The wait was long—but the news is good! If you’ve been following events on Capitol Hill, you already know this. NIH has received a $2 billion increase in budget for this fiscal year, reflecting much-appreciated bipartisan support for biomedical research. NIA’s own budget received a monster $400 million boost for Alzheimer’s-related research, and our budget for other research areas increased at the same percentage rate as the NIH budget.
The entire U.S. government, including NIA, is currently operating under an extension of a continuing resolution (CR) that will end on April 28…unless it is extended again, that is. A continuing resolution extends the previous year’s appropriations act, and the appropriations language within it, into the next fiscal year. It is usually minimally altered from the terms in the prior year. In other words, at this point in FY 2017, we’re operating with virtually the same budget we had in FY 2016.
As many of you know, if you’ve been reading this blog, both the Senate and House appropriations committees separately have passed bills calling for large increases in funds to support research on Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In fact, we’ve used that advance information to prepare to receive these funds, should they come our way in final legislation. That’s why we’re in the process of publishing many funding opportunity announcements that will take advantage of these funds, and other funds we will have, once we know our final budget.
We have pay line updates! The big news is that the final career development awards pay line for the year is the 20th percentile. Of equal interest is the fact that we’re increasing our general allocation research grant pay line to the 11th percentile. We also have news on fellowships and small business awards.
We have bumped the NIA general allocation up by one point all around. For most research grants—at least the ones under $500k a year—that pay line is now the 10th percentile. We are paying new investigator R01 applications to the 18th percentile and early-stage investigators can now breathe comfortably with the knowledge that their R01 applications are being paid to the princely 20th percentile!
About half of the 22 NIH Institutes no longer post a funding line. Of course, we at NIA do so much better—we post multiple funding lines! We are transparent, though. I’ve heard it said around the halls of NIH that a funding line is a crutch for staff, an easy way to indicate to investigators that their application could not be paid.
It is April. Spring flowers, trees in bud, warming temperatures, and a funding update from NIA that is as natural as the Spring, and as welcome as the flowers? (OK. Not so much!) Still, it is good news for some.