Letter From Dr. Stephen I. Katz: Information About NIAMS Funding Decisions

NIAMS - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Special Announcement
September 27, 2012
Contact Information

Office of Science Policy, Planning and Communications (OSPPC)
Communications and Public Liaison Branch (CPLB)

Anita Linde, M.P.P.

Nancy Garrick, Ph.D.
Deputy Director—CPLB

Trish Reynolds, R.N., M.S.
Media Liaison

Letter From Dr. Stephen I. Katz: Information About NIAMS Funding Decisions

Photo: Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear Colleagues:

Each year, NIAMS awards more than 200 grants to investigators; most take the form of "R01" grants. Historically, we have provided information about NIAMS-supported grants as the percentage of reviewed applications that were funded each year (the "success rate") and maintained an up-to-date webpage that describes our plans for funding grants in the current fiscal year. In response to community interest about our funding decisions in these austere budget times, we are posting additional data about the number of applications that NIAMS receives and awards as a function of how an application is ranked during peer review.

In brief, we base our decision to fund an application on a peer review group’s evaluation of its scientific merit (quantified as a "priority score") and on its relevance to Institute priorities. Throughout the year, we monitor the scores of NIAMS applications and prepare to fund all grants that rank better than a certain percentile. That percentile commonly is referred to as the "payline."

Success rates are determined at the end of a fiscal year by dividing the number of applications funded by the number of applications received and multiplying this quotient by 100. As the historic data show, NIAMS success rates exceed the percentile payline by a few percentage points. This is due to several factors, including our policy of funding some applications that are particularly relevant to the Institute's scientific and health priorities, even though their assigned scores and percentile rankings do not qualify for support under the stated payline. As NIAMS Director, I determine which projects are funded on a discretionary, or "select pay," basis following discussion with Institute staff. We include information about this process on our website as part of our funding plan.

The newest data that we are sharing show the distribution of grants that NIAMS funded up to the Institute’s payline and as the result of select pay decisions in fiscal year 2011. Graphs show the number of R01 applications and awards, as well as the R37s (R01-equivalent Merit Awards), as a function of their percentile ranking following peer review. They reflect the aggregate data for all R01 applicants regardless of career stage, and distinguish between established and new investigators. Data from fiscal year 2010 also are available, and we expect to provide data from 2012 at year’s end.

As part of our commitment to transparency and efforts to enhance communications about NIAMS activities, I invite you to share this information with all who may be interested.

Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health