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NCI Plans Policy Changes on Percent of Effort Required on Grants

, by NCI Deputy Director, Dinah S. Singer, Ph.D.

NCI Deputy Director Dr. Dinah S. Singer

NCI Deputy Director Dr. Dinah Singer expands on NCI’s plan to issue a minimum level of effort requirement for grant applications. This potential new policy comes as a response to the recent detailed analysis of current awards, conducted by NCI, with consultation from the National Cancer Advisory Board.

In response to questions from members of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB), NCI recently conducted a detailed analysis of current awards by grant mechanism. We found that some funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) specify a minimum level of effort on grant applications, while others, such as the parent announcements for R01, P01, and R21 applications, do not. As a result, the effort proposed in grant applications varies significantly.

The NCAB is responsible for, among other things, the review of policies related to grants and cooperative agreements for NCI research and training. In consultation with the NCAB, NCI leadership determined that a minimum level of effort is necessary to ensure that the Principal Investigator(s) of a proposed study are engaged. At the February 11 NCAB meeting, board members discussed the proposed policy on percent effort, what policies currently apply, and optimum policies for the future.

The consensus among NCAB members was to recommend that NCI issue a policy requiring a minimum level of effort for certain types of grants (see full table below). Therefore, NCI leadership has decided to implement minimal effort requirements as part of the funding consideration for grants. Unless otherwise stated in an FOA, the minimum effort policy would apply to the following types of grants:

  • U01
  • R01 (including multi-PI)
  • R21
  • P01

The policy will ensure that PIs devote the appropriate effort and attention to project leadership, and it will ensure that the same level of leadership is maintained for the duration of the grant award.

NCI will publish a plan for implementing the minimum level of effort requirements in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.

Mechanism Role Minimum Level of Effort Comments
R01/U01 PI 15% 1.8 person-months/year
Multi PI R01s PI 10%
R35 PI 50% Established previously
P01 PI 10%1 +15% if also project PI (25% minimum)
Project PI 15%
Core leader 5-10%2
P50 PI or 2 Multi-PIs 20% each Current policy
3 or more Multi-PIs 15% each
Co-leads 5%
Core Director 5-10%2
P30 PI 25% Current policy
Core Director 5-10%2
U54, U56, UM1, etc.   Stipulate in RFA  
R21 PI 5%  
T32/K12, R03, R15   No policy  

1Includes effort as administrative Core Director

2Applicants should justify minimum effort, based on the proposed activities of the Core

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