The NIH announced a new Special Council Review (SCR) policy in which IC Advisory Councils will perform additional review of applications from PIs who receive $1.0M or more per year in RPG funding (direct costs). The notice lists the applicable funding mechanisms as well as certain exceptions:
- Pending applications submitted in response to RFAs, which use a single round of competition to address a targeted research objective of IC(s) and are separately considered for funding.
- P01s and other multi-project RPG applications unless all of the PD/PIs and sub-project leaders are at or above the $1 million threshold.
- Multi-PD/PI projects unless all of the PD/PIs are at or above the $1 million threshold.
- Subprojects within complex applications. This may be revisited by NIH once we begin to accept complex applications through eRA Commons.
- Administrative supplements
So how does this work?
Council members will receive a list of competing applications that will be considered for funding from PD/PIs that meet the SCR threshold along with a justification of the IC’s recommendation to consider for funding or not consider for funding. In assessing these applications, Council will be asked to recommend consideration of funding for applications that afford a unique opportunity to advance research which is both highly promising and distinct from the other funded projects from the PD/PI.
And what other wiggle room will Councils have in approving awards to well-funded PIs?
When applied to renewal applications, Council may also assess the value of continuing a productive project and the contribution of this project to the research program of the PD/PI and his/her ongoing collaborations. These recommendations also will recognize that some types of research require higher levels of support than others (e.g., clinical trials and population sciences) and that some RPG mechanisms are used for purposes which are more targeted than other RPGs and so may not be appropriate for SCR.
Sally Rockey notes that about 89 applications will be subject to this review in September. Stay tuned for how this plays out …