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“This was a very rigorous and tough competition”

NIH director Francis Collins, M.D., noted that slightly less than 10 percent of the applications were ultimately funded in the first wave of grants awarded by the NIH under the BRAIN Initiative. He spoke at a press conference announcing the awards, September 30, 2014.

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Dr. Francis Collins: We funded slightly less than ten percent of the applications. So this was a very rigorous and tough competition. And frankly, we probably, once again, left some really good science on the table, because of the inability to do more than we did. As you heard, we started at 40 and we bumped that up to 46. So that was about as far as we could go, with the current funding climate.

When the President announced this, in April 2013, part of that was to put forward a proposal that the various agencies involved would identify 110 million dollars to spend in FY14. Our part of that was 40 and we took that with great seriousness, because we were very excited about this. As a result, as Congressional appropriations process played out, there were funds specifically targeted in the direction of the BRAIN Initiative. But also some of the NIH Institutes that are part of our neuroscience group decided this was a high priority and they would basically identify additional funds to put into the BRAIN Initiative, even if it meant squeezing other parts of the agenda a little bit. As a result, we’re able to put together this package of 46 million dollars. Again, I with it could have been more, but that’s a chronic statement, I’m afraid, about the status of NIH research support since... Maggie, as you know, we’ve lost about 23 percent of our purchasing power for medical research over the last ten years. And that applies to cancer and diabetes and heart disease, rare diseases, common diseases – and neuroscience.