Director Dr. Collins Discusses the President’s Proposed FY2013 NIH Budget

Director Dr. Collins Discusses the President’s Proposed
FY2013 NIH Budget

Legislative Update
February 14, 2012

NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D
NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

FY2103 NIH Budget Highlights:

  • Funding at same total level as Fiscal Year (FY) 2012
  • Makes tough choices with constraints
  • Increases number of new and competing Research Project Grants (RPGs)
  • Ramps up the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN)
  • Provides additional support for Alzheimer’s disease research from the Public Health and Prevention Fund (not NIH budget), specifically $80 million, as part of a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) initiative
  • Today, NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. and representatives of the NIH senior team held a briefing to discuss the President’s proposed FY2013 budget for the NIH, which is flat-funded at the same programmatic level as in FY2012-$30.7 billion. Dr. Collins stated up-front that he was pleased with the level funding for FY2012, especially in light of the current fiscal environment and the fact that, just a few months back, NIH was working on budget scenarios that that included a five percent cut, per guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). He described the FY2013 budget in terms of the themes he has used in Congressional testimony: Investing in Basic Research; Accelerating Discovery Through Technology; Advancing Translational Science; and New Investigators, New Ideas.

    Dr. Collins focused his initial comments on FY2013 funding for RPGs, since they are the primary mechanism for funding of investigator-initiated research and represent 53 percent of the NIH budget. NIH estimates that it will support 9,415 new and competing RPGs in FY2013, an increase of 672 above FY2012, bringing the total number of RPGs at NIH to 35,888. NIH-wide, the average cost of a new and competing RPG in FY2013 is estimated to be $431,000.

    Dr. Collins described a number of factors that affect the funds available to increase the number of RPGs, including the natural “ebb and flow’ of grants cycles and the shortening of the average age of grants from five years to a period of three-to-four years, primarily due to the rapid pace of science. In FY2013, for example, there is a larger turnover of grants than in FY2012, freeing up additional funds. He also described the proactive steps that NIH was taking to maximize resources for investigator-initiated grants, including those for young, first-time researchers, which include:

    • Reducing the cost of non-competing RPGs by one percent below the FY2012 level
    • Negotiating the budgets of competing RPGs to avoid growth in the average award size
    • Eliminating inflationary increases in out-year budgets of both competing and non-competing RPGs
    • Initiating review by the Advisory Council for the respective Institute or Center (I/C) of applications from principal investigators (PIs) who already receive in excess of $1.5 million per year in total costs
    • Continuing the NIH policy of funding applications from early-stage investigators at the same success rate as established investigators for new R01 equivalent applications.

    Dr. Collins also spoke about the new National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), which was approved by Congress in the FY2012 appropriations process. He noted that, although FY2012 NCATS funding was derived primarily from the transfer of programs from other I/Cs (including those from the National Center for Research Resources, which was dissolved), its funding will increase in FY2013, driven by an increase of $40 million in funding for CAN. While acknowledging that NCATS holds great promise, for discovery, Dr. Collins emphasized that NIH will maintain its commitment to basic research, which reflects 54 percent of NIH funding as opposed to 46 percent for applied research.

    Dr. Collins concluded with four key messages about the importance of NIH:

    • Basic Research: If NIH Doesn’t Fund, It Doesn’t Happen
    • Deluge of Discovery: New Opportunities for Translational Partnerships
    • Major Contributor to the U.S. Economy and Job Growth
    • Leader in U.S/ Global Competiveness