NIH issues notice of changes to AREA/R15 program

Gary Lorigan works with a piece of equipment in his lab.

Changes to the AREA/R15 program recently announced by NIH will have very few practical implications for Miami University researchers, including past AREA recipient Gary Lorigan a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

NIH issued a long-anticipated notice about changes to its Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA)/R15 program last week. The changes are being made to “focus AREA support on grants to undergraduate-focused institutions that do not receive substantial funding from NIH, rather than all institutions with less than $6 million of NIH support.” Since Miami University meets both these criteria — it is undergraduate-focused and receives relatively little NIH funding — the impact of these changes on our researchers will be fairly limited, as described below.

CHANGE: The current AREA Parent Announcement will expire after January 7, 2019
EFFECT: Miami PIs will need to look for (and apply under) new FOAs, to be issued soon.

CHANGE: Eligibility requirements are as follows: 1) Applicant institution must be accredited and grant baccalaureate degrees in biomedical sciences. 2) Applicant institution may not have received $6 million or more per year in total NIH awards (direct and indirect costs combined) in 4 of the last 7 years. 3) The qualifying academic component (school, college, center, or institute) within an institution has an undergraduate student enrollment greater than its graduate student enrollment.
EFFECT: 1) Not a change; Miami meets this requirement with accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. 2) Not a change; Miami meets this requirement, having received no more than $3.9 million (in FY2011) in annual funding from NIH in the last 7 years. 3) A significant change for some institutions, but not for Miami; none of our divisions enrolls more graduate students than undergraduate students.

CHANGE: NIH will no longer maintain a list of R15-ineligible institutions and all applications due on or after February 25, 2019 will need to include a letter verifying institutional eligibility.
EFFECT: OARS will provide the required letter to be included in applications. Anne Schauer, Director of Research and Sponsored Programs, is authorized to sign such letters on behalf of the university, and PIs should not request them from the president or the provost.

CHANGE: NIH will issue separate FOAs for R15 opportunities to support health professional schools and graduate schools.
EFFECT: Anticipated to be minimal.

A description of the R15 Activity Code, which reflects the changes, is available on the NIH website.


Written by Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director of Research Communications, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Triangle image by DavidRockDesign via Pixabay, public domain/Creative Commons CC0 license. Photo of Gary Lorigan by Scott Kissell, Miami University Photo Services.

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