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Grants Bulletin - Fall 2016

October 26, 2016

Welcome all to the fall 2016 semester!

The Office of Grants and Sponsored Research (OGSR) represent the Pre-award administration office and non-financial post award administration at St. John’s University. Lead by Jared Littman, Director of the (OGSR) reporting directly to the Senior Vice Provost, we provide service and support related to research activities across all schools and units at the University and work closely with the Office of Business Affairs regarding post-award items such as the financial management of sponsored projects. Sponsored programs include research, instruction and training, public service, evaluative testing, and other scholarly and creative activities conducted under the direction of University faculty and staff and funded by organizations external to the University in accordance with award regulations.

Please visit our website for more in depth information.


2016 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Deadlines

The following is a list of upcoming deadlines for key NIH proposal mechanisms.

NIH R01Research Grants- NewFebruary 5
June 5
October 5
NIH R01Research Grants - Renewal, Resubmission, Revision    March 5
July 5
November 5
NIH R03, R21, R33 , R34, R36 Other Research Grants - NewFebruary 16
June 16
October 16
NIH R03, R21, R33 , R34, R36 Other Research Grants - Renewal, Resubmission, Revision    March 16
July 16
November 16
NIH R15Grants -New, Renewal, Resubmission, RevisionFebruary 25
June 25
October 25

Please contact an OGSR representative if you wish to apply to any particular mechanism.

Revised Time and Effort Policy

The full institutional Time and Effort policy (revised 7/21/2016) can be referenced at:

In order to certify that effort expended on a project is at least commensurate with the salary charged against the sponsored program, the University employs an after-the-fact effort reporting system for faculty, administrators, and staff who have a portion of their salary or time charged to a sponsored program. Individual effort reports are required for each cycle, as defined below, for all employees who have a portion of their salary or time charged to a federal sponsored program as mandated. The Office of Grants and Sponsored Research (OGSR) shall ensure full compliance with the University’s time and effort reporting requirements and along with Business Affairs, maintain full documentation, which will be available for inspection by the University’s auditors.

Please review the policy noted at the link above.  

Chemistry Department Awarded NSF  S-Stem Grant

St. John's University has been awarded a National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grant.  This grant, $650,000 for both direct and indirect costs, under the direction of Alison Hyslop (PI, Chemistry), Dianella Howarth (co-PI, Biology and Environmental Studies), Gina Florio (co-PI, Chemistry), Gen Long (co-PI, Physics), and David Rosenthal (co-PI, Mathematics) will support approximately 70 students with scholarships and mentoring in three cohorts over the 5-year award period to attain B.S. degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, and to facilitate entry into the STEM workforce or advanced degree programs upon graduation.

The goals of the SSP are to

  •  improve educational opportunities for the scholars,
  •  increase graduation rates,
  •  increase the number STEM students entering graduate school, and
  • Increase the number of well-educated and skilled employees in the STEM field.

The objectives of our program are to

  • increase access and opportunity in STEM education, particularly for students with financial need,
  • build community among the SJU STEM scholars and with the faculty,
  • create an interdisciplinary, scholarly, scientific culture on campus,
  • promote academic excellence,
  • encourage and facilitate research participation,
  • develop faculty-student and peer mentoring programs, and
  • direct educational outreach and community service projects, each in keeping with the University's Mission and Core Values.

The SSP goals and objectives are to be accomplished through financial support, mentoring, curricular and co-curricular programming, and enhanced support services afforded by the NSF S-STEM award.

In regard to securing the highly competitive S-STEM grant, Dr. Hyslop stated  that “ The awarding of this grant was made possible through the teamwork of the PI and co-PIs and the help of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Research.  We envision that this grant will bring opportunities for students in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics to work together and, using science and math address global issues.”

Biology Department Secures Three NIH Area Grant Awards

The St. John’s College Department of Biological Sciences was awarded three competitive NIH Academic Research Enhancement (AREA) grants collectively totaling $1,485,000.

In response to this massive success procured by his department, Dr. Ales Vancura (Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences) stated “The Department of Biological Sciences is extremely proud of all faculty members who have secured extramural research funding. The funding climate has become extremely competitive and the number of research grants in the Biology department is a testament of the academic caliber of our faculty. This is a great time for the Biology department, since the majority of our faculty members currently have federal research funding, and at the same time, our student enrollment has been increasing.  Our students want to be involved in our research, and increasing scholarship and external funding will increase student engagement and satisfaction, and will contribute to the academic reputation of St. John’s University.

The NIH AREA program enables qualified scientists to receive support for small-scale research projects.  These grants are intended to create a research opportunity for scientists and institutions otherwise unlikely to participate extensively in NIH programs that support the Nation's biomedical and behavioral research effort. An AREA grants primary goals are to support meritorious research, expose students to research, and to strengthen the research environment of an institution.

Dr. Ales Vancura was awarded an NIH grant (in the amount of $495,000) complimenting his
Research Transcriptional Regulation and Metabolism. This project focuses on mutual regulation of metabolism and chromatin. Metabolism, through acetyl-CoA homeostasis and histone acetylation, regulates chromatin structure and transcription. Conversely, chromatin structure, through transcriptional regulation, affects metabolic pathways and thus acetyl-CoA homeostasis. The central hypothesis of this project is that metabolism, through acetyl-CoA homeostasis and histone acetylation, regulates transcription of histone genes, which in turn regulates mitochondrial respiration. This represents a novel signaling mechanism, whereby decreased histone transcription and globally altered chromatin structure trigger mitochondrial respiration and increased synthesis of ATP. Perturbations in histone acetylation alter the expression pattern of genes involved in cellular growth, resulting in cancer. The aim of this proposal is to understand how metabolism affects histone acetylation and transcriptional regulation and to utilize this information to develop novel strategies for cancer treatment.

Dr. Ivana Vancurova was awarded an NIH grant (in the amount of $495,000.) complimenting her research Targeting IKK and HDAC Mediated IL-8 Expression in Ovarian and Prostate Cancer. This proposal focuses on the mechanisms by which histone deacetylase (HDAC) and proteasome inhibition induces expression of the pro-inflammatory chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) in solid tumors. Since IL-8 promotes tumor progression and metastases, and since HDAC and proteasome inhibitors have been tested in clinical studies for the treatment of advanced stages of solid tumors including ovarian and prostate cancer, understanding the mechanisms of how HDAC and proteasome inhibitors induce the IL-8 expression will lead to the development of more effective combination anti-cancer strategies. In addition, this project will enhance the research environment at St. John’s University by providing undergraduate and graduate students with numerous opportunities to learn the fundamentals of biomedical research.

Dr. Matteo Ruggiu was awarded his first NIH AREA research grant in the amount of $495,000. Dr. Ruggiu’s lab studies protein-RNA networks that control alternative splicing, and how they relate to neurons and to diseases of the nervous system. This grant will allow them to study how NOVA, a neuron-specific splicing factor involved in an autoimmune neurodegenerative disease, regulates nerve cell-specific alternative splicing of agrin — a molecule that is the master architect of the synapses between nerve cells and muscle cells at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and that is involved in congenital myasthenic syndrome (CMS) in humans: a diverse group of inherited diseases affecting neuromuscular transmission at the point of contact between motor axons and muscle fibers at the NMJ. NOVA is required to make a splice isoform of agrin — termed Z+ agrin — that is present only in nerve cells and is critical for the formation, development, and maintenance of the NMJ, and mutations in the agrin gene lead to CMS in humans.

In response to the grant, Dr. Ruggiu stated: “This project will provide both undergraduate and graduate students with a unique opportunity to learn the fundamentals of molecular biology with a focus on biomedical research.  Students in my lab will get the opportunity to do hands-on research in gene splicing in neurons and work on tissue culture models of human diseases.  By understanding how neurons work, we hope to contribute to the development of cures and treatments of neurodegenerative diseases. My own laboratory experience started at the undergraduate level, and therefore I have a strong commitment and enthusiasm for undergraduate teaching, both in the classroom and at the bench. Direct engagement with students working in the lab can prove a very formative experience for a student’s career, particularly the realization that scholarly research can be the foundation of a creative process”.

The OGSR congratulates all awardees on their hard earned success and their commitment to building a sponsored research culture at St. John’s University.

Sponsored Program Information Network (SPIN)

SJU holds an active subscription to the Sponsored Programs Information Network (SPIN), which is accessible to all members of the SJU community. SPIN contains information on more than 8,000 current funding opportunities, i.e., grants, fellowships and other support programs. Published by InfoEd, Inc., the database is updated almost daily. The user will find a helpful keyword thesaurus divided into twelve major categories or topics. Included among the broad topics are separate sections on: Arts/Humanities; Behavioral/Social Sciences; Education; Science and Technology; Mathematics; Computer Science; Management/Commerce; and Law. After clicking on a broad topic, the SPIN user has the option of narrowing his/her search by selecting one or more descriptive keywords. An individual may sign up for email notification of opportunities relevant to his/her discipline.

Please contact Grants Specialist, Elenora Levin at [email protected] to activate your user SPIN account and arrange for a tutorial.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

What You Should Know Before You Conduct Research with Human Participants
Any project that involves the planned collection of, and/or analysis, of data obtained from living individuals must first be submitted to the St. John’s University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review and approval. The principal function of the IRB is to ensure that such individuals are treated ethically as per federal regulations (
The University’s IRB is a federally mandated committee of faculty, administrators, medical doctors and community representatives which is charged to review and approve all research protocols involving humans as participants and created by anyone affiliated with St. John’s.  The principal function of the IRB is to protect individuals who volunteer to participate as human participants in research.

Faculty who would like to learn more about the policies and procedures regarding the use of humans as subjects, including the IRB application and submission process, may contact Dr. Marie Nitopi, IRB Coordinator, at [email protected] or at ext. 1440. In addition, faculty can arrange to schedule a workshop for a group of students who are working on a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation that involve human participants.

Women in Science

2016-2017 Clare Boothe Luce Scholars
St. John’s University Women in Science program supports and encourages women who plan careers in STEM disciplines, areas in which they have been historically underrepresented. A unique component of the Women in Science program is the Clare Booth Luce (CBL) Program. 

Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987) was truly ahead of her time and under the terms of her will, she established a legacy that would benefit women who possessed talent and ambition in the sciences and engineering.  The CBL Program, established in 1989 is the single largest private source of funding for women in the STEM disciplines.  St. John’s University is one of thirteen educational institutions specifically designated in Mrs. Luce’s bequest, to have access in perpetuity to the income from this initial allocation.

Grants to colleges and universities are made to support women in one of three stages: 1) undergraduate, 2) graduate, and 3) beginning tenure-track faculty appointments.  At St. John’s University, CBL undergraduate scholars, who meet specific criteria and upon approval of the Luce Foundation, receive full tuition and fees.  They must maintain a 3.5 overall GPA and continually show evidence of outstanding academic achievement as well as a capacity for independent thinking and research in their chosen field of study.  Graduate scholars receive a stipend and are chosen on the basis of their academic achievement as well as their potential to make significant contributions when they have become established in their fields.
St. John’s University currently has ten CBL undergraduate scholars (majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and toxicology), three CBL graduate scholars (majoring in biology, chemistry and toxicology) and one CBL Professor, (computer science).

Patrina Foundation Grant
The Women in Science program (Marie Nitopi, Ed.D., Coordinator) was awarded a grant in the amount of $9,256.00 from the Patrina Foundation.  This grant will support the continuation of a Middle School STEM enrichment program for girls which will be held on several Saturdays during the 2016-17 academic year. The program includes activities that strengthen math and science skills, introduce students to college life, and stimulate interest in science and math as a career path. The Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of girls and women.

Goals for Girls Program
On Friday, August 5, 2016, St. John’s University Women in Science (WIS) program hosted the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum’s GOALS for Girls program.  Approximately 45 rising 8th and 9th grade girls participated in the one day workshop   focusing on classes in pharmacy and toxicology. Professors and WIS scholars provided the young women with hands on activities which explored the structure and activity of drugs, designing drug product, assessing pharmacological effects, and assessing toxic effects.
The SJU Women in Science program established in 1990 encourages women to undertake collegiate studies in the sciences and technology -- areas in which women historically are underrepresented. Students  enjoy a wide range of academic opportunities, including participation in mentoring programs, workshops and lectures.

The Intrepid’s GOALS (Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science) for Girls program aims to increase the presence of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields by providing female students with a positive influence, increasing their confidence and improving their attitudes toward STEM topics, equipping them with skills and resources needed for success.

The two programs came together with the joint mission of supporting and encouraging curious minds to explore STEM studies and careers. The day can be summed up in the words of the young women:  “I can’t stop talking about how unique and interesting this trip was, and “Continue these workshops, they are fun!”

Educational Workshops

Introduction to Grants
October 6, 2016 | 12:15- 1:40 p.m.
This presentation will focus on the basics—a good first step toward preparing a successful grant application.  Explore how the OGSR can support your efforts at St. John’s!
Location: St. Augustine B3 (Library)

Elements for Grants Success
October 27, 2016 | 1:50- 3:15 p.m.
Marillac Hall Rm. 111A
Learn the basics of successful proposal writing and identifying a diverse array of sponsors.  The Elements for Grants Success workshop will inform you of the “do’s and don’ts” of proposal writing and submission preparation. Enhance your understanding of sponsor review criteria, provide constructive proposal building techniques and much more.

Enhancing a Sponsored Research Culture at SJU: Round Table Discussion
November 3, 2016 | 1:50-3:15 p.m.
Marillac Hall Rm. 111A
Please join us for a lively discussion on faculty incentives, engagement and other methods designed to enhance upon the SJU sponsored research culture.

Proposal Budgeting
November 10, 2016 | 1:50- 3:15 p.m.
Marillac Hall Rm. 111A
Learn the basics on how to create a winning line budget and justification for a grant proposal. This session will explore the fundamentals in allocating direct costs, indirect costs, and all that they entail and relate to one another in a grant proposal. In addition, you will learn specifics pertaining to allowable costs vs. unallowable costs, as well as how a budget should properly reflect your narrative.