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NINDS Funding Strategy- FY 2015

On December 16, 2014  President Obama signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2015.  The NINDS Appropriation for FY 2015 is $1,605,205,000, which represents an increase of $17.2 Million (M) or 1.08% over the level of the previous fiscal year.  Included in the budget increase is $12.3 M to be used for new projects related to the BRAIN initiative.  Consistent with the NINDS mission (“To seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease”), the Institute remains committed to funding investigator-initiated basic research elucidating the structure and function of the nervous system and translational and clinical research applications focused on identifying the causes and treatments of the hundreds of disorders that affect the brain and nervous system.  Though investigator-initiated scientific discovery remains the central focus of our efforts, we support a limited number of targeted solicitations that address mission-critical scientific opportunities and public health needs.  Our priority continues to be maintaining enough competing research project grants to encourage innovative research, sustain productive research teams, and support early stage investigators. The Institute reviews programs in consultation with external advisory groups, often led by members of the NINDS Advisory Council, and the results inform decisions concerning future program directions and funding.

Research Project Grants (RPGs) and Centers

These are the main mechanisms of support for investigator-initiated research. They include single investigator awards (e.g., the traditional research project grant or R01 and related mechanisms), Small Business Innovative Research Grants (R43, R44), Small Business Technology Transfer Grants (R41, R42), Cooperative Agreements (U01), and multi-component awards (e.g., Program Projects (P01) Centers (P50), and Core Center Grants (P30)).

Non-Competing Research Awards:  In FY 2015, NINDS will fund noncompeting RPG and Center award budgets at the full committed level - the level indicated on the most recent Notice of Grant Award. FY 2015 awards that have already been issued at the 90% Continuing Resolution level will be revised in accordance with this policy.

Competing RPGs

We anticipate that approximately 20% of all eligible competing Research Project Grant applications will be funded this year.  We have set aside approximately $140 million of the total funds available for competing awards to fund investigator-initiated grants that were not submitted in response to special initiatives. New (Type 1), competing renewal (Type 2), and competing supplement (Type 3) grants will be funded in percentile rank order up to the 14th percentile. 

Modular grants will be awarded at an average of 87.5% of the Council-recommended direct cost level. Non-modular applications that request more than $250,000 direct costs in any year, will be awarded at an average of 82.5% of Council-recommended direct costs. 

Special Initiatives

An additional $140 million available for competing awards have been set aside for funding major clinical trials and special initiatives, including Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements with set-aside funds (PASs).

  • New Investigators: Helping new investigators transition to independence is a high priority for NIH, and is an important funding consideration for NINDS. Each Council round, NINDS funds additional R01 applications from new investigators with percentiles beyond the formal payline.  NINDS will continue to support new R01 applications from new and early stage investigators at a success rate equivalent to that of established investigators submitting new R01 equivalent applications.  Preference will be given to early stage investigators.
  • RFA/PA’s:  Funding has been set aside for grants responding to specific solicitations (Request For Applications and Program Announcements) approved by the Institute and its Council for understudied or new fields of research important to the NINDS mission.
  • Bridge Awards: In certain cases, the Institute may use the R56 grant mechanism to provide limited, interim research support that enables an investigator to gather additional data necessary for submission of a revised application.  This mechanism has been published in the NIH Guide (NOT-NS-10-004, see  Please note that investigators cannot apply for R56 awards.
  • Major Clinical Trials:  Multi-center clinical trials and other types of clinical studies generally have large budgets and substantial NINDS staff involvement. Funds are set aside each fiscal year to fund new competing clinical trials, the use of which depends on the scientific merit of applications received. All such applications are extensively discussed by the NINDS Council, which makes funding recommendations to the NINDS Director. Budgets for individual awards are set each year by staff after careful consideration of the resources that will be needed to follow study protocols.

Duration of Grants

The NIH is required to fund competing RPGs so that the average length of these awards is approximately four years of support. To achieve this goal, NINDS will award four years of support for many applications that requested and were recommended for five years. A limited number of five-year awards will be approved based on percentile rank of application, type of research (e.g. longitudinal studies and clinical trials may require five years to be completed), and new investigator status of applicant.

Research Training and Career Development

NINDS remains strongly committed to Training and Career Development.  The FY 2014 total NINDS budget for training, fellowship, and career development awards is $68 million. The Institute funds individual predoctoral fellowships (F31), individual postdoctoral fellowships (F32), senior fellowships (F33), institutional grants (T32, T35, K12, and R25), and several career development grants, including the Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01), Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08), Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23), Mentored Quantitative Research Career Development Award (K25), Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research (K24), Independent Scientist Award (K02), and the NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00). For more information, see the NINDS Training and Career Development Office.  

Special Supplement Funding

Approximately $10 million has been set aside in FY2014 for administrative supplements.  These administrative supplements may be awarded to support increased costs that are within the scope of the approved award, but that were unforeseen when the competing application or grant progress report for non-competing continuation support was submitted.

Merit Awards (Javits)

The NINDS Advisory Council may designate a small number of competing applications each year as Jacob Javits Neuroscience Investigator Awards. These awards are made in two segments, an initial four-year award, followed by a subsequent three-year award with staff review and Council concurrence for progress and expanded scope of project. Investigators may not apply directly for a Javits Award. These awards are made to distinguished investigators who (1) have a record of substantial contributions on the "cutting edge" of some field of neurological science, and (2) can be expected to be highly productive for a seven-year period. Any application selected for nomination would be expected to be exemplary of the investigator's body of work and would have been judged especially meritorious by a peer review group (study section). For more information, see the Javits Award description.  

NINDS/NIH Policy for Accepting Applications Exceeding $500,000 Per Year

NIH will support research projects with large budgets when appropriate, but it needs to consider such awards as early as possible in the budget and program planning process. Therefore, applicants must seek agreement to accept assignment from NINDS staff at least six weeks prior to the anticipated submission of any application requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs for any year. Applicants with clinical research applications over $1,000,000 must contact NINDS staff a minimum of three months prior to the next submission deadline. (See below).

NINDS Policy for Accepting Clinical Research Applications Exceeding $1,000,000 Per Year

Applicants planning to submit an application for a clinical research project requesting $1,000,000 or more in direct costs for any year must contact NINDS staff a minimum of three months prior to the next submission deadline for new grant applications. The applicant must obtain agreement from the NINDS staff that the Institute will accept the application for consideration for award.  Any application subject to this policy that does not receive permission to submit will be returned to the applicant without review. For purposes of this policy "clinical research" is as defined in the 1997 Report of the NIH Director's panel on Clinical Research.  According to this definition, clinical research includes: (a) Patient-oriented research (including research on the mechanisms of human disease, therapeutic interventions, clinical trials, and the development of new technologies); (b) Epidemiological and behavioral studies; and (c) Outcomes research and health services research. Excluded from this definition are in vitro research studies that utilize human tissue that cannot be linked to a living individual or research that does not involve human participants.

Last updated December 19, 2014