REVIEW CRITERIA FOR NIH K01, K08, AND K23 (CAREER DEVELOPMENT) and K99/00 PATHWAY TO INDEPENDENCE AWARD GRANTS Liz Zelinski Former Reviewer and backup chair for NIH/ZRG F12A AND Current member, NIA-S K award study section 13 November 2014 K awards • The objective of these programs is to bring candidates to the point where they are able to conduct their research independently and are competitive for major grant support. Current NIH policies require that, by the time of the award, applicants must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen U.S. nationals, or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Please note that this requirement applies to all the mechanisms below, EXCEPT the K99/R00. K award wizard • http://grants.nih.gov/training/kwizard/index.h tm INDIVIDUAL CRITERIA SCORES • • • • • K01/K08/K23 SCORED REVIEW CRITERIA Candidate Career Development Plan/Career Goals & Objectives Research Plan Mentor(s), Co-Mentor(s), Consultant(s), Collaborator(s) Environment and Institutional Commitment to the Candidate • Protection of Human Subjects/Animal Protection • Inclusion of Women, Minorities, & Children • Vertebrate Animals • Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research Applicant/Candidate: What reviewers look for • More is better: – Refereed publications – First-authored publications – High-level journals • • • • • Evidence of leadership (K candidates) Previous awards, especially national ones Prior training “pedigree” Letters that say “outstanding” or “one of the best ever” How the previous training experience leads up to the proposed research training Mentoring team on K awards: What reviewers look for • A team with the “right” mix and number of mentors, co-mentors and others as needed • Evidence that the mentors read and critiqued the proposal • Current research support is available for mentee K01/08/23/25/99/R00 Plan/Goals: What Reviewers look for • Formal coursework relevant to meeting the goals and research plan; informal mentoring/tutoring • Discussion of regular attendance at appropriate local institutional seminars and meetings, including grand rounds, lab groups • Frequency and duration of meetings with mentoring team members • Frequency of progress monitoring/including mention of remedial actions if needed by the entire mentoring team • Attendance at appropriate professional meetings, including presenting • Formal training as appropriate in grant proposal development • A timeline for goal based activities over the course of the award • Specific benchmarks in the timeline (e.g., papers to be produced, R01 submission) • Verification of plan details, especially mentoring activities in the mentors’ statements Research Plan for K awards: What reviewers look for • Likelihood that the work, if successful, will be of high impact • The research plan fits with the stated career goals and training plan • Timeline for completing the elements of the research is appropriate given the training needed and the workload of the research plan K Environment and Commitment: What Reviewers Look for • Letter of support with the appropriate level of commitment for the release time of the candidate • For junior applicants, a faculty appointment is not contingent on obtaining a K award • What institutional resources will be provided (office space, clerical help, RA’s, statistical consulting) to support the research K: Budget and Period of Support • Appropriateness of budget beyond the 75% release time is evaluated • Budget is similar to that of a smaller R01 with travel, equipment, materials and supplies permitted Training in Responsible Conduct of Research • 1) Format – the required formal of instruction, i.e., face-to-face lectures, coursework, and/or real-time discussion groups (a plan with only on-line instruction is not acceptable); • 2) Subject Matter – the breadth of subject matter, e.g., conflict of interest, authorship, data management, human subjects and animal use, laboratory safety, research misconduct, research ethics; • 3) Faculty Participation – the role of the sponsor(s) and other faculty involvement in the fellow’s instruction; • 4) Duration of Instruction – the number of contact hours of instruction (at least eight contact hours are required) • 5) Frequency of Instruction – instruction must occur during each career stage and at least once every four years. Plans and past record will be rated as ACCEPTABLE or UNACCEPTABLE, and the summary statement will provide the consensus rating of the review committee. K01, K08, K23, K99/00 Review OVERALL IMPACT • Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood that the proposed career development and research plan will enhance the candidate’s potential for a productive, independent scientific research career in a health related field, taking into consideration the criteria below in determining the overall impact score. April 17 2014 guidelines Process: NIA K study sections • Reviewers are interdisciplinary researchers and the study sections are broadly disciplinary – NIA-S mostly social and psychological sciences – NIA-N mostly neuroscience – NIA-B mostly biological sciences • Submission of reviews about 3 days before meeting • All applications are reviewed; order varies with availability of program officers to listen in • Telephone reviews are allowed • Reviewers get 5-10 applications to review; funding mechanisms much more varied than CSR study section fellowship groups Review Discussion (10-15 min) • • • • • • • • • Chair asks the three reviewers to give their initial impact score First reviewer gives a very brief summary of the elements of the training program; there is a tendency to outline the research study part of it in a bit more detail. Discusses the evaluative part of his or her review in the context of the summary covering all the content elements, and then Human Subjects Protection, Women, Minorities, Children comments. Second reviewer: nonoverlapping comments only. Third reviewer: anything else not discussed. Discussion open to whole group. Verbal summary by chair of the application: strengths & weaknesses. Reviewers give their final impact scores (and will change their reviews to align with the scores). The range of scores given is the general range for the study section members to follow. If anyone want to score outside the range, they so indicate and provide their rationale. They write it up for the review document. Voting (on paper & online) First reviewer is asked to comment on responsible conduct of research training and appropriateness of budget (duration of award) for program staff. These are not included in the voting. Resubmissions after Review • Introduction: Describe all responses to reviewers, indicate how changes to application will be identified (eg italics, underline) • Be as responsive as humanly possible • More publications and coursework finished • Fast turnaround but not too fast!