Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc.

NIAMS strives to advance the best science on arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases, which have a profound effect on the quality of life for millions of Americans. To further the NIAMS mission—and importantly, to best steward the resources allocated to us by Congress—we are making some changes to our funding approach and strategy. These include reserving a larger portion of funding to support applications beyond the payline (which is the funding percentile up to which almost all grant applications will be funded). 

Historically, NIAMS has paid most of its applications according to a strict payline-driven approach, with limited funds available to award to applications identified as being of high priority that scored beyond the published payline. You may have seen that the new NIAMS payline is set at the eighth percentile, slightly lower than in previous years. Starting this year and moving forward, NIAMS will set aside increased funding to support a certain number of awards deemed important to the NIAMS portfolio that may have scored beyond the payline. We refer to this process as “select pay.” Our evolving approach will increase funds available for high-priority projects—allowing the institute to better address gaps and opportunities in our broad portfolio mission areas and support a wide span of scientific perspectives and investigative approaches. 

Importantly, I want to note that increasing the funds for select pay – even with a lower payline -- does not reduce the funds available to new awards. The total amount of funds for new awards (meaning all those awarded, whether based on the payline or through select pay) remains the same. In the current budget landscape, however, the amount of funds available for grants may not keep up with inflation. Even with that reality, we are committed to maintaining a steady number of awards each year in order to keep our investigator pool strong and sustain our research workforce during this challenging time. Of note, sustaining the same number of awards, despite inflation and rising costs, may necessitate some cuts to budgets for individual awards, as well as other possible measures.

Our evolving approach aligns with goals important not only to NIAMS but also to the NIH as a whole. As NIAMS works to implement this approach, we will continue to provide updates and make adjustments as needed. If grantees have concerns or questions about applications already submitted, they can contact their program officer, who will continue to be involved in making recommendations for these Institute-wide decisions. One thing that remains constant is our pride in supporting the important science conducted by our dedicated investigators and our commitment to advancing the NIAMS mission through impactful research.  Thank you for your partnership in and commitment to that critical endeavor. 


Lindsey A. Criswell, M.D., M.P.H., D.Sc. 
Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases