FY2019 Fiscal Operations Plan
The Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019, was signed into law on September 28, 2018. This legislation provides the NEI with the authority to operate for Fiscal Year 2019. The NEI will implement this legislation in a manner that emphasizes investigator-initiated research project grants, supports early-stage investigators, continues a strong commitment to clinical research and implements the Audacious Goal Initiative.
Research Project Grants (the R00, R01, R15, R21, R34, U01, DP1 and DP2 grant mechanisms)
Non-competing research awards: NEI Research Project Grants (RPGs) that have already been issued will be restored to the previously-committed level as stated on the most recent Notice of Award (NOA).
Competing Awards: Competing RPGs will be funded at the recommended levels; however, administrative/programmatic adjustments will be made as appropriate and as required to achieve an approximate average total cost slightly above that for FY2018 level of $398,273. The award rate (number of applications funded divided by the number of applications reviewed) for RPGs is anticipated to be approximately 25%. NEI will continue to give preference for supporting Early Stage Investigators on R01-equivalent grant awards. NEI will also continue to manage the portfolio average length of RPG grants at four years. Per NIH policy, no annual inflationary increments will be provided in the future for any grants (see NIH Guide Notice: NOT-OD-13-064).
National Research Service Awards
The number of Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards will remain relatively constant, compared with the FY2018 levels. Undergraduate and graduate student stipends will increase as recommended by the Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Biomedical Workforce. Specific stipend levels may be found at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-19-036.html. Training Related Expenses and the Institutional Allowance for postdoctoral trainees and fellows have been increased. The Training Related Expenses and Institutional Allowances for predoctoral trainees and fellows and the Tuition and Fees for all educational levels remain unchanged.
NEI anticipates that the number and average size of Small Business, Center Core, Career Development, Resource, and Cooperative Clinical Research awards will remain relatively constant compared with the FY2018 levels.
Audacious Goals Initiative
The NEI has embarked on a focused initiative to regenerate neurons and neural connections in the eye and visual system. The NEI AGI is targeting the photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells. The NEI intends to commit $4-5M (total costs) in FY 2019 to fund 10-15 awards.