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NIH Update—NINDS Program Project Grants (P01)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Program Project Grant (P01) mechanism is designed to support linkage of several independent, meritorious research projects that are tightly focused on a central theme. The sum of the projects in a P01 application must have synergistic value over separately funded individual research grants. Successful P01s typically consist of three integrated research projects, each led by an accomplished investigator, and one or more scientific cores. They are notably not multiple individual grant applications simply stapled together.

The Program Project Grant mechanism is used sparingly—NIH RePORTER lists just three currently active P01 awards focused on the muscular dystrophies, including one on myotonic dystrophy. Since P01s typically request the maximum direct costs allowed, $1 million per year for five years, permission to submit must be requested from NIH program staff. 

Many NIH Institutes no longer accept P01 applications, preferring to fund individual, investigator-initiated awards (e.g., R01s). But the synergies necessary to be competitive can make the P01 a scientifically powerful grant mechanism.

The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recently renewed their PAR for P01 applications—the NINDS Program Project Grant (P01). This PAR represents an important opportunity for the myotonic dystrophy field.

P01 applications should be considered only when the problem addressed is central to progress in the field and can be best addressed via a team approach. Permission to submit a P01 application should be sought very early in the application development process. Keep in mind that peer reviewers typically adhere to a very high standard for all components of P01 applications.

Investigative teams that can develop a highly competitive case for a P01 focusing on vital and unresolved issues in myotonic dystrophy, without any weak links in the proposed package of studies and supporting cores, are encouraged to apply. MDF scientific staff would be happy to provide advice on potential P01 applications. Investigators considering a P01 application should always contact the NINDS Program Director responsible for the muscular dystrophies, Dr. Glen Nuckolls (glen.nuckolls@nih.gov).

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