>> Announcer: From the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, this is All About Grants.

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>> Columbus: Welcome to another edition of All About Grants. My name is Megan Columbus with NIH's Office of Extramural Research.

Today we're doing something different. We're doing the four‑part series, talking about who to contact at NIH in various stages of the grants process.

The first in our series is going to talk about an introduction to program, review and Grants Management staff. Those are the three parts that make up the NIH extramural team that do the administration of grants here on the federal side at NIH.

I have with me Nick Gaiano, he's a scientific review officer with the Center of Scientific Review here at NIH.

I have Sue Brobst, who's a Program Official with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And I have Grace Olascoaga, who is with National Institute on General Medical Sciences, where she serves as a grants management officer.

>> Columbus: So what I would like to start with is, if each of you could give me a brief description of your role, I think that will really help people get a handle on how the extramural team works and then we'll talk about how the extramural team works together. Nick, could you start and talk about the Scientific Review Officer?

>> Gaiano: Sure. So as the Scientific Review Officer, my primary responsibility is to oversee really the nuts and bolts of the review process.

Applications are assigned to my panel or any panels that I'm in charge of. And I need to identify suitable reviewers for those applications. And then actually, of course, coordinate the process of running the meeting, which in some cases may involve recruiting additional reviewers, whether it's a standing panel or a panel that is being assembled specifically for this particular review.

And then I would actually make the assignments to the reviewers, where they will have a certain amount of time to look over the applications.

I will then also look over, as they submit their critiques and make sure everything is in the proper format, and that their comments are appropriate and are also following the rules. That's a pretty sizable element of my job, is to make sure that proper rules are followed.

I'll also then run the meeting. And make sure that it is conforming to all of the policies and regulations of review.

Really, a critical element of it all is making sure that it's an impartial process and that there are no conflicts, that confidentiality is maintained. And then subsequent to the meeting, I need to actually process what's transpired into a form that is called the summary statement and that is really the primary output document that is used by the program staff to evaluate or to judge the evaluation of the application.

>> Columbus: So your primary role is really to ensure equity in the review process?

>> Gaiano: Yes.

>> Columbus: So, Sue, then what does program do?

>> Brobst: Okay. Well, a Program Officer is responsible for monitoring the science and managing the grant awards, once they're made. we develop funding opportunities to address the gaps in a scientific area.

We also provide scientific expertise to our institute or to other federal agencies. We're the ones you're going to want to contact if you are trying to see if your research fits, you know, the mission of our institute and to see if there's any, you know, funding opportunities that we can point you to.

We also will get to interact with our peer‑review colleagues here by going to the meetings and observing them and hearing about the review of your grant application and then giving advice to you afterwards, depending on what the outcome was.

We will then work ‑‑ turn over and work with our grant management colleague and you to negotiate and help to make the award.

Then later on, as the award is ongoing, we will help monitor the progress if there's any other administrative concerns.

>> Columbus: So you're really the one who is going to stick with the investigator from the time they're seeking an opportunity through closeout of the award?

>> Brobst: Correct.

>> Columbus: Grace, how about Grants Management, where do you fit in this process?

>> Olascoaga: So Grants Management is the business area here at NIH that handles the financial and administrative aspects of the grant awards that are going to be made, as opposed to the scientific aspects that the Program Official handles.

Each institute and Center here at NIH has its own Grants Management shop led by a Grants Management officer who kind of oversees the overall operations and the administration of grants specific to their institute.

There's also then a staff of grants specialists, who each handle a portfolio of grants and are responsible for the daily oversight of awards and post‑award.

As Sue mentioned, Grants Management staff work very closely with program to implement the recommendations of program and review and the applications that are recommended for funding. We review applications to ensure grantees are in compliance with policy and regulations and have assurances and certifications in place. We negotiate with program and grantees on the budgets and prepare the award calculations. And then we enter the award information into the NIH award system and are actually the officials authorized at NIH to obligate federal funds.

Post‑award, then, we also work very closely with program on any issues that may come up during the course of a project and will confer with program and provide approvals or responses on inquiries to grantees.

>> Columbus: Great. So you and program are working hand‑in‑hand throughout the grants process?

>> Olascoaga: Definitely. There are a lot of issues that can come up through the course of a grant. Not just at the annual progress report moment. And so we often are in consultation, quite closely.

>> Columbus: And so what about program and review? I know that, Sue, you said that Program Officials are sitting in the meetings and listening to review meetings so that they can have good conversations with investigators who want to understand what happened at the review.

After that review happens, Nick, what kind of contact do you have with program in the rest of the grant's life cycle?

>> Gaiano: Well, it's somewhat limited by design.

As you know, we want to keep program and review separate ‑‑ because program tend to be sort of advocates for the applicants; whereas review is meant to be impartial and not advocating for any applicant in particular.

Program can be quite helpful if there are specifics regarding certain funding opportunity announcements. The Program Officer or officers who are involved, who were involved in the construction of that opportunity announcement, Funding Opportunity Announcement, can actually provide some feedback that can be helpful for instructing the reviewers in terms of some issues that might be important to think about.

There can also be issues following review. If there are appeals, perhaps.

>> Columbus: Fabulous. And in terms of Grants Management and review, do you ‑‑ do you all interact very often, Grace, besides obviously socially since you work together?

>> Olascoaga: Occasionally, Grants Management might attend review meetings, especially if there are complex mechanisms being reviewed. It's useful for Grants Management to hear review discussion, in particular if there are specific recommendations to be made on components or budgets. It can help inform us on what the intent is, so that later on if we have to prepare an award, we can work with program then in implementing recommendations appropriately.

>> Columbus: In our next segment, we're going to get into who our listeners should contact when they're interested in finding a funding opportunity or developing your application and we'll take you through the grants process in the next few segments.

So for now, for NIH and OER, this is Megan Columbus.

 

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Announcer: For contact information of the grants specialist, as well as the program officer, for the funding opportunity you’re interested in, can be found in section 7 of the Funding Opportunity Announcement. For more information on the grants process visit OER’s website, at grants.nih.gov