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NIH's $200 Million Challenge Grant Sweepstakes

The preliminary numbers are in: As of today, the National Institutes of Health has received more than 10,000 applications for its Challenge Grants, NIH officials say. (The deadline was 27 April with an extension for making corrections.) The agency tagged $200 million of its $10.4 billion in the recent stimulus bill for the competition, which covers research on dozens of specific topics. If NIH funds only 200 of the $1 million, 2-year grants, as initially proposed, that will put the success rate at a mere 2% (compared with roughly 20% for a regular NIH research grant). Individual institutes could decide to fund more grants, but that will depend on how proposals fare in peer review, NIH officials say. Reviews begin mid-May and results will be out in late July.

A few more Challenge applications could trickle in, as NIH is giving investigators another week to fix errors in applications that are stuck in the submission system.

(Update 5/4/09: NIH had received 11,000 applications by the end of Friday and thousands more were still pending in, the agency says. The total could exceed 15,000.)