As a manager for our career development programs, many questions I get from trainees and faculty can actually be answered by using NIH RePORTER.  You can find out all kinds of nosy things like:

  • Who else on campus has the kind of grant I’m writing (so I can ask if they’d share a copy)?
  • Who else in the country does exactly the kind of science I’m doing?
  • How many grants does my NIH institute fund each year?
  • Which grants did the study section I’m aiming for fund in the last several years?
  • Who on campus has VA grants (VA grants are now part of RePORTER)?

(Note to trainees: Not that I mind answering your questions.  But it’s probably faster to search yourself.)

First, you’ll need to visit the site.  You’ll find a form where you can search by

  • PI name
  • Organization
  • City, State, or Congressional District
  • Project number (including parts of numbers, so for example you can retrieve a list of all R01s in the nation or at a particular institution)
  • NIH institute
  • Study section

And more.  At the top, you can also choose whether to search only for current (“active”) projects or grants whose funding period ended up to 20 years ago.

Say you’re writing one of those fancy new R61 grants for exploratory research and you want to know if anyone else on your campus has one.  You can find out!  Let’s take Vanderbilt for an example.  I’ll type “Vanderbilt” into the organization field, and “R61” into the application number field.

Guess what?  There is someone on campus who has one of these grants.

If I click on the title, I can see the grant abstract.  By using the “Details” tab at the top, I can view things like the project start and end date, funding for this fiscal year, study section and program officer.  The “Similar Projects” tab provides a list of NIH funded grants that have similar key words, while “Results” links to papers produced from work funded by the grant.

You can run this same kind of search by any of the other criteria on the form, including a text search that combs abstracts and key terms provided by the PI.  (You’ll want to be specific in your terms, though.  “Cancer” gets you 22,870 results.  Maybe you have time to sift through them all, but I sure don’t.)

Want RePORTER to read your mind, or at least your conference abstract?  Try the “Matchmaker” tab at the top of the search form.  You can paste in a chunk of text up to 15,000 characters—that’s pretty much a paper right there, but you can use abstracts, drafts of your aims, heck, maybe you’ve tweeted something you want to search for—and Matchmaker will analyze it for key terms and spit out the 100 most closely related projects, listing them in order from most to least similar.  HOLY COW.

If you go to the “Quick Links” tab at the top and choose “Funding Facts” or “NIH Data Book,” your brain will soon explode from all the funding data NIH is about to shove in it.

Want to know the success rate last year for K08s at any institute or the NIH as a whole?  The total amount of funding that was available for new R01’s in each of the last five years?  Funding Facts has all this and more, including info on F awards.

The Data Book will not only give you that information, but it gives it to you in GRAPHIC FORM.  For example, here’s the R01 success rate:

You can get it in table format by clicking on the “Data” tab.

The Data Book also has super-cool charts and figures on success rates and awards by new investigator status, gender, MD vs. PhD, and other criteria.

NIH RePORTER: Learn it, love it, use it.  Be nosy.  Be informed.

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