Announcer: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland this is All About Grants.
Megan Columbus: Welcome to All About Grants. This is your host, Megan Columbus with NIH’s Office of Extramural Research. Today we’ll be talking about what happens to your NIH grant when you make the decision to change institutions. Today I have with me Emily Linde, who is a Grants Policy Analyst here in the Office of Extramural Research. So what’s the first thing a PI should do with regards to their NIH grant when they decide to change institutions?
Emily Linde: I’d say there are two things that they should do once they’ve decided to change institutions. One is to decide whether or not they’ll request to move that grant. And once they’ve done that is to contact their grants management specialist listed on the notice of award because that’s really going to be their best contact for the policies and procedures regarding a change of institution.
Megan: And is that usually an interaction between the investigator and the grants management specialist?
Emily: I would certainly encourage them to talk to both their program official and their grants management specialist. Their program official will be able to advise on the science. The grants management specialist is really going to be kind of down in the weeds with the technical issues and the forms that need to be submitted with the change of institution request.
Megan: Should they assume that they can take their grant with them when they move from one place to another?
Emily: They should definitely not assume that they can take their grant with them when they are changing institutions. NIH makes awards to institutions, not to individuals, and that institution actually can consider whether or not they would like to relinquish the award and allow it to be transferred. So it’s a conversation that they need to have with their current institution.
Megan: Is NIH approval required anywhere within that request for change of institution?
Emily: NIH approval is absolutely required for a change of institution request. There are a couple of different documents that are going to be coming in. Some are going to be coming in from the old institution. The new institution actually submits a full application with all of the information that would be in an original application. NIH will review that as we would any other one to make sure that the institution has the appropriate means to manage the award, and that there’s the appropriate scientific resources to support the award.
Megan: But that application doesn’t go through a peer review process; it’s an administrative review.
Emily: Yes it’s just an administrative review, and both the program official and the grants management specialist will be reviewing that application.
Megan: If the institution agrees to relinquish the grant and the new organization agrees to the terms of the grant, what then needs to be done?
Emily: So again you’re already going to have started your conversation with the grants management specialist and, like I said, there are a few forms that need to be completed. That conversation with your grants management specialist is so important because IC’s differ a little bit in their policies and procedures for processing transfers. So, in general, the policy is the same across NIH, but things might change a little bit on the timing and when those are required by different ICs. You’re really going to want to consider that timing when you’re submitting that and that’s why that conversation is so important to start early.
Megan: So how long does the whole process take from the submission of the relinquishing statement to the submission of the application and for the whole grant to transfer?
Emily: So that process can vary very widely and specifically because it can vary between IC’s so we certainly give you the advice to submit two months prior to when you would want to transfer to the new institution, but it can take longer than that. For example, if you’re transferring to a foreign institution we have extra documentation that we need to have internally. If you have human or animal subjects, you might need to get IRB or IACUC approval at your new institution, and that can take time for you to obtain that and provide us with that information before we can issue the revised award.
Megan: What happens in between the time, so as I’m considering leaving if there’s going to be any break in work or anything? What would happen if there’s a break in the work? Do I need to let NIH know?
Emily: So there’s certainly a discussion that you’re going to want to have with both your program official and your grants management specialist—how things are going to happen, what will happen if there’s a break in award, how will that impact the scope of your work, if at all. So again it’s important to start that conversation early.
Megan: And if I know I’m moving one institution to another and I’ve gotten approval to take my award with me, but my team may not be coming with me, do I then assemble a new team at the new institution and include that on the application?
Emily: It’s very case-specific and I would encourage you to talk to your program official about that. Sometimes that expertise really can’t be obtained elsewhere. If your co-investigators are at your original institution you may wish to continue to work with them and that might be the appropriate approach, but it’s really something you should discuss with your program official.
Megan: So, clearly, the dialogue with NIH is really important throughout this process.
Emily: Yes, I would say that that’s the most important take-home message.
Megan: Any final advice on working with NIH?
Emily: Not specifically on working with NIH, but working through the process, I would suggest that you definitely work very closely with your Sponsored Projects Offices, both at the old institution and the new institution. The old institution actually might hold things if they don’t have everything that they want from you or they need to close out their grant files. They won’t submit the relinquishing statement until they have all of that, so you really want to be talking to them throughout the whole process. And you want to be talking to the new one and making sure that you’re supplying everything you need for that application so that when it comes in that it’s complete.
Megan: Lastly, I know that currently the process of changing institutions administratively is a paper process. I understand that that may change soon. Do you have any idea about timing and what that might look like?
Emily: So NIH is definitely working on transitioning to an electronic submission process for all of the documents that are needed for a change of institution request. We will be piloting that. It’s an open pilot that will be open to all institutions beginning at the end of April of this year.
Megan: Thanking you for joining us today. For NIH and OER this is Megan Columbus.