Finding your own research niche and then identifying tractable funding opportunities for that niche are two of the most critical issues faced by academic scientists. For DM, the “usual suspects” for funding at the NIH are: NINDS, NIAMS and NIGMS. When searching NIH RePORTer for DM grants, there are other institutes that may not yet have been fully exploited. Identification of these non-traditional funders may open up new sources of support for your work.
The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) just released a clinical trials initiative, PAR-17-133—NINR Clinical Trial Planning Grant (R34). Most researchers recognize that blindly firing off applications to NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements is an unproductive strategy; you have to make sure that there’s a compelling fit of the funding mechanism with your research niche.
Is there an opportunity for DM work within this latest NINR initiative? First, this is a clinical trial planning grant announcement, intended to "complete planning, design, and preparation of the documentation necessary for implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials." Second, the niche is to “support planning for clinical trials that address high-priority research questions related to the mission and goals of the NINR.”
How does NINR define its mission and goals? Fortunately, NINR’s 2016 strategic plan (pdf) provides direction. The major areas of NINR’s focus are: (1) Symptom Science: Promoting Personalized Health Strategies, (2) Wellness: Promoting Health and Preventing Illness, (3) Self-Management: Improving Quality of Life for Individuals with Chronic Conditions and (4) End-of-Life and Palliative Care: The Science of Compassion.
Much of the focus in NINR’s strategic plan appears to be a direct fit with studies seeking an evidentiary basis for the standards of care for those living with DM. An NIH RePORTer search for NINR grants in muscular dystrophy validates that thinking, as NINR has previously funded studies on chronic pain management, palliative care, pediatric motor outcome development, patient spirituality and patient self-management.
MDF has recently completed and will soon release Consensus-based Care Recommendations for Adults with DM1 (with efforts for CDM and DM2 to follow). Most of these care recommendations are based on practical experience of medical practitioners, and few have a solid scientific basis. MDF suggests that NINR (both this specific opportunity and NINR grants in general) is a potential funding source for a clear unmet need—establishing an evidentiary basis for patient care considerations.