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Director's Message - NINDS and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)



photo of NINDS Director, Dr. Story Landis
As you know, $10.4 billion has been allocated to the NIH through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to participate in stimulating the economy by creating jobs and funding high quality research. To implement the ARRA, NIH has announced several funding opportunities (http://grants.nih.gov/recovery) and will release more in the near future.

We know that many of you are interested in how NINDS will use the approximately $400 million in stimulus funding that we anticipate receiving. What follows is a brief summary of our current plans. Please continue to check our website (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/recovery), where we will post more information as it becomes available. Our current strategy includes:

  1. Funding particularly meritorious grant applications consistent with the goals of the ARRA
    • We anticipate using at least half of our allocation to fund high quality applications (including R01s, R21s, R03s, and R15s) that were reviewed recently but not selected for funding. We will select meritorious applications that will contribute to the economic stimulus by creating or retaining jobs and accelerating the pace of scientific research. Applications will be selected based on the reviewers' comments and the potential to achieve a subset of the project's goals in 2 years. The majority of applications under consideration will have scores corresponding to percentiles between our current payline (the 11.0th percentile) and approximately the 25.0th percentile. They will be selected primarily from the pool of applications normally awarded with fiscal year 2009 funds - those from the September 2008, January 2009, and May 2009 Council rounds.
    • Depending on the availability of funds, we may also consider a subset of applications from the September 2009 Council round.
    • Since ARRA funds must be disbursed by September 2010, stimulus R01s will be funded in 2009 for a maximum of 2 years. We will only fund R01 applications for which it is reasonable to expect that significant progress can be made within this time period. Program directors will contact all PI's with applications under consideration to discuss potential revisions of the Specific Aims and budget. It is not necessary to contact your program director to discuss your application.
    • 2 year ARRA R01s will not be awarded to new investigators. NINDS is already planning to fund most new PI R01s within this percentile range (as we did last year) and we would prefer that new PIs receive the longer terms of funding requested in their applications.


  2. Participating in the trans-NIH targeted supplement programs
    • NINDS will fund three types of supplement programs
      • Administrative Supplements for research that falls within the scope of an NINDS-funded project
      • Administrative supplements to foster Summer Research experience
      • Competitive Revisions (formerly called Competitive Supplements) for research that falls outside the scope of an NINDS-funded project
    • Addition of Recovery Funds to the NCRR Shared Instrumentation Grant Program
      Among the NIH announcements is an NCRR program through which applicants can request funding for shared instrumentation. Any item of equipment costing more than $100,000 should be requested through that program, not through NINDS.
    • NCRR Centers and Center-Like Programs
      A second NCRR revision award program funds current NIH grantees to utilize NCRR Centers and Center-Like programs (including the national consortium of Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSAs), national primate research centers, animal and biological material resources, and NCRR's biomedical technology research centers).


  3. Participating in the trans-NIH Challenge Grant program
    • This program is described on the NIH website (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-OD-09-003.html). This website contains a link to an Omnibus file (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/challenge_award/Omnibus.pdf) that describes the challenge areas of specific interest to NINDS and also lists topics relevant to other NIH institutes. A second link (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/recovery/arra-funding/challenge-grants.htm) lists challenge areas that are only of interest to NINDS. Please note that NINDS will only fund projects with goals related to its mission (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/about_ninds/index.htm). The Program officials listed as contacts for each challenge area can help potential applicants assess mission relevance, but do not have additional information about the scope of these challenges beyond what is listed in the announcement.
    • It is important to remember that a relatively small proportion of total NIH ARRA funds (approximately $200 million) has been allocated to this program by the Office of the NIH Director and that a large number of applications will be competing for these funds. Depending on the availability of NINDS ARRA funds, we may consider making additional Challenge Grant awards. Additional funds may also be available for comparative effectiveness research.
    • Although there will not be funds set aside specifically for SBIR applications, small businesses are eligible to submit Challenge Grant applications to compete for the general pool of funds.
    • NINDS does not encourage new investigators to apply for Challenge Grants, which will be awarded for 2 years only and are non-renewable. New investigators who receive these awards will lose their new PI status when competing for future NINDS R01 funding.
    • At the present time, NINDS does not plan to issue any additional Challenge Grant announcements.


  4. Supporting New Faculty Recruitment
    • The NINDS will budget up to $1 million (up to $500,000 per year) over a two-year project period to fund recruitment of outstanding investigators into tenure track or tenured positions in basic, translational and clinical neuroscience.
    • The NINDS expects to make up to 13 awards in FY 2009, with total funding of approximately $20 million over the two year period.


  5. Participating in the trans-NIH Research and Research Infrastructure Grand Opportunities ("GO") Grants program
    • NINDS "GO" Grants
      The purpose of the "GO" grants program is to support high impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term, non-renewable funding and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation. Applicants may propose to address a specific research question or to create a unique infrastructure/resource designed to accelerate scientific progress in the future.
    • Applicants to NINDS are strongly urged to submit a letter of intent (Due April 27th, 2009). This will help NINDS staff advise applicants as to whether their ideas are aligned with NINDS priorities.
    • Due to the 2 year funding period, NINDS does not encourage the submission of large-scale clinical trials or other studies that inherently require longer periods of funding.
    • Applicants submitting "GO" grant applications for the creation of large-scale resources or infrastructure, must include a plan for maintenance of these resources beyond the 2 year award period. Priority will be given to projects that have a high probability of subsequent funding by NIH or other funding sources.

Finally, if you choose to respond to an ARRA program, please read the relevant announcement carefully, including its description of the terms of the award (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/NIH_HHS_ARRA_Award_Terms.pdf). If you still have specific questions, feel free to contact your Program Official. We wish you the best of luck in taking advantage of this important opportunity!

Last updated December 23, 2013