New NIH Policy to Fund Meritorious Science
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a new policy
today that will enhance success rates of new and resubmitted applications
by decreasing the number of allowed grant application resubmissions
from two to one. This policy is a part of a continuing series of
changes to the NIH peer review system following an in depth review
and a year long self-assessment that concluded in June 2008. This
new policy will help ensure earlier funding of high-quality applications
and improve efficiencies in the peer review system.
NIH analysis indicates that an increasing number of meritorious
applicants that were ultimately funded had to resubmit their applications
multiple times which increased burden on applicants and reviewers
alike. NIH's previous policy allowed research applicants two attempts
(amended applications known as A1 and A2 resubmissions) to improve
upon their original application (known as A0 submission) based
on feedback from peer reviewers. In times of budgetary constraint,
however, data reveals a reduction in the number of awards made
to original applications. An increasing number of projects were
funded only after one or more resubmissions. This trend has been
increasing over recent years. In 2006, successful applicants needed
to apply on average twice as many times than in 2002 to get funded.
See supporting data link (http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/resubmission.html#data)
To address these inefficiencies and extra burden on the entire
community — and to fund meritorious applications earlier — the
NIH will phase out second amendments for new applications submitted
beginning January 25, 2009.
"Over the past several years, the number of applications
submitted each year to NIH has doubled and the number of investigators
applying for grants has increased by over 75 percent, increasing
stress on the system, especially when confronted with stagnating
budgets. This has led to scientists spending more time rewriting
their applications and undue delays in the funding of outstanding
projects," Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director said.
The application must go through more rounds of submission today
than it did just five years ago. In 2002, an investigator had a
17 percent chance of a first submission being funded as compared
to a 7 percent chance in 2006. "To implement the recommendations
of the peer review panel, we found after careful analysis that
eliminating the second amended application is the best way to help
ensure that we fund the best science earlier and reduce administrative
burden on meritorious scientists and their projects," Zerhouni
The new policy (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-09-003.html)
applies to all NIH grant programs. Below are key excerpts from
the Guide Notice:
Beginning with applications intended for the January
25, 2009 due date, all original new applications (i.e., never
submitted) and competing renewal applications will be permitted
only a single amendment (A1). For this and subsequent cohorts
of original new and competing renewal applications, any second
amendment (A2) will be administratively withdrawn and not accepted
for review. Applicants who fail to receive funding after two
submissions may resubmit but only if the application is fundamentally
revised to qualify as new. A new application is expected to be
substantially different in content and scope with more significant
differences than are normally encountered in an amended application.
Note that there is no time limit for the submission of the original
and subsequent A1.
Original new and competing renewal applications that
were submitted prior to January 25, 2009 will be permitted two
amendments (A1 and A2). For these "grandfathered" applications,
NIH expects that any A2 will be submitted no later than January
7, 2011, and NIH will not accept A2 applications after that date.
This announcement is one of a series that NIH will be sending
out in the coming months about specific policies to enhance its
peer review system. Future topics will include early stage investigators
and grant application scoring. Information on the new policy to
fund meritorious science earlier may be found on the Enhancing
Peer Review Web site (http://enhancing-peer-review.nih.gov/resubmission.html#data).
The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible
for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 institutes and centers.
This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs
and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director
also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating
specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information
is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.