Tenterhooks

Feb 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

My esteemed colleague, DrugMonkey, has a recent post about the differences between an administrator waiting to hear about a grant and a PI waiting to hear about a grant. I certainly empathise with his point of view because I've been on both sides of the aisle. And the side I'm on more often now (administrator) is usually much easier to bear once you have that perspective.

There's actually two grants I'm waiting hear about now. I'm not  a PI on either, but both hold different and vital levels of importance for me. The first is an R01 for a multi-site clinical trial (which I will be project manager for; it has sizable FTE coverage). We scored incredibly well, and we're hearing all kinds of nice things from the Institute and our PO. However, nothing is finalised, and despite the nice words in the most recent letter (see below), there is still that gentle and persistent fear that the rug could get pulled out from under you at the last minute. If this does go pear shaped a friend of mine will lose her job, because her continued employment is contingent on these funds and I have no doubt there are staff at our collaborating institutions who feel the same.

The PI is post-tenure, but as a clinical scientist this research grant is an enormous feather in her cap and will certainly steer her future here in new and exciting directions. Plus, she loves her research population and has dedicated years of her life to building up to this moment.  Although she might not lose her job, she'll lose her staff and the chance to *do* something for her target population.

It's tempting to take hope from the words in the letter, but they're empty until that damn check clears into our institutional account...

Re: Status of application XXX:

Dear :

The second-level review by our National Advisory Council has been completed for applications submitted for the January 2011 Council round. The Council has concurred with the recommendations and priority score of your application as assigned by the Scientific Review Group (SRG). Based on our current budget projections, we expect to be able to fund your application. The Institute is now determining final funding plans for this round. This process may take several weeks to complete...

Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, a Notice of Award (NoA) will be sent electronically to the business office of your organization. The NoA is the legal document issued to a grantee certifying that an award has been made. Please remember that an award decision is not final until the NoA is issued.

The second grant I'm waiting for is our final submission Clinical & Translational Science Award. The NCRR is nearly done funding these and with the proposed shake up at the NIH, the NCRR itself might not exist in the future, meaning there might not be anther RFA under this mechanism (just my ill-informed guess work here). I'm currently supported by State and Instituional funds that are contingent upon us getting this award. Rather foolishly I got some dates mixed up in my head and thought our review scores weren't being released unti late March/early April.

Oh Brooksie, you fucked that up.

They're due out in about two weeks time.

After the scores are posted,  it'll take less than a week for the rumour-mill to meet the grapevine and we'll know ALL the scores for this funding round. So, in about three weeks time our Executive Administrators and Bean Counters will know with some measure of certainly if we have a hope in hell of getting funded this time. If we don't, they have little incentive to keep dollars flowing into our coffers; we're already on a month-by-month budget. I need a contingency plan, like STAT. I think I've got my Unit protected, but I am expensive and could easily become surplus to requirements.

Soft money employment really does suck.

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