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April pay line update

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NIA Blog Team

It is April. Spring flowers, trees in bud, warming temperatures, and a funding update from NIA that is as natural as the Spring, and as welcome as the flowers? (OK. Not so much!)

Still, it is good news for some. Within the general allocation we have pushed the pay line for applications under $500K to the 9th percentile. That now rises a little above 2015’s, 8th percentile year of misery. We are continuing to reach out to early-stage and other new investigators, even more than in earlier years, in these tight times, and are supporting R01 applications from early-stage investigators to the 19th percentile, and from other new investigators, to the 17th percentile. If you are seeking more funds from us ($500K and over) then you need to work a little harder, and do a little better in review, as we subtract three points from each line if your application’s costs rise to the $500K threshold and beyond.

The news for Alzheimer’s research is definitely more Spring-like. The substantial increase in our allocation for Alzheimer’s research in fiscal year 2016 is really making an impact on our ability to pay research in this field. The pay line now reaches the 22nd percentile. Early-stage investigator R01 applications will be paid to the 27th percentile and R01 applications from other new investigators will be paid to the 25th percentile. We certainly hope that the funds will lead to many more exciting findings and accelerated progress over the next few years.

Percentiling confusion for the Alzheimer’s FOAs

I want to take this opportunity to clear up some confusion around the reviews of applications that were the first to respond to the 10 Alzheimer’s-related FOAs that we issued last Fall. We will not use the percentile ranks that appear here for these applications. So, if you responded to one of these FOAs, do not use the 22nd percentile (and related numbers) to find out if your application is being paid. We will rely on the priority scores for these applications and, of course, critical reading of the reviews. The problem with the percentile rank in this case is that different panels used different standards to rank them. The panels went all the way from using the table of all CSR-reviewed applications as a comparison set to percentiling them against themselves in review (and shades in between, too). So, any kind of comparison by percentile across the applications responding to different FOAs makes no sense and we cannot use the percentile ranks to allocate funds to each of the FOAs.

Is this all there is?

Will there be a summer? I do not expect our general allocation funding line to change again this year. It is much more likely that we will again raise the Alzheimer’s allocation funding line. Also, some select pay of Alzheimer’s applications is possible—with senior staff discussing each choice before making a decision. We are also likely to make more short-term high-priority awards (R56) both from the general allocation and from the Alzheimer’s allocation.

And, finally, a little more patience is necessary for news about policies for career award, fellowship, and small business award aspirants. There are reasons why updates for each of these funding lines is delayed, and the reasons are different for each line. I hope to have news on them next month.

I will be glad to answer any questions that you have about these policies as they affect you or your field of aging research.