Welcome to another issue of Spotlight on Aging Research – SOAR . Since the last issue in February, a lot has been happening at the NIA and the NIH. I invite you to read SOAR for the latest policies, programs, and events. Specifically, let me call your attention to a new, weekly NIA blog for researchers and the broader community interested in aging research; I encourage you to both subscribe and comment.
Right now, I suspect that budget and funding policies are of primary concern to many of you. The appropriation for fiscal year 2013, finalized on March 26, stands at $29 billion for the NIH and $1.04 billion for the NIA, representing a 5.5 percent decrease from the previous year’s funding. This reflects the Congressional Continuing Resolution on appropriations and sequestration cuts. We posted NIA’s funding policy  on May 8, reflecting our planning based on these events.
NIA’s strategy is to distribute cuts broadly. We will continue our policy on competing awards of favoring those under $500,000 (11th percentile funding line) over larger awards (8th percentile funding line). For NIA-reviewed research applications, scores (not percentiles) of 13 or better are being paid. We continue to give new and early stage investigators advantages for research project grants.
Some of the pain of the cuts will be felt in the tight funding lines described above, and the remainder through cuts in non-competing awards through the average 18 percent cut that we make in competing awards and the sequestration-related cut of an additional 5.5 percent from non-competing awards. The full details on all of this are in our funding policy statement.
Bottom line: Last year, our overall success rate was 15.5 percent. We are hoping to achieve a similar rate this year. It looks right now that for applications reviewed by NIA in 2013, the success rate will likely range between 18 and 23 percent and that we will be able to fund about one-fifth to one-quarter of the applications we review. For applications reviewed by the Center for Scientific Review (CSR), the success rate for the bulk of our applications will likely range from 14 to 17 percent. Dr. Robin Barr, director of the NIA Division of Extramural Activities, provides an excellent tutorial and references about differential paylines and success rates in his first few blog posts .
Despite the challenges of cuts in funding, we are moving forward to review, support, and conduct some very exciting research. Additionally, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins has directed $40 million more toward research focused on Alzheimer’s during FY 2013. As we continue to promote research opportunities across our mission, I will stay in touch.
Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
National Institute on Aging, NIH