RFA Ticker, 3/28/16


As I mentioned last week, these numbers apply to NIH issued RFAs only, not FDA or other agency-funded RFAs.

Also, I think it might help to review some terminology. “RFA” stands for a Request for Applications. This mechanism sets money aside for a specific focal area of research. ME/CFS last had an RFA in 2006.

“FOA” stands for Funding Opportunity Announcement, also known as a “PA” or Program Announcement. These announcements indicate NIH’s interest in grant applications in a specific area, but there is no set aside funding. For example, NIH is very interested in Zika virus applications right now.

The last Program Announcement for ME/CFS expired on February 25, 2015. Researchers can still submit grants, but there is no current statement of interest from any Institute at NIH that I can find. Of course, one would hope that this would be a priority for the Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group, but we don’t really have any insight into that process or timeline.

All in all, I think we can say that ME/CFS got a goose egg instead of an Easter egg last week.

  • Total RFAs Issued by NIH: 163 (October 2015 to date)
  • Total Dollars Committed to RFAs: $1,719,800,000 (October 2015 to date)
  • Total RFAs for ME/CFS: ZERO (October 2015 to date)
Week Beginning RFAs Issued Total Commitment RFAs for ME/CFS
3/21/16 1 $2,700,000 Zero
3/14/16 5 $23,650,000 Zero
3/7/16 9 $82,710,000 Zero
2/29/16 1 $1,890,000 Zero
2/22/16 9 $30,100,000 Zero
2/15/16 4 $26,500,000 Zero
2/8/16 5 $9,500,000 Zero
2/1/16 8 $26,000,000 Zero
1/25/16 4 $9,300,000 Zero
1/18/16 2 $4,500,000 Zero
1/11/16 10 $71,200,000 Zero
1/4/16 0 $0 Zero
12/28/15 0 $0 Zero
12/21/15 3 $10,260,000 Zero
12/18/15 5 $20,260,000 Zero
12/11/15 27 $765,090,000 Zero
12/4/15 6 $26,600,000 Zero
11/27/15 4 $21,000,000 Zero
11/20/15 15 $134,400,000 Zero
11/13/15 2 $16,100,000 Zero
11/6/15 10 $22,850,000 Zero
10/30/15 7 $49,800,000 Zero
10/23/15 10 $33,200,000 Zero
10/16/15 0 $0 Zero
10/9/15 13 $332,450,000 Zero

If you want more background on the RFA Ticker, read the inaugural post.

This entry was posted in Advocacy, Research and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to RFA Ticker, 3/28/16

  1. Sharon Kramer says:

    FYI, The Scientist, March 24, 2016:

    “Finding Funding for Rejected NIH Proposals. The National Institutes of Health joins forces with a tech company to launch a matchmaking program that aims to help investigators find secondary funding sources.

    Last year, just one in five grant proposals sent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received funding. But thanks to a new pilot project launched at the beginning of the month by technology company Leidos Life Sciences, NIH grant applicants may have an easier way to reuse rejected proposals and find financing for their research elsewhere. The company outlined its project in a statement published yesterday (March 23) in Science Translational Medicine.

    The Online Partnership to Accelerate Research (OnPAR) program, operated by Leidos Life Sciences, will act as a matchmaker between unfunded NIH applicants and private research funders,” wrote Mike Lauer, the NIH’s deputy director for extramural research, in a blog post.”


  2. Keep up the pressure. And thanks!

  3. jimells says:

    They seem to be getting closer to issuing an actual RFA sometime in the near future:

    “Revised NIH Response: The Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group is in the final stages of putting together a comprehensive research strategy for ME/CFS research that will include new RFAs. ” [1]

    So it is now on the record that they will issue RFAs. Of course, there 23 (count em!) institutes and centers on the Trans-NIH Group. Each one will have to review and approve everything, so they could *still* drag this out another year easy:

    “Revised NIH Response: The revamped Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group is composed of representatives of 23 NIH Institutes and Centers (see: http://www.nih.gov/mecfs ). The Working Group first met in November 2015, and they are actively drafting a research strategy for ME/CFS that will soon go to each of the participating Institutes and Centers for review and approval. ” [1]

    [1] http://www.hhs.gov/advcomcfs/recommendations/08182015-agency-responses.html

    • Denise says:

      This NIH response to the CFSAC recommendation talks about RFAs and strategy.
      Do we know who (experts/etc) helped develop this comprehensive research strategy and what its goals are?
      The strategy may include RFAs but I don’t know that there is a way to guarantee that an RFA (or multiple RFAs will be approved by the council for funding.

      • jimells says:

        No, we don’t know who is making the decisions. We are not supposed to “worry our pretty little heads” over such important matters. Just like we are not supposed to ask exactly who made the decision to bury the illness 30 years ago, nor ask exactly who is keeping that policy in place today.

        Until those questions are answered, I see little chance of a real change in policies.

      • BV says:

        It’s the Trans-NIH Working Group. The names of people on the group are public. https://www.nih.gov/research-training/medical-research-initiatives/mecfs

        • Anonymous says:

          I do not see ME experts among those on the Trans-NIH WG roster.
          Nor do I find information on the research strategy or goals the WG is developing.

          • BV says:

            That’s because they have not published or announced their plans yet. Outside people cannot serve on an internal NIH working group.

  4. BV says:

    Perhaps you’d like to note the NIH confirmed RFA’s (plural) are on their way for ME/CFS. They said so in revised response to CFSAC recommendations – an official document.

    “Revised NIH Response: The Trans-NIH ME/CFS Working Group is in the final stages of putting together a comprehensive research strategy for ME/CFS research that will include new RFAs. Clearly, as stated in the initial response, biomarker research will be critical to understanding the underlying causes and mechanisms of disease in ME/CFS. Until the new initiatives are in place, investigators can submit applications for peer review in response to any of the standing NIH grant mechanisms.”


    • Anonymous says:

      It does seem as though RFA’s will be presented to the council. That’s a good thing.
      I await details on the RFAs and word of approved funding.

  5. Kathy D. says:

    Continuing with the Easter egg analogy, we can’t count our chickens
    until they’re hatched.

    Until there is concrete progress, what we have is a goose egg. True.

    Then the process will be embryonic when experts, funding and
    a plan are in place. I want to see the chicks hatch in my lifetime.

Comments are closed.