NINDS Funding Strategy Fiscal Year 2022

Mission

The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

Budget Information


NINDS supports and conducts research on the normal and diseased nervous system, which also includes the training of neuroscience investigators. Approximately 90% of the overall budget of NINDS is used to fund extramural research through a variety of funding mechanisms. Each year, based on the appropriation received from Congress, NINDS establishes a funding strategy that communicates its final budget, percentile payline, and new and ongoing grant funding policies.

On March 15, 2022, the President signed into law H.R. 2471, “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022,” resulting in a full year appropriation for NINDS and NIH.  

The policies outlined in this strategy are for the current fiscal year, unless otherwise noted, and represent the NINDS plans for FY22.

 

FAQs

What is the current budget of NINDS?

Congress directs the investment of NINDS funds along the following lines, with specific appropriations set for BRAIN21st Century Cures, and HEAL:

  FY19 FY20 FY21 FY22
NINDS Base

$1,847,660

$1,979,476

$2,014,208

$2,082,185

BRAIN

$111,410

$128,890

$178,890

$182,890

21st Century Cures

$57,500

$70,000

$50,000

$76,000

HEAL

$257,843

$266,321

$270,295

$270,295

Total NINDS Appropriation $2,274,413 $2,444,687 $2,513,393 $2,611,370

Note: “FY” stands for fiscal year. Dollars are in thousands.

How does NINDS allocate these funds across the NINDS extramural research portfolio?

In developing this Funding Strategy, NINDS consulted with the NINDS Advisory Council to carefully consider how to achieve the institute’s mission while balancing its multiple priorities. The institute established general guidelines for funding, allowing for necessary adjustments throughout the year to reflect directives from Congress and the NIH, as well as emerging program priorities.

For an example of past expenditures, see FY21 Total Extramural Research Expenditures.

 

Competing Applications

What is the percentile payline for applications funded this fiscal year (FY22)?

The table below describes the paylines for different categories of competing applications (i.e. new and renewal). The paylines apply to the following types of investigator-initiated applications: R01, R03, R15, and R21. Applications with scores within these paylines will be funded with rare, NANDS Council-approved exceptions.

Investigators

General Pay Line

All Investigators

14%

Early Stage Investigators (ESIs)*

25% (R01s only)

 

* Note: For an Early Stage Investigator (ESI) submitting Multi-PI Applications, all PIs on the application must be ESIs to receive the payline advantage.

In addition, Alzheimer's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease Related Dementia (AD/ADRD) applications submitted via the parent R01 or the NINDS R21 funding opportunity announcement will share an AD/ADRD extended payline with NIA as described in the NIA Funding Strategy

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) (Public Law 111-375) is intended to stimulate scientific research to develop effective therapies to treat or prevent AD/ADRD. The ADRDs include frontotemporal, Lewy body, vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), and mixed dementias. The current total NIH funding for AD/ADRD research is approximately $3 billion dollars per year. For more information on research on AD/ADRD visit NINDS Focus on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias.

 

What factors contribute to the determination of the payline, and why does it fluctuate?

When NINDS receives a budget from Congress, only a portion of that appropriation is available to support new grant awards.  As grants are typically awarded for two to five years, much of the money received is used to support outyear commitments of grants awarded in preceding years.  NINDS is committed to supporting investigator-initiated research and prioritizes maintaining its payline. However, the payline is currently being affected by:

  • An increase in the number of applications we have been receiving
  • A significant increase in the size of budget requests
  • Limited growth in the NINDS budget to accommodate the first two factors 

 See how the payline tracks with success rate in recent years.

How does NINDS make funding decisions for applications that fall beyond the payline (also known as “select pay” funding decisions)?

To advance our mission NINDS supports a scientifically vibrant and diverse research workforce, which includes individuals from different career stages with a broad range of skills, perspectives, and backgrounds. To this end, we support applications beyond the payline with the potential to expand the diversity of thought, experience, and/or perspective within the NINDS research or clinical workforce: 

  • Early stage investigators (within 10 years of terminal degree) - to at least equalize their R01 success rates with those of established investigators submitting new R01 applications
  • Bridge awards to investigators without significant other lab support, to sustain an outstanding research program and prevent the loss of unique resources/infrastructure
  • High Program Priority (HPP) awards

We fund applications beyond the payline (select pay) to ensure the health of the neuroscience research community as a whole and to advance our mission (to seek fundamental knowledge about the nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of illness due to neurological disorders for all people).

We rely on peer review assessment of the scientific merit and have an Institute process that examines applications within the select pay zone, approximately 10 points of the payline.

Select pay applications must be approved by Council and the IC Director and are dependent upon the availability of funds in a given year.

This policy enables NINDS to support a small number of meritorious investigator-initiated applications that do not meet the Institute payline, but are of high quality and focused either on topics of high general programmatic significance and/or meet the holistic goals for the Institute as outlined in the NINDS Strategic Plan.

Investigators neither apply for nor request select pay funding.

Learn more about NINDS support for applications within and beyond the payline.

What criteria are used to consider applications for select pay?

Criteria for HPP consideration include one or more of the following:

  •  Investigator has a track record of doing rigorous research (required)
  • Project is responsive to an important scientific opportunity or gap
  • Project addresses an important public health need
  • Project brings needed inclusive excellence to a research environment by enhancing the contributions of underrepresented groups to neuroscience and science leadership
  • Project is aligned with specific NINDS strategic objectives or legislative/executive priorities
  • Project brings an outstanding investigator into a new research area
  • Project has the potential to have exceptionally high impact on a particular area of neuroscience or neurology

Non-competing Continuation Awards

When an application is funded, NIH agrees to provide funds over several years (for example, the typical NINDS R01 award is funded for five years).  Therefore, investigators request payment for the next budget period (usually, every year), but these requests do not compete with other applications. NINDS will pay FY22 non-competing continuation awards at their full committed level as shown in the Notice of Award and will restore any cuts made in non-competing awards paid earlier in this fiscal year.

 

Policies that apply to competing applications

Administrative Reductions

Modular applications

As noted in NOT-NS-21-053, NINDS will no longer apply administrative reductions to modular investigator-initiated R01 grants. NINDS recognizes that although the cost of research has increased significantly since 1999 when the modular budget concept was introduced, the modular budgetary cap of $250K in Direct Costs has remained unchanged. In January 2020, NINDS reduced the administrative cuts on modular grants from 12.5% to 6%, and beginning with FY21 awards, eliminated administrative reductions from Council-recommended Direct Cost levels.

Non-modular applications

NINDS is continuing its longstanding policy of applying competing administrative reductions of 17.5% to non-modular R01s applied to IRG and NANDS Council budget recommendations. Investigators and recipient organizations should carefully consider this NIH guidance when developing budgets for R01 submissions. Cuts are not applied to other activity codes, to R01s with Direct Cost budgets below the modular cap, or to R01s funded via select special programs (e.g. AD/ADRDBRAINHEAL, HIV/AIDS, CounterACT). 

AD/ADRD Applications

In accordance with the NIA Funding Strategy for AD/ADRD research, NINDS is awarding the study-section recommended amount of support for AD/ADRD applications within the Alzheimer's allocation but with adjustments as deemed appropriate by staff.

 

Special Council Review

On February 17, 2022, NIH updated its Special Council Review (SCR) policy in an effort to align SCR policy with updated Other Support disclosure requirements (see NOT-OD-21-169) and to increase the threshold from $1 million in Direct Costs per year to $2 million in Total Costs (inclusive of Direct and Indirect Costs), per year. 

In alignment with NIH’s updated policy, NINDS is also increasing its SCR threshold to $2M in Total Costs.

Effective with the FY 2022 May/June Council round, NINDS Advisory Council members will continue to provide additional consideration of new and renewal applications from well-supported investigators who currently receive $2 million or more in Total Costs per year, inclusive of the pending application of active NIH funding (e.g. grants and cooperative agreements). All other elements of the NINDS SCR policy remain unchanged from NOT-NS-18-060.

 

Inflationary Increases for Future Years

Inflationary increases for future year commitments for competing and non-competing research grant awards issued in FY 2022 are not permitted.

 

 

Additional Funding Policy Information

Special Supplement Funding, including Diversity Supplements and the Landis Mentorship Award

NINDS allocates limited resources to support administrative supplements. These awards provide additional funds to an existing grant to pay for activities within the scope of the grant that were unforeseen when the new or renewal application was submitted. In addition, NINDS uses supplemental funds to provide immediate short-term support in response to natural disasters or national health emergencies and for other high priority topics, including:

  • Diversity supplements are funds added to an existing grant to increase the participation of scientists from underrepresented groups in biomedical research
  • Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship is a competitive supplement awarded annually to support outstanding mentors in their efforts in advancing the careers of students and postdoctoral fellows in their laboratories

Please note that NIH now requires that all supplement applications be submitted electronically. 

NINDS/NIH Policy for Accepting Applications Exceeding $500,000/Year (Direct Costs)

NIH will support research projects with large budgets when appropriate but needs to consider such awards as early as possible in the budget and program planning process. Therefore, applicants must obtain permission from NINDS program staff before submitting any application requesting $500,000 or more indirect costs (for any year) at least six weeks prior to submission. (For more information, see NOT-OD-02-004.) Investigators with clinical research applications over $1,000,000 must contact NINDS staff at least three months prior to the next submission deadline.