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Recovery Act Overview


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009.  This is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart the US economy, create and save millions of jobs, and address long-neglected challenges so our country is able to thrive in the 21st century. The Recovery Act was an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and included measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. For an overview please visit the

The Role of NIH

The Recovery Act provided NIH with $10.4 billion to stimulate biomedical research over the next two years (NINDS was given approximately $400 million). These funds are impacting the entire research community, including not only scientists, but also allied health workers, technicians, students, trade workers, support staff and many others who will leverage these benefits (see here for additional details on the allocation of NIH’s Recovery Act funds).

The Role of NINDS

NINDS used its funds to support outstanding projects that were consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act, and which will advance neuroscience research and positively impact the neurological health of the country.  In general, NINDS employed two strategies for stimulating research efforts: by funding existing and pending peer-reviewed projects, and by supporting trans-NIH programs that solicited innovative ideas and research projects. The allocation of funds to date is described in greater detail below. 


  • Support of meritorious grant applications with scores above the payline – NINDS used approximately 50 percent of its allocation ($209 million) to fund 280 high-quality applications (R01s, R21s, R03s, and R15s) that had been recently reviewed but not selected for funding due to budgetary limitations.  These applications were selected based on their scientific merit, as well as their potential to contribute to NIH’s Recovery Act goals of creating and retaining jobs, and accelerating the pace of scientific research.  The majority of awards were made from applications that were received for the September 2008, and January, May, and September 2009 Council rounds, and that had scores between the 11th and 25th percentiles. 
  • Participation in trans-NIH supplement programs

o   Administrative supplements – NINDS awarded 287 supplements ($50 million) to existing grants to support research within the general scope of the peer-reviewed activities and aims within the parent grant. 

o   Summer supplements – NINDS awarded 75 supplements to existing grants to support summer research opportunities for high school and undergraduate students as well as to science educators.  In addition, the NIH Office of the Director supported supplements for 49 NINDS applicants.  Together, these awards supported nearly 350 summer jobs in 2009 and 2010.


  • Competitive revisions program – NINDS awarded 25 competitive revision applications ($13 million) to support research activities related to, but beyond the scope of the original parent grant. 
  • Challenge Grant program – The goal of the NIH Challenge Grant program was to spur new areas of research and trigger an influx of research dollars into communities across the nation. NIH requested applications on topics in fifteen broad scientific areas including bioethics, translational science, genomics, health disparities, clinical trial enhancement, behavior change and prevention, and regenerative medicine. After receiving more than 1100 applications to this program, NINDS awarded 38 Challenge Grants totaling more than $33 million.  In addition, the NIH Office of the Director supported 14 NINDS Challenge Grants, totaling more than $13 million.
  • Grand Opportunity (GO) Grant program –The goals of the GO grants program were to support high impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term funding, and have the potential to lay the foundation for new fields of investigation. This program supported large-scale research projects to accelerate critical breakthroughs, early and applied research on cutting-edge technologies, and new approaches to improve the synergy and interactions among multi- and interdisciplinary research teams. NINDS awarded 19 GO Grants, totaling more than $42 million.
  • New Faculty Recruitment program – NINDS made 18 awards ($23 million) through this initiative, which provided US academic institutions with the resources necessary to recruit and hire newly-independent investigators into tenure-track positions.  These awards provided salary support and funded start-up packages for newly hired investigators to develop pilot research projects.   
  • Biomedical Research, Development, and Growth to Spur the Acceleration of New Technologies (BRDG-SPAN) program – This pilot program aimed to address the funding gap between promising research and development (R&D) and transitioning to the market -- often called the “Valley of Death -- by contributing to the critical funding needed by applicants to pursue the next appropriate milestone(s) toward ultimate commercialization.   NINDS will award more than $11 million in early FY10 to support four meritorious applications submitted through this program.  In addition, the NIH Office of the Director will support one additional NINDS application in FY10.
  • Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program – More than $2 million will be awarded by NINDS to support five meritorious applications in FY10 submitted in response to this initiative. The purpose of the AREA program is to stimulate research in educational institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the Nation's research scientists, but that have not been major recipients of NIH support.  These AREA grants create opportunities for scientists and institutions otherwise unlikely to participate extensively in NIH programs, to contribute to the Nation's biomedical and behavioral research effort.  AREA grants are intended to support small-scale health-related research projects proposed by faculty members of eligible, domestic institutions.
  • NINDS’ remaining ARRA funds will support applications received through the Small Business Catalyst Awards for Accelerating Innovative Research program, the Research to Address the Heterogeneity in Autism Spectrum Disorders initiative, and the NIH Director’s Opportunity for Research in Five Thematic Areas.

Last updated July 20, 2010