Last week, five Institutes announced interest in receiving applications for administrative supplements for existing grants to increase ME/CFS research. Obviously, it’s not the announcement we’ve been waiting for, but it is a step. Let’s take a closer look at how this will work.
Investigators with existing grants can apply for extra money to run additional tests, recruit ME/CFS subjects, etc. Only five Institutes joined the announcement, but Dr. Vicky Whittemore told me that “PIs can submit an administrative supplement for their grants to the funding Institute at any time – it does not have to be in response to a specific notice like the one that was recently released for ME/CFS.” The participating Institutes set caps for the amount of supplementary funding they will consider, and Dr. Whittemore said that this is due to established Institute policies.
The Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group will review all applications under this announcement. Again, Dr. Whittemore said that this is consistent with NIH policy. Supplements are always reviewed internally by program staff, and do not go to study sections like full grant proposals do. Also, there are no specific deadlines associated with the announcement. As Dr. Whittemore said, these applications for supplementary funding can be submitted at any time.
In my opinion, the significance of this announcement is two-fold. First, it’s a reminder to researchers inside and outside the ME/CFS area that additional funding may be available. It would be terrific if this resulted in applications from non-ME/CFS researchers, although that brings its own set of challenges, e.g. will they work with experts and navigate the case definition minefield. At a minimum, currently funded ME/CFS researchers should ALL apply for supplementary funding.
The second significance of this announcement appears in the text itself: “NIH is committed to supporting research to better understand ME/CFS. This notice is one component of this effort.” (emphasis added) The wait for announcements of the other components of NIH’s strategy continues.
While we wait, NIH issued $27 million in new RFAs last week.
- Total RFAs Issued by NIH: 184 (October 2015 to date)
- Total Dollars Committed to RFAs: $1,907,900,000 (October 2015 to date)
- Total RFAs for ME/CFS: ZERO (October 2015 to date)
|Week Beginning||RFAs Issued||Total Commitment||RFAs for ME/CFS|
If you want more background on the RFA Ticker, read the inaugural post.