The art of reading tea leaves
As mentioned in last week’s blog, our current appropriations situation presents us with a conundrum. It is possible that we will see an increase in support for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (AD/ADRD) research and perhaps some additional funds for our general allocation. Yet, for now, we are working with a continuing resolution (CR) that—if projected over the full year—reduces our budget by a small amount relative to last year. Of course, we want to make as many awards as early as possible. Yet we certainly do not want to create an unbalanced funding line if an increase does not materialize. (“Yes, I know we can’t pay your wonderful 10th percentile application and I know we paid that other 20th percentile application last month… No. we have nothing against you. What makes you think that?”)
To the tea leaves
What can we do? We engage in the fine art of reading tea leaves. Earlier in the year we paid our general allocation applications to the 7th percentile and AD/ADRD applications to the 10th percentile (with adjustments for large applications, early-stage investigators, and new investigators). These numbers were based on projecting future application numbers and future application scores in review. Now, many more of the applications received for fiscal year 2018 have been scored. All of the “regular” (research grant, CSR-reviewed, investigator-initiated, percentiled) applications have been received. That means our models are more informed. We still do not have complete information. The final round of applications (May Council) have yet to be reviewed.
With that additional information, we are now paying AD/ADRD percentiled research grant applications to the 18th percentile (large applications: 15th percentile; early-stage investigators: 23rd percentile; other new investigators: 21st percentile). You may expect an award if your application scored within these percentiles. Please do check with program staff though. We do look closely at the review and if there is a strong indication that the science can be improved, then we will not necessarily pay an application even if it falls within that percentile range.
The same models tell us that we can now pay applications in the general allocation to the 9th percentile (large applications: 6th percentile; early-stage investigators: 14th percentile; new investigators, 12th percentile).
We are paying AD/ADRD career award applications to a score of 25 and general allocation career award applications to a score of 17. Again, check with your program officer. You may expect an award but sometimes we decide that another submission is necessary even for an application within that score range.
Continuing to play a waiting game
Between the gray skies of CRs to the potential blue skies of a substantially increased appropriation, we are making a funding forecast. We know that these numbers will leave too many wondering about the fate of applications now submitted. Again, the message is: Contact your program officer. You can gain the most information about the chances for your own individual application from that source. Please remember that these are not funding lines. They are our best estimates of how far we can pay given present, incomplete information and the current short-term continuing resolution.
Thank you for your continued patience as we do our best to read the tea leaves.