December 18, 2018

The Institute often receives questions about the budget. While many of these questions are focused on success rates and paylines, there is also much interest in the Institute’s other funding categories. Since final data for Fiscal Year 2017 are now available, it seemed an opportune time to provide more in-depth information about both success rates and how the NIAMS spends its annual appropriation. As always, you are invited to visit the NIAMS website, where current and historical data are available and where you can find our latest funding plan. Additional information is also available from the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) and Office of Budget (OB) websites, and these links are provided at the end of this document for your easy reference.

As with most Institutes, and indeed for NIH overall, the largest percentage of the budget is devoted to Research Project Grants (RPGs). In FY 2017, 66.1 percent of the NIAMS budget supported RPGs, for NIH overall the percentage is 56.0. Within the RPG pool there are several different types of grants; however, the majority of support in this category—83.9 percent—is for traditional R01s. There are three pie charts that follow at the end of this document—the first two reflect the distribution of NIAMS funding by budget category as well as the distribution for NIH overall; the third chart reflects the distribution of the various types of grants within the RPG category for NIAMS. A brief description of the types of grants and budget categories is found below.

  • R01—Research Project: These grants support a specific, circumscribed project to be performed by the named investigator(s) in an area representing his/her specific interest and competencies.
  • R03—Small Research Grants: Small Grant Program for NIAMS K08 and K23 Recipients (R03) is intended to enhance the capability of NIAMS-supported K08 and K23 recipients to conduct research as they complete their transition to fully independent investigator status. NIAMS also participates in other R03 program announcements for specific topics of research.
  • R15—Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA): AREA grants support small research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences conducted by students and faculty in health professional schools, and other academic components that have not been major recipients of NIH research grant funds.
  • R21— NIAMS High Innovation Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program: These grants are intended to encourage exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects. These studies may involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or to the development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or applications that could have a major impact on a field of biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.
  • R34--Clinical Trial Planning Grant: This grant supports the administrative planning and development of a clinical trial implementation cooperative agreement (U01). Activities could include the establishment of the research team and finalizing collaborations; the development of tools for data management and oversight of the trial; the development or refinement of the trial design; the development of other essential elements of the study, such as the protocol, manual of operations, informed consent forms, recruitment strategies; and to collect feasibility data to estimate recruitment potential. This grant is not appropriate for conducting research with human subjects for the collection of preliminary data (clinical or preclinical) or the collection of prospective data to support the rationale for a clinical trial.
  • R37—Merit Award: These awards provide long-term grant support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior and who are highly likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner. Investigators may not apply for a MERIT award. Program staff and/or members of the National Advisory Council will identify candidates for the MERIT award during the course of review of competing research grant applications. NIAMS policy for a merit award stipulates that the project application must have been reviewed three times by CSR with each application receiving a score better than the 10th percentile on original (unamended) application; the project must represent the major NIH funded research endeavor of the Principal Investigator (PI); and the PI must be considered to be an outstanding leader in the field.
  • R56—High Priority, Short Term Project Award: This grant provides limited interim research support based on the merit of a pending R01 application while applicant gathers additional data to revise a new or competing renewal application. This grant will underwrite highly meritorious applications that if given the opportunity to revise their application could meet IC recommended standards and would be missed opportunities if not funded. Interim funding ends when the applicant succeeds in obtaining an R01 or other competing award built on the R56 grant. These awards are not renewable.
  • R61/R33-RISK--Research Innovations for Scientific Knowledge (RISK): Focuses on innovative research within the NIAMS mission by encouraging applicants to pursue unusual observations, test imaginative hypotheses, investigate creative concepts, and build ground-breaking paradigms, all of which deviate significantly from the current prevailing theories or practice. Support will be provided for up to 2 years (R61 Phase) to perform critical experiments that rigorously test the proposed concept. The outcomes of these critical experiments will be the central determining factor for the activation of the R33 Phase. The R33 Phase will provide up to 1 additional year of support to further validate and explore the innovative concept. NIAMS strongly recommends applicants submit an X02 pre-application.
  • K99/R00--NIH Pathway to Independence (PI) Award: The Pathway to Independence Award is uniquely designed to facilitate the transition of outstanding postdoctoral candidates from mentored to independent research positions. The award contains two components, a mentored (K99) phase that can last up to 2 years and an independent (R00) phase, which will have a duration of 3 years. The objective of the program is to facilitate research independence earlier in an investigator's career. Investigators complete supervised research, and apply for an independent research faculty position, during the mentored phase of the award. Activation of the independent award phase is administrative, and is contingent upon the investigator securing an independent research position. Eligible candidates will have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research at the time of application (initial or amended). Award recipients are expected to obtain R01 support during the independent phase of the award.
  • P01—Research Program Project: The NIAMS is no longer accepting applications for the P01, Research Program Project Grants.
  • U01--Research Project Cooperative Agreements: These are agreements between NIH and the award recipient in which the NIH acts as the partner in the research effort for projects similar to grants.
  • U19--Research Program—Cooperative Agreements: To support a research program of multiple projects directed toward a specific major objective, basic theme or program goal, requiring a broadly based, multidisciplinary and often long-term approach. A cooperative agreement research program generally involves the organized efforts of large groups, members of which are conducting research projects designed to elucidate the various aspects of a specific objective. Substantial Federal programmatic staff involvement is intended to assist investigators during performance of the research activities, as defined in the terms and conditions of award. The investigators have primary authorities and responsibilities to define research objectives and approaches, and to plan, conduct, analyze, and publish results, interpretations and conclusions of their studies. Each research project is usually under the leadership of an established investigator in an area representing his/her special interest and competencies. Each project supported through this mechanism should contribute to or be directly related to the common theme of the total research effort. The award can provide support for certain basic shared resources, including clinical components, which facilitate the total research effort. These scientifically meritorious projects should demonstrate an essential element of unity and interdependence.
  • U34—Planning Cooperative Agreements: These grants will support planning cooperative agreements for investigator-initiated clinical interventional trials. The U34 planning grant is designed to permit the necessary planning, design, and preparation of documentation prior to implementation of investigator-initiated clinical trials. Completion of the agreed upon milestones of a U34 planning grant is recommended prior to submission of a clinical trial through a cooperative agreement (UM1) application that will support the actual implementation and conduct of the study.
  • UG3--Phase 1 Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement: As part of a bi-phasic approach to funding exploratory and/or developmental research, the UG3 provides support for the first phase of the award. This activity code is used in lieu of the UH2 activity code when larger budgets and/or project periods are required to establish feasibility for the project.
  • UH2--Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement Phase I: These are agreements between NIH and the award recipient in which the NIH acts as the partner in the research effort for projects similar to grants.
  • UH3--Exploratory/Developmental Cooperative Agreement Phase II: The UH3 award is to provide a second phase for the support for innovative exploratory and development research activities initiated under the UH2 mechanism. Although only UH2 awardees are generally eligible to apply for UH3 support, specific program initiatives may establish eligibility criteria under which applications could be accepted from applicants demonstrating progress equivalent to that expected under UH2.
  • UM1—Multi-Component Research Project Cooperative Agreements: These awards support large-scale cooperative agreements involving complex clinical trials with multiple components, e.g. clinical networks. The components represent a variety of supporting functions and are not independent of the research projects. Substantial Federal programmatic staff involvement is intended to assist investigators during performance of the research activities, as defined in the terms and conditions of award. The performance period may extend up to seven years but only through the established deviation request process. ICs desiring to use this activity code for programs greater than 5 years must receive OPERA prior approval through the deviation request process.
  • UM2— These grants support cooperative agreements involving program projects or centers with complicated structures that cannot be appropriately categorized into an available multicomponent activity code, e.g. clinical networks, research programs or consortiums. At least one component must be UM1-like, supporting a variety of functions that are dependent on each other and cannot be separated into distinct components. Substantial federal programmatic staff involvement is intended to assist investigators during performance of the research activities, as defined in the terms and conditions of the award. The performance period may extend up to seven years but only through the established deviation request process.
  • DP1—NIH Director’s Pioneer Award: To support individuals who have the potential to make extraordinary contributions to medical research. The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award is not renewable.
  • X02—Preapplication: A program to invite eligible institutions to submit a pre-application (also known as a “white paper” or “précis”) to facilitate certain approaches or economies, such as reducing burden on the applicant community, for a funding opportunity.

As reflected in the attached pie chart, within the RPG pool, approximately 83.96 percent of the budget supports R01 grants, 0.66 percent supports R03s, 0.53 percent supports R15s, 7.84 percent supports R21s, 0.18 percent supports R34s, 1.34 percent supports R37s, 0.52 percent supports R56s, 0.44 percent supports R00s, 0.56 percent supports R61s, 2.91 percent supports U01s, 0.08 percent supports U19s, 0.12 percent supports U34s, 0.42 percent supports UM1s, 0.21 percent supports UG3s, and 0.23 percent supports DP1.

Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research Grants(SBIR)—The STTR and SBIR programs are supported by a mandated set aside of funds. The set aside amounts in 2017 were 0.45 percent and 3.2 percent of the extramural base (less research training) for STTR and SBIR, respectively. A description of these grants follows:

  • R43/R44--Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program: The SBIR program is a set-aside program designed to support innovative research that has the potential for commercialization of the subject research conducted by a small business concern. Innovation and the potential for commercialization are two important aspects of the review criteria considered in the scientific and technical merit evaluation process.
  • SB1--Commercialization Readiness Program: To support follow-on awards to small businesses for technology development, testing, evaluation, and commercialization assistance for SBIR or STTR Phase II technologies or for awards to small businesses to support the progress of research, research and development, and commercialization conducted under the SBIR or STTR programs to Phase III.
  • U44--Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Cooperative Agreements—Phase II: To support in-depth development of R&D ideas whose feasibility has been established in Phase I and that are likely to result in commercial products or services (also Fast Track).

The NIAMS centers program represents 8.0 percent of the budget and is comprised of four types of centers, each of which is described below:

  • P30--NIAMS Resource-based Centers (P30): Provides critical research infrastructure, shared facilities, services, and resources to groups of investigators, with the broad overall goal of accelerating, enriching, and enhancing the effectiveness of ongoing basic, translational, and clinical research and promoting new research within the NIAMS mission. A strong biomedical research community conducting NIAMS mission-relevant research is a prerequisite for establishment of a Resource-based Center. The components of a Resource-based Center include one or more resource cores and an administrative core that includes an Enrichment Program.
  • P30-CCCR--NIAMS Core Centers for Clinical Research (CCCR): Provides avenues to advance the methodological sciences that support clinical research within and across the NIAMS’ portfolio of diseases. Will address existing and future research needs in musculoskeletal, rheumatologic, and skin diseases by fostering the development, implementations, and inclusion of novel data, analytical methods, metrics, and outcome measures into clinical research at the institutional, local, and national level. This FOA will not support core centers (or activities within centers) focused on the generation of biological or genetic data or the development of novel technologies for such generation.
  • P50-CORT--Centers of Research Translation (CORT): To promote translational research through a multidisciplinary approach on a disease specific theme. A CORT should have both basic and clinical research components.
  • P50-ORWH--Specialized Centers of Research on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women’s Health (SCOR): The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) serves as a focal point for women's health research at the NIH. The ORWH promotes, stimulates, and supports efforts to improve the health of women through biomedical and behavioral research. ORWH works in partnership with the NIH Institutes as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that women's health research is part of the scientific framework at NIH and throughout the scientific community. The ORWH announces the Specialized Centers of Interdisciplinary Research on Sex and Gender Factors Affecting Women's Health (SCOR) program. These centers will provide new opportunities for interdisciplinary approaches to advancing studies on how sex and gender factors affect women's health. Each SCOR should develop an interdisciplinary research agenda bridging basic and clinical research on sex/gender factors underlying a priority women’s health issue.
  • P60--Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Centers (MCRC): This program is being discontinued. Please see P30 NIAMS Core Centers for Clinical Research (CCCR) for opportunities to support clinical research infrastructure and resources.
  • U54s—Senator Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers (MDCRCs): The MDCRCs were mandated by Congress under provisions of the Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research and Education Amendments of 2001, or the MD-CARE Act. The primary goal of these Centers is to bring together expertise, infrastructure and resources focused on major questions about muscular dystrophy. In addition to the self-contained activities of individual centers, the MDCRCs will collaborate with other centers, overseen by a Steering Committee involving representation from each center and the NIH.

The Other Research category represents 4.1 percent of the budget and is comprised primarily of the various research career mechanisms (K awards), which provide salary support for development of independent scientists and clinicians. Other activities in this category include conference grants.

Approximately 2.9 percent of the NIAMS budget is devoted to Research Training. Within this category 78.6 percent of the funds support institutional training grants, while 21.4 percent of the funds support individual fellowships.

The Research and Development Contracts mechanism represents 2.9 percent of the NIAMS budget. NIAMS has historically used the contract mechanism to fund such activities as clinical trials, disease registries, and information clearinghouses. In addition to R&D contracts, this mechanism also supports inter- and intraagency agreements and the loan repayment programs for clinical and pediatric researchers.

Research conducted on the NIH campus is captured in the Intramural Research mechanism, and approximately 10.4 percent of the NIAMS budget supports this effort. This compares to the overall NIH percentage of 11.1. The mission of the intramural research program is to conduct innovative basic and translational research relevant to the health concerns of the Institute, and to provide training for investigators interested in careers in these areas. NIAMS intramural investigators pursue diverse projects in biomedical research ranging from fundamental analyses of protein structure and function involving crystallography, cryoelectron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, through protein chemistry, cell biology, signal transduction, gene regulation, tissue development and differentiation, genetics, and immunology, to animal models of disease and direct clinical studies on the genetics, etiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of a variety of rheumatic, autoimmune, inflammatory, joint, skin, and muscle diseases.

The remaining category is Research Management and Support (RMS), which represents 5.6 percent of the budget. Like the RMS expenditures of other Institutes and Centers, the RMS budget includes the scientific and administrative management expenses associated with the Institute’s day-to-day operations. It also reflects the costs associated with the review of applications for grants and contracts by special panels of outside experts and the management and evaluation of grants and contracts after they are awarded. Expenses incurred to disseminate research results and health information to patients, health care providers, and the American public are included as well.

It is important to note that the distribution of funds across these mechanisms has been very stable over the years.

FY 2017 Actual by Budget Mechanism NIAMS vs. NIH

FY2017 NIAMS Total Budget Chart

FY 2017 Actual--RPGs by Activity Code

FY 2017 Actual--RPGs by Activity Code Pie Chart

Success Rates

As mentioned previously, the Institute receives many questions about success rates. The success rate is defined as the total number of competing applications funded divided by the total number of competing applications reviewed, regardless of whether or not they were scored or triaged. Amended applications reviewed in the same fiscal year are only counted once in success rate calculations.

Success rates vary from year to year, from mechanism to mechanism, and from Institute to Institute. Data on success rates for all the NIH Institutes and Centers are publicly available on the NIH Office of Extramural Research Web site. For example, the overall success rate for RPGs for NIAMS for Fiscal Year 2017 was 17.0 percent. The overall success rate for RPGs for all of NIH for the same year was also 18.7 percent. Success rate data for selected mechanisms for NIAMS in Fiscal Year 2017 are shown in the table below.

RPG Applications Reviewed Number Awarded Success Rate
R01 & R37 934 168 18.0%
R03 6 3 50.0%
R15 31 5 16.1%
R21 570 79 13.9%
R34 1 1 100.0%
R56 5 5 100.0%
R61 24 5 20.8%
U01 15 6 40.0%
U34 8 0 0.0%
UG3 3 0 0.0%
TOTAL 1,597 272 17.0%
SBIR/STTR Applications Reviewed Number Awarded Success Rate
SBIR 157 28 17.8%
STTR 40 2 5.0%
TOTAL 197 30 15.2%
K01 39 12 30.8%
K08 19 7 36.8%
K25 0 0 0.0%
Subtotal 58 19 32.8%
K23 21 7 33.3%
K24 6 2 33.3%
Subtotal 27 9 33.3%
K99 22 5 22.7%
TOTAL 107 33 30.8%
F30 6 3 50.0%
F31 63 12 19.0%
F32 55 13 23.6%
F33 0 0 0.0%
Subtotal 124 28 22.6%
T32 13 6 46.2%
TOTAL F&T 137 34 24.8%

Useful Websites:

NIAMS Budget

NIH Office of Budget

NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

NIH Office of Extramural Research

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