Update: The NIH has released the Challenge Grant RFA and created a Website for the NIH Challenge Awards in Health and Science Research. More info here (including comments), plus Kington’s vision for ARRA spending, and a 12-page narrative template with additional advice is also available for download. Likely review timeline and scenario noted here.
Update: From the conference report: “The conference agreement adopts the Senate guidance that, to the extent possible, the $800,000,000 retained in the Office of the Director shall be used for purposes that can be completed within two years; priority shall be placed on short-term grants that focus on specific scientific challenges, new research that expands the scope of ongoing projects, and research on public and international health priorities. Bill language is included to permit the Director of NIH to use $400,000,000 of the funds provided in this account for the flexible research authority authorized in section 215 of Division G of P.L. 110-161.”
Get ready to be stimulated. House Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009) includes $3.5B for the NIH. Nature describes the distribution as
$1.5 billion would be for research at NIH centres over two years; $1.5 billion for building grants at university research facilities; and $500 million for construction on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
To me, that first pot of money sounds intramural. But according to Science, no – much more encouraging for us on the outside:
Biomedical researchers will have the chance to apply for quick-hit, $1 million challenge grants as part of the funding that the National Institutes of Health is slated to receive under the proposed economic recovery package introduced yesterday by Democrats in the House of Representatives. Each institute and center at NIH would be asked to identify “real scientific challenges that they are facing,” according to Acting NIH Director Raynard Kington. “Scientists would apply through a relatively quick process, to receive $500,000 a year for 2 years, to make progress in designated areas.” The grants could be extended for a longer time, Kington says, “depending on funding.”
… To avoid the boom-and-bust cycle that NIH has experienced in the past decade, half the money would be disbursed this year and the other half in 2010. “Funds will be allocated by competitive peer review to universities nationwide, as is current NIH funding, and to NIH intramural research,” explains a report accompanying the bill.
AAAS separately offers an analysis of all science R&D funding in the draft bill (also summarized in the Science Insider blog). More recently, Science has published a table comparing the stimulus package outlays for the House and Senate versions for scientific research.
Without their insider info, Science would be hard-pressed to interpret the Congressional press release about the bill as involving such an exciting means for distributing the pork, I mean, stimulus:
• National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research: $2 billion, including $1.5 billion for expanding good jobs in biomedical research to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, and heart disease – NIH is currently able to fund less than 20% of approved applications – and $500 million to implement the repair and improvement strategic plan developed by the NIH for its campuses.
• University Research Facilities: $1.5 billion for NIH to renovate university research facilities and help them compete for biomedical research grants. The National Science Foundation estimates a maintenance backlog of $3.9 billion in biological science research space. Funds are awarded competitively.
So … let’s see what comes out the other end of the sausage making machinery.