NIGMS staff members always closely examine each principal investigator’s (PI’s) other research support when making funding recommendations and awards. In addition, the Institute has several policies to ensure a diversified portfolio of grants. At the May 20, 2021, NAGMS Advisory Council meeting, councilors approved our updated NIGMS guidelines for funding investigators with substantial other research support. Informally, this was known as our $750K policy. What’s the policy, and why are we changing it now?
In May 1998, the council adopted operating procedures regarding support of research in well-funded laboratories. Initially, this was defined as laboratories with $500,000 or more in other direct research support. This threshold increased to $750,000 in 1999. In considering whether to fund an application with a PI who would cross that threshold, NIGMS required a special council review and approval.
A recent change in the NIH Other Support Format page has required us to update our policy. Starting May 25, 2021, applications and progress reports are expected to present other support as total costs (direct plus indirect costs) rather than direct costs for the full term of the award. This change in other support reporting will be required as of January 25, 2022. Because the current $750K policy is based on annual direct costs, the council has accommodated the new requirements by approving well-funded laboratories of $1.5 million total costs of research support as the new threshold point for required special council review. With an average NIGMS grantee indirect cost rate of approximately 50%, the updated policy will correspond to a direct cost threshold of approximately $1 million for most investigators. This level reflects inflation since 1999 as well as the range of direct costs held by PIs whose applications were declined during special council reviews over the past 2 years.
The new policy goes into effect for applications going to our September advisory council. If you have any questions, please contact me.