NIH Stimulus Funding Strategy Announced

NB: The ARRA Stimulus Funding Resources Page provides deadlines and links organized both by funding opportunity and by IC as well as the writedit Challenge Grant narrative template and other useful resources.

Back online! Separate “Changes” page summarizing key points and tabulating updated information is very helpful.

NIAID has taken the lead and announced its strategy for distributing its $1.1B in stimulus funding, which includes spending at least 75% for unsolicited research grants that fall into the following categories:

    2-year R01s that rank from 12.1 through the 25 percentile that were submitted but not funded in FY 2008 or FY 2009
    Other grant types at a comparable level (e.g., R21, R03)
    R56-Bridge awards
    – automatically extend FY08 awards for an additional year
    – new awards depending on availability of funds and score

NHLBI, NINDS, NCI, NINR, NIMH , and NCMHD have slightly different distribution plans.

NIAID will not use money for foreign grants, clinical trials, or epidemiology projects (latter cannot be completed in 2 years). No escalation is provided for the second year. New and early-stage investigators will get a 4-5 year award, and NIAID may award or extend some fellowships and career awards. NIAID plans to fund an extremely small number of administrative or competitive supplements.

NIAID offers a link to the NIH Challenge Grants Website and notes that in addition to the current S10 (shared instrumentation) program announcement, three more FOAs will be issued by NCRR:

    Coming soon is a high-end Shared Instrumentation Grant Program initiative for items such as electron microscopes and cyclotrons, which will open in May 2009. Limit on equipment cost will be around $8 million.
    NCRR will publish two funding opportunities for construction and alteration and renovation: one to renovate core facilities, the other for general alterations and renovations. Both will allow requests up to $10 million and do not require institutional matching.

As usual, NIAID has a great all-purpose tutorial on ARRA stimulus funding, including what to expect/do if you are tapped for stimulus funding and a look ahead to the grim reality that awaits us all in 2011:

In the FY 2011 budget, NIAID will have whatever percent increase that it will receive to the budget after FY 2009. It’s not likely to increase to make up for the end of the stimulus funds.

Hundreds of grants funded with stimulus money will end in FY 2011, and many of those investigators will be applying to renew their funding. In addition, many other investigators will likely apply for funding in FY 2011, including people trying to renew their grants.

However, the Institute does not expect the growth in our base funding to establish a payline to continue funding all those grants. Neither will NIAID have R56-Bridge award money to extend them.

As a result, we expect the payline to drop precipitously. So FY 2011 will be a very difficult year for people to secure funding, whether they are funded from the stimulus funds or the regular appropriation.

In any case, you may want to think about different strategies for applying. For example:

    * Start writing your next grant now for FY 2010 funding on a different but related topic.
    * Get the research done so you can strongly justify your grant’s recompetition. Keep your timing options open, recognizing that FY 2011 will be a really difficult year for applicants.


  1. pinus said

    Nice to see that at least one institute is giving some direction. Hopefully some others will follow shortly.

    And regarding the funding deadzone of 2011…that is frightening, and more motivation to get a grant funded by 2010!

  2. RGP said

    I asked our Dean of Research about this and she said there is a huge push to bolster NIH funding for FY 2011 and beyond. She seemed to regard the NIAID warning more as a “scare tactic” approach….it’s her opinion and I had alerted my colleagues to this possibility but I would rather be at the ready than see my lab shrink.

    I really appreciate these updates on your blog.


    Specter would like to increase the NIH budget to $40B, but with the billions and trillions currently being spent to staunch the economic hemorrhaging, I’m not sure we can realistically expect increased funding levels as soon as 2011. – writedit

  3. writedit said

    NHLBI offers a bit of guidance as well:

    The NHLBI will receive about 10 percent of the $7.4 billion, an amount that is proportional to the Institute’s share of the overall NIH appropriation. That additional funding will allow us to expand substantially our investment in research in support of our mandate to provide global leadership in the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases — diseases that include three of the four leading causes of death in the United States.

    We have been working diligently to select the most effective research support mechanisms to use in investing our share of the ARRA funds, and we are working closely with the DHHS to ensure transparency and accountability for Recovery Act funds.

    An overriding principle in making our funding decisions will be scientific merit. Although many types of funding mechanisms are likely to be supported, the NIH—and the NHLBI—will focus primarily on the following:

    Recently peer-reviewed, highly meritorious applications for research project grants (R01s) and similar mechanisms capable of making significant advances with a two-year grant.
    Targeted supplements to current NHLBI grants and contracts.
    Challenge grants.

  4. writedit said

    NINDS seems to be leaning toward supplements:

    Many types of funding mechanisms will be supported, but in general, NIH will emphasize recently peer reviewed, highly meritorious R01 and similar mechanisms that have a reasonable expectation of making progress in a two-year grant, as well as new R01 applications that meet this expectation. NINDS will also provide funding for targeted supplements to accelerate the pace of ongoing scientific work by our current grantees. In addition, NIH will support awards to jump start the new NIH Challenge Grant program.

  5. writedit said

    To help achieve this transparency, new NCI reporting mechanisms are being developed for the grantees and institutions that receive funds from the stimulus package. These 2-year awards will be supported via three primary mechanisms:

    Already reviewed, highly meritorious R01 applications that make scientific sense to fund for only 2 years, as well as new R01 applications that have a reasonable expectation of making progress in 2 years
    Administrative and competitive supplements to current grants
    Challenge grants, which are intended to provide jumpstart funds for projects that address defined health and science challenges, and where it is believed reasonable
    progress is feasible in a 2-year time frame

    NCI’s leadership is working under an accelerated timetable to create a spending plan that meets the stimulus package goals, while striking an all-important balance between increases in the number of grants for individual investigators, where there are long-term financial obligations, and a greater commitment to solicited, team-science projects—such as IT-related efforts like caBIG, BIG Health, and efforts related to the development of electronic medical records.

  6. BB said

    “Already reviewed, highly meritorious R01 applications that make scientific sense to fund for only 2 years, as well as new R01 applications that have a reasonable expectation of making progress in 2 years
    Administrative and competitive supplements to current grants
    Challenge grants, which are intended to provide jumpstart funds for projects that address defined health and science challenges, and where it is believed reasonable
    progress is feasible in a 2-year time frame .”

    I am toast.

  7. writedit said

    NINR is working to determine how to best invest the resources allocated to us. Funds will be distributed so as to support the best scientific research highly relevant to the NINR research mission, and that which has expectations of producing results within the two-year period of the funding provided by ARRA. Full details remain to be determined, but broadly, NINR will seek to:

    · Support recently peer reviewed, highly meritorious R01 applications (and other similar mechanisms) capable of making significant advances with a two-year grant.

    · Support new R01 applications (and other similar mechanisms) received in response to forthcoming RFAs that have a reasonable expectation of making progress in a two-year grant.

    · Accelerate the tempo of ongoing science through targeted supplements to current grants.

  8. writedit said

    NIMH will receive approximately $350 million dollars and will use these funds to support basic and clinical R01 grants, supplements to existing grants, and grants funded through a new two year R01 program called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science. The Challenge Grants program will support studies that address scientific and health research gaps and will rapidly generate outcomes. This is an exciting opportunity to jumpstart many of the initiatives in the NIMH Strategic Plan while helping the nation’s recovery by providing jobs and research support for scientists around the country.

    Note, however, that these funds are not “business as usual.” The ARRA stipulates that all stimulus money must be spent within 2 years, requiring NIH and NIMH to establish an unusually quick turnaround for high-impact, short-term projects. In addition, there will be extensive reporting requirements for these funds so that the outcomes of this extraordinary investment can be monitored.

    Staff throughout NIH, including those at NIMH, are working diligently to determine how to best invest these resources. As this process unfolds, we encourage researchers to think about projects that could be completed with stimulus funding—especially studies that further the objectives described in the NIMH Strategic Plan. We are aware of how interested you are in these programs and will be providing more details as they become available. We are grateful for the opportunity afforded by the ARRA to advance the field of mental health research, further our mission, and help the nation recover from our current financial crisis.

  9. whimple said

    Uh, and they weren’t funding “high-impact short-term projects” before because… ?

  10. drugmonkey said

    what is UP with these immediately retracted trial balloons anyway?

    No kidding. There are only a few ways the NIH can spend this money given the constraints, so the question is just which ICs want to use which mechanisms … and these are all broad-stroke guidelines. I thought the control freaks had left town. – writedit

  11. writedit said

    PIs here are being contacted for JIT materials for R21s that were scored above the payline last year, one assumes for possible funding with stimulus money. Before the information was removed, NIAID noted this would be set at a priority score of 178 or less and/or within the top quartile.

    And one BICO PI received a stimulus-related e-mail from an NIH program officer with language that, well, one never sees in random, unexpected messages from the NIH:

    I’m writing to inquire about the status of your application [number, title] submitted in response to RFA [number (an 07 RFA), title]. As you may be aware, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly referred to as “stimulus funding,” has made resources available to NIH for possible funding of applications that didn’t meet earlier paylines. Your application may be eligible for such funding, although firm decisions about uses of stimulus funding are still many weeks away.

    I am writing now to ask whether you might be interested in receiving FY09-FY10 funding to … [do what you said you would]. …

    Please respond to … at your earliest convenience, but not later than Wednesday, March 4, as to whether you are still interested in receiving funding for this application.

    We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    The PI said it was all he could do not to hit reply within milliseconds exclaiming, HELL YES! Subsequent exchanges included multiple disclaimers that no promises or guarantees could be made, but that this application would be one in the great pool of potential awards that might maybe be paid via stimulus funding. Still, what fun to receive a missive such as this and get a serendipitous second chance.

  12. S Hyder said

    Anyone knows how NCI will distribute funds? It appears that program officers have not been notified yet.

    Broad guidelines noted above … details still bedeviled. – writedit

  13. writedit said

    It seems that stimulus funding decisions will be made at or shortly after the next regularly scheduled Advisory Council meetings (May-June). if you’ve received JIT requests for an application you did not expect to be funded, get the information in ASPAP! If you’ve received direct messages from program officers, be responsive within the tight deadlines they set!

  14. writedit said

    I’ve posted an ARRA Resource Page with links to FOAs, IC sites, major ARRA sites, and a couple of nice University ARRA Websites (was going to list Penn, but it’s now password protected!).

  15. S Hyder said

    thanks for providing the Resouce Page which is very useful.

    Is there a possibility of re-sending recently peer reviewed (2008, less than 20th percentile) but unfunded grants as challenge grants, or is the NIH going to conder these as an A3 submission in your opinion? I guess there is always a chance that these may get funded anyway.

    Grants reviewed and scored within the 25th percentile in 2008 will likely be considered for funding with stimulus money, depending on the IC. If you have received a JIT request, this is why, so get the information in ASAP!

    If you have not yet received a JIT request, contact your program officer to see if these well-scored but unfunded proposals still might be considered for ARRA funding. If it is an R01 rather than an R21 or R03 (ie, 2-year projects), you should be prepared to indicate to your program officer how much of the proposed work can be accomplished in 2 years.

    In any case, you can customize for the Challenge Grant program whatever portion of your original proposal could be accomplished in 2 years. The changes needed to meet the Challenge Grant submission requirements will sufficiently change the proposal so it does not get flagged as an A3 (though I’d certainly encourage you to change the title and project summary/abstract!). – writedit

  16. whimple said

    Are challenge grants being processed by CSR? Since it’s not an R01, do they care/check if it looks like a -A3 version of an unfunded R01?

    This is going to be such a chaotic logistical nightmare, I can’t imagine them running the software on the thousands of applications they will receive, and, yes, this is a different mechanism with a completely different narrative format, so even recycled ideas would not be flagged as A3 violations. – writedit

  17. S Hyder said

    Has anyone with good score for their RO1 in 2008 (less than 20th percentile ranking) recived a request for JIT from NCI recently?

  18. S Hyder said

    Any idea why the NCI has not anounced plans for funding previously reviewed but unfunded RO1/R21 grants? I thought that was one of the main points being considered for retaining existing personnel and preserving on-going programs. I am not sure if I am missing something here. Thanks.

    I think a lot of ICs are still nailing down their final plans, so patience is in order here. Plus, these same folks are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the CR/FY09 budget situation so they can take care of “routine” award management. My guess is this should be resolved by the end of the week, with better ARRA details forthcoming thereafter. That said, the JIT requests have already started going out for at least some ICs, and these (JITs) need to be issued quickly in time for presentation of stimulus-funded R01s/R21s/R03s to Council for consideration in May-June. – writedit

  19. S Hyder said


  20. writedit said

    NCMHD (minority health & health disparities) has released its ARRA funding plans:

    Administrative Supplements – Open only to eligible NCMHD grantees with an active grant

    NCMHD-Specific RFAs (2-year grants): Open to any interested applicant with or without a NCMHD or NIH grant

    NIH Challenge Grants (RC1) – Open to any interested applicant with or without a NCMHD or NIH grant

    Loan Repayment Program Awards –Open only to NCMHD FY2009 Applicants

  21. writedit said

    Updated info (slightly tweaked language) from NIMH:

    NIMH will use these funds to implement its Strategic Plan. Specifically, Recovery Act funds will be used to (a) support select basic and clinical research project applications with outstanding scores, (b) supplement currently funded projects in specific areas of need, (c) award NIH Challenge Grants as part of a new 2-year R01 program, and (d) jumpstart progress with new requests for applications.

    These funds are not “business as usual.” The Recovery Act stipulates that all stimulus funds must be obligated by Sept 30, 2010. NIH has issued guidance (NOT-OD-09-054) outlining the review, scoring, and appeals process for stimulus applications. In addition, there will be extensive reporting requirements for these funds so that the outcomes of this investment can be monitored.

  22. Ritter said

    Has anyone heard if R15 applications are included in the stimulus?

    Cheryl Kitt (CSR) indicated a separate AREA RFA would likely be issued and that applicants should think carefully about the Challenge Grants as one award could eliminate AREA eligibility. – writedit

  23. Ritter said

    Thanks writedit. I’m waiting to hear from NIAID an R15 scored near 170 in 2008.

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