BETHESDA, Md--The number one priority for the NCI is to use its
new budget for fiscal 1996 to "maintain the engine of discovery,"
by increasing funding for extramural, investigator-initiated research,
NCI director Richard D. Klausner said at a meeting of the National
Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). The new $2.25 billion budget represents
a 5.5% increase from 1995, he said.
Dr. Klausner emphasized that investigator-initiated research has
been shown "again and again to be the most productive and
to get us most graphically to our targets."
To foster this research, he intends to increase the "payline"
(the percentage of applications approved for funding) for R01
applicants from last year's level of 15% to 23% for 1996, and
to allow proposals that just missed the payline to be reconsidered
quickly rather than going through the lengthy process of resubmit-ting
an amended proposal.
The accelerated executive review (AER) program will allow speedy
review of grants that were rejected initially but whose peer-review
score was within 4 percentage points of the 23% payline. Thus,
grants ranked in the top 27% would be eligible for AER by providing
detailed answers to the reviewers' original concerns. Grants that
deal with patient-oriented research will be eligible if they come
within 10 points of the payline (ie, in the top 33%).
Attracting Young Researchers
Dr. Klausner's second major goal for the NCI is to deal with "the
critical issue of attracting young people at the earliest times
of their promising careers to consider a career in cancer research,
whether they are MDs or PhDs, and, most importantly, to give them
stable support that bridges that critical period of time when
the researcher moves from a mentored laboratory position into
an independent position."
This goal will be accomplished in part through the new Howard
Temin Extended Support Award, a series of awards that will provide
up to $75,000 a year in salary for up to 5 years (the first 3
years in a mentoring environment and years 4 and 5 in an independent
research laboratory), as well as up to $50,000 a year for research
expenses. Dr. Klausner expects to make the first 10 Temin awards
in April, 1997.
The third goal, Dr. Klausner said at the meeting, is to promote
a healthy clinical research system, and one way to do this is
to ensure that managed care plans will cover the patient care
cost of conducting clinical trials.