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NINDS 2013 Congressional Justification

Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
2013 Fiscal Year Budget
Congressional Justification

Table of Contents


Organization Chart

Organization chart for NINDS. The chart shows 8 boxes, the Director box at the top with 5 beneath and 2 support staff. The Director of NINDS is Dr. Story C. Landis. The director's support staff are Deputy Director Dr. Walter Koroshetz and Executive Officer Ms. Caroline Lewis. The 5 direct reports are: Division of Extramural Activities Dr. Robert Finkelstein, Division of Intramural Research Dr. Alan Koretsky, Office of Translational Research Dr. Rajesh Ranganathan, the Office of Clinical Research Dr. Petra Kaufmann and the Office of Special Programs in Diversity Dr. Al Gordon.

National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

For carrying out section 301 and title IV of the Public Health Services Act with respect to neurological disorders and stroke, [$1,629,445,000] $1,624,707,000. (Department of Health and Human Services Appropriation Act, 2012.)

Amounts Available for Obligation 1
(Dollars in Thousands)
Source of FundingF Y 2011
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Type 1 Diabetes000
Subtotal, adjusted appropriation1,622,0031,626,365
Real transfer under Secretary's transfer authority0(463)0
Comparative Transfers for NCATS reorganization000
Comparative Transfers to NCATS for Therapeutics and Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND)(1,335)00
Comparative Transfers to NLM for NCBI and Public Access(1,392)(1,473)0
Subtotal, adjusted budget authority1,619,2761,624,4291,624,707
Unobligated balance, start of year000
Unobligated balance, end of year000
Subtotal, adjusted budget authority1,619,2761,624,4291,624,707
Unobligated balance lapsing(2)00
Total obligations1,619,2741,624,4291,624,707

1/ Excludes the following amounts for reimbursable activities carried out by this account:
F Y 2011 - $9,124      F Y 2012 - $9,500      F Y 2013 - $9,500

Budget Mechanism - Total 1/
(Dollars in Thousands)
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Change vs.
F Y 2012
Research Grants:NumberAmountNumberAmountNumberAmountNumberAmount
Research Projects:
  Administrative Supplements8324,2183410,000175,000(17)(5,000)
  Subtotal, Competing749$293,968650$255,164763$296,656113$41,492
      Subtotal, RPGs2,652$1,105,4502,547$1,085,5992,612$1,085,28565($314)
 Research Project Grants2,748$1,145,0312,651$1,128,6072,721$1,129,57770$970

Research Centers:
  Clinical Research00000000
  Comparative Medicine01,40001,50001,50000
  Research Centers in Minority Institutions0000000


 Research Centers67$76,72761$98,56061$98,5600$0

Other Research:
   Research Careers221$36,155218$36,155217$36,155(1)$0
   Cancer Education00000000
   Cooperative Clinical Research7915,6626615,6626615,66200
   Biomedical Research Support00000000
   Minority Biomedical Research Support12451245124500
 Other Research390$66,041374$66,041373$66,041(1)$0
 Total Research Grants3,205$1,287,7993,086$1,293,2083,155$1,294,17869$970

Research Training:

   Individual Awards446$17,480446$17,760438$17,760(8)$0
   Institutional Awards33715,68133715,93233115,932(6)0
 Total Research Training783$33,161783$33,692769$33,692(14)$0

Research & Development Contracts

F T E's F T E's F T E's F T E's 
Intramural Research342$157,631342$157,633337$157,633(5)$0
Research Management and Support16758,15916758,15716658,492(1)335
Buildings and Facilities00000000
Total, NINDS509$1,619,276509$1,624,429503$1,624,707(6)$278

1/ All items in italics are "non-adds"; items in parenthesis are subtractions

Major Changes in the Fiscal Year 2013 President's Budget

Major changes by budget mechanism and/or budget activity detail are briefly described below. Note that there may be overlap between budget mechanism and activity detail and these highlights will not sum to the total change for the FY 2013 President’s Budget request for NINDS, a total of $1,624.7 million, which is $0.278 million more than the FY 2012 level.

Research Project Grants (+$0.970 million, total $1,129.577 million): NINDS will support a total of 2,721 Research Project Grant (RPG) awards in FY 2013. Noncompeting RPGs will decrease by 48 awards and $36.806 million. Competing RPGs will increase by 113 and $41.492 million. NIH budget policy for RPGs in FY 2013 discontinues inflationary allowances and reduces the average cost of noncompeting and competing RPGs by one percent below the FY 2012 level.

Research Training (total $33.692 million): NIH will provide an increase of two percent for stipends levels under the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award training program to continue efforts to attain the stipend levels recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This will build on the two percent increase in stipend levels for FY 2012. Stipend levels were largely flat for several years, and the requested increase will help to sustain the development of a highly qualified biomedical research workforce.

Summary of Changes
(Dollars in Thousands)
F Y 2012 Enacted$1,624,429
F Y 2013 President's Budget1,624,707
    Net change$278
Change from
F Y 2012
F T E'sBudget
 A.  Built-in:
    1.  Intramural research:
        a.  Annualization of January
             2012 pay increase & benefits
 $50,016 $2
        b.  January F Y 2013 pay increase & benefits 50,016 155
        c.  One more day of pay 50,016 193
        d.  Annualization of PY net hires 50,016 0
        e.  Payment for centrally furnished services 25,241 0
        f.  Increased cost of laboratory supplies,
             materials, other expenses,
             and non-recurring costs
 82,376 0
        Subtotal   $349

    2.  Research Management and Support:
        a.  Annualization of January  
             2012 pay increase & benefits
 $24,715 $1
        b.  January F Y 2013 pay increase
             & benefits
 24,715 74
        c.  One more day of pay 24,715 95
        d.  Annualization of PY net hires 24,715 0
        e.  Payment for centrally furnished services 12,911 0
        f.  Increased cost of laboratory supplies,
             materials, other expenses,
             and non-recurring costs
 20,866 0
        Subtotal   $170

        Subtotal, Built-in
Change from
F Y 2012
B.  Program:    
    1.  Research Project Grants:    
        a.  Noncompeting1,849$788,629(48)($41,806)
        b.  Competing 763296,65611341,492
        c.  SBIR/STTR10944,29251,284
    2.  Research Centers61$98,5600$0
    3.  Other Research37366,041(1)0
    4.  Research Training76933,692(14)0
    5.  Research and Development Contracts10280,7120(1,027)
         Subtotal, Extramural  $1,408,582 ($57)
 F T E's F T E's 
    6.  Intramural Research                                   337$157,633(5)($349)
    7.  Research Management and Support16658,492(1)165
    8.  Construction 0 0
    9.  Buildings and Facilities 0 0
        Subtotal, Program503$1,624,707(6)($241)
          Total Changes   $278

Budget Graphs

History of Budget Authority and F T E's:

Funding Levels by Fiscal Year. Bar chart indicating funding levels for NINDS from 2009 through 2013. 2009 - $1592.8, 2010 - $1636.4, 2011 - $1619.3, 2012 - $1624.4, 2013 - $1624.7

Bar chart indicating F T E's by Fiscal Year from 2009 through 2013. 495 in 2009, 497 in 2010, 509 in 2011, 509 in 2012, 503 in 2013

Distribution by Mechanism:

FY 2013 Budget Mechanism Pie chart indicating funding percentage for fiscal year 2013 by budget mechanism. The pie has 7 slices. From largest to smallest the percentages and associated dollar amounts in thousands are: Research Project Grants, 69% - $1129577.0; Intramural Research, 10% - $157633.0; Research Centers, 6% - $98560.0 ; R&D Contracts, 5% - $80712.0; Other Research, 4% - $66041.0; RMS, 4% - $58492.0; Research Training, 2% - $33692.0

Change by Selected Mechanisms:

FY 2013 Estimate Percent Change from FY 2012 Mechanism. Bar chart showing percent change by mechanism. There are 7 categories with associated bar lengths that represent percentages. From top to bottom the categories and percentages are: Research Project Grants, 0.1%; Research Centers, 0.0%; Other Research, 0.0%; Research Training, 0.0%; R&D Contracts, -1.3%; Intramural Research, 0.0%; Resource Management and Support, 0.6%

Budget Authority by Activity
(Dollars in Thousands)
 F Y 2011
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Change vs.
F Y 2012 Enacted
Extramural Research
F T EsAmountF T EsAmountF T EsAmountF T EsAmount
Channels, Synapses & Circuits $196,039 $196,759 $196,751 ($8)
Infrastructure, Training Programs, and Resources $231,157 $232,006 $231,996 ($10)
Neural Environment $214,634 $215,422 $215,413 ($9)
Neurodegeneration $186,375 $187,060 $187,053 ($7)
Neurogenetics $184,207 $184,883 $184,875 ($8)
Repair & Plasticity $129,386 $129,861 $129,856 ($5)
Systems & Cognitive Neuroscience $173,269 $173,906 $173,899 ($7)
Translational Research $88,419 $88,742 $88,739 ($3)
     Subtotal, Extramural $1,403,486 $1,408,639 $1,408,582 ($57)

Intramural Research

Research Management & Support

1. Includes F T Es which are reimbursed from the NIH Common Fund.
2. Includes Real Transfers and Comparable Adjustments as detailed in the "Amounts Available for Obligation" table.

Authorizing Legislation
 PHS Act/
Other Citation
U.S. Code
2012 Amount
F Y 2012
2013 Amount
F Y 2013
Research and InvestigationSection 30142§241Indefinite$1,624,429,000 Indefinite$1,624,707,000  
National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Section 401(a)42§281IndefiniteIndefinite
Total, Budget Authority   $1,624,429,000 $1,624,707,000

Appropriations History
Fiscal YearBudget Estimate to CongressHouse AllowanceSenate AllowanceAppropriation
Rescission   ($9,569,000)
Rescission   ($12,675,000)
Rescission   ($1,503,000)
Rescission   ($0)
Rescission   ($27,452,000)
Supplemental   $8,212,000
Rescission   $0
Rescission   $0
2011$1,681,333,000 $1,678,696,000$1,636,371,000
Rescission   ($14,368,312)
Rescission   ($3,079,651)

Justification of Budget Request
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Authorizing Legislation: Section 301 and Title IV of the Public Health Service Act, as amended.

Budget Authority (BA):
 F Y 2011
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
F Y 2013 +/-
F Y 2012
F T E509509503-6

Program funds are allocated as follows: Competitive Grants/Cooperative Agreements; Contracts; Direct Federal/Intramural and Other.

Director's Overview

The mission of NINDS is to reduce the burden of neurological disorders through research. NIH research has transformed the outlook for many neurological disorders, not only directly but also by providing the foundation for industry therapy development. Dramatically improved stroke prevention and treatment1, drugs for multiple sclerosis, better control of seizures in epilepsy, deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s and other diseases, enzyme therapies, and tests that reduce by years the time to obtain a diagnosis for rare disorders are among the advances that benefit many people today. Moreover, prospects for the future are remarkable. Research has identified hundreds of neurological disease-causing genes and drug targets, with the first ever disease-modifying therapies for several disorders now advancing toward clinical trials. New animal and cell models of disease are accelerating research. Stem cells, gene therapy, and brain-computer interfaces have moved from theoretical possibilities into human testing. Paradoxically, however, industry is cutting back research on brain disorders which is being driven by the economic environment and greater challenges compared to other areas of medicine2.

Academia and industry agree that gaps in basic understanding of the normal brain or disease mechanisms impede progress against neurological disease. Drug companies are increasingly reluctant to embark on costly development programs without understanding disease and drug mechanisms, but much of the missing knowledge is in the “precompetitive” sphere where industry would be unlikely to recoup investments. NIH funded researchers are addressing these gaps. Technologies now allow studies from mapping the structure of single molecules to imaging the activity of the thinking human brain, with vast information now at their fingertips via computer databases. In addition, NINDS is investing in whole genome sequencing and comprehensive analyses of gene activity in the brain. For example, a new Center without Walls will focus on the genetics of epilepsy, and the NINDS Human Genetics Repository stimulates sharing of clinically characterized genetic samples and cell lines among researchers. With advanced brain imaging, the NIH Blueprint Connectome Project is systematically mapping the connections of the human brain. Improved brain imaging and behavioral testing is also shedding light on many disorders, including soldier’s brain injuries and sports concussions. At the cellular level, scientists are transforming induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s) derived from patients with Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), epilepsy, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and other diseases into brain cells to study disease mechanisms and screen drugs. New methods for studying the microscopic details of brain structure and for controlling activity of individual nerve cells are also revolutionizing neuroscience. Together these technologies will enable scientists to understand how molecules and cells work together to carry out higher brain functions; what goes wrong following injury and in disease; how to target specific steps in disease mechanisms; and how to boost the brain’s natural “plasticity” to promote recovery.

NINDS has a long history of translating scientific advances into therapies. The Institute is uniquely poised to take on the challenges of rare diseases, bold new therapeutic strategies, and new uses for existing drugs. To exploit increasing scientific opportunities, NINDS began the Cooperative Program in Translational Research in 2002 to support teams of academic and small business investigators to carry out preclinical therapy development with milestone-gated funding. The pioneering Neural Prosthesis Program is continuing, as is the Anticonvulsant Screening Program, which has contributed substantially to eight epilepsy drugs on the market. Disease-focused programs including the Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Disease Centers of Excellence, Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers, and Specialized Programs of Translational Research in Stroke also carry out translational research, as will a new Epilepsy Center without Walls on disease modification and prevention. The Institute is also leading the ambitious NIH Blueprint Grand Challenge on Neurotherapeutics to develop truly novel drugs that will transform the treatment of nervous system diseases.

Advances in understanding disease mechanisms are transforming the prospects for therapy development. To capitalize on these opportunities, NINDS is launching the NeuroNext network at 25 clinical sites across the U.S. to improve the speed and effectiveness of early (phase II) clinical evaluation. A single Institutional Review Board and master agreements will efficiently engage clinical sites, and NeuroNext will protect intellectual property to support testing of promising interventions from academia, foundations, or industry. NINDS is also developing and validating biomarkers for Parkinson’s and other disorders. These measurable indicators of the disease process and drug effects can expedite therapy development. NINDS phase III, multi-center clinical trials contribute directly to reduced disability and death, including prevention. NINDS trials may find that the most expensive treatment is not the best treatment for patients, as shown this year in two trials for prevention of a second stroke and a trial on rehabilitation of walking3. NIH and the Department of Defense are also working together on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) projects, including a central database that will accelerate research.

Harnessing the insight and ingenuity of the research community is critical for the future. NINDS is reallocating resources to maintain vigorous investigator initiated research. Based on intensive program evaluation, the Institute terminates programs that have met their goals or are no longer priorites because of changes, such as improved technologies. Policies such as limiting renewals of program project grants also favor support for new ideas. Most recently, with input from the public and scientific community, NINDS reorganized programs on health disparities and on workforce diversity, enhanced management of small business programs, and is revitalizing the Anticonvulsant Screening Program. NINDS targets resources to new ideas and new investigators though NIH-wide programs, such as the Pathway to Independence and New Innovator Awards, and through Institute-specific policies and priorities.

Despite progress, neurological diseases still have an enormous impact on all age groups and segments of society. The frequency of neurodegenerative disorders is increasing as our population ages. TBI has long lasting consequences on young adults, civilian and military. Epilepsy, autism, and hundreds of inherited disorders disrupt the lives of children and families. Stroke disparities persist in spite of progress in prevention. The urgency of the NINDS mission is great, but so are opportunities for progress. NINDS is continuing to reduce the burden of neurological disorders, both directly and indirectly by encouraging private sector engagement through basic research, tool development, and pioneering new therapeutic strategies.

1From 1996-2006, the U.S. age-adjusted stroke death rate fell 33.5% and actual stroke deaths declined 18.4%. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
2 “R&D Cuts Curb Brain-Drug Pipeline,” The Wall Street Jounal, March 27, 2011
3 N Engl J Med 365:993-1003, 2011; JAMA 306:1983-1992, 2011

Overall Budget Policy:

The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $1,624.707 million, an increase of $0.278 million or 0.02%, over the FY 2012 Enacted level. NINDS emphasizes investigator-initiated research, and targets solicitations to unmet, mission-critical scientific opportunities and public health needs. Across all scientific and disease areas, the Institute tailors programs to the different requirements of basic research, translational therapy development, and clinical studies, including clinical trials. The Institute intensively reviews ongoing programs, in consultation with the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Advisory Council and other outside experts as appropriate, and reallocates resources from programs that no longer warrant investment to encourage new investigators, maintain vigorous investigator-initiated research, and encourage innovative research. NINDS also rigorously evaluates the mission relevance of all new initiative proposals and requests to submit applications for large investigator-initiated projects. Funds are included in R&D contracts to support trans-NIH initiatives, such as the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network (OppNet).

Program Descriptions and Accomplishments

Channels, Synapses, and Circuits:

Ion channels, synapses, and circuits of interacting nerve cells are fundamental components of the nervous system. Ion channels control electrical currents in cells. Synapses are the connections by which nerve cells influence the activity of other nerve cells. Circuits formed by networks of interconnected nerve cells carry out the higher functions of the brain. NINDS supports research on how channels, synapses, and circuits operate in the healthy nervous system in the adult and developing brain and on neurological disorders in which these fundamental elements play a major role. The program encompasses basic, translational, and clinical research. Epilepsy, which affects nearly one percent of the U.S. population, is a common disorder in which channels, synapses, and brain circuits are a major focus, and recent research has uncovered key roles for channel and circuit dysfunction in other common disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The Institute continues its longstanding research program that has contributed to many advances in epilepsy treatment. Since 2001, the Epilepsy Benchmarks process has brought the NIH, the research community, and non-governmental organizations together to establish milestones and monitor progress toward the goal of “no seizures, no side effects.” In accord with those goals, NINDS is increasing emphasis on preventing the epilepsies and their progression, developing new therapeutic strategies, and addressing co-morbidities of epilepsy.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $196.751 million, a decrease of $0.008 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level. In 2013, NINDS will continue to balance investigator-initiated research and research targeted to specific mission priorities, including projects funded through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs. Beginning in 2011 and continuing in 2013, a series of three major initiatives targets priorities that arise from the Epilepsy Benchmarks process: 1) A translational initiative supports exploratory projects and larger milestone driven preclinical therapy development projects through the NINDS Cooperative Program on Translational Research. These translational projects focus on interventions for treatment resistant epilepsy and on preventing epileptogenesis, that is, the development of epilepsy. 2) A EUREKA program for the epilepsies, based on the NIH Exceptional Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration program, supports innovative research on novel hypotheses or difficult problems in epilepsy which would have a high impact on epilepsy research. 3) The Epilepsy Centers without Walls program addresses high priority Benchmarks research areas that are not easily addressed through regular grant mechanisms. The structure and resources of the Centers will vary according to the specific needs and goals of the different Benchmark topics, but each Center will bring together the best multidisciplinary team of investigators, regardless of geographic locations, to focus for multiple years on a specific problem. In 2012 NINDS funded the first Center without Walls on genetics and genomics of the epilepsies and two planning grants to enable teams to develop a center on SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy). The program will continue with with full Centers without Walls or planning grants, as appropriate to the readiness of the field, on SUDEP and on disease modification and prevention of epilepsy. In March 2013, a major Curing Epilepsy Conference will continue the Epilepsy Benchmarks process, following the earlier Curing Epilepsy conferences in 2001, which initiated the Benchmarks, and a follow-up meeting 2007. Benchmark “stewards” from the patient and research community continuously monitor progress between these major meetings.

Infrastructure, Training programs, and Resources:

NINDS supports infrastructure for clinical research and clinical trials, training and career development, research resources, workforce diversity, and health disparities research that serves these activities throughout NINDS extramural programs. The Office of Clinical Research is continuing to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of NINDS clinical research programs through improved management and innovative programs. NINDS clinical research includes early phase clinical trials through large multi-site phase III trials, epidemiological studies, and other clinical research. In FY 2012, NINDS is launching NeuroNext, a multi-site clinical for early phase (II) clinical trials of novel therapies for neurological disorders and related studies, including biomarker validation. The network will improve the speed and effectiveness of these studies through features such as a single Institutional Review Board and master agreements among clinical sites, and will protect intellectual property to enable testing of the most promising interventions, whether they arise from academia, foundations, or industry. The Neurological Emergency Treatment trials Network (NETT) brings together experts from neurology, neurosurgery, emergency medicine, and other medical disciplines to conduct clinical trials for stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), continuous seizures, and other neurological emergencies. The Specialized Programs for Translational Research in Stroke (SPOTRIAS) centers are developing acute interventions for stroke. NINDS is also working with the research community to develop common data elements that enable comparison and sharing of clinical data across studies. Following the advice of strategic planning panels on workforce diversity and on health disparities, the Institute has integrated diversity activities with other NINDS training programs and disparities in the NINDS Office of Clinical Research, as well as continuing infrastructure programs within the Office of Special Programs in Diversity.

Program Portrait: Stroke Prevention/Intervention Research Program (SPIRP)
FY 2013 Level: $4.5 million
FY 2012 Level: $4.5 million
Change: $0.0 million

The purpose of the Stroke Prevention/Intervention Research Program (SPIRP) is to directly and demonstrably reduce stroke health disparities. NIH research has contributed to the dramatic reductions in stroke in the general population. However, despite this progress, substantial disparities persist across racial and ethnic groups with respect to stroke risk and outcomes. NINDS epidemiological studies have followed tens of thousands of people in high risk populations over many years, quantified the extent of disparities, and, most importantly, revealed crucial contributing factors and targets for intervention. For example, atrial fibrillation, which presents a strongly increased risk for stroke that can be reduced by intervention, is not adequately diagnosed and treated in minority populations, and interventions that can reduce stroke risk from other risk factors are also underutilized. The findings of the NINDS Advisory Planning Panel on Health Disparities Research, which reported to the NANDS Advisory Council in 2011, guide the SPIRP program. NINDS will also convene a scientific workshop in 2012 that will explore how best to move from the epidemiological findings to interventions that reduce disparities.

In 2011, NINDS informed the research community about plans for the SPIRP program, and the Institute released a solicitation in FY2012. In FY2013, the Institute will fund two SPIRPs through the U54 cooperative agreement center grant mechanism, assuming as for all programs that researchers present scientifically meritorious proposals. Each SPIRP will contain at least one prevention/intervention project that directly addresses racial/ethnic stroke disparities and at least one additional stoke disparities research project. Each SPIRP will also train researchers or community stakeholders, such as physicians, nurses, and community health workers, and conduct public outreach. The SPIRP program is an important component of NINDS activities to reduce health disparities, which is a major priority for the Institute.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $231.996 million, a decrease of $0.010 million or 0.01%, under the FY 2012 Enacted level. This level will support the continuation of the NETT program in 2013. The network completed recruitment for its first major clinical trial ahead of schedule and is showing promising evidence that it will meet its goals of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of clinical trials of neurological emergencies. NINDS is examining options for future of the SPOTRIAS in the context of a comprehensive review and planning effort for all stroke programs that is underway. In 2012, NINDS funded the data coordinating center, clinical coordinating center, and 25 clinical sites across the U.S. for the NeuroNext clinical network. Following a 2011 NIH-FDA workshop on biomarkers to accelerate therapy development for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), NINDS solicited applications for SMA biomarkers as potential studies within NeuroNext, to begin in 2012. NeuroNext also issued solicitations targeted at academic investigators, foundations, small businesses, and industry for the first clinical trials to be conducted in the network, with the first trials likely to begin in 2013. A full range of NINDS programs in training and career development, are also continuing, including individual and institutional grants at the graduate, post-doctoral, and career development levels. In accordance with the recommendations of the NINDS planning panels on workforce diversity and health disparities, NINDS is modifying the Specialized Neuroscience Research Programs (SNRP) to focus on enhancing diversity and build on the progress during the first decade of this program. The new name of the program reflects these changes--Specialized programs in Neuroscience Diversity (SPIN-D).

Neural Environment:

Non-neuronal cells, called glial cells, outnumber nerve cells in the brain.  These cells, together with specialized blood vessels, maintain the local environment around nerve cells, fight infections, and control which molecules get into the brain from the circulating blood through the blood-brain barrier.  Neurological disorders may result when non-neuronal cells are compromised, as in multiple sclerosis; when these cells themselves become aggressors, as in brain tumors; when viruses, bacteria, or parasites infect the nervous system, as in NeuroAIDS; or when the blood supply to brain cells is compromised, as in stroke.  NINDS supports basic, translational, and clinical research on the normal control of the neural environment and on the diseases in which its disruption plays a major role, with the goal of improving prevention and treatment.  Over many years, the program has made substantial contributions to the development of treatments for stroke, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $215.413 million, a decrease of $0.009 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  NINDS will continue to balance research targeted to specific priorities and investigator-initiated research, including research through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs.  The Institute is continuing to collaborate with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in support of Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) center grants that support highly interactive translational research to improve prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of brain tumor or other nervous system tumors.  The Institute is working with other components of the NIH on NeuroAIDS related research, including continuing solicitations on HIV associated neurodegeneration in populations on long term retroviral therapy, on pediatric HIV/AIDS, and on atriretroviral therapy effects on the central nervous system. These efforts complement the increased emphasis on NeuroHIV in the NINDS Intramural Research Program.  NINDS has begun an intensive planning effort on Stroke, engaging the medical and scientific community that will report in 2012 and guide the Institute’s extensive programs on stroke research.


Many neurodegenerative disorders increase in frequency in older people.  Thus, these diseases present an increasing human and economic challenge to the U.S. as our population ages.  Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementias, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, and vascular cognitive impairment are among the neurodegenerative diseases that affect adults.  NINDS research on neurodegeneration ranges from studies of disease mechanism that identify potential therapeutic targets, through development of animal models and intensive preclinical development of all modes of therapy (drug, gene, cell, and device), and multi-site clinical trials that test the safety and efficacy of new therapies.  Studies of genetic and environmental influences, and their interaction, are important aspects of the program.  Based on the accumulating evidence from the many genetic findings, researchers are inferring the cellular pathways that underlie disease and potential targets for intervention.  A key unifying aspect of the program is the recognition that shared mechanisms contribute to multiple neurodegenerative diseases.  These include neuronal cell death pathways, perturbations of cells’ recycling machinery, protein misfolding and aggregation, and mitochondrial dysfunction. 

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $187.053 million, a decrease of $0.007 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  NINDS neurodegeneration research will continue to balance investigator-initiated research and solicited research, including projects funded through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs.  The Morris K. Udall Parkinson’s Disease Centers of Excellence program is continuing, with increased emphasis on translational research.  Beginning in 2012, an NINDS initiative is developing and validating biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease.  Biomarkers are objectively measureable indicators of the disease process and drug actions that can accelerate the development of treatments. The Institute is also continuing a public-private initiative begun in 2010 to validate molecular targets for interventions that slow the progression of Huntington’s disease and is continuing to support the development of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for neurodegenerative diseases and their availability to the research community.  Although this technology was developed recent years, IPSCs derived from patients with a disease and directed to form neural cells are already demonstrating their usefulness in studying neurological diseases and developing therapies. 


Gene defects cause hundreds of diseases that affect the nervous system.  Symptoms may be evident early in infancy or only emerge later, even in old age.  Neurogenetic disorders include the ataxias, Down syndrome, dystonia, lysosomal storage diseases, muscular dystrophies, peripheral neuropathies, Rett syndrome, spinal muscular atrophy, and Tourette syndrome, among many others.  NIH research has identified hundreds of gene defects that are responsible for these diseases.  Research building on these discoveries has developed better diagnostics, animal models for testing therapies, and rationally designed interventions that are now showing promise in animals and beginning to enter clinical testing.  In addition to disorders caused by defects in single genes, multiple genes interacting with environmental influences contribute to the susceptibility and progression of common neurological disorders, including autism, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.  The neurogenetics program supports research on genes that cause neurological disorders, on the molecular mechanisms through which genes act, and on the development of gene based animal and cell models of disease.  The program also promotes the development of gene-based therapies and drugs targeted to specific gene products.  Also key to progress is the development of resources for neurogenetics research. NINDS resources for genetics research include the NINDS Human Genetics Repository, which fosterssharing of clinically well characterized genetic material and cell lines among investigators.  In addition to investigator-initiated research, catalytic resources, and targeted solicitations to unmet research opportunities, NINDS supports scientific workshops on neurogenetic disorders that stimulate the research community to discuss the state of the science and opportunities for progress.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $184.875 million, a decrease of $0.008 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  NINDS will continue to support investigator-initiated grants and targeted activities in neurogenetics, including projects funded through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs.  The Institute is providing substantial support for whole genome sequencing and other the application of other “next generation” genomics methods to neurological disorders. In 2013, the Institute is also continuing its support for the Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers, which have a strong translational research component, and for the Autism Centers for Excellence; both of these are trans-NIH programs.  The Institute also works closely with the NIH Office of Rare Disease Research in supporting and providing disease specific expertise to nervous system disease related consortia within the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, including the Dystonia Coalition.

Repair and Plasticity:

NINDS supports extensive research on spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury (TBI), and on repairing damage to the nervous system from disease or trauma from these and other causes.  Longstanding NINDS support for the study of neural stem cells and the generation of new cells within the nervous system, and for research on the brain's innate capacity to adapt through "plasticity" has contributed to substantial progress that has potential applications to many neurological disorders.  For more than thirty years, the NINDS Neural Prosthesis program has successfully pioneered research on devices that restore nervous system function lost to injury or disease.  Current emphasis areas in neuroengineering and neural prosthesis research include a new generation of devices that take control signals directly from the brain and improving technology for deep brain stimulation, which has proven effective or is promising for treating several neurological disorders.  Stimulated by the high rate of traumatic brain injury among U.S. military personnel, NINDS has enhanced coordination of TBI research within the NIH and across the several Federal Agencies that support such research, including the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.  Trans-agency collaborative workshops have focused on TBI classification, the unique issues of TBI from blast, combination therapies for TBI, and common data elements for TBI research to facilitate sharing and comparison of data from different studies, among other topics.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $129.856 million, a decrease of $0.005 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  NINDS continues to balance investigator-initiated research and solicitations, including projects funded through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs.  In 2013 NINDS will continue to solicit projects to translate advanced neural prosthetics up to and through “first in human” clinical demonstrations. The Institute also continues to work closely with research programs in the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other agencies on traumatic brain and spinal cord injury.  NIH and the Department of Defense are developing a Federal Interagency Traumatic Brain Injury Research (FITBIR) database that will serve as a central repository for new data, link to current databases, and allow sharing of data and comparison across studies. The system is a key part of the larger interagency efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of TBI. 

Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience:

Systems of interconnected nerve circuits in the brain, spinal cord, and body control learning, memory, attention, language, thinking, emotion, movement, the sleep-wake cycle, pain perception, and other complex behaviors.  NINDS supports research on how systems of nerve cells carry out these functions and on counteracting the disruptive effects of neurological disorders on neural circuits.  Stroke, brain trauma, and neurodegenerative diseases are among the disorders that affect cognition and other complex behaviors.  Migraine and other chronic pain are very prevalent disorders that are important areas of emphasis in this program.  NINDS is the largest NIH supporter of research on pain and was recently designated as the lead NIH institute for pain research.  The Institute is continuing to work with other NIH Institutes and Centers via the NIH Pain Consortium and with the wider Federal and private sector communities through the new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $173.899 million, a decrease of $0.007 million, under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  NINDS balances investigator initiated research and solicitations, including projects funded through the Institute’s translational research and clinical trials programs.  Pain continues to be a major area of emphasis.  An NIH Blueprint Grand Challenge program, begun with a solicitation for 2012, focuses on the transition from acute to chronic neuropathic pain.  Blueprint programs are also continuing to support grants on collaborative research on neuropathic pain or neuroplasticity, and on mechanisms, models, measurement, and management in pain research. NINDS is supporting a program, beginning in 2012, on Pain Consortium Centers of Excellence for Pain Education. Another continuing trans-NIH activity supports collaborative studies on the central nervous system and glycemia, focusing on new interdisciplinary collaborations by researchers in neuroscience and in diabetes/metabolism to further understand the mechanisms by which the brain controls glucose levels and the consequences to the brain of derangements in these mechanisms.

Translational Research:

The Office of Translational Research (OTR) manages major Institute translational programs, as well as providing expertise to NINDS preclinical therapy development activities, which span all of the Institute’s scientific programs.  OTR leads the Institute’s most comprehensive preclinical therapy development program, the Cooperative Program in
activities, which span all of the Institute’s scientific programs.  OTR leads the Institute’s most comprehensive preclinical therapy development program, the Cooperative Program in Translational Research.  This program supports teams of academic and small business investigators to develop therapies for neurological disorders.  Because the failure rate is high in therapy development, milestone-based funding enables the OTR to stop projects in this program that are no longer making progress and to shift funds to more promising opportunities.  OTR also directs the longstanding Anticonvulsant Screening Program (ASP).  OTR is leading the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Grand Challenge on Neurotherapeutics.  The challenge goal is to develop truly novel drugs that transform the treatment of nervous system diseases.  Beginning in 2010, following advice from an advisory panel from government, academic, and industry, OTR has also taken on leadership of NINDS SBIR and STTR programs, working with scientific experts throughout the extramural program as with other translational activities. NINDS also continues an active working group with the FDA Center for Biologics Research to discuss shared interests on advancing cell, gene therapy, and other biologic therapies for neurological disorders. NINDS is also taking an active role in NIH-FDA regulatory science initiatives.

Program Portrait: Anticonvulsant Screening Program
FY 2013 Level: $3.1 million
FY 2012 Level: $1.5 million
Change: +$1.6 million

NINDS is making major changes to the Anticonvulsant Screening Program (ASP) to better reflect current priorities and needs of the epilepsy community, which include drugs for treatment resistant epilepsy and to block the development of epilepsy, and emerging opportunities which arise from better understanding of the mechanisms of specific subtypes of epilepsy.  Over more than 35 years, the ASP has partnered with academic and industry investigators by testing potential anticonvulsant compounds in standardized animal models of epilepsy.  The ASP provides results to the investigators with no charge for testing, while protecting intellectual property to stimulate further private sector drug development.  The ASP has tested more than 30,000 potential drugs through more than 500 public-private partnerships, and contributed to the development of eight drugs that are now on the market.  The ASP program and testing models have historically focused on drugs to halt seizures.  This was critical when the program began.   An NINDS survey at that time determined that the available anti-seizure drugs were inadequate for many people with epilepsy and private investment in this area was limited because of the high cost of drug development relative to the size of the market and the difficulty of predicting clinical efficacy of new compounds.  However, through public-private partnership many such drugs are now available, and today the priorities of the epilepsy community are the development of drugs that prevent the development of epilepsy (anti-epileptogensis drugs),and drugs that modify the underlying disease process which may also address co-morbidities that contribute greatly to the burden of this disease.  

In 2011, NINDS undertook an intensive review of the ASP program, with an advisory group including academic-medical experts on epilepsy, industry expertise in drug development, and representation of the patient community.  Guided by the group’s recommendations and advice from the NIANDS Council, the Institute will maintain the ASP program but substantially change its emphasis and processes.  The ASP will develop and deploy new testing models focused on anti-epileptogenesis and disease modification and increase emphasis on treatment resistant epilepsy.  The program will also better integrate with other NINDS epilepsy research by developing models and testing based on new understanding of the molecular mechanisms of subtypes of epilepsy, including pediatric epilepsies and genetic epilepsy syndromes.  NINDS will take steps to increase the quality of compounds and the completeness of data on submission.  This will allow more rational decisions to better align the program with the current drug development landscape and to catalyze private sector investment in the most important priorities for epilepsy. 

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $88.739 million,  a decrease of $0.003 million under the FY 2012 Enacted level.  This includes programs led by the Office of Translational Research, but does not include all NINDS translation research activities, which are also supported through budgets of other program areas as appropriate to the disease of focus.  The Cooperative Program in Translational Research continues in 2013 with single component and multi-component milestone-driven therapy development projects, including small business awards, as well as smaller exploratory or developmental projects.  Based on an intensive review by a panel of experts from academia, industry, and the public, NINDS is making major changes to the Anticonvulsant Screening Program (ASP) to better reflect current patient needs and scientific opportunities.  In 2013, OTR is also leading the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint Grand Challenge in Neurotherapeutics, with the first preclinical therapy development projects now underway.  OTR has also taken on leadership of NINDS SBIR/STTR programs.  Specific SBIR/STTR solicitations continuing in 2013 focus on nanoscience and nanotechnology, on the development of pediatric drug formulations, on tools for brain and behavioral research, on predictive multi-scale models, and on early phase clinical trials.

Intramural Research:

The NINDS Intramural Research Program conducts basic, translational, and clinical research on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, which is one of the largest communities of neuroscientists in the world.  Among the unique resources of the NIH campus, the Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Center is a hospital totally dedicated to clinical research and the NIH Porter Neuroscience Research Center integrates neuroscience across NIH institutes and disciplinary boundaries. Intramural program research on the normal nervous system covers a broad range of neuroscience, including ion channel structure and function, reconstruction of the intricate details of nervous system anatomy, neuronal development, and integrative neuroscience.  Intramural laboratories conduct research and therapy development for neurological disorders, including neurogenetic diseases, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, stroke, and other disorders. A major new laboratory is focusing on understanding viral infections of the nervous system, including HIV, and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for these diseases. Areas of focus in the neurosurgical biology and therapeutics branch include direct drug delivery methods for neurological disorders and brain tumor biology and treatment. Ongoing Intramural activities include a joint brain tumor program with the National Cancer Institute and the Suburban Hospital and Washington Hospital Center Stroke centers. The NINDS Intramural program continues to be a leader in development of novel magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) strategies for detecting normal and abnormal function of the brain. Intramural researchers are also engaged in the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine, which is a collaborative program with the Department of Defense, including the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University, that brings together clinicians and scientists across disciplines to catalyze innovative approaches to traumatic brain injury research.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $157.633 million, the same as the FY 2012 Enacted level.  In 2013, as a result of ARRA funding, phase II of the construction of the John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center will complete this complex.  By its design, the Porter Center encourages collaborative research across scientific disciplines, between basic and clinical scientists, and across multiple components of the NIH whose missions intersect in the brain and nervous system. 

Research Management and Support (RMS):

NINDS RMS activities provide administrative, budgetary, logistical, and scientific support in the review, award, and monitoring of research grants, training awards and research and development contracts.  RMS functions also encompass strategic planning, coordination, and evaluation of the Institute's programs, regulatory compliance, international coordination, and liaison with other Federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

Budget Policy: The FY 2013 President’s Budget request is $58.492 million, an increase of $0.335 million or 0.58%, over the FY 2012 Enacted level.

Budget Authority by Object
(Dollars in Thousands)
 F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Increase or
Total compensable workyears:   
   Full-time employment509503(6)
   Full-time equivalent of overtime and holiday hours000
   Average ES salary (in dollars)$165,000$165,000$0
   Average GM/GS grade12.112.20.1
   Average GM/GS salary (in dollars)$97,814$98,429$615
   Average salary, grade established by act of
   July 1, 1944 (42 U.S.C. 207) (in dollars)
   Average salary of ungraded positions (in dollars)102,667102,6670

F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Increase or
Personnel Compensation:   
11.1 Full-time permanent$27,977$27,766($211)
11.3 Other than full-time permanent22,66522,594(71)
11.5 Other personnel compensation1,6871,6881
11.7 Military personnel5475547
11.8 Special personnel services payments6,5356,507(28)
        Total, Personnel Compensation$59,411$59,109($302)
12.0 Personnel benefits$15,343$15,267($76)
12.2 Military personnel benefits357355(2)
13.0 Benefits for former personnel000
        Subtotal, Pay Costs$75,111$74,731($380)
21.0 Travel and transportation of persons$3,778$3,778$0
22.0 Transportation of things2232230
23.1 Rental payments to GSA20200
23.2 Rental payments to others79790
23.3 Communications, utilities and miscellaneous charges8668660
24.0 Printing and reproduction2452450
25.1 Consulting services1,5791,5790
25.2 Other services20,75221,426674
25.3 Purchase of goods and services from government accounts137,230150,23613,006
25.4 Operation and maintenance of facilities3,6953,6950
25.5 Research and development contracts25,34811,356(13,992)
25.6 Medical care5395390
25.7 Operation and maintenance of equipment10,51110,5110
25.8 Subsistence and support of persons000
25.0 Subtotal, Other Contractual Services$199,654$199,342($312)
26.0 Supplies and materials$8,207$8,207$0
31.0 Equipment9,3469,3460
32.0 Land and structures000
33.0 Investments and loans000
41.0 Grants, subsidies and contributions1,326,9001,327,870970
42.0 Insurance claims and indemnities000
43.0 Interest and dividends000
44.0 Refunds000
        Subtotal, Non-Pay Costs$1,549,318$1,549,976$658
        Total Budget Authority by Object$1,624,429$1,624,707$278

Includes F T E's which are reimbursed from the NIH Common Fund.

Salaries and Expenses
(Dollars in Thousands)
F Y 2013
Increase or
Personnel Compensation:   
  Full-time permanent (11.1)$27,977$27,766($211)
  Other than full-time permanent (11.3)22,66522,594(71)
  Other personnel compensation (11.5)1,6871,6881
  Military personnel (11.7)5475547
  Special personnel services payments (11.8)6,5356,507(28)
Total Personnel Compensation (11.9)$59,411$59,109($302)
Civilian personnel benefits (12.1)$15,343$15,267($76)
Military personnel benefits (12.2)357355(2)
Benefits to former personnel (13.0)000
Subtotal, Pay Costs$75,111$74,731($380)
Travel (21.0)$3,778$3,778$0
Transportation of things (22.0)2232230
Rental payments to others (23.2)79790
Communications, utilities and miscellaneous charges (23.3)8668660
Printing and reproduction (24.0)2452450
Other Contractual Services:   
  Advisory and assistance services (25.1)1,5791,5790
  Other services (25.2)20,75221,426674
  Purchases from government accounts (25.3)87,43287,388(44)
  Operation and maintenance of facilities (25.4)3,6953,6950
  Operation and maintenance of equipment (25.7)10,51110,5110
  Subsistence and support of persons (25.8)000
Subtotal Other Contractual Services$123,969$124,599$630
Supplies and materials (26.0)$8,166$8,166$0
Subtotal, Non-Pay Costs$137,326$137,956$630
Total, Administrative Costs$212,437$212,687$250

Details of Full-Time Equivalent Employment (F T E's)
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Office of the Director510515105151051
Division of Extramural Research870878708786086
Division of Intramural Research338434233843423334337
Office of Translational Research111121201212012
Office of Clinical Research15 151501515 15
Office of Special Programs in Diversity202202202
Includes F T E's which are reimbursed from the NIH Common Fund
F T E's supported by funds from Cooperative Research and Development Agreements000000000

Detail of Positions
(Dollars in Thousands)
F Y 2012
F Y 2013
Total, ES Positions011
Total, ES Salary0165,000165,000
Grades established by Act of July 1, 1944 (42 U.S.C. 207):   
Assistant Surgeon General000
Director Grade322
Senior Grade111
Full Grade111
Senior Assistant Grade000
Assistant Grade000
Total permanent positions319319313
Total positions, end of year527528522
Total full-time equivalent (F T E) employment, end of year509509503
Average ES salary0165,000165,000
Average GM/GS grade12.112.112.2
Average GM/GS salary97,81497,81498,429

Includes F T Es which are reimbursed from the NIH Common Fund.

Last Modified July 27, 2015