Grant applications and cooperative agreements are peer reviewed by initial review groups convened by NIAAA or CSR. Priority scores and percentiles (if applicable) are assigned to each application based on scientific merit. Scored applications undergo a second level of review by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Applications that cleared through the Advisory Council may be considered for funding by NIAAA.
The decision to fund or not to fund a particular application is based on the assessment of scientific merit by a peer review group as stated above, and on the relevance of the proposed work to the Institute's scientific and health priorities. The Advisory Council may also identify applications that are high program priority.
The funding decision is made during a pay plan meeting, where applications are discussed and prioritized, beginning with the top-scoring applications. Paylists are developed based on the score-prioritized funding list. After the discussion of the funding consideration for top scoring applications, staff review the applications up to about a specific percentile rank (R01) and equivalent priority score (other mechanisms), which are determined by the Budget Office. This cut off may change depending on the availability of funds for each fiscal year. Each application is reviewed, giving priority to New Investigator and Early Stage Investigator applicants. The NIAAA is committed to ensure that the overall success rate for new investigators approximates that for established investigators.
The Program Officials negotiate a lower funding cost for applications that are high on scored grant list but the cost is excessive.
Applications below the payline may be recommended for select pay. NIAAA may fund a limited number of programmatically prioritized grant applications that missed the payline. Program Officers nominate candidates; Investigators cannot apply for select pay funding. Criteria are strong scientific merit, the relevance of the project to NIAAA’s mission and Early Investigator/New Investigator status.
The final select pay list is reviewed by the NIAAA Director and Senior Staff. Final decision is made by the Director of NIAAA.
The critical factor for the final funding decisions is the budget availability. The NIAAA funding is provided through an appropriation bill towards the middle of the fiscal year. The grant funding is projected by the budget office during the previous fiscal year. Funds are allocated by funding mechanisms and program areas. The amount available for new and competing grants is determined based on the size of the budget and the non-competing commitments.