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Alzheimer's disease funding: interim update on payline

Dr. Robin Barr
Robin BARR,
Director, DEA,
Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

Last year (fiscal year 2014), we received $100 million of additional appropriated funds largely to support research on Alzheimer’s disease. We allocated those funds using mechanisms including  multi-year funding to provide a revenue stream for competing dollars in future years as well, as we were uncertain that future year budgets would provide additional increases. This year (fiscal year 2015), our budget was boosted by an additional $25 million for research on Alzheimer’s disease. The President’s Budget for fiscal year 2016 proposes another $50 million for Alzheimer’s research. These trends suggest more opportunities to support this area than we had earlier anticipated.

So, we are re-orienting our funding strategy. We focused largely on initiatives and strategic priorities in fiscal year 2014, with a lesser amount allocated to funding investigator-initiated proposals beyond the NIA payline. This year, we are moving to establish a separate, enhanced payline for Alzheimer’s funding while still reserving some support for initiatives and strategic priorities. In making that choice, we now expect that Alzheimer’s research will continue to have an enhanced payline relative to other fields in future years. The updated funding policy statement I am sharing with you today shows the funding line for Alzheimer’s disease research for CSR-reviewed research grant applications and introduces a payline for NIA-reviewed applications focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

At the same time, we are broadening the base of support for Alzheimer’s disease work across the kinds of activities that we fund and the policies that we follow. With more growth expected in the Alzheimer’s field in future years, we are now expanding support for mentored career development awards in Alzheimer’s to increase the cadre of qualified researchers. Similarly, we are extending the new and early stage investigator policies that we follow to the Alzheimer’s payline. New and early stage investigator R01 applications will enjoy the same advantage in our Alzheimer’s payline as in our general pay line (3 and 5 points above that line).

Anticipating more translation of findings from Alzheimer’s disease research into innovations in practice, we are expanding support for small business innovative research awards focused on translating Alzheimer’s findings.

A content sensitive payline means that we will have some uncertainty at the edges over what is and is not research on Alzheimer’s disease and, as a result, what projects may be eligible for consideration in the enhanced pay line. We post guidance on what we interpret as Alzheimer’s research. Contact your program officer -- e-mail is best -- if you remain uncertain about the relevance of your project to Alzheimer’s disease given the way we represent the field.

In the blog I posted two weeks ago, I expressed hope that our general payline will increase later in the year. I remain hopeful about that. We have some reason to believe that the Alzheimer’s payline will improve later in the year, too. We are holding funds for the May Council cycle and for applications responding to our recent Alzheimer’s initiatives (on Vascular Contributions, Down Syndrome, and Immune and Inflammatory Factors). We are being conservative for now. For updates in the second half of fiscal 2015, watch this space!


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