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Beginnings: Our first steps in making awards in FY 2018

Robin BARR [Former NIA Staff],
Division of Extramural Activities (DEA).

The new fiscal year started on October 1, and we began it with hope in our hearts for continued good news on our budget. Our increased appropriations in FY 2017 allowed us our most generous funding lines in our general allocation in many years, along with a positive windfall for research in Alzheimer’s and related dementias. With a rapidly growing older population in the nation and across the world, this recognition of the worth and potential of aging research to address the problems of aging, and to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease, is truly welcome.

Still, we started the year again on a now-familiar continuing resolution, which holds our current funding to the FY 2017 level—at least until December 22. So, what do we do? Maybe we will see another increased appropriation. Or maybe not. At the same time, increasing numbers of applications are arriving in response to the new money we have received. Could they crowd the funding line—with welcome strong science—but in so doing limit how far we can pay down the line? And yet we want to start paying awards as early in the year as we can—to limit the pressure on us (and you) late in the year if we do see an increase in our appropriation. (Not to mention having potentially critical research start as soon as possible!)

Current pay lines

Are you following so far? This is one of these open-ended problems where there is no clear signal to point us in any particular direction. We faced these multiple uncertainties in making the decision to move forward with initial, conservative allocations.

At this time, we’re paying CSR-reviewed applications in our general line to the 7th percentile and applications focused on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to the 10th percentile. We are starting career award funding by paying all applications (general and Alzheimer’s) to a score of 16.

Changes in the year ahead

These allocations are a beginning. We hope to extend our funding when we have a full-year budget. And, especially for Alzheimer’s research, we hope to extend that funding a long way.

In a sense, we’re also finishing our funding from FY 2017. We ended that year with an extremely tight funding line in our general allocation, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) line. (That’s the non-Alzheimer’s one.) We promised to fix that line early in FY 2018. We have now done that and are paying the August Council general allocation SBIR applications to a score of 46.

We have begun. It’s a small step while we wait for that other shoe to drop—our full-year budget.


Submitted by Hopeful on December 14, 2017

Thank you for the update in these uncertain times. Any word on paying the fellowships? Or do these fall under the career award paylines? Will these be announced in the new year?

Submitted by Robin Barr on December 14, 2017

In reply to by Hopeful

We paid our October fellowships at the end of FY 2017. So the first funding line for fellowships will be for the January Council round. (Those submitted for the August 8 deadline.) I hope to have news of that funding line early in the new year, but that depends on the ongoing budget negotiations.

Submitted by Gerhild Ullmann on January 18, 2018

Does NIA have a plan for announcement of FY 2018 pay lines for the R15 mechanism within next few weeks?

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