Archive for: June, 2012

Got BRAINS, new neuro faculty?

Jun 28 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Apparently NIH was feeling a little left out of the ol' funding institute acronym game, which I daresay NSF has had an easy lock on for quite some time. I mean, with award names like CAREER, BREAD, BEACON, and OPERA, how could poor NIH even expect to compete? But lo! 'Tis a new day, as NIH recently unveiled a re-issue of the BRAINS award, which I also daresay is quite an awesome thing.

In a nutshell, the Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists (very well played) is an R01 RFA specifically for Early Stage Investigators with Hot New Ideas that might be seen as too risky by traditional study sections*. The fact that this is an RFA has two big advantages: 1) your submission will be judged only against other ESI proposals; 2) if you don't get funded, you can resubmit to a standard study section as an A0, not an A1, so it's like hey, free summary statement!

They seem to be interested in extremely specific research directions, here, so I highly recommend you read the RFA description and objectives carefully. Also, note that there's a bit of a career development aspect to the award, in that you're required to put together an "advising committee" and provide some sort of career statement.

Submission due date is Oct 23 of this year and next year, folks. Now go forth and innovate!

*That this is an existing problem to begin with is one issue perhaps worth discussing on its own, and yes, we should probably work on changing study section attitudes rather than giving innovative and risk-taking ESIs a sheltered forum in which to propose their amazing and crazy ideas. But I guess it's a start.

8 responses so far

Reviewing a review*

Jun 26 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

While I'm not one of those people who get bombarded with dozens of review requests a month, I do enjoy what you might call a steady trickle. Since it's not yet gotten to the point of being overwhelming or productivity-quashing, I pretty much always say yes to anything within my general purview.

Now, reviewing basic science manuscripts is relatively straightforward, right?  Did the authors do all the right controls? Are the stats appropriate? Are the findings interesting and reasonably interpreted? Etc, etc. But when it comes to reviewing review papers, I find that beyond general organization and blatant wrongness, I'm not sure where to focus my well-honed critical eye.

Before the one currently in the works, I'd only reviewed two review papers in my limited but illustrious career as a peer reviewer. The first was such an utter decimation of the English language that I had to reject outright due to inability to evaluate jack squat, and the second was so ridiculously awesome that I accepted it with much vigor and enthusiasm. I've written three first-author reviews in the last 6 years or so, and all were accepted with no or very minor revisions.

This sort of thing almost never happens to me when I review (or write!) research manuscripts, and it makes me wonder whether the review process for reviews is more commonly an all-or-nothing situation. What's your experience been? What are you generally looking for when you review a review? Have you ever reviewed (or written) a review that ended up in multiple rounds of revisions?

*Sorry this is such a boring post. My brain has been swimming will all sorts of crazy thoughts this summer, and it's been hard to organize them into something coherent and of more than homeopathic levels of value.

10 responses so far

Those three little words...

Jun 07 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

"approved for funding."

My R21 is getting funded, you guys!! A0! I just did the goofiest Dance of Joy in front of  my students, who are probably at this moment reconsidering their perception of me as an authority figure.

Now, there is a lot of adviceout there that New or Early Stage Investigators should not apply for R21s, and even in light of this recent success, it's hard to argue with the numbers. Compared to R01s, R21s are less money over less time, non-renewable, funded at a lower rate, and do not take NI or ESI status into account when scoring. So why did I spend the first month of my appointment here writing one? It's not like I had nothing else to do.

Because I had an idea for an R21. I think that a misconception about R21s is that they can be treated like mini-R01s, which is wrong--if you have a series of hypothesis-driven experiments in mind, write the damn R01. But the work that I proposed in my R21 never would have flown as an R01. It's exploratory but straightforward, and will fill a significant gap in my sub-sub field's literature regardless of what I find.

Obviously, I am going to write an R01 (or two) as well, while my ESI status is still valid. Though my K99 application was triaged, there are some salvageable bits in there, and we've begun to collect some potentially very interesting preliminary data that could fit in quite nicely.

Right now, though, we do the Dance of Joy!


34 responses so far