Letter from Dr. Elizabeth Nabel to Recipients of NHLBI Support
I am writing to provide information about policies and activities that
may be of interest to you as a recipient of support from the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 Appropriations
On December 30, the President signed into law the FY 2006 appropriation
for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.
Although the bill sent forward by Congress provided the NHLBI with a 0.3
percent increase over the FY 2005 amount, a rescission within the Department
of Defense bill reduced the NHLBI budget by 1 percent, giving us a total
allocation of $2,921,757,000 for FY 2006. That figure was reduced further
by $26,109,000 – the NHLBI allocation toward the NIH Roadmap Initiative.
Therefore, we are left with a working budget of $2,895,648,000, which
is about $27 million less than the comparable figure for FY 2005. Although
this situation will call for some belt-tightening, the Institute’s
longstanding prudent fiscal policies have placed us in a reasonably good
position, and I am optimistic that we will be able to weather this lean
period without invoking severely restrictive measures.
FY 2006 Funding Policies
As has been the Institute’s practice for many years, new (type
1) research project grants (RPGs) will, as a rule, be awarded at the full
direct cost level recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory
Council. The direct cost cap on program project grants is $1,515,000.
Also in line with previous practice, competing renewal (type 2) RPGs
paid in FY 2006 will generally be limited to a 10-percent increase over
the level of the last noncompeting budget period. Specific policies for
program project grants and for grants that are awarded in modules or that
entail non-recurring equipment costs are described in the FY
2006 Funding and Operating Guidelines.
Noncompeting renewal (type 5) RPGs, on the other hand, are being scaled
back slightly – direct costs will be awarded at 97.65 percent of
the committed level (the amount indicated on the Notice of Grant Award
for the previous budget period). The amounts indicated for future budget
periods will be adjusted by the same factor. Grants awarded through several
other NHLBI funding mechanisms (e.g., centers, cooperative agreements)
also will be paid in this manner. This reduction in noncompeting renewals
is being implemented across all of the NIH institutes.
Caps on Competing Applications for Funding in FY 2007
Given expectations that the NHLBI will see little, if any, budget growth
in the immediate future, we find it necessary to examine the direct cost
amounts on competing grants that applicants may request for FY 2007.
Requests for type 2 RPGs to be funded in FY 2007 and likely thereafter
will be limited to a 3-percent increase over the level of the last noncompeting
budget period. For details specific to modular grants or non-recurring
equipment costs, please consult the FY
2007 Funding and Operating Guidelines
In the past, the cap on type 1 program project grants was increased
annually to compensate for inflation. For FY 2007, however, it will remain
at $1,515,000. Moreover, annual increases for recurring costs in noncompeting
years may be requested at no more than 3 percent (and, depending on the
availability of funds, may actually be awarded at a lower level). Type
2 program project grant requests may not exceed the greater of $1,515,000
or 3 percent more than the level of the last noncompeting budget
Special Approaches to Help the New Investigator
Lean fiscal times, unfortunately, have a disproportionate impact on
the motivation and ability of young investigators to take their place
in the research enterprise. Let me assure you that the NHLBI is strongly
committed to nurturing new talent and, in particular, to facilitating
the transition from traineeship to independent investigator status. With
that in mind, we have established a separate RPG payline for new investigators
that is 5 percentile points above the regular NHLBI payline, and we will
fund their grants for the full recommended duration. Moreover, applicants
who “miss” the new investigator payline by 5 percentile points
or fewer will be offered an opportunity to address the primary criticisms
of the initial review group and receive an expedited administrative review.
Details specific to the new investigator program can be found in the
January 2006 Statement of the NHLBI Director on Fostering the Independence
of New Investigators.
The NHLBI also plans to be an enthusiastic participant in the new NIH
Career Transition Award program, which will be rolled out within the next
few months. The program will provide 1-2 years of mentored advanced postdoctoral
training support via a K-series award and, subsequently, 1-3 years of
research support via an R-series award if the trainee has secured an independent
We recognize that flat budget levels over the immediate future present
a difficult and frustrating situation for all investigators. I encourage
you to celebrate – and, indeed, advertise – your research
accomplishments and ensure that the public is informed that such progress
would not have been possible without NHLBI support. For our part, we at
the NHLBI will do our best to minimize the impact of these flat budgets
over the short term. I believe that our Institute is in an excellent position
to meet the challenges and capitalize on the vast opportunities before
us, both now and in the future. We are counting on you to join us in these
exciting and rewarding research endeavors.
With best wishes.
Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D.