NINDS Funding Strategy FY 2016

FY 2016 NINDS Funding Strategy

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2016.  The NINDS Appropriation for FY 2016 is $1,696,139,000, which represents an increase of $90.934 million (M) or 5.67% over the level of the previous fiscal year. The average increase for NIH Institutes and Centers was 3.93%; NINDS received a specific increase of $27.93M for The BRAIN Initiative. NINDS plans to spend 86.3%, or $1.46 billion of this appropriation on extramural research - funding researchers and organizations outside the NIH. 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 focused on identifying the causes of and treatments for 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. These solicitations are developed through consultation with external stakeholders and the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NANDS) Council.

Competing Awards: These are applications for a new, renewal, or resubmission research project grant (including R01s, R21s, and related mechanisms) that require competitive peer review before NIH can fund them. In FY2016, NINDS plans to spend approximately $311 M, or roughly 21% of the extramural research budget, on competing RPG awards, and we anticipate a success rate of approximately 20%.

We have set aside approximately $170 million of the competing funds available to fund unsolicited, investigator-initiated grants – grants that were not submitted in response to special initiatives. New (Type 1), competing renewal (Type 2), and competing supplement (Type 3) applications will be funded in percentile rank order up to a 15th percentile payline. 

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.

Non-Competing Continuation Awards:  These are requests for payment for the next budget increment of an ongoing award; these awards do not compete for available funds. In FY 2016, NINDS plans to spend approximately $834 million, or roughly 57% of the extramural research budget, on non-competing RPG awards.

In FY 2016, 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 2016 awards that have already been issued at the 90% Continuing Resolution level will be revised in accordance with this policy.


FY 2016 NINDS Extramural Budget piechart displaying the following budget allocations: Supplements - 0.3%; Competing RPGs - 21.3%; SBIR/STTR - 3.5%; Training & Careers - 4.4%; Centers - 4.0%; Cooperative Clinical Research - 1.4%; Other Research -  2.2%; R&D Contracts -  5.9% and Noncompeting RPGs - 57.1%

FY 2016 NINDS Extramural Budget 


Special Initiatives

An additional $140 million available for competing awards have been set aside for applications that score beyond the payline but have high program relevance, supporting major clinical trials, and funding special initiatives, including Requests for Applications (RFAs) and Program Announcements with Set-aside funds (PASs). These include:

  • Early Stage Investigators: Helping investigators transition to independence is a high priority for NIH and an important funding consideration for NINDS. NINDS will fund additional R01 applications from early stage investigators with scores beyond the 15th percentile with the aim of supporting these early career scientists at a success rate equivalent to that of established investigators submitting new R01 applications. 
  • 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 (see NOT-NS-10-004). Please note that investigators cannot apply for R56 awards.
  • High Program Priority (HPP): Program staff and Council members are invited to select a small number of applications that score above the payline to be considered for funding from every council round. The selection of these projects is based on: (1) mission relevance; (2) program balance; (3) creativity and innovation; and (4) funds already invested. All nominations for HPP must be approved by Council in order to be considered for funding.
  • 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 NANDS 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.
  • RFA/PAS’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.

Research Training, Career Development and Workforce Diversity

NINDS is strongly committed to training, career development and diversifying the workforce. The FY 2016 total NINDS budget for training, fellowship, and career development awards is $68 million. For more information, see the NINDS Training and Career Development Office page.

NINDS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant Program

NINDS is required by law to set aside a percentage (approximately 3.5%) of their extramural budget to support Small Business Innovative Research Grants (R43, R44), and Small Business Technology Transfer Grants (R41, R42) awards. For more information, see the NINDS SBIR Program page.

Special Supplement Funding

Approximately $5 million has been set aside in FY 2016 for administrative supplements to existing grant awards. These supplements may be awarded to support increased costs that are within the scope of the approved award, but were unforeseen when the competing application or 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 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, (2) can be expected to be highly productive for a seven-year period and (3) have an exemplary record of service to NIH review and advisory committees.  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 obtain permission from NINDS program staff before submitting any application requesting $500,000 or more in direct costs (for any year) at least six weeks prior to submission. Applicants with clinical research applications over $1,000,000 must contact NINDS staff at least 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 trial, or 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.

NINDS funding policy for Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementia (AD/ADRD) applications

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) (Public Law 111-375) offers an historic opportunity to pursue scientific research to better understand and develop effective therapies to treat or prevent the neurodegeneration that gives rise to Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (AD/ADRD). The ADRDs have been defined as frontotemporal, Lewy body, vascular and mixed dementias. NIH and its grantees must meet the challenge of advancing the science of AD/ADRD with the goal of reducing their burden of illness by 2025. For this purpose NIH has received significant additional appropriations targeted for AD/ADRD research this year.

These additional appropriations for AD/ADRD enable NIH to fund more highly meritorious investigator initiated research than in past years. The National Institute of Aging (NIA) and NINDS will post a similar payline for research on AD/ADRDs. The new AD/ADRD payline will be higher than our general payline. Consistent with NIH policy, the NIH Research, Condition, and Disease Categorization (RCDC) coding system, as reflected in NIH RePORTER, will be used to determine which applications are classified as AD/ADRD.

NIA and NINDS are excited by the opportunity to respond to the call from the US citizens and their representatives to develop solutions to attenuate the growing public health burden of dementia and the tragic consequences that these disorders have for affected individuals and their families.