R01 and Other Mechanism Funding Trends 1998-2013

Nov 20 2014 Published by under Uncategorized

In my most recent post, I noted that the percentage of the overall NIH budget going to R01-equivalent awards dropped from 43.8% in FY1998 to 37.2% in FY2003 to 34.7% in FY2013. Here, I present more details about the trends that have led to this drop. Below is a plot of expenditures in different categories from FY1998 to FY2013.

1998-2013 All


In addition to R01 equivalent grants (R01s, R37s, R29s), the categories include Research Centers, R&D Contracts, Intramural Research, Training (Ts and Fs), Career Awards, Research Project Grants (RPGs) other than R01-equivalent grants, SBIR/STTR grants, Other Research (e.g. R25s), and Research Management and Supports (e.g. extramural staff salaries, other administrative costs, review costs).

The categories other that R01 equivalent grants are shown with an expanded scale below:

1998-2013 Blowup

The graphs show that the percentage of R01 equivalent fell in two different phases. The first phase occurred during the NIH doubling whereas the second phase occurred over the subsequent decade.

The percentages and differences in the first and second phases in the various categories are tabulated below:

Category FY1998 FY2003 FY2013 2003-1998 2013-2003
R01 equivalent 43.8 37.2 34.7 -6.6 -2.5
Centers 8.6 9.2 8.3 0.6 -0.9
R&D Contracts 5.8 8.5 10.0 2.7 1.5
Intramural 10.5 9.4 11.1 -1.1 1.7
Training 3.1 2.7 2.5 -0.4 -0.2
Career 1.7 2.1 2.1 0.4 0.0
RPG Non-R01 equiv 11.2 14.4 15.9 3.2 1.5
SBIR/STTR 2.0 2.0 2.2 0.0 0.2
Other Research 4.6 6.0 6.2 1.4 0.2
RMS 3.6 3.4 5.1 -0.2 1.7

Note that the categories do not total 100% as some small categories such as construction are not shown.

During the first phase, the percentage of the overall NIH budget going to R01 equivalent awards fell by 6.6%. Over this period, the amount going to other categories of RPGs grew by 3.2% (to be discussed below), the percentage going to R&D Contracts grew by 2.7%, and the percentage going to Other Research grew by 1.4%.

During the second phase, the percentage going to R01 equivalent awards fell by an additional 2.5%. This was associated with an additional increase of 1.5% going to R%D contracts, an increase of 1.5% going to non-R01 RPGs, and increase of 1.7% going to Intramural Research (part of which is due to an accounting change), and a 1.5% increase in Research Management and Support.

The activity codes that make up the increase in non-R01 equivalent RPGs are shown below:

Other RPG mechs

Over this period, the largest contributors to the increase are cooperative agreements (which have significant NIH staff involvement), primarily U01s but also U19s and the growth in R21s (driven by a large increase in the number of applications). The investment in Program Project grants (P01s) actually fell over this period. The addition of new mechanisms including NIH Director's Pioneer (DP1) and New Innovator (DP2) awards as well as R00 made a small contribution to the growth.

These data are aggregated across all of NIH. As the previous post showed, there are significant differences between ICs. Further analysis will be required to analyze these trends.

4 responses so far

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    So the big "winner" here is the NIH itself -- the components that are increasing (proportionally) are those representing top-down NIH-directed initiatives: contracts, U mechs, intramural, and RMS. All at the expense of investigator-initiated research.


  • girlparts says:

    This is as a percentage of the budget. I assume then, that in the first phase, the R01 budget grew, it just grew more slowly than the non-R01 mechanisms? Then in the second phase were the non-R01 mechanisms still growing, or just they shrinking less dramatically than R01s? In other words, did the NIH invest in things during the doubling that they then felt the need to sustain during the shrinking, at the cost of the more flexible (or widely distributed) investigator-initiated grants?

    • datahound says:

      During the doubling, the NIH investment in R01 mechanisms grew, but non-R01 mechanisms grew faster. Success rates for R01s were at or above 30% (and near 50% for competing renewals). Budget increases were 15% per year or more. If NIH had only invested in R01s, the success rates would have been even higher and many argued that the quality of the proposals being funded would be inappropriate.

      You are correct that changes occurred during the doubling that have been largely sustained, even during the un-doubling.

      The hope (and, to some degree expectation) was that Congress would follow the doubling with annual increases >4% to allow the momentum built during the doubling to continue. Instead, with budget surpluses gone, the increases were less than inflation, close to flat, for a decade. The nominal dollar amount invested in R01a has been essentially flat, meaning it has decreased relative to inflation. Some other categories have increased slightly, particularly R&D contracts (right after the doubling including biodefense-related contracts) and non-RO1 RPGs (U01s and R21s).

  • SaG says:

    NIH runs a lot of clinical trials via Us and Contracts. Can you tell if the run up in the percentage of dollars going to Us and contracts is due to NIH funding more clinical trials?

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