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Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

FY 2021 Funding Strategy for Research Grants

The mission of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. NIMH’s work toward this mission is guided by our Strategic Plan for Research. NIMH’s funding priorities are also highlighted in the President’s Budget Request each fiscal year (FY).

NIMH will continue to apply National Institutes of Health (NIH) cost management guidelines when making FY 2021 grant awards.

Non-Competing Continuation Grants:
Non-competing continuation awards to be issued in FY 2021 will be made at the commitment level indicated on the FY 2020 Notice of Award.

Competing Research Applications (New, Renewals, and Revisions):
Although NIMH does not have a specific pay line, the Institute expects to support most of the applications that have an impact score up to the 10th percentile, many between the 10th and 20th percentiles, and some beyond the 20th percentile, based on factors articulated in the Institute’s Strategic Plan, ensuring diverse perspectives are represented, programmatic portfolio consideration, and availability of funds. Overall, as in past years, we expect to support approximately three-fourths of the applications under the 20th percentile (or with comparable impact scores for non-percentiled applications).

  • For Research Project Grants (RPGs), Centers, and Other Research Mechanisms (excluding Research Career Development):
    • Modular Grants: With the exception of specific programmatic adjustments, modular grant awards will be fully funded in FY 2021, and future year commitments are expected to remain consistent with the FY 2021 awarded amount.
    • Non-Modular Grants: With the exception of specific programmatic adjustments, non-modular grant awards will be fully funded in FY 2021. Future year commitments for competing grant awards will be reduced, on average, 4% from recommended funding levels. The number of out-year commitments may also be adjusted.
  • For Small Business, Research Career Development, and Research Training Awards:
    FY 2021 awards will be funded at recommended levels.

Early Stage Investigators (ESIs)
As described in the NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative (NGRI) efforts, NIMH is committed to placing greater emphasis on NIH programs aimed at providing substantial and sustained support for ESIs. Accordingly, NIMH is:

  • Prioritizing funding for ESIs
  • Leveraging the R56 “High Priority, Short-Term Project” award to provide interim short- term support for ESIs to collect preliminary data in support of a resubmission or newly competing NIH R01 application (Please note that investigators cannot apply for R56 awards.)

Research Training and Career Development Awards:
NIMH is committed to research training that prepares junior and early-to-midcareer scientists for careers focused on innovative multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in areas of program relevance. NIMH has determined that it is important to strike a strategic balance between building the pool of potential new investigators and sufficient funds to support research projects. We will continue to invest significant funds to train investigators in areas highly relevant to the Institute’s mission.

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral stipend levels and tuition/fees for FY 2021 are described in NOT-OD-21-049.