The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009. The NIH will receive $10 billion in ARRA funds to be used in fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2010. The NIA will receive a portion of these funds in direct appropriations to obligate over two fiscal years. Through a series of grants and initiatives, the stimulus funds will be used to intensify and expand scientific study and support the research infrastructure in aging processes, age-related diseases, and problems and needs unique to older people.
“We believe that this infusion of funds has the real potential to stimulate the study of many aspects of aging and age-related conditions,” says NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes. “Our goal is to support quality research projects that offer an opportunity for significant advances within the 2-year timeframe of the Recovery Act.”
The mechanisms through which ARRA funds will be distributed to investigators are described on the NIA Web site at www.nia.nih.gov/recovery. Some of the funds will be used to support recently peer-reviewed and highly meritorious, but previously unfunded, investigator-initiated projects that can be advanced with a 2-year grant. These projects are highly competitive, reflecting a strong and vigorous community focused on aging research.
ARRA award categories
The NIA also anticipates supporting new types of activities that fit into the structure of the ARRA. One of the new mechanisms is the NIH Challenge Grant program. The NIA is seeking applications in 15 categories focusing on health and science concerns related to aging. The number of awards and amount of funds will be determined by peer review and will be based on the scientific merit of the applications; the maximum award is $500,000 per year for 2 years. The deadline for Challenge Grant applications was May 8, 2009.
The Grand Opportunities (GO) Grants also provide a means to support high-impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term, nonrenewable funding and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation. The NIA has identified a number of research areas in which it is seeking applications and expects to devote up to $35 million to this program over the next 2 years. The deadline for GO grant applications is May 29, 2009.
Opportunities for existing projects
“ARRA funds will also be used to promote job opportunities for students and science educators,” says Dr. Robin Barr, director of the NIA’s Division of Extramural Activities, whose office supports many of NIA’s research training activities. “Investigators and institutions with active NIH Research Project Grants and some other award categories can request administrative supplements for summer jobs and internships for high school, college, and graduate students, as well as short-term research experiences for science teachers in NIH-funded labs. This will encourage students to pursue research careers in the health-related sciences, as well as provide elementary, middle school, and high school teachers, community college faculty, and other faculty with hands-on research experiences.”
Many positions for summer 2009 have already been filled. Remaining application receipt dates for NIA educational supplements are June 1, 2009 (for 1- or 2-year requests) and March 1 and May 3, 2010 (for 1-year requests). Notification of awards will be no later than June 30, 2009, for FY2009 applications.
Investigators and institutions with active NIH Research Project Grants and some other award categories can request administrative supplements to increase the tempo of approved and funded projects. This program will provide researchers with supplementary funds to increase activity on active grants, with the ultimate goal of promoting job creation and economic development along with accelerating the pace of scientific research. Requests may be for up to 2 years of support.
Overall, the NIA expects to devote up to $15 million to this ARRA supplement program in FY2009 and FY2010. NIA will give highest priority to requests of up to $100,000 per year for up to 2 years. Remaining application receipt dates for administrative supplements are June 1 and July 1, 2009 (for 1- or 2-year requests) and March 1, May 3, and July 1, 2010 (for 1-year requests). Notification of awards will occur by Sept. 30, 2009, for FY2009 applications and by Sept. 30, 2010, for FY2010 applications.
“This is a busy and exciting time for the NIA and for the aging research community as a whole through support by both ARRA and non-ARRA mechanisms,” says Dr. Hodes. “We are continuing to pursue a wide range of basic, applied, and clinical activities through both extramural and intramural investigations.”
For more information:
NIA: www.nia.nih.gov/recovery 
NIH: www.nih.gov/recovery/index.htm 
Federal government: www.recovery.gov