SUMMARYDuring fiscal year 2015, the NCI awarded 1,236 competing Research Project Grants (RPGs), resulting in an overall success rate of 13%. R01 and R21 grants represent 77% of the awards funded within the RPGs. NCI funded nearly all R01 and R21 applications with scores up to and including the 9th percentile. The R03 and R15 applications with impact scores up to and including a score of 25 were funded. NCI funded applications with higher scores only after they were reviewed and approved by NCI's Divisions and Scientific Program Leaders during special meetings with the NCI Director. The graphs that appear below summarize the overall funding patterns for R01s and R21s across various categories of investigators.
NCI introduced the R35 Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) in fiscal year 2015 to support investigators with outstanding records of productivity in cancer research by providing extended funding stability for projects of unusual potential. OIA recipients are required to relinquish their current R01 awards in accepting the OIA and to commit at least 50% effort to the research. Consequently, the number of OIAs is likely to affect the number of R01's over time, although the number of R01 and R21 awards made in FY15 were similar to those made in FY14 (see Table 2).
- - FY 2015 R01
- - FY 2015 R21
- - Table 1: Fiscal Year 2015: Success Rates (unsolicited R01's and R21's)
- - Table 2: All Competing Research Project Grants
Funding Patterns for R01 Applications
The graph in Figure 1 summarizes the number of R01 applications received and grants funded at each percentile, among all investigators. As is evident, beyond the 9th percentile, the number of grants funded decreased in direct proportion to the percentile ranking. Nevertheless, 38% of the grants funded had rankings beyond the 9th percentile.
Similar displays are shown below for experienced investigators (applicants who have received a prior R01 award and were applying for a new grant or a competitive renewal; Figure 2); new investigators (applicants who have never received an R01; Figure 3); and early stage investigators (new investigators within 10 years of receiving their highest degree who have not had an R01 award; Figure 4). Similar patterns are observed in all cases. Success rates have not been plotted for new and early stage investigators because of the small numbers of applications at each percentile score. For Success Rate comparisons, refer to Tables 1 and 2 below.
NCI FY2015: "Percentiled" R01 Applications, Awards and Success Rates
Figure 1: All Investigators: Experienced, New and Early Stage
NCI FY2015 Competing R01 Applications and Awards
Figure 3: New Investigators (Includes Early Stage Investigators)
Figures 1-4: Excludes applications that did not receive a percentile ranking. When an amended application is considered in the same fiscal year as the original, only the one with the better ranking is counted.
Funding Patterns for R21 Applications
The funding patterns for R21 grant applications differ from those of R01 grants. The patterns are explained by the fact that NCI receives a disproportionate number of applications relative to the number of R21 grants that can be funded (see Table 1). 13% of the grants funded had rankings beyond the 9th percentile.
In contrast to R01 funding patterns, success rates for R21 funding of applications from new investigators (applicants who have never received an R01; Figure 7) are notably lower at 8% than for experienced investigators with 15% (applicants who have received a prior R01 award; Figure 6) (Table 1). Furthermore, whereas the R01 success rate for new investigators is 10%, it is 8% for R21s. This disparity results from the fact that R01 applications, but not R21 applications, from new investigators and particularly the subset of early stage investigators are given preferential consideration. Early stage investigators are new investigators within 10 years of receiving their highest degree who have not had an R01 award; Figure 8)
The NIH does not report the R21 grants in terms of experienced and new investigators. The NCI was able to apply the R01 rules to the R21 grants to extract and generate the data that distinguish the two groups. For Success Rate comparisons, refer to Tables 1 and 2 below.
NCI FY2015: R21 Applications, Awards and Success Rates
Figure 5: All Investigators: Experienced, New and Early Stage
NCI FY2015 Competing R21 Applications and Awards
Figure 7: New Investigators (Includes Early Stage Investigators)
Figures 5-8: Excludes applications that did not receive a percentile ranking. When an amended application is considered in the same fiscal year as the original, only the one with the better ranking is counted.
Table 1: Fiscal Year 2015: Success Rates (unsolicited R01's and R21's)
|Total Applications||Number With Percentiles
|Number With Percentiles
|R01 - All Investigators||4,550||1,126||394||623||14%|
|Experienced Investigators - Total||3,304||900||329||497||15%|
|New Investigators - Total1||1,246||226||65||126||10%|
|Early Stage New Investigators2||493||116||40||71||14%|
|R21 - All Investigators||2,864||862||289||325||11%|
|Early Stage New Investigators2||377||100||27||32||8%|
Total new and competing renewal applications include those that received either a percentile, an impact score, as well as those that were not discussed (triaged) or were not recommended for funding.
Funded R01s include competing board supplements
When an amended application is considered in the same fiscal year as the original, only the one with the better percentile is counted. NCI funded an additional 288 grants for a total of 1,236 competing Research Projects.
1 Includes Early Stage Investigators
2 Included in New Investigators
Table 2: All Competing Research Project Grants
|FY 2015||FY 2014||FY 2013||FY 2012|
|Funded||Success Rate||Funded||Success Rate||Funded||Success Rate||Funded||Success Rate|
|R01 - Unsolicited1||623||14%||578||15%||582||15%||620||15%|
|R21 - Unsolicited||325||11%||302||12%||241||10%||200||11%|
|Total Competing RPGs:||1,236||13%||1,207||14%||1,095||14%||1,085||14%|
1 R01s include competing board supplements
2 Outstanding Investigator Awards (R35) new in FY2015
3 RFAs include UM1, R33, U01 and UH2
4 RPGs include R00, R15, R37, R56, P01, U01, U19, UH2, UM1 and DP2
 The success rate is the percentage of applications received that are funded. It is calculated by dividing the number of funded grants by the number of applications received. When an amended application is considered in the same fiscal year as the original, only the one with the better score is counted in the number of applications received.
 A percentile is a score that ranks competing applications against others in the same study section in the past year. It is intended to allow a comparison of impact scores3 of applications across all study sections.
 The impact score is given by each individual scientific reviewer's assessment of the scored criteria plus additional criteria regarding the protection and inclusion of human subjects; vertebrate animal care and welfare; biohazards, and criteria specific to the funding opportunity and is based on the overall impact that the project is likely to have on the research field(s) involved.