NINDS and Psychologists Share in Promise of Neuroscience

How central is psychological research to the central nervous system? Very, if you consider that over $36 million in extramural research and research training money found its way-from the nation’s head institute of basic and applied neuroscience research support-out to the labs of nearly 160 psychologist principal investigators (PIs). We are speaking here of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s (NINDS) behavioral science research funding record for fiscal year (FY) 1995.

NINDS supports more behavioral science than psychologists realize. As seen in the list of these NINDS grantees (page 3), there were a total of 158 psychologists serving as PIs on extramural NINDS grants in FY95. That’s a sizable enough chunk of basic and applied research to warrant our attention and makes NINDS’s commitment to behavioral researchers among the highest at any of the NIH institutes.

Success Rate

Of course, data presented here does not even begin to uncover the hundreds of psychologists working as co-investigators on other NINDS grants. It consists mostly of regular ROI type grants and FIRST awards. The Institute-wide success rate of grant applicants applying to receive NINDS funding for regular grants in FY95 was approximately 31 percent. That is higher than most NIH institutes.

For the period 1993 through 1995, NINDS grant funds were distributed as follows:

Distribution of NINDS Grants in FY93 – FY95

Percent of Total*                                   Success Rate

(in percent)*

Research Project (R01)                    71                                                           27

FIRST Award (R29)                            4                                                              28

Program Project (P01)                        17                                                           39

Centers (P20 and P50)                        7                                                              40

Clinical trials**                                     7

*Average for the 3-year period.

** Clinical trials are a subset and not part of the total.

Seven Percent Solution

To put this in context, NINDS’s overall FY95 extramural portfolio included 2,442 grants. So, while the number of grants to psychologist PIs represented about 6.5 percent of the total grants, psychologists’ share of research dollars represented about 1 percent more (or nearly 7 percent) of the total FY95 extramural research funding of $546,595,000 distributed to all PIs.

From which NINDS extramural divisions do psychologists get their research support? All four of them! In fact, the most striking aspect of the NINDS investment in behavioral science is the incredible range of research areas receiving support. Each of NINDS’s four extramural divisions lays claim to a decent percentage of the 158 FY95 grants. Specifically, NINDS extramural divisions consist of the following (number of psychologist PI grantees for each division appears in parentheses):

• Convulsive, Developmental and Neuromuscular Disorders Division (45)

Demyelinating, Atrophic and Dementing Disorders Division (39)

Fundamental Neurosciences Division (50)

Stroke and Trauma Division (24)

To get a better sense of the range and specific content of these FY95 psychology grants from NINDS, listed below are the PI names (alphabetical by last name) along with their institutional affiliation and their grant title.

See the March 1992, September 1993, and November 1994 Observer for stories in this ongoing series of research support to psychologist Principal Investigators. Those past Observer issues feature similar “roundups” of behavioral science grantees funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, respectively.

Future Observer issues will continue this series of articles with a focus on other significant agencies and some of the more obscure federal outposts of basic and applied behavioral science grant support.

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