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.

Professional Judgment Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2021
This table shows the total budget recommendation from the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 NCI Annual Plan and Budget Proposal: $6,928 million. This total includes an FY 2019 NCI base appropriation of $5,744 million plus a budget increase of $989 million plus FY 2021 Cancer Moonshot funding of $195 million.

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.

Paylines and Success Rates for NCI R01 Applications Remain Low Chart
This graph shows the NCI paylines and success rates for NCI R01 applications by fiscal year (FY). The success rate for NCI applications has dropped from 15% in FY 2013 to 12% in FY 2018. Paylines have dropped from the 10th percentile in FY 2016 and 2017 to the 8th percentile in FY 2019. The goal is to reach the 15th percentile in FY 2021.

Key Messages

  • 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.

Scientific Priorities

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:

Emerging Areas

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
Next Section: Progress against Cancer
TOP