post by Bill Gardner
From an email newsletter from the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ):
2. AHRQ Funding Opportunity Announcements
AHRQ suspends the submission of individual career development grant applications (K01, K02, and K08) for AHRQ Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA's) for the February 12, 2012 application receipt date for new applications and March 12, 2012 receipt date for re-submission applications.
'K' awards are training awards for scholars seeking to begin research careers. This is an announcement of the end of these opportunities. Also,
Effective with grant application receipt dates after February 5, 2012 (March 5, 2012 for R01 resubmissions), AHRQ is implementing a budget limit of $250,000 total (direct and indirect) costs per year for large research (R01, R18) grant applications.
Federal research grants come in two parts: direct and indirect cost funding. The direct costs are the funds that investigators can actually spend, including the salaried time that the investigator devotes to the project. The indirect costs are the overhead costs charged by the university or research institute (paying for the lights, heat, accountants, etc.). Indirect costs are (controversially) often equal to or greater than the direct costs. In any event, this means that the limit on annual direct costs is something like $125,000. If the investigator earns $100,000 a year -- many medical school professors earn more -- and devotes one-third of her time to the project, then remaining expenses of the research project are less than $87,000 a year. Relatively few health services research projects can be run on such a budget, the exception being statistical analyses of existing data sets.
This announcement is the harbinger of a fundamental reduction in the funding of research on the quality and effectiveness of health care in the United States. Some of the slack will be taken up by the new Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). However, should the Republicans win the presidency and the Senate in the next election, PCORI and possibly AHRQ itself may be unlikely to survive the spring of 2012.
Is AHRQ just the canary in the coal mine? Will similar announcements from NIH follow?