Eureka!

Dec 11 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Neuro-friends, have I got a grant for you! If you thought the BRAINS RFA demonstrated the epitome of acronymical dexterity, I invite you to feast your eyes on EUREKA. This FOA--for Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration (for Neuroscience and Disorders of the Nervous System)--is basically the Cadillac of award notices. No longer is it enough to be significant, innovative, or even transformative! You must be exceptionally unconventional, and you must change the velocity of knowledge itself!

There's lots of juicy goodness in the description, too. A few highlights:

"Reviewers...will be reminded that risk is a hallmark of exceptionally innovative research and, in most cases, should not detract from the merit of an application."

"A PD/PI’s record of overcoming difficult scientific hurdles, appropriate to his/her career stage, may also be useful in assessing the likelihood of success."

Also of note--Research Strategy is limited to 6 pages, with a mere 3 dedicated to Approach. Moreover, you must include a statement within those 6 pages on "Likelihood of Success," in which you must address the following: "If ...you have not yet made a paradigm-shifting discovery or solved a very difficult problem, which aspect of the logic of the experimental approach suggests that there is some probability that the proposed research will be successful."

It's also worth noting that there's a discrepancy amongst ICs in terms of how many awards, as well of the size of each, are available:
-NINDS, $1,500,000, 4-6 awards
-NIMH, $1,500,000, 4-6 awards
-NIDA, $1,000,000, 2-4 awards
-NIA, $500,000, 1-2 awards

There's a bunch of other stuff that's different about the period of funding, renewability (non) and whatnot, so much so that it almost doesn't even sound like an R01 anymore! I encourage you to go read the whole FOA, it's pretty fascinating.

So, are we all going to apply? I'm not sure--I feel like this may not be the kind of thing that a new investigator would do well on, despite the lip service to "appropriate to his/her career stage." How do we prove that we've overcome difficult hurdles? Do I talk about the time that my PI handed me a box of 30 year-old Stoelting parts and I jerry-rigged a stereotax?

Very curious what your initial thoughts are on this, folks. I'm just waiting for NIH to just come out and name the next FOA "PARADIGM SHIFT," and come up with some amazing acronym for that. Feel free to have a go in the comments!

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