Although a Congressional mandate has been in place for many years to keep the “average” length of RPG awards issued at 4 years, most ICs manage this by letting 2-year R03 and R21 awards offset some of the 5-year R01 awards. This is trickier at an IC such as NIGMS, since they do not participate in the short-term mechanisms, so often they “adjust” R01s to 4 years, as do other ICs (e.g., NIBIB) – including NHLBI in past years. At the November 2012 Council meeting, the NHLBAC learned about NHLBI’s new fiscal policy on R01 project length:
The Institute’s longstanding practice was to adjust duration of R01s to achieve a 4 year average for research project grants. Applications that received the very best percentiles and those from Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) received awards for the full length of their Council-recommended project periods. The Institute has made a decision that beginning in FY 2014, it will fund competing, investigator-initiated R01s for 4years. Exceptions include ESIs, applications with timelines that cannot be accomplished within 4 years, and AIDS projects (which have a separate appropriation). Researchers are encouraged to submit for review only applications with a project period of 4 years or less.
NHLBI dropped out of the R21 parent announcement and does not participate in the R03 parent announcement either, so this is not entirely a surprise, but the explicit request that PIs submit proposals limited to 4 or fewer years in duration is new.