Professional Judgment Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2021
Immense opportunities exist in cancer research along the continuum from basic research to survivorship. This budget proposal for FY 2021 includes investments in six areas needed to advance progress in cancer as well as support for the infrastructure and training that enables cutting-edge research to succeed.
The budget proposal also includes $50 million for the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative as well as Cancer MoonshotSM funding, which was authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act. Cancer Moonshot funding ends in FY 2023.
Included in this investment is a substantial increase to the budget for R01 research project grants, one of the main ways NCI supports investigator-initiated science.
The increase in high-quality research applications has far outpaced the NCI budget and our ability to fund them at an acceptable success rate. The FY 2018 success rate for NCI applications was 12%, while the rate for the rest of NIH was 22%.
The budget proposal for FY 2021 would give NCI the flexibility to begin improving the payline for R01 grants from the current 8th percentile to the 15th. This would enable funding for additional meritorious research proposals and allow us to act on more opportunities to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.
- We are witnessing a dramatic increase in new ideas and investigators coming into the field, as evidenced by the nearly 50% increase in R01 grant applications submitted to NCI from FY 2013 to FY 2018. (Applications to the rest of NIH grew by less than 5% over the same time period.) The growth is expected to continue.
- Strong congressional support led to the nearly 20% increase in NCI’s budget (in current dollars) over the same time period. Yet even this has not kept pace with the rise in scientific opportunity. NCI paylines and success rates decreased, and highly meritorious research proposals are going unfunded.
- The budget proposal for FY 2021 would give NCI the flexibility to begin improving the payline for R01 grants from the current 8th percentile to the 15th. Doing so would allow a greater number of meritorious applications to be funded. This funding would fuel more discoveries, enable more innovative minds to focus on cancer, and provide more opportunities to translate knowledge into better ways to prevent, detect, and treat the disease.
- Early-stage investigators will continue to be a high priority.
NCI’s overarching strategy focuses on supporting a broad portfolio of research. Tackling the problem of cancer from many different angles will enable a future where:
- Understanding the Mechanisms of Cancer: Researchers have a comprehensive understanding of cancer biology that catalyzes the development of new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer
- Preventing Cancer: More cancers are prevented because a person’s cancer risk will be known and reduced effectively
- Detecting and Diagnosing Cancer: Fewer people suffer and die from cancer because the disease and its precursors can be detected and diagnosed at the earliest possible stage
- Treating Cancer: All patients with cancer have safe and effective treatments
- Advancing Public Health in Cancer: All population groups benefit equally from advances in cancer research
- Strengthening the Cancer Research Enterprise: Training and infrastructure enable cutting-edge research to succeed
The following areas represent just a few of the many scientific opportunities that, with further investment, would catalyze additional progress in cancer research.
- The Immune System and Microbiome: Tapping the potential of the innate immune system and investigating how microbiomes shape the immune system and cancer development, progression, and response to treatment
- Artificial Intelligence: Accelerating cancer research and improving cancer care by leveraging the power of big data and advancements in computing technologies
- Implementation Science: Finding the best ways to integrate proven, effective cancer interventions into routine health settings so that all patients receive high-quality care