Most NIGMS Recovery Act Funds Now Committed

Recovery Act Logo - Recovery.govAt this point in Fiscal Year 2010, we have committed nearly all of our Recovery Act funds. If you have not yet heard about the status of a supplement request, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to fund it.

As Jeremy Berg noted in an earlier post, we set a high priority on getting the funds out quickly, obligating approximately 90% of our allocation by the end of September 2009. We were able to fund about 40%
of the administrative supplement requests we received.

New NIH Director’s Initiative on Scientific Workforce Diversity

NIH recently announced the NIH Director’s Pathfinder Award to Promote Diversity in the Scientific Workforce, a new program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that NIGMS will manage. The program is designed to foster new ways of thinking about initiatives related to scientific workforce diversity. Awards will empower exceptionally creative scientists to develop highly innovative, and possibly transformative, approaches to this complex challenge.

NIH expects to make approximately five awards, each up to $2 million in total costs over a 3-year period. Awardees must commit a substantial portion (generally 30% or more) of their research effort to the funded activities. Also note that letters of intent—which are encouraged but not required—are due by April 5 and that applications are due by May 4.

If you’d like more information, please e-mail Clif Poodry or call him
at 301-594-3900.

Think Big with New $80 Million NIH Recovery Act Program

Recovery Act Logo - Recovery.govA new Recovery Act funding announcement from the NIH Office of the Director came out last week, and it offers plenty of opportunities for the NIGMS community.

If you plan to apply for the NIH Director’s Opportunity for Research in Five Thematic Areas (RC4), think big! Only projects with budgets of more than $500,000 in total costs per year for three years will be considered. A key requirement is that the application must be for a research project—no bricks and mortar; no high-end, off-the-shelf instruments—although it can be for a project that develops infrastructure.

The five thematic areas included in the program were enunciated by NIH Director Francis Collins in his first town hall meeting and in the January 1, 2010, issue of Science (PDF 240KB, Acrobat Reader Exit icon). They include:

  1. Applying genomics and other high-throughput technologies to address questions in a comprehensive way (often described with the word “all,” as in all genes in an organism, all human proteins and their structures, or all major pathways for signal transduction);
  2. Translating basic science discoveries into new and better treatments, diagnostics and therapeutics;
  3. Using science to enable health care reform—this includes prevention; better and cheaper treatments; research on health disparities, social and behavioral factors; large population studies; comparative effectiveness research; personalized medicine; pharmacogenomics; and health services research;
  4. Focusing on global health, from discovery to the development and formulation of prevention and intervention strategies that tackle infectious, parasitic and chronic diseases worldwide; and
  5. Reinvigorating the biomedical research community by encouraging new collaborations and by recruiting and retaining new investigators (applications addressing this theme are still expected to be research projects).

Since the funding is limited to three years, projects must have a high short-term impact. Applications for projects with a longer timeframe should include a plan for maintaining the research efforts without any expectation of further financial assistance from NIH.

Letters of intent are due February 15, 2010, and applications are due March 15, 2010.

If you have questions, you can e-mail or call me at 301-594-1158.

Fiscal Year 2009 R01 Funding Outcomes

Fiscal Year 2009, which ended on September 30, was a time of unprecedented opportunities for NIH due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As I noted previously, NIGMS used Recovery Act resources to support a variety of funding mechanisms.We have now analyzed the overall results for R01 grants using both our regular appropriation and Recovery Act funds. These results are shown in Figures 1-3.

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2009. The thicker bars (blue) correspond to applications supported using regular appropriated funds, while the thinner bars (red) correspond to applications supported using Recovery Act funds (2-year awards).

Figure 1. Competing R01 applications reviewed (open rectangles) and funded (solid bars) in Fiscal Year 2009. The thicker bars (blue) correspond to applications supported using regular appropriated funds, while the thinner bars (red) correspond to applications supported using Recovery Act funds (2-year awards).
Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2005-2009. For Fiscal Year 2009, two curves are shown. The thicker curve (black) corresponds to grants made with regular appropriated funds, while the thinner curve (red) includes grants made with both regular appropriated and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds.

Figure 2. NIGMS competing R01 funding curves for Fiscal Years 2005-2009. For Fiscal Year 2009, two curves are shown. The thicker curve (black) corresponds to grants made with regular appropriated funds, while the thinner curve (red) includes grants made with both regular appropriated and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds.The success rate for R01 applications paid with regular appropriated funds was 27%, and the midpoint of the funding curve was at approximately the 22nd percentile. This percentile is slightly lower than that for Fiscal Year 2008. The success rate for R01 applications paid with regular appropriated and Recovery Act funds in Fiscal Year 2009 was 32%, with a midpoint on the funding curve near the 30th percentile. The curve including Recovery Act-funded awards is fairly broad because NIGMS considered additional factors in making funding decisions for Recovery Act awards.

The total NIGMS expenditures (including both direct and indirect costs) for R01 grants are shown in Figure 3 for Fiscal Year 1995 through Fiscal Year 2009.

Figure 3.  Overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2009.  The dotted line shows the impact of awards (including supplements) made with Recovery Act funds.  Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

Figure 3. Overall NIGMS expenditures on R01 grants (competing and noncompeting, including supplements) in Fiscal Years 1995-2009. The dotted line shows the impact of awards (including supplements) made with Recovery Act funds. Results are in actual dollars with no correction for inflation.

We are analyzing additional data on NIGMS funding trends and will be posting these results on the NIGMS Funding Trends Web site.

Recovery Act Summary for Fiscal Year 2009 and Plans for Fiscal Year 2010

Fiscal Year 2009 is now complete. In addition to distributing the funds associated with the NIGMS regular appropriation of nearly $2 billion, we were able to commit $463 million in Recovery Act funds (out of the $505 million allocated to NIGMS and approximately $21 million more provided to us by the NIH Office of the Director). We estimate that we have $63 million more to spend in Fiscal Year 2010. See the end of this post for more on our plans.

We made nearly 1,600 Recovery Act awards in Fiscal Year 2009, distributed as shown below:

Percentage by activity of total NIGMS Recovery Act funds

This plot shows the percentage by activity of total NIGMS Recovery Act funds (including the $505 million allocated to NIGMS and the approximately $21 million in additional funds that the NIH Office of the Director provided to support 17 Challenge grants and to co-fund the Grand Opportunity (GO) grants) (left) and the total amount awarded (including year 2 commitments, if any) (right). The number of awards in each activity is shown over each bar. The “Other” category includes a small number of awards in a range of activities, including supplements to K08, K99, R00, P01 and U01 mechanisms. More details about these awards can be found in NIH RePORTER.

Let me briefly describe the decision-making processes that led to this distribution. We set aside funds to support 15 Challenge grants (in addition to the Challenge grants assigned to NIGMS but supported by Recovery Act funds from the NIH Office of the Director), approximately 1 Grand Opportunity grant in each of the 10 NIGMS areas of interest and 20 Faculty start-up (P30) grants. Most of the remaining Recovery Act funds were allocated to the five NIGMS divisions and centers in proportion to their percentage of NIGMS funding.

For activities that had undergone recent peer review, such as Challenge (RC1) grant applications, R01 applications, AREA (R15) grant applications and competitive revisions, priority scores and—in many cases—the current availability of funds within investigators’ laboratories were major factors in determining funding priority.

For administrative supplements to grants that had been previously peer reviewed and funded, program directors took a number of factors into account, with the goal of attempting to maximize the potential impact of the portfolio of Recovery Act awards on the American scientific enterprise. First, the proposed research had to be within the scope of the original funded grant. Additional considerations included the potential impact of the proposed funding on the specific aims of the grant; NIGMS portfolio balance; whether investigators had received other Recovery Act support; the economic stimulus impact of the funding; and the distribution of funds across regions, states and institutions.

Overall, we were able to support approximately 40% of the administrative supplement requests that we received.

Approximately 10% of our Recovery Act funds remain to be invested in Fiscal Year 2010. We plan to use most of these funds to support—for up to one year—administrative supplements, competitive revisions and other applications that have already been submitted. This means that we are still considering funding a modest number of previously submitted administrative supplement requests and other awards with our limited remaining Recovery Act funds.

President Obama Visits NIH

Yesterday, President Obama came to NIH to deliver a speech highlighting the role of scientific research in the Recovery Act and the potential impacts of biomedical research on health. This event marked the end of the fiscal year and the extraordinary effort of the scientific community and the NIH staff in moving forward with Recovery Act investments. You can read the text Exit icon or watch the video on the NIH Videocast Web site.

We will be posting more information about the status of NIGMS investments of Recovery Act funds soon.

Nearly Half of NIGMS Recovery Act Funds Now Awarded

Three weeks ago, I posted a graph of the cumulative investment of NIGMS Recovery Act funds as a function of the award start date. Below is an updated version.

This graph shows that the rate at which we have made Recovery Act awards from July to September has accelerated.

This graph differs from my previous one in two ways. First, it is up to date as of yesterday. Second, it includes commitments for the second year of awarded 2-year R01 grants. As it shows, we are close to allocating half of our $505 million of Recovery Act funds. We are making more awards every day, with the Challenge grants, GO grants, and faculty start-up (P30) grants to be awarded soon.

The awards made to date can be broken down into seven major categories.

This graph shows the amount and total number of awards in each category. R01: 112. R01 equivalent supplements: 511. AREA grants (R15): 11.  AREA grants supplements: 22. MBRS SCORE (S06, SC1,2,3, R25) supplements: 77. MARC (T34) supplements. Research training grant (T32) supplements: 90.

This graph shows the amount and total number of awards (blue type above each bar) in each category. The gray-shaded area over the R01 category reflects second-year commitments.

To put these figures in context, NIGMS currently supports approximately 3,600 R01 grants; 50 AREA (R15) grants; 250 Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) S06, SC1, SC2, SC3, and R25 grants; 50 Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) T34 grants; and 300 institutional research training T32 grants.

We will continue to update you on our Recovery Act activities as we move from one fiscal year to the next at the end of this month.

Update on Awarding Recovery Act Funds

As I noted in my previous post, we are actively working to make Recovery Act awards. Below is a plot of the cumulative investment of NIGMS Recovery Act funds as a function of the award start date. This includes awards made through the middle of August.

This graph shows that the rate at which we have made Recovery Act awards from July to mid-August has accelerated.

As you can see, the rate at which we are making awards is accelerating. Many more awards are in process. Our advisory council will review Challenge Grant, GO Grant, and Faculty Recruitment (P30) applications in mid-September, and we plan to make awards by the end of that month.

Recovery Act Status

Recovery Act Logo - Recovery.govYesterday, we posted a request for stories on the impact of Recovery Act funding. Comments to this post revealed some areas of frustration and misunderstanding that I would like to address.

First, I’d like to say that one of the big Recovery Act stories is the scientific community’s huge response with exciting ideas. Indeed, we’ve received many more proposals—including requests for administrative supplements—than we can fund, even at the high level of the Recovery Act allocation. We know how much effort is involved in preparing applications, and we’re deeply grateful to the large number of scientists who have agreed to help review these proposals.

Screenshot of NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool Expenditures and Results (NIH RePORTER)At any time, you can use the NIH RePORTER site to view Recovery Act projects funded by NIGMS and other components of NIH.

To date, we have awarded approximately $50 million of the $500 million allocated to NIGMS over the two-year period of the Recovery Act. Of these, approximately 130 are supplements to ongoing R01s, 40 are two-year R01s, and 60 are supplements to other award types. Many more awards are in progress!

Just as it has been new for you, much of the process related to the Recovery Act has been new to NIH. Since the Recovery Act was passed, NIH staff has been working hard to develop and implement systems that allow decisions and awards to be made quickly while maintaining the standards of fairness, accountability, and rigor that the scientific community and taxpayers rightfully expect.

Since this is an NIH-wide and, indeed, a government-wide effort, these processes are extensive. After a recommendation is made and approved to fund a particular award at the NIGMS level, our grants management staff must prepare the award, working with your sponsored research offices to determine the precise amount of the award and to make sure that any outstanding issues are resolved. Some awards can be processed more quickly than others. Then, award recommendations are consolidated at the NIH level and processed further. While we have made considerable efforts in streamlining these steps (and, as noted above, many awards are now working their way through this process), it still takes time, and we are not able to provide much information to applicants until the process is complete.

The bottom line is that we are working as hard as we can to get these awards out, in addition to the awards we make with our regular appropriation. If you have not heard anything, it does not mean that your Recovery Act application will not be funded! We will let you know any definitive information—positive or negative—as soon as we can.

Also, no awards have been made for any of the trans-NIH initiatives such as the Challenge Grants, GO grants and P30 Faculty Start-Up grants. The Challenge Grants have recently been reviewed and scored. NIH, through the Office of the Director, had committed to funding 200 Challenge Grants. Many institutes and centers have set aside funds to support additional Challenge Grants. My best guesstimate is that something like 600 Challenge Grants will be funded NIH-wide. The review processes are still under way for the GO grants and P30 Start-Up grants. None of these awards will be made until close to the end of the fiscal year (September 30), as these applications must all go through review by the advisory councils.

I hope that this helps clarify some of the major points of concern. Please let me know if you have additional questions.

What’s Your Recovery Act Story?

Recovery.gov - NIGMS InformationIf you’ve gotten funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, you know how important it is to tell people in your community that this support is having an impact. We want to hear from you, too. Your stories can help us show the American public how the Recovery Act is working to accelerate research, stimulate the economy, and create or retain jobs.

So please tell us about how this funding has helped you. The impact can be large or small, immediate or long-range. Did you hire a promising new scientist or keep someone from losing a job? Were you able to form new collaborations or purchase critical equipment? Did the Recovery Act help speed your research, enable you to make new discoveries, or advance science in other ways? For training programs, were you able to develop new curricula or other activities that you would not have been able to do otherwise?

We invite you to share your experiences now and in the future using our What’s Your Recovery Act Story? Web form. We’ll post a sampling of what you send us on our new Recovery Act Impact Web page. Check out the ones we’ve already posted there to see what your colleagues are saying.