Skip to main content

Good news! Increased pay lines ahead!

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

So, you have received your new award only to see the mixed blessing that your best-laid schemes are complicated by the fact that NIA has sliced 18 percent off the budget. And now you’re scrambling to make it all work anyway. Or, you tried hard on that resubmission to smile politely at all the reviewer comments, compliment their wisdom, and rewrite according to their desires—only to discover that they gave your application a 20th percentile score this time and the NIA pay line is the 19th percentile.

Important pay line changes

I have good news for you! We’re giving 6 percent back to all the competing awards that we cut by an average of 18 percent in 2018. This should provide some relief, and we hope that the extra funds will make it easier for you to complete the research that you planned. We will also be working from an average cut of 12 percent for awards we make in FY 2019.

And for those of you sitting on the 20th percentile? We have expanded our general pay line to the 23rd percentile. Your near miss has become a hit!

How did all this largesse appear? Lost in the excitement of our very substantial additional funding for research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, was the news that our general appropriation was also increased by 5 percent. Because of the magic of commitment bases—where most NIA money sits—an increase of 5 percent for our appropriation translates to something close to a 20-percent fillip for our funding line. Throw into the mix all the excitement in Alzheimer’s research—and that’s where our new applications are streaming in—then that 5 percent increase leads to a lot more funds for a smaller base of “aging-research-that-is- other-than-Alzheimer’s.” As a result, this year we have only a 5-point difference between our general funding line (23rd percentile) and our Alzheimer’s funding line (28th percentile). And I too can only gasp at the difference in both these funding lines from just a few years ago when our funding line sank briefly to the single digits. We at NIA are very thankful for the support we have received from Congress for the important work that all of you do.

The fine print

And now for the fine print at the bottom of the page. Within the General Allocation, applications requesting $500,000 or more per year have a 20th-percentile funding line. Early stage investigators’ R01 applications have a 29th-percentile funding line. New investigators have a 26th-percentile line. You can see all of these numbers in a table. The Alzheimer’s and related dementias funding lines have not changed from our May posting. The funding line for most of these R01s remains at the 28th percentile with an additional few percent for new and early-stage investigators.

A word of caution here

We’re paying most applications to these lines. A number of applications may be skipped or provided an R56 award because we identify concerns from review that need to be addressed. We also support a few awards beyond the funding line where the comments are clearly addressable and the topic fits our published priority areas.

I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this final chord in the extraordinary symphony that was this year. We welcome your questions and comments below.


Submitted by Roman Kondratov on September 18, 2018

Dear Dr. Barr

It is indeed a great news that you are able "giving 6 percent back to all the competing awards that we cut by an average of 18 percent in 2018".
My question is: I have competing renewal of R01 in 2017, it was cut by 18% for all five years (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021), will I have this 6% for year 2018 or not?

Thank you,


Submitted by Robin Barr on September 18, 2018

In reply to by Roman Kondratov

We are applying the policy this year only to competing awards made in FY 2018.

Submitted by Salvo Oddo on October 17, 2018

Dear Dr. Barr,

Thank you for the continuous support. Is there any indication for the NIA pay line for FY 2019?

Thank you!

Submitted by Robin Barr on October 17, 2018

In reply to by Salvo Oddo

We are not quite ready to announce that yet. Some “i”s need dotting and “t”s need crossing on our budget still. But stay tuned. We will have news soon.

Submitted by Pariya Fazeli … on October 26, 2018

Dr. Barr,

As always, I appreciate your blog. Do you think it is reasonable to be optimistic that FY19 paylines will be at least consistent (and not lower) than FY18?

Submitted by Robin Barr on October 26, 2018

In reply to by Pariya Fazeli …

We should have news of our pay lines within a month. That’s all I can say for now.