Biophysical Society Newsletter - July 2016





Public Affairs New Overtime Rules to Impact Postdoctoral Pay

The SBIR program is a competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development (R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Each federal agency that has an extramural research and devel- opment budget over $100 million is required to allocate 2.8% of its budget to this program. NIH (as part of the Department of Health and Human Services), National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the Department of Energy (DOE) all qualify and have a SBIR program. The reauthori- zation bill would increase the SBIR set-aside from 3.2% in 2018 to 6% in 2016. The STTR program is a competitive program that funds collaborations between small businesses and research institutions in Phase I or Phase II, with the goal of spurring innovation, and encouraging the commercialization of innovations arising from federally funded research. Agencies with federal R&D budgets in excess of $1 billion participate in the program. This includes the NIH, NSF, NASA, and DOE. The bill would increase the STTR set-aside from 0.45% to 1.0% over six years. The letter sent to Congress noted that while the signing organizations agree that small businesses are a vital piece of the scientific research commu- nity in the United States, increasing the manda- tory set aside for these programs will decrease the research opportunities available to investigators at colleges and universities, nonprofit research insti- tutes, and other research organizations, especially at a time when future funding levels for research are very uncertain. The letter also suggested that the best way to examine the SBIR program is through the regular authorization process. The SBIR program is currently authorized through September 2017. White House Launches Na- tional Microbiome Initiative The White House Office of Science and Tech- nology Policy (OSTP), in collaboration with federal agencies and private-sector stakeholders, announced May 13 a new National Microbiome

In May, the White House issued new rules for overtime pay that will impact both researchers employing postdocs and postdocs alike. The rul- ing makes, with some exceptions, everyone who earns under $47,476 per year eligible for overtime pay regardless of their duties. This includes most postdoctoral researchers (rules may be different for those who primarily teach—less common in biomedical research than in other disciplines). On the same day, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez discussed the impact of this ruling on postdoctoral fellows in a Huffington Post Blog. In that post, Collins announced that the NIH will be raising postdoctoral National Re- search Service Award recipients’ salaries to above that threshold, and encouraged Principal Inves- tigators (PIs) to follow suit. The post explains why it would be very difficult to pay postdoctoral fellows hourly, thus the decision for the pay raise. While this is good news for the postdoctoral community, it will require PIs to re-examine their budgets if they are currently paying postdocs less than the new threshold amount. PIs in the middle of a multi-year grant period will have to shift funds. The new rule takes effect December 1, giv- ing the research community six months to work out the details. Biophysical Society Opposes Increase in SBIR Set Aside The Biophysical Society joined 77 other profes- sional societies and research institutions in sharing its opposition to increasing the set-aside for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Pro- gram and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, as proposed in bill HR 4783, to Congress. The societies undersigned a letter sent to the House Science, Space and Technol- ogy Committee, as well as the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, which were consider- ing legislation that the SBIR/STTR bill might be attached to.

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