NIH is constantly striving to fund great science by great scientists, while finding opportunities to free up investigators from their administrative burden to pursue their passion in science. NINDS is taking a new step towards achieving this goal in funding the first set of awards through a new pilot program, the Research Program Award (RPA). With the approval of our Advisory Council, we are proposing to fund 31 awards to an outstanding group of neuroscientists.
The RPA is designed to allow an investigator with an impressive record of research achievement in neuroscience the freedom to embark on an ambitious, longer-term research program. A single RPA will support all of the NINDS mission-relevant research of an investigator for up to eight years. The PI must commit at least 50% effort to overseeing the research supported by the award. The amount of the award was generally close to, or slightly less, than the total current NINDS funding to the laboratory, but extends for a longer time period. Our hope is that the more stable funding will enable PIs to spend more time in the lab and less time writing for funding, allowing them to pursue more creative research without feeling pressured to generate results quickly to renew short-term grants. The RPA awardees are all exceptional scientists but there will be a mid-course assessment by NINDS and the NINDS Council to ensure that the work remains on course. We hope that by reducing the burden of continually submitting and resubmitting applications, these outstanding neuroscientists will be able to be even more involved in the science and in training the scientists in their own laboratories – for the benefit of neuroscience as a whole. I encourage you to read my more detailed blog post for additional information on this new award program.