Flush with new funds, NIH faces challenges of distribution


nature medicine volume 15 | number 5 | may 2009 467 According to many economists, the US is in the midst of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. But instead of slowing down, the biomedical research community is ramping up. All across the country, researchers are working late into the night, racking their brains for brilliant research proposals. What’s at stake? A slice of the National Institutes of Health’s $10.4 billion stimulus pie. The unprecedented infusion of cash has created tremendous excitement but also a tremendous amount of work. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandates that all stimulus funds be out the door by September 2010. The agency has already posted more than a dozen funding announcements since the act was signed in mid-February and will probably post more in the coming months. In many cases, researchers have just weeks to respond. “It’s really exciting to have this kind of money after such lean years,” says Beverly GinsburgCooper, senior vice president for research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. But, she adds, “I think everybody is feeling slightly overwhelmed.” No decisions have been made regarding specific grant proposals, but some of the money will go toward one-time expenses like construction or new equipment. Per the recovery act, the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive $1.3 billion. The bulk of that—$1 billion—will fund renovations, repairs and new construction at biomedical facilities across the country. The act also allocates $800 million to the NIH’s Office of the Director. The office plans to dedicate at least half that amount to two new types of funding: so-called ‘Challenge’ grants and ‘Grand Opportunities’ (GO) grants. Challenge grants will provide up to $500,000 per year for research projects that address highpriority topics such as screening methods for breast cancer. The larger GO grants, which are capped at $1 million per year, will support “high-impact ideas that lend themselves to short-term, nonrenewable funding and may lay the foundation for new fields of investigation” according to the NIH. The largest chunk of the stimulus funds— $7.4 billion—will be divided among the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers. Of that amount, $60 million had already been committed to autism research as Nature Medicine went to press. Beyond that, “it’s going to be hard to specify where the money is going until we see what [proposals are] coming in,” says Marina Volkov, acting director of the National Institute Flush with new funds, NIH faces challenges of distribution

DOI: 10.1038/nm0509-467a

Cite this paper

@article{Willyard2009FlushWN, title={Flush with new funds, NIH faces challenges of distribution}, author={Cassandra Willyard}, journal={Nature Medicine}, year={2009}, volume={15}, pages={467-467} }