I am pleased to report more NIH funding opportunities supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), in addition to the Challenge Grants (RC1), Grand Opportunities (RC2), and supplement announcements described in previous letters.
Genome-wide Association Studies
NIAMS will devote a portion of its ARRA funds to support high-impact projects related to genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Projects that use existing clinical cohort datasets that include DNA samples and identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are ideally suited for augmentation with ARRA funds. High-throughput genotyping, deep resequencing, functional studies, fine-mapping, and data analysis are examples of activities that can generate significant research advances within a 2-year funding period. The analytical challenges posed by these approaches are excellent platforms for coordination and collaboration between clinicians, statistical geneticists, and systems biologists. We encourage investigators across the spectrum of arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases to consider developing GWAS-related proposals in response to ARRA-supported funding opportunities.
Facilities and Instrumentation
The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) is managing several limited competitions for ARRA-funded facilities improvement and instrumentation.
- Awards for Core Facility Renovation, Repair, and Improvement (G20) will upgrade extramural core facilities (deadline: September 17, 2009).
- The Extramural Research Facilities Improvement Program (C06) is designed for construction, renovation, or repair of biomedical or behavioral research facilities (deadlines in May, June, and July 2009).
- The existing High-End Instrumentation Grant Program (S10) has been augmented with ARRA funds so that more awards can be made with a higher maximum award than before (deadline: May 6, 2009).
Most recently, NCRR announced the funding of competitive revision applications (formerly "competitive supplements") to leverage the resources, expertise, and infrastructure of the NCRR Centers and Center-like Programs for an expansion of the scope of funded R01 awards and other research program grants (deadlines: April 21, 2009, for up to 2 years of funding, and July 10, 2009, restricted to 1 year of funding).
Enhancing Research Capacity and Faculty Development
NIAMS is participating in the P30 Biomedical Research Core Centers for Supporting New Faculty Recruitment awards to support hiring of newly independent investigators, with the goal of augmenting and expanding the institution's biomedical research efforts. NIAMS will give priority to applications that 1) provide concomitant institutional support, 2) provide appropriate support following this grant, and 3) identify the new faculty to be appointed.
Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER)
NIH will receive a $400 million allocation of the $1.1 billion from ARRA for CER projects. Solicitation of NIH CER proposals can be found in the Challenge Grants (RC1), Administrative Supplements, and Competitive Revision Application announcements. For the purpose of ARRA-funded projects, CER is defined as "a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy."
Projects may include the development and use of clinical registries, clinical data networks, and other forms of electronic health information from existing cohorts that can be used to generate or obtain outcomes data as they apply to CER. New clinical studies, requiring substantial time for initiation and participant recruitment, are not suitable for ARRA awards, which provide maximum 2 year budgets.
Administrative Issues Related to ARRA Funding
The NIH Office of Extramural Research has posted three notices to inform the extramural community of administrative issues surrounding ARRA funding. These issues include a general notice that NIH will use ARRA funding to support applications beyond the pay-line, a clarification on lifting caps for certain programs and activity codes, and more in-depth information on the NIH Award Terms.
- Recovery Act Notice: NIH ARRA Funding Considerations for Applications with Meritorious Scores that Fall Beyond the Pay-line (NOT-OD-09-078)
- ARRA Administrative Supplements and Competitive Revisions: Clarifications on Programmatic Limitations and Use of Modular Budgets (NOT-OD-09-079)
- Recovery Act of 2009: NIH Award Terms and Additional Information for Recipients Receiving Recovery Act Grant Funding (NOT-OD-09-080)
The ARRA-funded initiatives offer a wide range of possibilities for investigators involved in all aspects of arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases research. The NIH Office of Extramural Research has a Frequently Asked Questions webpage related to ARRA that is updated often, and is a rich resource of detailed information.
Once again, we are very grateful to President Obama and the U.S. Congress for this unprecedented opportunity. We welcome your questions and comments and, most importantly, your participation!
Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services