Application success rates, as I blogged about in December, declined in 2013 to a historic low. In fact, most of the numbers you are going to see throughout the Data Book went down because of the reduction of NIH’s budget due to the sequestration which lowered NIH appropriations by more than 5% or $1.55 billion below the previous fiscal year. So these smaller numbers, such as fewer new awards and lower application success rates, are not surprising.However, we also saw a small decline in incoming applications, the first since before the Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009 which bolstered NIH application submissions for a number of years even after ARRA funding ended. Considering applications for FY 2013 funds come in during the previous fiscal year, this reduction in applications cannot be explained by sequestration, and may demonstrate the beginning of a trend, though it is too early to tell. Also, for the first time in recent memory, the average size of awards has gone down. This is likely because we had to accommodate the reduced appropriation and cut all continuing awards by a significant amount, not because we shifted to funding more smaller mechanisms such as the R21s, as these remained at the same proportion of total awards.

Read more (and see a chart with the numbers) at Rock Talk by Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Reseach.

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