Update on the NIH 5-year Strategic Plan

An update to the NIH 5 year Strategic Plan based upon the goals of the various NIH Institutes and Centers has recently been posted on the NIH website. We would strongly recommend that all NIH proposal applicants familiarize themselves with the key components of this newly-published 5 year Strategic Plan since this will dictate the various priorities of the various Institutes and Centers in making funding decisions. This does not, of course, preclude individual Institute/Center specific priorities that every applicant should familiarize themselves with on an annual basis. While reading the entire summary should require no more than 5-10 minutes, a brief summary of the Plan includes the following:

The plan focuses on four essential, interdependent objectives that will help guide NIH’s priorities over the next five years as it pursues its mission of seeking fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and applying that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. The objectives are to:

  • advance opportunities in biomedical research in fundamental science, treatment and cures, and health promotion and disease prevention;
  • foster innovation by setting NIH priorities to enhance nimbleness, consider burden of disease and value of permanently eradicating a disease, and advance research opportunities presented by rare diseases;
  • enhance scientific stewardship by recruiting and retaining an outstanding biomedical research work-force, enhancing workforce diversity and impact through partnerships, ensuring rigor and reproducibility, optimizing approaches to inform funding decisions, encouraging innovation, and engaging in proactive risk management practices; and
  • excel as a federal science agency by managing for results by developing the ‘science of science,’ balancing outputs with outcomes, conducting workforce analyses, continually reviewing peer review, evaluating steps to enhance rigor and reproducibility, reducing administrative burden, and tracking effectiveness of risk management in decision making.

A detailed review of the Strategic Plan can be found at http://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-unveils-fy2016-2020-strategic-plan  We would suggest that, in preparing the Significance section of the NIH grant application, applicants should consider the integration of some aspect of this Strategic Goal into the discussion of the Research Project’s projected long term significance; i.e., “This new knowledge can ultimately be expected to positively impact the achievement of the NIH’s strategic plan by contributing to…