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Budget and pay lines update: Progress and prudence

Dr. Ken Santora
Kenneth SANTORA,
Division of Extramural Activities (DEA)

In the world of NIA grants and funding, one thing that may help get you through the winter blues is a few rays of sunny budget news to calibrate and clarify our pay lines moving forward.

The FY 2021 omnibus appropriations bill was signed into law Dec. 27, 2020. This bill includes $3.899 billion for NIA (a 1.57% uptick to our overall base budget), which includes a $300 million increase in federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) research. With these appropriations, NIA is now the third largest of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, budget-wise. This boost will benefit all our divisions and enable us to continue making steady progress in the science of aging.

Cautiously conservative for now

Now for the prudent part: NIA will continue to take a conservative approach moving forward with our pay lines. This is mainly due to the number of applications received that are scoring well in study sections and the amount of non-competing awards we need to make (paying at 100%). That means we are keeping our general pay line the same for now.

We have, however, increased the AD/ADRD pay lines of our CSR-reviewed applications by 3% and by three points (Overall Impact Score) for program projects and other NIA-reviewed research. Pay lines are holding steady for AD/ADRD-related parent career development awards and parent fellowship awards. We are also reporting a career development pay line (General) increase from a score of 18 to 21.

While NIA expects to pay most applications within these lines, when scientific concerns are identified in peer review that weaken the case for making an award, we may invite a resubmission of the application. Similarly, we may pay a few applications beyond the pay lines when they focus on high priorities of the Institute. You can view more details at our updated funding line policy webpage.

Stay positive and persevere!

While the incremental pace of the budgetary world can sometimes be confusing or frustrating, we encourage everyone to stay positive. New and early-stage investigators still have a higher pay line. Plus, there is always a chance that we will increase pay lines before the end of year. A lot depends on the number of well-scored applications that come in for the May 2021 meeting of the National Advisory Council on Aging.

Above all, NIA program officers are your expert sources for what is best for your individual application, so please contact them with questions on how these updates could impact your work. Thank you for your continued patience as NIA does its best to plan ahead prudently and stay as transparent as possible. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and feel free to share your questions or concerns below.


Submitted by J on March 03, 2021

The linked payline webpage highlights several ADRD-related FOAs. Do ADRD paylines only apply to proposals using these FOAs?

The list on the website is not comprehensive, as new AD/ADRD FOAs are being published continuously. The rule that usually applies is that unsolicited grants under PAs and PARs are usually percentiled, with few exceptions as outlined on the webpage (FOAs paid based on score: PAR-18-513PAR-18-878PAR-20-156). RFAs are also always score based, not percentiled.

Submitted by Subhash Kulkarni on March 04, 2021

For new R01s funded early in 2020 (which were subject to 18% budget cuts), would the budget cuts be reversed?

Thank you for your comment. Those non-AD (in the General payline) grants paid early in the FY and those moving forward will still be cut by 18%. Type 5s that were paid at 90% will be adjusted to 100%.

Submitted by Valentino Busson on March 10, 2021

I have a quick question re: the language below in the funding announcement.

It first says that PAR-19-070 is based on percentile, and then in the paragraph below it, it says, "We are paying applications responding to the above PARs by impact rating rank order (priority, or "overall impact" score) rather than by percentile rank."

So I am confused as to whether PAR-19-070 will be paid according to percentile ranking or overall impact score. Could you please clarify this?

Also, what is the difference between impact rating rank order and overall impact score?

Thank you.

Applications Responding to Alzheimer’s-related program announcements

FOAs paid based on percentile: PAR-18-497, PAR-18-516, PAR-18-519, PAR-18-760, PAR-18-877, PAR-19-070, PAR-19-071, PAR-19-298

FOAs paid based on score: PAR-18-513, PAR-18-878, PAR-20-156

We are paying applications responding to the above PARs by impact rating rank order (priority, or "overall impact" score) rather than by percentile rank. We are currently paying these applications to an impact rating of 40. Though these pay lines are generally followed, NIA may pay a few applications beyond these lines or choose to provide short-term support or require a resubmission from a few applications within these lines, following both peer review comments and published funding priority guidelines.

Submitted by Ken Santora on March 11, 2021

In reply to by Valentino Busson

Thanks for your questions!

PAR-19-070 will be paid according to percentile ranking.

Re: the difference between impact rating rank order and overall impact score:  Essentially these are the same; that we are looking at the score of the application to determine our pay line eligibility. 



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