Where Are NIH R35 Applications Reviewed?

By Bouvier Grant Group

We stay current on NIH happenings and would be delighted to keep you informed.

Guest Post by Becky Miro

The NIH Activity Code R35 denotes research projects awarded to outstanding investigators. An R35 award is intended to provide recipients with long-term support for any research in their laboratory (so long as it’s in keeping with the awarding IC’s mission) instead of a specific project. The funding and flexibility will allow them to pursue more high-risk, adventurous research and pivot to follow developing research directions.

Earlier this year, we summarized the different R35s issued by four NIH ICs: NIGMS, NINDS, NHLBI, and NCI. Now let’s talk about where R35s are reviewed. The short answer is always to ask your program officer! But it is a good idea to know a bit about review ahead of time.

Note that in an upcoming blog post, we will discuss what reviewers are looking for in an R35.

Study Sections vs. Special Emphasis Panels (SEPs)

Let’s touch on the basic differences between a study section and a SEP. The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) has recurring (i.e., standing) study sections that review over 75% of all NIH applications. Special Emphasis Panels, or SEPs (pronounced so it rhymes with “pep”) are a type of study section. SEPs are usually a type of ad hoc panel that is assembled for a specific purpose, and they usually are not standing panels (though there are some standing SEPs). Institutes and Centers may organize Special Emphasis Panels to review special topics or applications that have a specific focus or structure. In general, if your NOFO requests a Letter of Intent, it is likely going to some sort of an ad hoc panel, like a SEP.

Finding an R35 Study Section

Using the Advanced Search in NIH RePORTER, you can specify the R35 Activity Code and the IC of interest. Once you have the results, click on any application. The study section can be found in the Other Information section of the Details tab. The fastest way to identify a SEP is that the Study Section code begins with the letter Z.

Image

Using this search strategy in December 2023, we found that NINDS, NHLBI, and NCI organize SEPs to review their respective R35 applications. NINDS convenes a SEP for its Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) and one for the Emerging Investigator Award (EIA). NCI and NHLBI each have at least one SEP dedicated to R35 reviews each cycle.

NIGMS has multiple standing study sections for its R35 reviews, possibly due to the volume of NIGMS R35 applications. However, NIGMS may also organize Special Emphasis Panels as needed.

Each NIGMS panel focuses on specific application content. We summarize this in the table below. Although MRAB and MRAE review the same focus areas, the study sections meet on different dates. The same is true for MRAC and MRAD.

Additionally, NIGMS offers R35 awards to both Early Stage Investigators (ESI) and Established Investigators (EI) and New Investigators (NI). Applications are clustered by investigator level and like applications are reviewed together.1 

As always, confer with your program officer to discuss the optimal study section.

NIGMS R35 Study SectionsApplication Content Reviewed by Panel
MRAAApplications aimed at understanding fundamental molecular mechanisms and regulation, including genome integrity, gene expression, RNA metabolism and function, and protein synthesis. Applications on diverse topics in bacterial and archaeal cell biology, including bacterial communities and behavior, such as microbiomes. Genomic studies, population genetics and evolution, including development and application of new technologies, statistical methods, mathematical models, computational algorithms, and bioinformatics tools.
MRAB Biochemistry, chemical biology, chemistry, molecular biophysics and bioengineering. Experimental, computational, and theoretical approaches for probing the chemistry, interactions, structure and function of biologically active molecules. Synthetic and medicinal chemistry methods developmentApplications bringing engineering principles to advancing broad technologies relevant to cellular and molecular imaging, sensing, analyzing, designing or augmenting biomedical systems that drive fundamental biomedical research.
MRAC Applications focused the mechanisms and regulation of cellular function, signaling and communication, and developmental genetics. Clinical/translational grant applications in the Clinical Areas supported by NIGMS. Applications focused on research training and the development of a diverse biomedical research workforce.
MRADMechanisms and regulation of cellular function, signaling and communication, and developmental genetics. Clinical/translational grant applications in the Clinical Areas supported by NIGMS Applications focused on research training and the development of a diverse biomedical research workforce are reviewed here.
MRAEBroad areas of biochemistry, chemical biology, chemistry, molecular biophysics and bioengineering. Experimental, computational, and theoretical approaches for probing the chemistry, interactions, structure and function of biologically active molecules. Synthetic and medicinal chemistry methods development are reviewed in this study section. Applications bringing engineering principles to advancing broad technologies relevant to cellular and molecular imaging, sensing, analyzing, designing or augmenting biomedical systems that drive fundamental biomedical research.
MRAFMolecular mechanisms and regulation, including genome integrity, gene expression, RNA metabolism and function, and protein synthesis.Applications on diverse topics in bacterial and archaeal cell biology, including bacterial communities and behavior, such as microbiomes.Genomic studies, population genetics and evolution, which can also include development and application of new technologies, statistical methods, mathematical models, computational algorithms, and bioinformatics tools.

References.

  1. https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Research/mechanisms/MIRA/Documents/MIRA-Webinar-Slides-2022.pdf

Author:
Becky Miro

This guest post was written by Becky Miro.

Rebecca Miro, PhD, CP, CRA has 25 years of experience in research administration and research coordination, primarily in the higher education setting. She attained the Certified Research Administrator (CRA) credential in 2004. Dr. Miro is also a certified prosthetist with an interest in issues faced by women with limb loss. She received a grant from the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA) to conduct a systematic literature review and retrospective data analysis regarding female amputee issues. Dr. Miro completed her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Higher Education Administration at the University of South Florida.

Categories:
We read all NIH notices for our clients. When you join our mailing list, we’ll pass along important changes directly to your inbox, as well as opportunities to improve your grantsmanship skills.
Primary Position
Lead Source

Wait!

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the latest NIH news, grantwriting tips, and more.

NIH-October-2023-Newsletter