Fall 2016 DEB Panels status: “When will I have a decision?” edition

DEB’s full proposal panels finished in early November (for those full proposals submitted back in July and August). So, when will you receive review results?

Some of you may have already heard from us. Others will be hearing “soon” (as detailed below).

Right now, all of our programs have synthesized the recommendations of their panels, considered their portfolios, and come up with their planned award and decline recommendations. These are then documented, sent through administrative review, and finally signed off, “concurred,” by the head or deputy for the Division.

DEB’s first priority is processing the decline notices. We’re trying to get your reviews back to you to provide as much time as possible to consider your options for January pre-proposal submissions.

For potential awards, it’s a bit more complicated. We expect award recommendation dates to be later this year than typical. At present, NSF is operating under a temporary budget measure, called a Continuing Resolution (or CR). The current CR runs through December 9, 2016. We won’t have significant funds available to cover new grants until a longer-term funding measure is enacted.

So, while we have a prioritized list of award recommendations, we don’t yet have the funds needed to take action on those recommendations. Moreover, we don’t know how much funding we’ll actually have available so uncertainty is part of the plan. Thus, between “definite award recommendation” and “definite decline recommendation” we have a recommendation gray zone.

How are we handling this?

If your proposal fell into the definite decline group, then you’ll be getting an official notice from DEB. Once the formal decline recommendation is approved, the system updates the proposal status in FastLane and queues up a notification email. We are planning to have all declines approved by December 20, 2016. Note: our IT system sends the notification emails in batches at the end of the day[i]. Thus, if you are frequently refreshing FastLane you will likely see the news there before you get a letter from us.

If your proposal fell into the definite award group or the gray zone, you will first be getting a call or email from your Program Officer. They will be letting you know what the plan is for your particular proposal and how you can get things ready (e.g., submitting budget revisions or abstract language) for an eventual award. Formal action, including the release of reviews, cannot happen until we have funding available. However, folks in this group should also hear from their Program Officers by December 20.

After December 20, if you have not received any communication from us, first check your spam folder and then look up your proposal number and give us a call. But please remember, the lead PI for a proposal or collaborative group is the designated point of contact; if you’re a co-PI you need to get in touch with the lead PI and have them inquire.

[i] We’re not totally sure why this is, but suspect it has to do with email traffic volume and security features: discriminating an intentional batch of emails from an account taken over by a bot.

NCBI’s Bryant and Bolton receive 2016 Herman Skolnik Award for PubChem database

On August 23, Drs. Stephen Bryant and Evan Bolton received the American Chemical Society (ACS) 2016 Herman Skolnik Award for their work in developing, maintaining, and expanding the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubChem database of chemical substances and their … Continue reading

2016 Annual Meeting — Day 3

2016 Annual Meeting -- Day 3 | www.APHLblog.org

Today we honored public health leaders from around the world. Congratulations to all award winners!

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Photo Highlights:

Chris Whelen, APHL board president, presents awards to out-going board members and committee chairs

Chris Whelen, APHL board president, presents awards to out-going board members and committee chairs


2016 APHL award winners -- congratulations to all!

2016 APHL award winners — congratulations to all!


Meeting attendees enjoy breakfast in the exhibit hall

Meeting attendees enjoy breakfast in the exhibit hall

And now for some good news from UC Davis – teaching and research awards

And now for some good news from UC Davis

Building Connections and Recognizing Excellence at the 2015 LRN National Meeting

By Kara MacKeil-Pepin, associate specialist, Public Health Preparedness and Response, APHL

At the 2015 Laboratory Response Network (LRN) National Meeting in Atlanta, members gathered to learn from each other, solve problems, and finally put a face to the disembodied voices they’ve heard over hours of conference calls.

The LRN is a system of state and local public health laboratories, sentinel clinical laboratories, federal facilities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), international laboratories, and partners from the intelligence, military and first responder communities. Members train together, share common procedures and standards, and maintain a strong communication network to promote rapid detection and response. Thanks to strong relationships across these varied groups, the LRN is able to respond quickly and comprehensively to a wide variety of deliberate and naturally occurring threats, from the 2013 ricin letters to singular cases of endemic anthrax in Minnesota. The LRN National Meeting is an essential part of building these strong relationships. While members are in frequent contact with each other throughout the year, allowing face-to-face contact and collaboration with members from across the network offers a level of relationship building that can’t be achieved with an e-mail.

Sessions often reflect lessons learned from recent biological and chemical threats. This year was no exception, with several big-picture discussions of the 2014 Ebola Virus outbreak and a presentation on chemical weapons security from Dr. Hugh Gregg, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Laboratory. Practical sessions included topics like data security, training strategies, need for standards for field screening devices, and radiological preparedness. Attendees were also treated to video addresses by Dr. David Nabarro, special representative to the United Nations Secretary-General, and Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.


The National Meeting also gives members a chance to honor a few select agencies and individuals who have gone above and beyond the already demanding work of the LRN. Ebola response featured heavily among the winners: the Dallas County Health and Human Services Laboratory and the Texas Department of State Health Services Laboratory Services Section each received awards for Excellence in Public Health Response for the 2014 Ebola Outbreak, and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was honored with the Excellence in Partnership award for their work in developing assays to respond to and rule out Ebola in the US.

Partnership continued to be emphasized with the other awards presented. The Indiana State Department of Health State Health Laboratories was recognized with the Outstanding Sentinel Training Program award for their exemplary outreach to sentinel clinical laboratories which paid off when the lab identified the first US case of Middle East Respiratory System Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Laboratory Services was also honored for their partnership efforts in the wake of the Elk River chemical spill in 2014, winning the award for Outstanding Outreach to Poison Control Centers or Hospitals. Finally, the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory received the Innovative Collaborations with First Responder Communities award for their well-known and wide reaching program of training, exercises, and networking with first responder agencies throughout the state of Minnesota.

In the individual awards, Maureen Sullivan of the Minnesota Department of Health was recognized with the Excellence in Leadership honor for her long-standingefforts to shape public health emergency preparedness programs and policy in her home state and at the national level, and her irreplaceable contributions to first responder and clinical outreach programs in Minnesota.

The second and final individual honor, the award for Excellence in Public Service, was presented to Dr. Mary Ritchie, bioterrorism laboratory program advisor for the Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratories. Dr. Ritchie has almost singlehandedly established and maintained an interagency laboratory workgroup for Florida, bringing together laboratories across Florida to communicate and share critical information.

The awards have a lighter side too, with winners selected at each meeting for the LRN Video and Photo Contest. Contestants submit their own original photos and videos, trying to capture what it means to be an LRN member on film.

2015 LRN Best Photo Award winner was the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa | www.APHLblog.org

This year’s Best Photo Award winner was the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa for their photo of laboratorians hard at work at their Annual Sentinel Laboratory Training Wet Workshop in 2015.

Finally, attendees were treated to a world-premiere showing of the Best Video Award winner, a pro wrestling-esque, Lego-inspired depiction of the Texas response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak submitted by the San Antonio Metro Health District Laboratory.

LRN Smack Down: Mr. Inactivator vs Ebola Virus (LRN *Best Video Award* winner) from APHL on Vimeo.

APHL congratulates all of this year’s winners!