On October 16, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the Federal Government through January 15, 2014, at Fiscal Year 2013 levels. This short-term budget allows us to begin funding some of the grant applications approved by our Advisory Council in September. However, because the funds we have available are only for a fraction of the fiscal year and we don’t know what the budget for the rest of the year will be, we need to be conservative in our funding decisions until a longer-term budget is approved.
Led by NIGMS Acting Deputy Director Judith Greenberg, the directors of the NIGMS scientific divisions developed principles to help us decide which of the many outstanding applications we are considering should receive funding now and which should be deferred for later start dates, if sufficient funds become available after January 15.
The fundamental question the division directors addressed was which categories of investigators would face the most serious jeopardy from a delay in funding. Based on the group’s careful deliberations, we will give priority to highly rated applications from investigators who have little or no current support from any source. Within this category, we will generally give priority to competing renewal applications over new applications, although in each case, we will take into account the particular circumstances of the investigator and her/his laboratory. For instance, an application from an early stage investigator who has been a tenure-track faculty member for 4 years, has exhausted all start-up funds and has no additional sources of funding would be considered a high priority.
We recognize that a delay in funding presents challenges for every investigator, but we hope you understand that our top priority in these difficult fiscal times must be to ensure the health of the overall biomedical research enterprise in the United States. Keeping productive and promising labs open is an essential element of this goal.