February 4, 2021

In This Issue ...

Research Development in Practice
Funding Resources & Limited Submissions Opportunities
Events & Workshops


NIH allows ESI extension for COVID disruptions

NIH defines Early Stage Investigator (ESI) as a Program Director or Principal Investigator (PD/PI) who is within 10 years of completion of a terminal research degree or post-graduate clinical training, and who has not yet competed successfully for a substantial (R01-equivalent) NIH research grant as a PD/PI. The benefit of ESI status is that ESI grant proposals are reviewed in a separate pool from established investigators, and ESI proposals with meritorious scores are prioritized for funding.

Researchers may request to extend their ESI status beyond 10 years for lapses in research or research training due to extenuating circumstances; examples include (but are not limited to) family care, medical concerns, disability, active duty military service and natural disasters. Research delays due to COVID-19 will be considered valid justification for ESI extension requests. NIH considers ESI status extension requests on a case-by-case basis.

How to request ESI Extension

NEH Research Awards & Fellowships webinar

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has recently made available new guidelines for its Fellowships awards. These awards are open to scholars in all disciplines of the humanities and support up to one year of research or the creation of "books, monographs, peer-reviewed articles, e-books, digital materials, translations with annotations or a critical apparatus, or critical editions resulting from previous research. Projects may be at any stage of development." NEH will offer a webinar about the program on February 9, noon-2 PM ET, which will feature program officers, program details, application tips, and  Q&A .  View the webinar here; a recording will be made available afterward on NEH's website. 

Upcoming Arts and Humanities Deadlines of Note

  • Those working on digital publications may be interested in the NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication (due April 18).
  • The Landmarks of American History and Culture (due March 9) opportunity supports the development of workshops to strengthen humanities teaching at the K-12 level; competitive applicant teams include university humanities faculty members or researchers. A January 2021 webinar outlining the Landmarks program is available at this link.
  • The Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities (due March 2) support the development and delivery of national or regional training programs in digital methods for scholars, humanities professionals and advanced graduate students.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is accepting applications to its Creative Writing Fellowships program until March 10; information about applicant eligibility and application process is available here.  

Internal funding: Berman Research Fund

The Jack L. Berman, MD, and Barbara A. Berman, PhD, Depression Research Award will provide early career investigators with pilot funding  in the area of depression, bipolar and mood disorders. Its purposes are: (1) to promote innovation by allowing researchers to take risks to explore new areas of research, and (2) to help researchers obtain preliminary results that will assist them in obtaining funding from other sources. The focus this year’s Berman Award is depression among youth. This includes a range of topics, such as suicide prevention and the impact of COVID-19 among youth. The award provides up to $50,000 over two years. The opportunity for funding is available to early career faculty members including research faculty members, lecturers or any rank up to Assistant Professor. Applications are due March 8.

More information

Ideation to begin for Environmental Data RFP

NSF has issued a $20M call for proposals for a Center for Advancement and Synthesis of Open Environmental Data and Sciences, with a focus on environmental biology. UMOR, MIDAS and U-M Library will host a planning session on February 9, 4-5 pm, for any U-M faculty members who are interested in exploring convergence and collaboration. Contact Jing Liu, Managing Director of MIDAS, with questions.

RSVP here

Contacting a Funder

Jesse Johnston, PhD, Sr. Research Development Officer, OVPR
Speaking with a funder can be an effective way to find out if your project is a good fit for a funding opportunity, or to learn about upcoming opportunities or new funding areas. Your primary point of contact is typically a program officer (PO). These officials have a direct role in shaping funding priorities and often are involved in award decision-making; they can give you the most detailed information about an RFP. If they cannot advise you, they often can redirect you to someone who will have more information.

Making Contact
Start by identifying an appropriate PO or point of contact through the RFP or funder websites. For federal grants, the notice of funding opportunity, program solicitation, or similar documents will list cognizant program staff and contact information. If such information is not available, or if you are not yet pursuing a specific funding opportunity, look for chances to meet POs at conferences or at regional meetings. Many will make themselves available to speak with potential applicants, and some funders have dedicated events, such as the annual NSF Grants Conference or the National Humanities Conference.

When preparing to speak with a funder, prepare a one-page abstract about the work you hope to conduct. Be detailed but concise, and make sure that your abstract is tailored to the specific funder or opportunity. It is helpful to share this with the PO in advance, to give them context before your meeting. If you are leading a collaborative project, it may be appropriate to include team members, but the primary point of contact should be the PI who will lead the project.

What to Ask
Plan out a few topics that you would like to explore before your conversation. Although you may want to ask up front whether or not a funder can support your project, that is not usually a decision that can be made on the spot. Instead, use the interaction as a chance to:

  • Discuss the emphases of your research, the work you hope the funder may support, and how this fits into their current funding priorities;
  • Determine if the work you want to do is eligible to be supported by a funder’s current programs; explore ways you can most effectively present the significance of the work given the funder’s mission and mandate;
  • Find out if there are any special initiatives or priorities that may affect your project’s chances of receiving funding (given the active discourse around diversity and inclusion, anti-black racism, and presidential transition, many funders are announcing or planning new initiatives);
  • Find out what the proposal evaluation criteria are (if they are not listed in the program documents), and ask how the funder considers the criteria in evaluating proposals and making award decisions;
  • Get a clear idea of how proposals are reviewed (remember that the reviewers are the primary audience of your proposal), and find out what role program staff play in the decision process;
  • Learn about additional programs or funding streams that may support your work, at the current funder or others (POs will often know about other funding sources that support similar work).

Build a Relationship
Every interaction with a funder, as Holly Falk-Krzesinski, PhD, puts it, is a chance to “build advocacy.” These are valuable chances to present your work professionally and ensure that the funder has the best understanding of what you are trying to do. POs are often called upon to explain how a proposed project will advance the mission of the funder, and even one or two interactions can offer chances to help them see how your work may do this. In other words, every meeting with a funder is a chance to cultivate a relationship and to increase the chances that your research may be funded.


Internal Funding 

​All currently open U-M campus-wide internal funding programs are posted in Research Commons.


Following is a select list of Calls for Intent to Submit and Limited Submissions internal competitions, coordinated by the U-M Office of Research (UMOR) and the Medical School. For a comprehensive list of currently open opportunities, visit the UMOR Limited Submissions Homepage
Feb. 8, 2021- Internal Deadline
Jan. 31, 2022- Sponsor Deadline (anticipated)
Funding: $2,000,000-$4,000,000
Limit: 2
Feb. 10, 2021- Internal Deadline
Feb. 22, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: $100,000
Limit: 3
Feb. 11, 2021- Internal Deadline
May 10, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: see FOA's
Limit: 1 per award category
Feb. 15, 2021- Internal Deadline
May 25, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: up to $250,000
Limit: 1
Collaborative Program Grant for Multidisciplinary Teams (RM1 - Clinical Trial Optional)
Feb. 24, 2021- Internal Deadline
May 27, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: $700,000-$900,000
Limit: 1
Declare Intent to Submit to UMOR
Feb. 25, 2021- Internal Deadline
Apr. 1, 2021- Sponsor LOI Deadline
Funding: $100,000
Limit: 2
Tuberculosis Research Advancement Centers (P30 Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
Mar. 15, 2021- Internal Deadline
Jun. 15, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: up to $600,000
Limit: 1
Declare Intent to Submit to UMOR
Mar. 19, 2021- Internal Deadline
May 20, 2021- Sponsor Deadline
Funding: see FOA
Limit: 1


Below are select external funding opportunities. For assistance finding additional federal and private funding opportunities, researchers may access:
NIH NIDCD Early Career Research (ECR) Award (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
Feb. 26, 2021- Proposal Deadline
Funding: see FOA
National Endowment for the Arts Various Funding Opportunities
Apr. 8, 2021- Proposal Deadline
Funding: see FOA's
Russell Sage Foundation Various Funding Opportunities
May 4, 2021- LOI Deadline
Funding: see FOA


2021 Communicating Science Seminar

AAAS Center for Public Engagement with S&T
Friday, February 5

Digital Scholarship 101: Understanding Accessibility

Hosted by U-M Library
Tuesday, February 16
1-2:30 pm


Advancing Research in Society (ARIS)
Thursday, February 18
2-4 pm, $100 for non-members

Changing Times & Child Health Research

U-M Research Development presents Dr. Diana Bianchi, Director of NICHD
Thursday, March 11
Noon-1 pm

Managing Your Online Researcher Identity

Presented by Sara Samuel, Taubman Health Sciences Library
Thursday, March 11
1-2 pm

Digital Scholarship 101: Managing Your Data

Presented by Caitlin Pollock and Rachel Woodbrook
Wednesday, March 24
1-3 pm
If you would like your event added to the newsletter, please contact
© 2021 The Regents of the University of Michigan
Research Blueprint, produced by the University of Michigan Office of the Vice President for Research, aims to drive awareness of and encourage participation in research development opportunities across campus. If you have news that you would like to share with the U-M research development community, please contact
U-M Office of the Vice President for Research | 503 Thompson St. | Ann Arbor, MI 48109