Funding Allocation for Research Project Grants in Fiscal Year 2012


In this 200th Feedback Loop post, I’d like to share budget slides I presented earlier this month during the open session of our National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council meeting. The session also included updates on several of our initiatives as well concept clearances for two new ones, which are briefly described in the meeting summary.

As part of my acting director’s report, I presented our Fiscal Year 2012 funding plan and focused specifically on our budget for research project grants (RPGs), which includes mostly R01s. The figures below are based on a budget estimate for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins on October 1. Since NIH has not yet received an appropriation for the next fiscal year, the estimate assumes that the budget will be at approximately the Fiscal Year 2011 level.

Figure 1 breaks down the total NIGMS budget of about $2.034 billion into its major components and shows that 67% of the budget will support RPGs. Of that portion, we will use around 76% to pay noncompeting grants (commitments on grants already awarded). This leaves about 23% for competing grants and 1% for supplements.

Figure 1. Fiscal Year 2012 Breakdown

Figure 1. Fiscal Year 2012 breakdown of the estimated NIGMS budget into its major components. About 67% of the budget will support research project grants (RPGs), and of that, 76% will be used to pay noncompeting grants, 23% to pay competing grants and 1% to pay supplements.

Figure 2 breaks down the competing RPG budget. It shows that 93% will be used to pay investigator-initiated research and that the remaining 7% will fund mainly R01 grants submitted in response to requests for applications (RFAs), which have been carefully considered by NIGMS staff in consultation with the scientific community and have been approved by our Advisory Council during the concept clearance process.

Figure 2: NIGMS FY 2012 Breakdown of Estimated Competing RPG Budget

Figure 2. Fiscal Year 2012 breakdown of the estimated competing RPG budget. About 93% of the budget will be used to pay investigator-initiated research, and the remainder will fund R01 grants submitted in response to RFAs.

The final figure shows that the portion of the competing RPG budget spent on investigator-initiated research during the last 8 years has varied between 87% and 94%, further indicating that NIGMS commits a relatively small amount of RPG funds to grants that are not investigator-initiated.

Figure 3. Comparison of RPG Budgets in Fiscal Years 2004-2011

Figure 3. Comparison of RPG budgets in Fiscal Years 2004-2011 for investigator-initiated research versus set-asides for grants in response to specific RFAs. During this period, the portion spent on investigator-initiated research has varied between 87% and 94%.

10 Replies to “Funding Allocation for Research Project Grants in Fiscal Year 2012”

    1. Judith:

      I think it would be extremely interesting to compare the impact score/percentile distributions of R01 grants written using the four different typefaces allowed by the SF424 instructions. This may sounds bizarre, but I have a hypothesis based on research on typeface readability that those grants written using the allowable serif typefaces–Georgia and Palatino–will score better than those written using the allowable sans serif typefaces–Arial and Helvetica.


    1. In recent years, competing RPGs have made up about 25% of the RPG budget. Since the average length of a grant is 4 years, about 75% of the RPG budget pays for the noncompeting years.

  1. Is there a FY 2012 payline for R15 Area grants? Now that the FY 2012 appropriations have been passed, is there a timeline for making funding decisions on grant applications reviewed in the September 2011 council review?

    1. NIGMS does not make funding decisions based on a predetermined payline, and the priority score is not the only factor that Institute staff consider when recommending specific grant applications for funding. For Fiscal Year 2011, the NIGMS success rate for AREA (R15) grants was about 20%. For more on the AREA program and success rates across NIH, see the December 23 post from NIH’s Sally Rockey.

      The distribution of the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriation is still in the works, and the Fiscal Year 2012 success rates won’t be available until after the year is complete.

        1. R15 applications reviewed in October underwent the second level of review by the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council in January 2012. NIGMS staff are in the process of making funding decisions and will let successful applicants know within a few weeks. However, for further information you should contact your program director, whose name is on the summary statement you received.

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