over the last few years.  However, recent analyses indicate that a smaller proportion of individuals with initial R21 or R03 grant support subsequently apply for and obtain R01-equivalent funding.  In addition, the initial success rate for R21 applications often is lower than for R01 applications.  Since R03 and R21 grants are limited in scope and period of support, they may not be the most effective way to launch an independent research career.  Accordingly, the NIH encourages New Investigators, particularly ESIs, to apply for R01 grants when seeking first-time funding from the NIH.


Prof. Anne Gershenson from Chemistry has been awarded a grant from the Alpha-1 Foundation to study protein structure related chain formation of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin.

NIH gradually moving from PureEdge to Adobe forms

Now that you’ve gotten used to the PureEdge forms that NIH was using for electronic submission, they’re moving to use Acrobat forms instead.

During the transition, be sure to check the program announcements to figure out which format you should be using.

Windows haters should be happy about this, I think.

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