Guidelines Regarding Funding Decisions
The NIGMS mission includes the support of basic research and research training of the highest quality in the areas of cell biology and biophysics; genetics and developmental biology; biomedical technology, bioinformatics and computational biology; pharmacology, physiology, biochemistry and biorelated chemistry; selected aspects of behavioral sciences; and specific cross-cutting clinical areas that affect multiple organ systems. NIGMS strives to accelerate the pace of discovery in these scientific areas, achievable only by a highly trained biomedical workforce that is representative of the U.S. population.
In addition, the Institute promotes the broadest possible diversity of ideas and approaches to these scientific areas, and encourages the ideas and talents of established investigators and of new/early career stage investigators who will provide the next generation of research accomplishments.
In order to achieve these goals, research grant applications recommended for approval by the NAGMS Council are considered for funding using the following criteria:
- Scientific and technical merit of the research, as determined by peer review.
- Scientific program needs and balance.
- The availability of funds.
The NAGMS Council has recommended that the Institute scientific staff take additional factors into account in making funding decisions.
- In determining whether or not to make an award, Institute staff should give special consideration to a highly rated application from a new/early stage investigator or other investigators who have little or no other significant source of research support.
- Prior to considering awards to investigators whose total research support from all sources, including the pending award, exceeds $750,000 (annual direct costs), special analysis and justification should be required.
- In determining the appropriate funding level for renewal awards, the Institute scientific staff will consider:
- The previously awarded level of support.
- Special needs for equipment.
- Whether the application is the first renewal of an investigator's initial NIH research grant.
Operating Procedures and Guidelines for Staff Action
- Adjustments in Amount and Time
The following guidelines for negotiating adjustments of a research or training grant award are agreed to between NIGMS staff and the NAGMS Council. In determining award amounts and duration, Institute staff will follow the established principles.
- Utilizing the amounts recommended by the Council as a guide, the amount to be awarded, as well as all amounts recommended for future year support, may be changed to reflect the latest information on actual or estimated needs and to be consistent with current policies regarding budget policies and cost management.
- NIGMS staff may approve increases in the direct cost budget of a grant provided the increase does not substantially impact the scope of the project.
- NIGMS staff may approve increases to the full-time training position (FTTP) level on a research training grant. A research training grant with a Council-recommended level of 15 FTTPs or less may receive one additional slot. A research training grant with a Council-recommended level of 16 FTTPs or more may receive up to two additional slots.
- When the initial review group reduces the number of years requested by the applicant, NIGMS staff may restore up to one year without Council approval.
- Support of Research in Well-Funded Laboratories
Well-funded laboratories are defined as those with over $750,000 in direct costs for research support, including the pending application.
- Renewal (formerly, competing continuation) grant applications (Type 2s)
The Council expects the Institute to employ its usual standards and consideration for funding as it handles renewal applications from well-funded laboratories. The expectation is that Type 2 applications from well-funded laboratories will be justified by staff as they consider funding decisions. Specific exceptions to this general policy will be discussed with the Council, and Institute staff will be guided by the sense of Council in making funding decisions.
- New grant applications (Type 1s)
The Council expects the Institute to support new projects in well-funded laboratories only if they are highly promising and distinct from other funded work in the laboratory. The Institute’s position is generally not to pay such applications. However, under special circumstances and with strong justification, staff may recommend overriding that position. In order for the application to be funded, the Council must concur with the recommendation.
- Budget considerations
The Council expects the Institute to implement, where appropriate, reasoned budget reductions greater than those dictated by the cost-management principles for competing awards made to well-funded laboratories.
- Applications from Foreign Laboratories
NIGMS receives some applications from foreign institutions, and these must be brought to Council’s attention. Because staff generally recommend for funding only those applications that offer unique opportunities when evaluated in the context of existing grants in their portfolios, even well-scored applications may not be awarded. For those applications that may be considered for funding, staff will prepare a staff summary statement that outlines the special opportunities, resources, etc., presented in this proposal. If the Council agrees with the staff recommendation, the approval is obtained by en bloc vote; otherwise, discussion in full closed session is required. Staff will be guided by the sense of Council in making funding decisions.
Since 1996, NIGMS has provided interim funding to some unfunded renewal R01 applications that fall within 10 percentile points beyond the range in which the Institute awarded grants during that review cycle (which culminates in a meeting of the NAGMS Council). The maximum level of funding typically has been one-third of the grant's current noncompeting direct costs for a 12-month period. For details, see the NIGMS Interim Funding Policy.