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NIA funding line policy for 2017: First draft

NIA funding line policy for 2017: First draft

Posted on February 8, 2017 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities. See Robin Barr's full profile.

The entire U.S. government, including NIA, is currently operating under an extension of a continuing resolution (CR) that will end on April 28…unless it is extended again, that is. A continuing resolution extends the previous year’s appropriations act, and the appropriations language within it, into the next fiscal year. It is usually minimally altered from the terms in the prior year. In other words, at this point in FY 2017, we’re operating with virtually the same budget we had in FY 2016.

Rather than wait in a state of suspended animation until we know our budget for this fiscal year, we have developed a pay line by projecting over the full year the funding that we now have under the current CR. This projection generates a general pay line that looks very similar to the line that we ended with last year. (In fact, we have managed the 11th percentile line in four of the last five years. I’m not going to say that this is becoming normal, but it’s something close to that.) New and early-stage investigators have 3- and 5-point advantages, respectively, in the pay line, corresponding to the 14th and 16th percentiles. Expensive applications—those requesting $500K and over—have pay lines three points poorer than the general pay line. All of these pay lines could change when we eventually learn what our final appropriation will be for FY17.

NIA-reviewed applications

We do not assign percentiles to applications reviewed by NIA. So, like the lines for training grants, career awards and fellowships, the funding lines for NIA-reviewed research grant applications are expressed as impact ratings (otherwise known as priority scores), rather than percentiles. Assiduous blog readers will know that program project applications, unlike other NIA-reviewed applications, are reviewed in two stages. The scores from the two-stage review are considerably more scattered than those from single-stage reviews. That explains why our general pay line for program projects, now at 28, is higher than our pay line for other NIA-reviewed research grant applications, now at 22.

Alzheimer’s disease research

I’ve written four paragraphs without mentioning Alzheimer’s disease. How remiss of me! You will discover more generous pay lines for research on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (ADRD) across most of our mechanisms. The lines are not as generous as last year’s lines, and—unlike last year—we are making administrative cuts in Alzheimer’s and related dementias research awards. Why is this necessary? Because we’ve had two years now to expand the Alzheimer’s and related dementias program and we have many more initiatives and applications this year than we did last year. On top of that, applications for many of the initiatives have either not yet been received, or, if received, have not yet been reviewed.

There’s also the matter of our uncertain final budget: There’s some chance that we will receive additional funds for AD and ADRD research this year, and some chance that we will not receive additional funds.

With that fog obscuring our clear view of the future, then, we are showing caution in the Alzheimer’s allocations at this time.

At least we are in double digits even as we wait out the long continuing resolution. I hope this information provides you some reassurance that we continue to have a funding stream, we continue to pay grant awards, and we continue to seek your applications on a wide range of age-related research.

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Posted by Rgp on Feb 10, 2017 - 2:58 am

I have a very basic question regarding the Alzheimer's funds -- do the listed Alzheimer's Paylines refer only to specific RFAs or can they also apply to grants submitted under "parent" grants?

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 10, 2017 - 9:12 am

More information on which applications the pay lines refer to is available from the funding policy page that you may access from the blog. In general, these pay lines do not cover RFAs, as pay lines for these are established individually.

Posted by K01_anonymous on Feb 14, 2017 - 5:46 pm

Is there any news on paylines for NIA career development awards?

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 17, 2017 - 9:57 am

Click on the link to the funding policy statement in the blog. The funding lines for career development awards are shown there.

Posted by ESI on Feb 16, 2017 - 1:54 pm

So it looks like you kept the standard payline the same but the NI/ESI bumps are less than last year. Why is that/do you expect that to persist?

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 17, 2017 - 10:00 am

Uncertain times is the answer. I hope we can be as generous to new and early-stage investigators by the end of this year as we were last year, but the continuing resolution ends on April 28. We must wait and see what comes next for us.

Posted by NM on Feb 17, 2017 - 3:51 pm

Hi, Do you have any information about the payline for the K01 award related to the Alzheimer's? My score is 25. Was it fundable last year? Thank you in advance.

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 17, 2017 - 4:47 pm

Please contact your program officer. If you are unsure who that is, then contact me.

Posted by Call me Al on Feb 22, 2017 - 12:02 am

Do you anticipate that the SBIRs and STTRs might also receive a bump before year's endif the budget is passed (hoping that additional funds for AD are allocated). My business grant is hovering above the current payline......if we went by last year's paylines,, it would have been PO said to call back in a few months

Posted by Robin Barr on Feb 23, 2017 - 11:15 am

I do anticipate that small business applications will also benefit if we receive additional funds before the end of the year. So you can keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by Call me Al on Feb 23, 2017 - 2:41 pm

Thank you, Dr. Barr....if it would help, I would include crossing my eyes and toes but this is making grant writing a little difficult :) Thank you very much for your delightful and informative blog -- the blog and the NIA website in general with up to date information on paylines and funding opportunities is very informative and that is very much appreciated.

Posted by R03 on Mar 02, 2017 - 2:28 pm

I clicked on the link to the funding policy statement in the blog. Which category would the GEMSSTAR R03 fall into? Or is it a separate entity? Thank you!

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 02, 2017 - 3:17 pm

As GEMSSTAR is an RFA with a set aside, it is "a separate entity" as you describe it. So keep in touch with your program officer. That is how you will learn about your chances of funding.

Posted by Scott Bryant on Mar 04, 2017 - 5:52 am

Dear Dr. Barr, I was hoping that you or Dr. Hunter could clarify a point regarding the new salary increases on the K awards. I have copied part of her blog below. For those of who have an existing K23 or K08 awards, can we apply for a salary increase from the NIA up to 100K. A second question I have about the K award, Do K awards only pay 75K per year in salary or 75% of salary. Thanks so much - Scott NIA has revised its salary caps on K awards As some of you may know, NIA and NIH have spent a considerable amount of intellectual capital to understand the issues confronting physician-scientists who elect to pursue a research career. Data support the fact that NIH career development (K) award programs play a key role in the training of physician-scientists. One key challenge, however, is the ability of physicians to secure adequate funding for research through K awards and other support mechanisms. To address this challenge—effective with applications that were submitted on February, 12, 2016, and moving forward—NIH is requiring ICs to allow up to $100,000 plus fringe benefits toward an applicant’s salary to cover the percentage effort requested on NIH K08 and K23 awards. Current K awardees also benefit from these new guidelines: For Type 5 awards, you can request a salary increase to bring the NIH contribution up to $100,000. The NIH Guide Notices NOT-OD-16-032 and NOT-OD-16-054 provide details of the changes to K08 and K23 salary and research cost allowances.

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 06, 2017 - 9:31 am

To obtain an increase in the salary commitment from NIA, show your current faculty salary level in your Type 5 application and request an increase assuming the new $100k cap. If you are currently at 75% effort on your award, then your faculty salary level needs to be at least $133,000 to qualify for the full increase. If your effort is higher, the needed faculty salary level is lower. K08 and K23 awards allow up to $100k as a salary contribution. Other mentored career awards continue to allow only $75,000. The minimum effort on all mentored career awards is 75% (nine person-months) but you can request up to 100% percent effort.

Posted by Scott Bryant on Mar 07, 2017 - 4:03 am

Thank you, Dr. Barr and NIA

Posted by JE on Mar 07, 2017 - 10:07 am

Dear Dr. Barr, For the paylines posted for grants for FY2017, there are different paylines listed for R01 grants that are less than 500k and for grants that are = or greater than 500k. Does this mean 500k per year or 500k total for the grant? Thank you.

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 07, 2017 - 12:07 pm

The 500k rule refers to an application requesting $500k or more in direct costs in any year of the proposed project. It does not refer to a total of $500k over the life of the project.

Posted by one applicant on Mar 08, 2017 - 2:09 pm

Dear Dr. Barr, Now that most of the reviews are done for this cycle (spring 2017) and most --if not all-- the applicants have received their scores/percentiles, where should we look to get a sense about funding? Will the table with paylines posted for FY2017 apply for these grants and the upcoming May Council? If not, when will this information be available? Thank you!

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 08, 2017 - 2:21 pm

We will continue to use the published pay line for the May Council round. If we receive different news when we cross the continuing resolution finish line, then I will update the table. And, for the record, we are still waiting for some of the Spring reviews though most are done.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar 08, 2017 - 3:03 pm

Dr. Barr, Does NIA has the R35 mechanism? if so, what are the eligibility criteria? Thanks!

Posted by Robin Barr on Mar 08, 2017 - 3:19 pm

We do not currently support the R35 mechanism.