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The first cleared concepts for FY 2018

Dr. Marie Bernard
Marie A. BERNARD [Former NIA Staff],
Deputy Director,
Office of the Director (OD)

The National Advisory Council on Aging met here on the NIH campus on September 26–27. Among several actions by the Council was the approval of eight new concepts for Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). The lively discussion around these concepts is always one of the highlights of this two-day meeting, with conversations and conjecture often continuing into the corridors.

Whether the concepts approved at the September Council meeting actually become FOAs is still uncertain. That depends largely on our final budget for this fiscal year. As you probably know, we started fiscal year (FY) 2018 on October 1. We currently are operating under a continuing resolution until sometime in December, as we do not yet have an approved budget for the year.

From concept to possible FOA

Is our productivity crashing? Council approved seven concepts in May and eight in September. Yet a record 26 concepts were approved last September. Of course, some of us are still recovering from that exercise! More importantly, many of the FOAs published following these concept approvals remain active today. The new concepts are in addition to that set.

This time last year was the first time that we posted cleared concepts for a massive number of FOAs on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. And we have continued to put forth concepts for new initiatives in this area. It’s important to note as well that we are the National Institute on Aging, and that encompasses a lot more than Alzheimer’s disease alone. As is highlighted among the recently approved concepts, we’re also interested in such research areas as hearing loss, pragmatic clinical trials on aspects of care for older adults, cardiac rehabilitation, immune system function in older people, and the biology of aging as it relates to the etiology of cancer.

I encourage you to regularly check the NIH Guide. If you’re only interested in NIA-related FOAs, you can look at NIA Funding Opportunities website page, which is linked to the NIH Guide, to see which of the cleared concepts have been transformed into FOAs. And, there are several still-active Program Announcements from FY 2015 and 2016 that were previously highlighted as concepts. Take a second look—you may find something you missed the first time around!

The fine print

None of the concepts has an activity code (R01, R21, R24 etc.) yet. We do not discuss the funds assigned to a concept when it is approved, either. These can change as a function of the budget that is yet to be received. Award mechanisms and funding limits are determined when the FOAs are developed for publication in the NIH Guide. No one knows yet whether they will become Program Announcements with a three-year submission window or Requests for Applications with set-aside funds and a single due date. Program staff are listed with the cleared concepts, but they don’t have and can’t provide this information to you until the concept officially becomes an FOA.

We value your feedback, so please let us know if seeing these concepts is helpful to you by contacting us or commenting below.


Submitted by sanjana on October 11, 2017

I would like to learn more about the newly approved/discuss concepts for FOA.

The concepts approved in September are not yet formal FOAs. Until they are posted as FOAs in the NIH Guide, there is no additional information about them. I suggest you watch the NIH Guide or the NIA Funding Opportunities page on our website in the next few months to see if they become FOAs. - Barbara Cire, NIA Blog Manager 

Submitted by Marilyn Duncan on October 12, 2017

Please put me on the mailing list for info about new concepts for FOA. I am especially interested in topics related to circadian rhythms, sleep, aging, and Alzheimer's disease.

Thank you.

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