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NCI Research Grants Will Increase in Fiscal Year 2000

NCI Research Grants Will Increase in Fiscal Year 2000

BETHESDA, Md—The National Cancer Institute (NCI) plans to increase both the number of research grants it awards in fiscal year 2000 and the size of the average grant, but it also expects to fund a smaller percentage of grant requests because of the increasing number of proposals it is receiving.

NCI director Richard D. Klausner, MD, described the Institute’s budget situation to the National Cancer Advisory Board shortly after Congress passed and President Clinton signed the appropriations bill that included the budget for the US Department of Health and Human Services.

NCI’s Share: $3.332 Billion Congress provided the National Institutes of Health with $17.914 billion, an increase of 14.7% over FY 1999. NCI’s share came to $3.332 billion, an increase of 14.8% and a sum significantly above the $3.163 billion sought by the President in the budget proposal he sent to Capitol Hill a year ago.

However, in a fiscal slight of hand aimed at “protecting” Social Security funds, Congress ordered NIH not to obligate $3 billion of its current budget until the final days of FY 2000, which ends Sept. 30. NCI must delay obligating $499 million in funds

“These are obligations the Institute cannot make until September 29, and we have between September 29 and September 30 to obligate the sum,” Dr. Klausner said. “We are comfortable that we can do this and not delay research.”

NCI plans to use a split funding approach to reduce the negative effects of the obligation delay on research projects. Multiyear grants and contracts will be partially funded on their renewal data during the year, with a second award made on Sept. 29. The Institute may also delay awarding new grants and contracts during September until Sept. 29.

Delaying obligations will create additional administrative burdens, but “we are prepared for that, and it will have minimal impact on the critical issue of whether research is delayed,” Dr. Klausner commented.

The Institute expects to award 1,300 competing research grants this year, up from about 1,050 in FY 1998. This will raise the total number of grants funded by NCI to approximately 4,800. The average grant will increase 10% in average cost of the grant.

“We continue to see the growth of investigator initiated research,” Dr. Klausner said. “Applications have gone up over the last 2 fiscal years by almost 37%.” As a result, although NCI will increase the number of new grants and their average size, the cut-off point will be the top 22% of proposals rated worthy of funding, as compared to the top 24% last fiscal year.

Within NCI, the Division of Cancer Therapeutics and Diagnosis will receive an increase of 19%, and the Division of Cancer Control and Populations Science will get a 22% increase. Other increases include 18% for the Division of Cancer Prevention and 15% for the Division of Cancer Biology.

The NCI cancer centers program will increase by $20 to $22 million, or 12% to 15%. And the intramural research budget will be increased by 6.6%, which represents another decrease as a percentage of the total NCI budget. This follows an NCI decision several years ago to reduce in-house research in relation to funding for extramural investigators.

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