News from the
Office of Grants & Contracts
May 2015


Notice of Potential Delays to NIH Issuing Awards in May, 2015

NIH accounting and business systems will undergo a series of software upgrades that may impact NIH’s ability to issue competing and non-competing awards from May 19, 2015 to June 3, 2015. These upgrades connect to NIH grant-making systems, and while every effort will be made to minimize the expected downtime, it may take up to two weeks to complete all the work.

Extramural research activities that will be impacted by the outage:

  • No new or revised Notices of Award will be issued, regardless of grant type (e.g., New Type 1 awards, Non-competing Type 5 awards, Type 7 Transfer awards, etc.).
  • No establishment or changes of EINs (Employer Identification Numbers) used to pay awards will be made.
  • No processing of No-Cost Extensions of the final budget period. Although eRA Commons will remain available for institutions submitting these requests, and the Payment Management System will remain available for drawing down funds, NIH records will not be updated during the downtime.
  • No processing of Fellowship Activations. Although xTrain will remain available for institutions submitting activation forms, NIH records will not be updated during the downtime.

Extramural research activities that NIH does not expect to be impacted by the outage:

  • Draw down of funds on existing awards from the Payment Management System
  • Submission and review of new applications through

Additionally, eRA systems will be performing a software upgrade on May 23, 2015. During this eRA downtime expected to last up to 12 hours, the following functions will not be available, but they will return and remain available throughout the rest of the two-week upgrade period.

  • Submissions to eRA Commons (e.g., Submission of Research Performance Progress Reports, Federal Financial Reports, Just-in-Time documents, institutional registrations, and other items submitted through eRA Commons.
  • Submission of new applications through ASSIST.

The anticipated delay in making awards will not change the terms and conditions of any future or existing awards.

eRA Commons and ASSIST Module Downtime on Saturday, May 23, 2015

eRA will be upgrading its data infrastructure over the Memorial Day weekend in May. This process will involve downtime of approximately 12 hours starting at 9:00AM and will result in eRA Commons and ASSIST being unavailable during that time.

This information is most relevant to those using the ASSIST module to submit grants with deadlines late in May and early in June. Please plan accordingly.


New Biographical Sketch Format Required for NIH and AHRQ Grant Applications Submitted for Due Dates on or After May 25, 2015

NIH and AHRQ will require use of a new biosketch format in applications for research grants submitted for due dates on or after May 25, 2015.

Failure to follow the policy means NIH may withdraw your application from consideration (NOT-OD-15-095). The new format extends the page limit for the biosketch from four to five pages, and allows researchers to describe up to five of their most significant contributions to science, along with the historical background that framed their research.

The Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae (SciENcv), which serves as an interagency system designed to create biosketches for multiple federal agencies, will be updated by the end of December to support the new biosketch format and to address some issues found in testing. SciENcv pulls information from available resources making it easy to develop a repository of information that can be readily updated and modified to prepare future biosketches. A YouTube video provides instructions for using SciENcv.

A complete list of highlights to the changes instituted in the new format is shown below. Of importance to note is that the only change that will draw a validation error upon receipt at eRA Commons is exceeding the 5 page limit. The rest of the changes will not be flagged until after the application has been forwarded to the NIH for review. If any biosketch within the application is found to be non-compliant, there will not be an opportunity to correct it before the due date. Please be sure that all biosketches in applications submitted on or after May 25, 2015 follow the policy.

Highlights of Policy Changes:

  1. Complete each section (A - Personal Statement; B – Positions and Honors; C – Contributions to Science; D – Research Support or Scholastic Performance).
  2. Include no more than 5 contributions to science with no more than 4 citations per contribution.
  3. Ensure that if you include the optional link to a full list of your published work in a site like My Bibliography that the URL is public, accessible without providing any login or personal information, and doesn’t link to websites that may violate page limit rules.
  4. Refrain from including information, such as preliminary data, that belongs elsewhere in the application.
  5. Follow NIH guidance on font type, font size, paper size, and margins (See section 2.6 of NIH application guide).
  6. Use PDF format for your biosketch attachments.
  7. Limit the length to 5 pages or less.

The revised forms and instructions are now available on the SF 424 (R&R) Forms and Applications page and adjustments have been made to improve their usability. For more information on this change, see the NIH Notice and related announcements here, and NIH FAQ section here.


Reminder from NIH: Policy on Application Compliance

NIH has released a reminder to applicants, both investigators and grants office officials, regarding its policy to consistently apply compliance standards to applications.

Some examples of how this policy is applied to NIH applications include but are not limited to:

  • Applications containing one or more biosketches that do not conform to the required format may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-032).
  • Applications that do not conform to the page limit requirements because inappropriate materials have been included in other parts of the application may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-11-080).
  • Applications submitted as new but containing elements of a resubmission or renewal application are noncompliant with the resubmission policy and may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-059).
  • Applications submitted after 5 PM local (applicant organization) time on the application due date may be withdrawn (NOT-OD-15-039).

It is important to remember that these are just examples, and that all requirements specified in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and relevant NIH Guide Notices are to be followed. When in doubt about compliance policy, contact NIH "Grants Info" or the Division of Receipt and Referral as listed below.

If an application is withdrawn because it does not conform to the application preparation and submission instructions, a letter will be placed in the eRA Commons Status page for that application. The PD/PI and the AOR from the applicant organization will be notified by eRA Commons to access their account and view the explanatory letter.


Welcome New GCO Analyst, Michael Vanderboom, JD


Please join us in welcoming Mike Vanderboom, JD to our team. Mike assumed the responsibilities of a GCO Analyst I on March 30, 2015. Mike recently completed his JD at the University of Wisconsin Law School (December, 2014) and completed clinical internships with Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and ABC for Health, Inc. Welcome, Mike!


Upcoming Application Deadlines: NIH, Non Profit and Internal MCW Sponsors

The first section of the timetable below displays the standard deadlines for upcoming NIH competing applications, and the date those applications are due to the MCW GCO. For more information or to find the NIH Standard Due Dates for other NIH funding mechanisms, visit the NIH website.

The second section displays upcoming deadlines for various Non-Profit sponsors and the due dates to GCO. Please note, some of these grant opportunities require submission of a Letter of Intent with an earlier submission deadline. Please check each sponsor’s RFA/RFP for full submission details and requirements.

The third section displays upcoming MCW Internal Sponsor deadlines and the due dates to GCO. For more information on these programs, search on MCW Infoscope.

If you have questions regarding the 5-day submission deadline to the MCW GCO, refer to the MCW Corporate Policy.

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