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A double-header blog post! Pay lines and new approved concepts

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

This week, we have two important news items to share with you. The first is the most recent NIA pay line and funding policy. The second is the list of approved concepts for future funding priorities.

2018 pay lines

The newly posted NIA pay lines look a lot like last year's pay lines. Happily, we are paying most applications to the 19th percentile again this year and those with a focus on Alzheimer's or its related dementias to the 28th percentile. We subtract three points for large applications ($500K or over). New Investigator R01s (22 percent) and Early-Stage Investigator R01s (25 percent) receive an extra boost. Those with an Alzheimer's focus see a similar boost (New Investigator R01s to the 28th percentile and Early-Stage Investigator R01s to the 30th percentile).

We very much appreciate the generous increases provided through the Appropriations Act this year that made possible these expanded funding lines.

The pay line for NIA-reviewed and training-related applications are also shown in the funding policy page. Both the career award and fellowship funding lines have tightened a little this year compared to last. We are not being stingier here! We have increased support for both lines. The problem—if it can be called a problem—is that we are receiving an increasing number of outstanding applications. In fact, we paid more career awards going to a score of 20 this year than we paid last year going to a score of 22. The same thing happened in the Alzheimer's line where we paid to 28 this year but to 36 last year.

Overall, our greatest growth in applications is coming from students and junior faculty. That is a wonderful indicator of hope for the future of aging research and for progress against Alzheimer's disease. We are glad to sacrifice a point or two in the funding line to achieve that kind of growth any day!

Future research directions

As you may know, the National Advisory Council on Aging met here in Bethesda on May 22–23. Among its many actions, Council reviewed and approved 12 new concepts for NIA Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). Although these are still in the concept phase, it's likely—but by no means certain—that they will appear as FOAs in the NIH Guide before the end of the year. Approved concepts in this round:

You can find brief summaries of the approved concepts on our website, along with contact information for the NIA program staff involved with each. The award mechanism or the funds allocated for a particular concept are not mentioned. Program staff cannot provide this information until the concept officially becomes an FOA. Award mechanisms and funding limits are determined when the FOAs are developed for publication in the NIH Guide.

If you're currently working in one of the fields described in these concepts, we suggest that you start thinking about how you would respond to a Program Announcement or Request for Applications on your topic. Do you have the facilities and people available to investigate this topic? If not, can you get them if needed? Without committing a detailed plan to paper, you can brainstorm with your colleagues about how you would approach the topic.

Be sure to keep an eye on the NIH Guide to search for new FOAs, or take a look at this list of NIA funding opportunities. You can also sign up to receive a monthly list of all newly released NIA FOAs. Enter your e-mail address in the box at the bottom of the NIA home page. Click "Submit" and check "NIA Funding Opportunities."

We appreciate your feedback, so please let us know if this is helpful to you by contacting us or commenting below.


Submitted by Mike Jaasma on June 14, 2018

Do you have any information on NIA pay lines for SBIRs? Thank you

Submitted by Robin Barr on June 14, 2018

In reply to by Mike Jaasma

Nothing yet. We may have some information next week.

Submitted by PM on June 26, 2018

What is the expected max-out payline score for K01 career awards this year?

I don’t yet know. We will be updating the pay line, but right now I do not know how far past the current line we will go.

Submitted by Jay on July 05, 2018

Do you anticipate the October 2018 pay line to be similar to the previous 28% for ADRD applications?

Here we are taught to be cautious about any predictions concerning the next year when we do not yet have a budget. Though it is highly likely that the Alzheimer’s funding line will be more generous than the line for our general allocation, I cannot fill in any further details about that statement absent a budget.

Submitted by Anonymous on July 05, 2018

Dear Dr Barr, when should we expect award notices for projects discussed in the May Council? We would appreciate determinate final words so that we can plan for next cycle should resubmissions are necessary. Shall we contact the program officers or is it a pan-institute arrangement? (Currently the NIH RePORTER database shows no record for new NIA projects with a starting date later than June 16) Thanks a lot for your efforts!

It usually takes a couple of months after Council to work up and release awards. But, as you suggest, your program officer is your best contact for trying to determine the current state of your application. They are particularly good at signaling whether it is worthwhile to work on a resubmission.

Thank you sir for your kind reply! We got the requests for just-in-time information. We thank NIA for the consideration and look forward to the final award notice.