Update on NIH Stimulus Funds

Posted by Kimberly Acquaviva, PhD, MSW on February 25, 2009 at 4:31pm

Dear Colleagues,

Attached please find the latest update from NIH regarding the Stimulus and NIH. The document contains information consistent with previously-released information, but also contains additional details that will be helpful to advocates and researchers at your institutions. I will continue to keep you posted as additional details about the NIH Recovery Act funds become available. Likewise, if you have information that you think would be beneficial to share with members of The Friends of NIA, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or give me a call.

My Thoughts on Strategy for Members of Friends of NIA

Although the NIH Challenge Grant RFA has not yet been released, researchers nationwide are ramping up their efforts to prepare competitive proposals for submission in the coming months. In order to ensure a robust field of proposals related to aging, researchers at your institutions may want to consider beginning the proposal-writing process now as well if they haven’t already done so. The more aging-related proposals, the better – with increased competition comes increased quality and ultimately, significant advances in the field of aging research.

While no details have been released, intimated, or implied by individuals at NIH, it seems as though certain things might logically be called for in the RFA. DISCLAIMER: I could be totally wrong about these assumptions. I’m basing my assumptions on the language contained in ARRA as well as on the guidance provided in the White House implementation guidance memo, but my assumptions are mine alone and could be totally off base. I’m providing this information in the hopes that it may prove to be helpful to you in the proposal-preparation process, but please recognize that these tips are based on my conjecture, not on any reliable source of info. At this point, your guess is as good as mine regarding what the RFA’s might look like. Now that we’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way, here goes:

1) In your proposal, make sure to note whether you are proposing a project that will enable you to re-open a lab you had to close for economic reasons, create positions that will enable you to expand your lab/research program, etc. Be clear, right up front, regarding the economic impact your proposed project will have.

2) If I were drafting the NIH Challenge Grant RFA (which, thankfully, I am not), I would limit the length of the narrative to 12 pages or so. The actual maximum length of the proposal may be longer than this, but I can’t imagine NIH would want 15-20 page proposals given the huge volume of proposal that will be submitted.

3) As researchers at your institutions draft their proposals in anticipation of the release of the RFA, I’d recommend including two sections (in addition to the usual sections seen in NIH proposals):

Provide the estimated number of jobs to be created and the number of jobs to be retained by the project or activity. Describe how you will measure and track job creation and job preservation. Describe the estimated short- and long-term economic impact of the project on the local community. If you are partnering with an institution located in an under-represented geographic area (an area that typically has little NIH funding), make sure to note that here, as well as to note the number of jobs to be created/preserved in the partner institution’s local area.

Provide a detailed description supporting the institution’s demonstrated ability to deliver programmatic result and accountability objectives included in the Recovery Act. Describe systems and processes to be used in the execution of the proposed project to ensure timely reporting of data and tracking of the achievement of programmatic results and accountability objectives.

Again, these recommendations are based more on my own conjecture than anything else. If the RFA doesn’t require this info, I would still recommend including the information listed above in #1 and #3. Given the fact these are ARRA funds, it seems reasonable to assume that information about the impact of your proposed project on the economy would be welcomed and appreciated by the IC’s.

I’ll keep you posted in the days and weeks to come as information becomes available. Until then, I would encourage researchers at your institutions to read the NIH update (see attached), read through my unofficial suggestions listed above, and begin getting proposal drafts ready so that your institution is poised to take action once the RFA’s are issued. A little advance planning could go a long way towards ensuring your institution is ready to apply for these funding opportunities.

Take care-