NIH eRA Items of Interest - July 2015

Keeping Your Personal Profile Up to Date

But then again, it is sometimes hard to for us to find and contact people within our own eRA Commons system.  Although, really, it shouldn't be. Unless of course those people haven't kept their Personal Profile up to date. Then it can be like looking for Waldo in a candy cane factory.

Maintaining your Personal Profile is critical for successful interaction with NIH staff and awards processing.  And here is why, section by section…

Name and ID Section

The Personal Profile data is used to help identify you in cases where two or more people have very similar names.  Data fields in this section can be used to correctly identify the account as yours.  With almost 400,000 accounts in Commons, you can see why this might be important. And I'm talking to you, John Smith.

Also of critical importance is the Email Address for account-related communications.  Keep this current! This is the email address we use to send you a temporary password should you forget yours, or lock the account. If you are using an email address given to you by your organization, but then change organizations, you may lose access to that account.

Demographics Section

The information from this section helps NIH track how it is doing providing funding as it relates to race, gender, ethnicity, and disability.  Each option must have a response, even if the response is "Do not wish to provide."

Again, while the data is not required, it does help NIH with statistical reporting.

Employment Section

NIH takes many steps to ensure all applicants receive unbiased reviews of their applications.  One part of this commitment is to remove any conflict of interests reviewers may have with the applications they are asked to review.

Accurate and up-to-date information in the Employment section is used to identify potential conflicts of interests.

Reviewer Section

What is important about this section is that all PIs, with or without the Internet Assisted Review (IAR) role, are required to complete and maintain this information.  So don't let the tile name fool you.  If you are not a reviewer, you still need to complete and maintain the information requested in the section.  Of course the left side of the form will let you know what required information is still missing.

If you do have the IAR role, then you have volunteered to share your scientific expertise by making yourself available to review grant applications. And as such, this section must absolutely be completed and maintained.

NIH uses the data in this section to contact you for reviews; determine eligibility for payment for review services; and determine your status for Continuous Submission.

Continuous Submission is a way to help recognize outstanding service in the NIH peer review process and on NIH Advisory Groups by allowing you to submit your research grant applications (R01, R21, or R34) on a continuous basis and to have those applications undergo initial peer review in a timely manner.

Education Section

The Education data is another important aspect of your profile.  The data concerning terminal degree and medical residency are used to calculate your eligibility for New and Early Stage Investigatorclassifications.  Applications from Early Stage Investigators (ESIs), like those from all New Investigators, are given special consideration during peer review and at the time of funding. Peer reviewers are instructed to focus more on the proposed approach than on the track record, and to expect less preliminary information than might be provided by an established investigator.

Based on the information provided in the Personal Profile, your status as an Early Stage Investigator will be determined and displayed.  If this information is not accurate, you may not be granted the ESI classification and miss out on the advantages that it provides.

To borrow a concept from a colleague, if we ever write a document called The Ten Top Ways Not to Get Funded, having an incomplete or inaccurate Personal Profile will definitely make the list!  So review your profile today!  Make sure it is complete and make sure it is up to date.

So if you don't want to feel like Waldo in an Austrian flag factory, be sure to check out the Online Help for the Commons Personal Profile and our video tutorial Personal Profile Overview.

Summertime Fun – What's Coming Around the Bend

Starting in Marion, VA, where my brother lives and owns a business, is Route 16, also called the Back of the Dragon. It is 32.4 miles of some of the greatest, curviest, mountain roads in the east. As a motorcycle enthusiast, it is nirvana!

Well, summertime here at eRA is a lot like Back of the Dragon.  With all that is going on, we are constantly looking ahead to see what is coming around the next bend. The following is a short list of some of the things you may see in the coming months. This is by no means a complete list, and the items here may not make it right away, but I thought it would be fun to let you look down the road a bit:


  • The Federated login option will be expanded to include those folks with the ASST (assistant) role.
  • The eRA Commons link for the final Federal Financial Report will reflect that the deadline for submitting  the report is 120 days after the Budget Period End Date, for projects that ended on or after Oct. 1, 2014  This is an increase from the previous 90 days for all final reports as part of the Closeout process (see video tutorial) and Uniform Guidance.
  • New rules for when the inclusion link will be available to users in Status is coming (see Inclusion video tutorials).
  • Security related changes to Account Request Process will be added to ensure your information is safe.


  • FFR will have a new user interface, resembling the Personal and Institution Profile screens and will include a new streamlined search and search results screen. This is currently scheduled for August. Look for a video tutorial highlighting the new look and functionality.

And in case you're wondering, the picture is of my bike… "Big Betty."

San Diego – Here We Come!

We are hitting the road and heading west for the 2015 NIH Regional Seminar!  I just hope we don't have to take the Wagon Queen Family Truckster! The sales pitch, "You think you hate it now, wait 'til you drive it," does not evoke a lot of confidence! But then again, Aunt Edna will fit nicely on the roof.

Here are the specifics:

When: October 14-16, 2015

Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego CA

How: Register

Why: Agenda

So pack your bags, tie Dinky to the bumper, and join us!  Oooh, I hope I can get an autograph from Marty Moose!