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Here we go again -- Wait and hurry up!

Dr. Robin Barr
Robin BARR,
Director, DEA,
Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

The signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 a couple of weeks ago provided a $414 million increase in our budget for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (AD/ADRD). On top of that, it provided a $111 million increase in our general budget. With that much gas in our tank, as soon as the ink on the Act was dry, NIA sprang into action. We followed a now-familiar road: Funding meetings were held; new notices sped their way to the NIH Guide; both veteran and recently hired staff worked intensively to expedite funding of approved research proposals.

Once upon a time, NIA and aging research itself were almost a backwater—a smallish community that was growing by the odd fit and start. Lately, we are front and center, in the news, and growing by leaps and bounds. With this new attention, high expectations are our constant companion. We hope that, in your hands, these funds can deliver a future that provides relief to patients and their families who bear the burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as the challenges of aging in general.

Getting ready for the AD budget increase

As you know, we’ve done much to prepare for this new funding. As noted in a previous blog, we used a somewhat unusual method of advertising a new set of initiatives. We published a “blank” parent funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and then followed it a few days later with a Notice containing nine initiatives around AD/ADRD research. The deadline for that funding opportunity and for all these initiatives is April 17. I trust that many of you are taking a break from putting the finishing touches to a stellar application as you read this blog. The reason for the peculiar machination of FOA and Notice is now clear. We intend to pay awards from these initiatives in this fiscal year with some of the money that we received in the new appropriation. We could not have achieved that with the conventional FOA process.

Some of you have asked whether the FOA and its attendant Notice will be re-issued. I don’t know, and we can’t know yet. How many applications will we receive for the initiatives? How well will they cover the bases of the research areas that we advertised? How well will they do in review? The answers to these questions and others like them will determine whether we re-issue the FOA. Right now, there is one opportunity, and one alone, for these initiatives. It has an April 17 deadline.

Aging as well as Alzheimer’s research

In the bigger picture, there’s a lot more to aging research than to Alzheimer’s disease, even with its related dementias in tow. I can write all I want about “Now is the time for Alzheimer’s research,” but the other problems of aging are not going away. A growing population of older people across the country and around the world pose questions about management of multiple chronic conditions, options for long-term care, and the nature of the aging process at the cellular level, among other things. From basic research on the mechanisms of aging through translational research that identifies targets for treatment, through work understanding health disparities, to the social fabric of an aging society, so much needs to be explored, and so many questions need to be answered.

While we don’t have special appropriations for this research we do have funds for it, and we saw a noticeable increase in our general allocation this year too—much improved over the recent past. Yet for the next few years, the tale of two funding lines will continue. To pursue NIA funding for areas outside the AD/ADRD field, you’ll need to clear a higher bar for these years. We know that work is important and there remain many reasons to try for that higher bar. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt to write an application on Alzheimer’s either…!)


Submitted by Salvo on April 11, 2018

Thank you for the update. Will the NIA pay line for FY18 for AD grants be revised?

Submitted by Robin Barr on April 11, 2018

In reply to by Salvo

Almost certainly. Stay tuned to the blog.

Submitted by Well Left on April 11, 2018

will this allow some GS-11 positions and higher (e.g., Staff Scientist, Biologist) to open up?

No promises, but keep your eye on USAJobs.

Submitted by Michelle Lupton on April 17, 2018

I have an application in preparation now in the area of Alzheimer's disease, with an aim to submit to the PA-18-484, which is the Parent R01 opportunity for the June deadline. Would you advise to delay in case the AD/ADRD research FOA is re-issued? Or will some of the increased budget for Alzheimer's disease be spent through the Parent RO1? Many thanks!

We are using a substantial amount of our increased budget for Alzheimer’s research and for research on Alzheimer’s-related dementias for applications that respond to parent FOAs (R01, R21 etc.) So I do not recommend delaying your application to wait to find out whether we re-issue these Alzheimer’s FOAs.

Submitted by Sebastian Kadener on April 17, 2018

Thanks much for the update. Will the NIA payline for general aging research (no AD) be updated for the next (may) council meeting be revised?

We expect to post new pay lines in the near future. A required bureaucratic dance is necessary before we can do that.

Submitted by Gina McCaskill on April 23, 2018

Dr. Barr, thanks so much for all of your updates! I look forward to expanding the scope of my research in the area of AZ!

I have a question about the Notice of Awards for FY 2018. When do you suspect that the FOAs will be announced for this current FY?

Submitted by Robin Barr on April 23, 2018

In reply to by Gina McCaskill

We are steadily issuing FOAs and you can track them in the NIH Guide. The ones appearing over the next few weeks will have deadlines that allow funding next year and beyond. All of the FOAs that allow funding in FY 2018 have now been issued.

Submitted by Anonymous on April 23, 2018

Dear Dr. Barr, Will K99 deadline for general aging research be updated? Thank you!

Submitted by James Hatt on May 02, 2018

Thanks for your informative blog!
Where can we get information on the latest AD R21 paylines? What are they now, and will they increase due to the new allocation is taken into account?


Submitted by Robin Barr on May 03, 2018

In reply to by James Hatt

The wisest thing to do right now is contact your program officer. We can’t say a thing
about funding lines at the moment. I hope that changes soon.

Your suggestion is a good one! unfortunately in my experience program officers in general are the most unhelpful people within the NIH!!!
your blog is more helpful than any conversation with any PO

Thanks Dr. Barr

Thanks Dr. Barr,

Your advise is a good one! However, in my own experience POs are not helpful ever. I think your blog is much more informative for us.
The question for you is: when the new payline for FY18 will be public? Will the May council follow the new or just the old and published one?

We are still not certain about when the pay lines will be published. We do know, though, that they will be improved relative to the provisional funding line we set early in the year.

Thanks Dr. Barr!
I understand the "dance" that need to be done and the uncertainty about the time line for the new paylines to be published.
The simple question for you is the following: What is the payline that the upcoming May council will be looking at?
Is the published End-of-Year 2017 NIA Funding Line Policy? or...........?

In fact, we don’t discuss funding at Council meetings. In any case, there’s no change from my last comment. The dance continues and the music hasn’t stopped.

The pay lines will be published on that site. And we cannot supply further information for them at the moment.