NIH received 20,000 applications for Challenge Grants to be awarded through ARRA funding. This number of applications is equal to the total number of applications that NIH receives in just one of the agency’s three major review rounds each year.
The Challenge Grant program is designed to spur new areas of research and trigger an influx of research dollars into communities. NIH requested applications on topics in broad scientific areas that would benefit from a jumpstart. Some of these areas are bioethics, translational science, genomics, health disparities, enhancing clinical trials, behavioral change and prevention, and regenerative medicine.
The next step is for the Center for Scientific Review (CSR) to check the applications for compliance and review them in a two phase process. Reviewers with expertise in the specialized topic areas have been recruited to do the first phase reviews. Their reviews and applications will be further assessed by one of 30 study sections by researchers who will focus on the application’s overall significance and impact.
All Challenge Grant applications will receive a summary statement containing critiques with criterion scores from three assigned reviewers. More than 18,000 scientists are expected to be involved in the peer review process.
CSR typically reviews 16,000 applications with the help of about 8,000 reviewers in each of the three main yearly review rounds. Including Challenge Grants and other ARRA grants, CSR will assess about 40,000 applications this round with about 28,000 reviewers.
The deadline for the grant applications was in April. Scores and summary statements will be available in August 2009 and the Challenge Grants will be awarded by September 30. 2009.
NIH expects to provide $200 million in ARRA funding to Challenge Grants. In addition to the 200 Challenge Grants to be funded by the NIH Office of the Director, it is likely that more than 200 ARRA related grants will also be funded by NIH Institutes or Centers.