Frequently Asked Questions

Why can’t I have a multiple year award?

The faculty already have multiple years of funding, just not guaranteed as some would like. Most applicants successfully renew their awards. Also, we have changed the qualifications for second through fourth years of funding:

To qualify for a second year of funding of pilot or project awards, faculty need to submit to VBRN a draft of a proposal that their advisor has reviewed. For Second Year of Pilot awards, the faculty member can opt to submit a manuscript to a peer reviewed journal in lieu of the grant proposal. To qualify for a third or fourth year of funding of project or pilot awards, the faculty member must submit a proposal for extramural funding. We feel that these are reasonable expectations.

What Awards Are Still Available?

We have small awards and use of facility awards available. See funding. The small awards have many uses, and release time is included among them. Whether you are already funded by VBRN or not, you are eligible to apply, with Pilot awardees of higher priority than Project awardees.

Can I use facilities other than VBRN facilities at UVM? 

Check the CoreMarketplace for other facilities. These facilities charge for their use and most have mechanisms to work with outside users.

Policy for Limits and Exceptions to Years of VBRN funding

There is a limit to the number of awards an investigator at a BPI may receive. Faculty may receive up to 3 Project awards or 4 awards that are a combination of Pilot and Project Awards. These are exclusive of small awards. The VBRN administration recognizes that the BPI institutions are at different stages in developing and sustaining their cultures of research and will accept requests for support for additional Pilot awards beyond the guidelines. These requests will be reviewed on an individual basis, and will involve input of the scientific advisor and the BPI coordinator, and supporting documentation that includes summary statements from extramural grants proposals. Progress toward funding must be demonstrated.

What stipulations surround the student research awards?

Students funded by VBRN: Three students per BPI are funded through VBRN for summer research with a VBRN funded faculty member. There is a competitive process for selecting these students specific to the BPI. If for any reason, the BPI Coordinator cannot place all 3 students in summer research with VBRN funded faculty at the BPI, there are two options: 1) let one or more students use the stipend during the academic year to work with a VBRN funded faculty member, 2) let VBRN know and we will allow for another BPI to have more than 3 VBRN funded students.

The faculty who are VBRN funded receive their award letters early enough in the spring to make it possible for the Coordinators to run a competitive selection of summer students. There is no reason not to let the students know who has received an award letter so that they can apply and make summer plans.

Can I use the UVM Library for electronic journals?

The University of Vermont is charged for use of journals by numbers of UVM IDs and cannot allow persons outside UVM to access their electronic holdings.  You would have to become an adjunct faculty member at UVM or get a colleague at UVM to access a journal for you.  

Why do I have to submit a proposal by June 1 for my third year of consecutive project funding?

You are asked to submit a draft proposal that your advisor has read as a requirement to receive your SECOND year of funding. To receive a THIRD year of funding, you must submit a federal grant proposal by June 1 when your third year begins. You should start planning on fulfilling this requirement well in advance because it is not possible to let you start your THIRD year of funding.  It is a real privilege to receive these years of funding, and our highest priority in VBRN is to make you competitive for your own extramural funding.  Most first submissions are declined, which means that you need to start the grant writing, get feed back and revise.

Plan your submission strategy with your advisor.  Also, there are multiple deadlines, not limited to NIH for the R15.  Everyone beginning their third year of funding will have had 1.5-2 years of funded research on which to build their proposal, depending on which agency deadline you aim for.

Why can’t VBRN help us with equipment purchases? 

We do not have the staff or ability to help BPIs with their purchasing.  Each BPI has a subcontract and professional staff who can help you.

What is the review process for my application to VBRN?

The review of project and pilot applications begins with the assignment of the application to at least two and preferably three outside reviewers. Each reviewer receives your application in electronic form (or paper if preferred). The reviewers are given the RFP and criteria for review that are used by NIH and are also on the RFP. We ask that the reviewers provide a score and write a short response to each of the criteria as well as an overall score. Reviewers are compensated for this work. This is a confidential process and the reviewers are asked not to share any insights into their reviews or even which applications they reviewed, just as at NIH. We do not share the list of reviewers because the pool of reviewers is not as large as at NIH. We ask the BPI Coordinators for help in identifying qualified reviewers.

Reviewers are active researchers in the appropriate discipline to provide knowledgeable and thorough critiques. They have been briefed, as at NIH, to use the entire score range of 1-9 (one is best) and to provide the kind of constructive critique they would provide if on an NIH study section.

The reviews and scores are compiled, the VBRN PI, PDE Director, and PC read the reviews and analyze the results. The pay line is determined by the amount of funding that is available for projects and pilots that year. Other meta data are considered when making the final decisions about funding. These include compliance with VBRN requirements for funding, advisors’ reports and the critiques of proposals submitted to federal agencies.

Our goal is to fund as many projects and pilots as possible given the funds available, but fund only meritorious applications.

Why can’t I have a VBRN funded student even though I am not VBRN funded myself?

VBRN’s first responsibility is to make VBRN funded faculty competitive for extramural funding.  Student support is reserved for students who will work with VBRN funded faculty – as in all other INBRE programs – as a way to help the faculty member make research progress.  Also, students working with VBRN funded faculty are ensured to have resources because we know their projects and how they are funded.

We ask your colleges to support other students and join VBRN in developing a culture of research at your school.

Why do I have to have a Vermont Research Advisor?

We ask that all funded faculty have an advisor in Vermont to facilitate face-to-face meetings and help ensure that the advisor will attend the retreat with our new format of lab-meeting style interactions. HOWEVER, you may have as many other advisors as you wish from outside Vermont. If they review manuscripts or proposals, we will compensate them $200 for each task, as we will for your primary advisor.  We consider Dartmouth to be an adopted Vermont institution and we have some advisors from Dartmouth.

We ask the advisors to report to us on their interactions with you and for you to report as well.  In this way, we try to keep the interactions moving forward so that you get the help with research directions and reading of manuscripts and proposal drafts that you need.

Are Preprints taken into account at the NIH?

The NIH’s policy on reporting preprint and other interim research products can be found here: NOT-OD-17-050