NSM Faculty/Staff Newsletter

From the Office of the Dean

Office of Research Update

Recent Awards

Congratulations to the following faculty members for their recent awards:

  • Richard Meisel (Biology & Biochemistry) was awarded $1,996,309 from NIH: “Genetic Mechanisms of Phenotypic Variation Within and Amongst Genotypes, Environments, and Sexes”
  • Robert Comito (Chemistry) was awarded $732,168 from NSF: “CAREER: Binucleating Bis(Pyrazolyl)Alkanes for Tractable Bimetallic Polymerization”
  • Shuhab Khan (Earth & Atmospheric Sciences) was awarded $122,381 from the Texas Water Development Board: “Estimating Total Suspended Solids in Texas Estuarine Water using Hyperspectral Imaging and In-Situ Measurement”
  • Paige Evans (teachHOUSTON, Mathematics) was awarded $102,254 from University of Texas at Austin: “Project Support for the UTeach Texas Certification Program to Develop an Expansion Plan for the Houston Region”
  • Ioannis Kakadiaris (Computer Science) was awarded $94,362 from Baylor College of Medicine: “The PreVAIL-KIDS Common Protocol”
  • Annalisa Quaini (Mathematics) was awarded $23,500 from NSF: CONFERENCE: “Power of Diversity in Uncertainty Quantification (POD UQ)”
  • Quentin Vicens (Biology & Biochemistry, CNRCS) was awarded $17,462 from Harvard University: “An All-In-One Web Server for RNA Structure Prediction Using Evolutionary Information”

* The awards listed above are extracted from the awards report generated through PeopleSoft Grants System. This report includes only the awards that are fully set up with cost centers available for expenditures. Any incoming awards pending in the system will not be reported until the set up is complete.

General Reminders

Looking for new funding opportunities? Check out the NSM Office of Research’s Funding Opportunities webpage. Here you will find a curated list of funding opportunities specific to the interests of NSM faculty. The list is updated twice a month, so check back often.

Don’t unnecessarily delay your award! The biggest roadblock to issuing a notice of award (NOA) is failing to submit just-in-time (JIT) information, such as revised budgets and current/pending support information. The biggest obstacle to award set up is congruency review—an internal review done by DOR that ensures all compliance approvals are complete (animal use, human subjects, biohazards, radiation safety). To minimize delays in getting your award, please let us know if you receive a favorable review. This typically comes in the form of a high impact score on a summary statement or a letter from the sponsor suggesting interest in the proposal. We will complete any pending JIT requests and ask DOR to begin the congruency review.

Preparing your next proposal? Please review our proposal submission timetable. We routinely have multiple grants due at or near the same time, so it is imperative that everything is in order well ahead of the deadline. This also gives us time to properly check for errors. Let us know when you have plan(s) for submission by filling out our Google Form online.

NSF now requires the use of SciENcv to generate Biosketches and Current and Pending Support documents. NSF stopped accepting the fillable pdf forms in October 2023. For all new NSF proposals, Biosketches and C&P Support documents for all key personnel must be generated with SciENcv. If you haven’t already done so, please create an account with SciENcv. There are YouTube videos on the SciENcv website that will explain how to use the service. See the section below titled The Time to Start Using SciENcv is NOW for more information.

Let us create your budgets! Many of you like to fill in the UH budget worksheet yourself, but we end up transferring that information to the most current version and looking up everyone’s salary and benefits information anyway. It is simpler to just send us an outline of what you would like in the budget, and let us create it for you. A great way to do this is to make a draft of your budget justification. We can use that to create the budget.

Please check out the NSM Office of Research website for useful links and information.

– The NSM Research Team

What’s New?

Spring 2024 NSF Grants Conference

Registration for the National Science Foundation’s Spring 2024 NSF Grants Conference is open! NSF will host the hybrid conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 3-5, 2024. Register here.

The Grants Conference provides new faculty, researchers, and administrators valuable insights into various current issues at NSF. Program officers from each NSF Directorate will be present to offer the latest information on specific funding opportunities and address questions from attendees. View the draft agenda.

As NSF transitions from a virtual format to a hybrid conference, registration fees will be in place to cover the costs associated with the enhanced hybrid experience.

  • In-Person - The fee to attend the conference in person is $750. This fee includes breakfast, lunch, regular refreshments, and attendance at an evening reception.
  • Virtual - The virtual event registration fee is $50. Virtual attendees will have access to the event platform, where they can watch all sessions live, submit questions to presenters, and network with others.

NIH Salary Cap Updated

NIH issued guidance on salary limitations for grants and cooperative agreements for FY2024 on January 29, 2024, through NOT-OD-24-057. The salary cap is now $221,900 per year, which reflects the rate of Level II Executive Schedule issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

NIH Invites Researchers to Participate in Pilot of Data Management and Sharing (DMS) Plan Templates

NIH, in collaboration with the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), is conducting a pilot test of DMS plan templates. They are also soliciting feedback which NIH will use to inform possible revisions to the current NIH DMS Plan format page. The goal is to encourage greater consistency in DMS Plan requirements across NIH Institutes and Centers and mitigate the administrative burden associated with DMS Plan development and implementation for researchers. NIH encourages researchers to use the two FDP templates when preparing DMS plans, and to submit the accompanying FDP survey. The goal is to gain an understanding of what works best for researchers and to streamline the user experience once the first phase of the pilot is complete.

Simplified Review Framework for NIH Research Project Grant Applications

In December 2022, NIH announced a new framework for the peer review of most research project grant (RPG) applications beginning with submissions for due dates on or after January 25, 2025. The simplified review framework is expected to better focus peer reviewers on the key questions needed to assess the scientific and technical merit of proposed research projects: “Should the proposed research project be conducted?” “Can the proposed research project be conducted?

On November 3, 2023, NIH hosted an online briefing on this Simplified Peer Review Framework to provide an overview and answer questions. A recording and transcript is available through this link: grants.nih.gov/learning-center/simplified-peer-review-framework

The Time to Start Using SciENcv is NOW

SciENcv is short for Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae. It is an online utility system where researchers can go to generate Biosketches and Current & Pending Support (CPS) documents for grant applications.

The system provides a single place where all your professional history, credentials, products, and achievements can be stored and managed in an organized way. Once your profile is established, with a few clicks, it generates customized documents that meet the sponsor requirements in seconds.

SciENcv has actually been around for several years for researchers applying to NIH funding opportunities. However, NIH has yet to make it a policy to require applicants to submit documents generated by SciENcv. Therefore, most applicants still use the Word templates to prepare biosketches and CPS documents.

When NSF rolled out the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) for 2023 (NSF 23-1) in January 2023, it announced the transition to mandate the use of SciENcv generated biographical sketch and current and pending support documents starting October 23, 2023. (See Documents Required for Senior Personnel)

It does take a little time to setup your SciENcv profile. If you have been consistently maintaining your eRA Commons account or ORCiD account, setting up your SciENcv profile is quite easy as it will automatically import your information from your other existing accounts. With a little bit of effort every now and then, you will be able to keep your SciENcv profile up to date and generate documents for your proposals with just a few clicks.

The documents generated by SciENcv carry the same information we put on Word or PDF templates in the past. They are also completely customizable. The difference is that you do not have to worry about any formatting requirements. The system will take care of all of that and provide you with a finished and well-illustrated product. It is a huge time saver for you and your administrators.

The documents generated by SciENcv are also digitally tagged. Research.gov will check on them, and no alternatives will be accepted starting October 23, 2023. If you need to make changes after a document is generated, you have to go back to SciENcv, make the changes, and generate a new copy. You should not alter these documents in any way after they are generated. It will break this digital seal, and the documents will not be accepted by NSF.

Additionally, when you generate documents in SciENcv, you are certifying that the information provided in your biographical sketch and current and pending support documents is accurate, current, and complete. All these requirements are developed in compliance with the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 and National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33) Implementation Guidance.

It is time to start using SciENcv and to take advantage of what this time-saving utility has to offer. Gear up your profile today and not the day before your next NSF proposal is due. When the next deadline approaches, you can spend more time polishing your project description instead of formatting your biosketch.

Information that Must be Disclosed in the NSF Current and Pending (Other) Support Document

In recent years, all federal agencies have increased their requirements for what must be disclosed when reporting current and pending support. Here is a list of items that must be included for NSF:

  1. All projects currently under consideration (including the current proposal) from whatever source, and all ongoing projects, irrespective of whether support is provided through the proposing organization, another organization, or directly to the individual, and regardless of whether or not they have monetary value (e.g., even if the support received are in-kind contributions such as office/laboratory space, equipment, supplies, or employees).
  2. In-kind contributions not intended for use on the project/proposal being proposed and have an associated time commitment.
  3. Current or pending participation in, or applications to, programs sponsored by foreign governments, instrumentalities, or entities, including foreign government-sponsored talent recruitment programs.
  4. Postdoctoral scholars, students, or visiting scholars who are supported by an external entity, whose research activities are not intended for use on the project/proposal being proposed and have an associated time commitment.
  5. Consulting that falls outside of an individual’s appointment/agreement.
  6. Travel supported/paid by an external entity to perform research activities with an associated time commitment.
  7. Startup company based on non-organization-licensed IP.
  8. Startup packages from other than the proposing organization.

For more information, NSF offers a disclosures table and FAQ on Current & Pending Support.

NIH: Updated Instructions on Data Management and Sharing Costs in the Application Process

NIH updated the instructions on Data Management and Sharing (DMS) costs in the application process on July 31, 2023, through the release of NOT-OD-23-161.

Effective for applications submitted for due dates on or after October 5, 2023, NIH will no longer require the use of the single DMS cost line item. NIH recognizes that DMS costs may be requested in many cost categories. Therefore, in line with NIH’s standard budget instructions, DMS costs must be requested in the appropriate cost category (e.g., personnel, equipment, supplies, and other expenses) following the instructions for the R&R Budget Form or PHS 398 Modular Budget Form, as applicable. While the single cost line item is no longer required, NIH will require applicants to specify estimated DMS cost details within the “Budget Justification” attachment of the R&R Budget Form or the “Additional Narrative Justification” attachment of the PHS 398 Modular Budget Form, pursuant to the instructions.

Policy information and additional resources about the Data Management and Sharing can be found on the NIH website: sharing.nih.gov/data-management-and-sharing-policy

NSF: Proposing Fieldwork Now Requires a Plan for Safe and Inclusive Working Environments

NSF is requiring advanced planning and attention to maintaining an inclusive environment working to ensure that fieldwork is safe and successful for all participants. To this end, an institutional certification is now required to confirm that the institution has in place a plan to ensure safe and inclusive working environments for off-campus activities.

Furthermore, proposals to the BIO and GEO directorates that include off-campus or off-site work must include a two-page plan for ensuring the work environment is safe and inclusive for all participants. The plan must include a description of where the work will take place, challenges in that location for personnel and challenges to team dynamics, and pre-fieldwork approaches to manage these challenges. These plans will be submitted as supplemental documents and reviewed as part of the Broader Impacts merit review criterion.

Refresher: NIH Rules for Hyperlinks in Grant Applications

NIH does not allow hyperlinks outside of biosketches and publication list attachments.

  • Do include hyperlinks when explicitly requested in the application guide, funding opportunity, or NIH Guide notice instructions.
  • Do use hyperlinks in relevant citations and publications included in biosketches and publication list attachments.
  • Don’t use hyperlinks anywhere else in your application, or the application will be administratively withdrawn.
  • No hyperlinks are allowed in the Data Management and Sharing Plan.

Here are some policy statements for your reference:

Hanover Research

Hanover Grants Calendar: Early Career, STEM Research, and Minority-Serving Institutions

As part of efforts to monitor the funding landscape and facilitate strategic planning, Hanover produces bimonthly Grants Calendars centered on certain funding interests. These calendars review upcoming grant opportunities focused on Early Career Research, STEM Research and Minority-Serving Institutions, covering a range of grantmakers. Short-term targets with set deadlines are included alongside longer-term opportunities projected to occur across the next year and beyond.

University of Houston


Watch: Getting Started with ORCID

Andrea Malone of UH Libraries walks you through the process of setting up your ORCID iD and adding works to your profile. Watch on SharePoint.

UH Libraries Can Help You with Research Data Management

UH Libraries offers a range of support for Research Data Management, archiving, and sharing:

  1. Guidance on data management planning for grant proposals or any research project.
  2. Assistance for sustained compliance with funder and university policies.
  3. Workshops and consultations for graduate students on collaborative work practices and strategies for handling data throughout research.
  4. An institutional data repository for archiving and sharing data and related content at no cost for up to 10 GB per project.

For more information about data management see: UH Libraries Data Management Resources.

Gulf Coast Consortium News

2024 John S. Dunn Foundation Collaborative Research Award Program

The Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) has published the RFA for the 2024 John S. Dunn Foundation Collaborative Research Award Program. The purpose of this program is to foster new, exemplary inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional engagement in the quantitative biomedical sciences by providing research seed grants of up to $100,000 total to support research/preliminary work for 2 years. Funds will be awarded to new collaborative teams in which the PI and co-PI are from different GCC member institutions. All pre-proposals are to be submitted to UH DOR’s limited submission site by 11:59 p.m. Central, Monday, April 1.

GCC Job Board

Looking for a postdoc or research position at a GCC member institution? The GCC Job Board currently lists several positions. The Job Board is where graduating Ph.D. students and postdocs from GCC institutions can post their resumes and search for jobs at GCC institutions.

To place a resume on the Job Board, register as a Job Seeker and enter the requested information. To place a job opening, register as a GCC Recruiter and enter the requested information. Anyone not from a GCC institution can register through Public Access and view job openings and resumes but cannot place anything on the Job Board.

Highlighted Core of the Month: Epigenomics Profiling Core, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

The Epigenomics Profiling Core (EpiCore) is a centralized facility that supports the epigenetics research community at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and across the Texas Medical Center by providing services to analyze epigenetic alterations and chromatin accessibility. The facility offers these full-service protocols beginning from cells/tissues: 1) DNA methylation assays to study modifications on DNA, 2) Chromatin Immunoprecipitation followed by deep sequencing (ChIP-Seq) and CUT&RUN for genome-wide mapping of TFs, chromatin-associated proteins, and chromatin states, including histone post-translational modifications (PTMs), and 3) Assay for Transposase Accessible Chromatin with high-throughput sequencing (ATAC-Seq) to determine chromatin accessibility.

Upcoming Events

13th Annual GCC Translational Pain Research Conference, March 26–27

Confirmed Keynote presenters: Valeria Cavalli, Washington Univ.; Isaac Chiu, Harvard Univ.; and Edgar T. Walters, UTHealth. More information can be found on the conference website.

Date: March 26–27
Location: BioScience Research Collaborative, Auditorium, 6500 Main Street, Houston
Conference registration

GCC 4th Annual Future of Immunology Symposium, April 9–10

Confirmed Keynote presenters: Megan Levings, Univ. of British Columbia, and Novalia Pishesha, Boston Children’s Hospital. Other confirmed speakers include: Dinler Antunes, Univ. of Houston; William Decker, Baylor College of Medicine; Janice Endsley, Univ. of Texas Medical Branch; Sangeeta Goswami, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Haitao Hu, Univ. of Texas Medical Branch; Andrea McAlester, Baylor College of Medicine; Jason Schenkel, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Shaun Zhang, Univ. of Houston.

Date: April 9–10
Location: BioScience Research Collaborative, Auditorium and Event Hall, 6500 Main St, Houston
Symposium Website

28th Structural Biology Annual Symposium, April 13

The Sealy Center for Structural Biology and Molecular Biophysics is hosting their 28th annual symposium. Invited speakers: Yunfeng Chen, UTMB; Peter D. Kwong, NIH/NIAID; Jose N. Onuchic, Rice Univ.; Anna Pomes, INDOOR Biotechnologies; Tamar Schlick, New York Univ.

Location: Health Education Center (HEC), Room 1.200, UTMB Campus, Galveston, TX

More information and registration can be found on the conference website.

Save the Date: 5th Annual Gulf Coast Consortia Innovative Drug Discovery and Development Conference, May 7–8

Confirmed presenters: Suga Hiroaki, Univ. of Tokyo; Jason Bock, CTMC+; Kate Broderick, Maravai LifeSciences; Jimmy Gollihar, Houston Methodist Research Institute; Alexander Kabanov, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Charlene Liao, Immune-Onc Therapeutics; Michael Mitchell, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Cassian Yee, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and Hong Zhao, FDA.

More information coming soon.

Save the Date: Mentoring Up Workshop for Ph.D. Students, May 17

“Mentoring Up” is about helping mentees learn to proactively manage their mentoring relationship and accept responsibility for their own behaviors. The goal is for trainees to better understand the mentor-mentee relationship so both can contribute to and benefit from the relationship and move forward to an agreed-upon objective. This workshop is specifically geared for the challenges faced by Ph.D. students. Facilitated by: Robert Tillman, Director of Faculty Development and Mentoring and Professional Development, BCM; Vicki Alger, Training Administrator, GCC. More information coming soon. Registration will be required.

Save the Date: GCC Integrative Development, Regeneration, and Repair Conference, May 21

Confirmed presenters: Blair Benham-Pyle, BCM; Se Hoon Choi, Harvard Univ.; Constanza Cortes, Harvard Univ.; James Godwin, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory and The Jackson Laboratory; Jane Grande-Allen, Rice Univ.; Warren L. Grayson, Johns Hopkins; Abhishek Jain, Texas A&M Univ.; James F. Martin, BCM; Caralynn Nowinski Collens, Dimension Inx.; Amy Orsborn, University of Washington. Conference website

Looking for a Particular Piece of Equipment?

Did you know that the GCC has a Shared Equipment and Resource Committee composed of the Directors/Leaders in equipment inventory and acquisition from each of the GCC institutions? If you are looking for a particular piece of equipment, please email Suzanne Tomlinson (smtomlin@rice.edu), and the committee members will work together to try to locate it and introduce you to the PI who owns/administers it. View GCC Shared Core Facilities