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NIA budget: Hope for the future!

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

A new fiscal year (FY) is underway, and similar to many past ones, this FY began with uncertainty about how the final budget picture for NIA and other NIH Institutes and Centers will shake out. As we await the official word from Capitol Hill, we wanted to check in with our extramural community to share what is known so far and to encourage patience and positivity during this interim time.

Continuing resolution for now

The House and Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) on Sept. 30, and the president signed it into law, funding the federal government through Dec. 3. Beyond that, the crystal ball gets a bit murky for NIA and the science we support. We are optimistic, though, that the NIH budget will remain a congressional priority, in part because of ongoing and broad public interest in accelerating Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and other aging-related research. Hopefully, this will continue to translate into an increased budget for NIA and the important work of our supported scientists and grantees.

Operating under a CR means we are working with a flat budget based on FY 2021 appropriations. So what does this mean for our pay lines? For starters, last year’s pay lines are no longer active, and we won’t be posting an interim pay line until we have a better idea of the new fiscal forecast. And while we will still be paying grants during this first quarter, we must be more conservative than usual until we have an actual budget.

In addition, as the costs of research continue to grow along with the number of very large budget applications submitted to NIA, we may also consider a more conservative pay line for very large/expensive Alzheimer’s and related dementias grants. The awards for these large grants will also likely be postponed to later in the FY when we can better determine the impact on the overall budget.

Stay in touch and be optimistic

Dealing with the unknown is always a little frustrating, especially for us scientists, who like the comfort of evidence and data that enable us to analyze, plan ahead, and make accurate predictions. We remain optimistic and hope that pay lines will increase as the budget situation solidifies, as has been the case in prior fiscal years. In the meantime, we are proud to continue to fund the best aging research possible and support all of the investigators in our community who are conducting amazing work that is at the heart of NIA's mission.

If you have concerns or questions about applications already submitted, we encourage you to contact your program officer. They remain your best source for updates on individual applications. As we have more news to share, we’ll be sure to keep you informed. Please stay in touch!

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