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.