As NINDS Director, my goal is to optimize the progress of basic, translational, and clinical neuroscience research. One issue that slows the pace of discovery is that, rather than directly engaging in research, many principal investigators spend a great deal of their time writing and administering grant proposals. This is a consequence not only of the current constrained budget climate, but also of the fact that NIH grants fund individual projects that are relatively short in duration.
We feel that it is time to free up smart, talented people with innovative ideas to focus their time and effort on doing excellent science. To empower investigators to use their time more productively, NINDS is piloting a new funding mechanism – the Research Program Award (RPA) (see FAQs). Rather than funding a single project, an RPA will support an NINDS investigator’s overall research program for up to eight years. This initial pilot program aims to fund up to 30 investigators in FY 2016 who have demonstrated strong potential to do high impact science. The announcement describing this new award was released July 15 for an application deadline of Oct 6. For further information about the RPA, see the blog post from our Extramural Director Robert Finkelstein.