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NIH Plans 2011 Grant Trimming

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Facing a budget cut of nearly one percent for its operations, programs, and research awards over the remainder of the fiscal year, the National Institutes of Health will trim back the size of its grants for all of its institutes and centers (ICs), NIH said Monday.

The 2011 budget that was agreed to recently by the White House and Congress reduced NIH's total full-year funding to $30.9 billion from a budget authority in 2010 of $31.2 billion, and NIH now will translate that cut into trimmed-down grant awards.

Under the new plan to address the roughly $260 million funding cut, non-competing research awards for all NIH ICs, with the exception of the National Cancer Institute, will be reduced to one percent below the award level for FY 2010, and inflationary adjustments for recurring costs in FY 2012 and beyond will be set at two percent. Grants that have already been awarded for 2011 may be impacted by these changes.

Those reductions will not apply to certain grants, including the Small Business Innovation Research program, Career Awards, the Ruth L. Kirschstein – National Research Service Award, Individual Fellowships, and Training Grants.

For NCI, modular and non-modular research grants will be reduced to three percent below last year, and inflationary adjustments for 2012 also will be set at two percent.

Competing research awards at NIH ICs will use funds that have not yet been committed for non-competing awards, and it is estimated that this will allow the ICs to support around 9,050 new and competing research project grants. Each IC will be tasked with establishing policies for these grants that are consistent with NIH's new policy for non-competing awards, and future inflationary adjustments also will be set at 2 percent.

Under its new plan, NIH said that it expects to continue to support new investigators through R01 equivalent awards at success rates that are equivalent to that of established investigators submitting R01 equivalent applications.

According to a recent Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology analysis of NIH funding, success rates for research project grants has declined in almost every year over the past six years, and the institute is now funding 2,000 fewer grants than it did in FY 2004, excluding funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In 2010, NIH awarded 9,455 competing (new and renewed) grants.

Over the past decade, success rates have fallen more than 10 percentage points, and success rates for new applications have fallen for three straight years and are now at 17 percent, FASEB estimated.

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