American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)
In keeping with the spirit of the Recovery Act, this funding is accelerating research in critical environmental health areas while creating jobs in communities across the country.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. It is an unprecedented effort to jumpstart our economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act is an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression, and includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
Goal: Fund Critical Research and Create Jobs
NIEHS received $168 million in Recovery Act funds to be distributed over a two-year span (2009 and 2010). Consistent with the priorities of the Recovery Act, the NIEHS identified research projects with the greatest potential for high scientific impact and economic benefit. NIEHS funding decisions were based on the following priorities:
- Preserve and create jobs
- Promote economic recovery
- Stimulate investments in innovative, high-impact environmental health science research
- Accelerate technological advances in existing environmental health science research
- Make significant contributions to the research community in a short amount of time
Method: Distribute Funds to U.S. Researchers Quickly
By the end of 2009, NIEHS had allocated 95% of the $168 million received from the Recovery Act. Focusing on the above priorities, NIEHS’ funding strategy was driven by four primary methods:
- Fund additional, well-scored grants already in the 2009 pipeline. NIEHS provided support to highly meritorious projects that would not have been funded otherwise. By increasing the pay-line (the score cut-off for funding applications), NIEHS was able to expand vital research programs.
- Fund summer research opportunities for students. NIEHS supports many training and development opportunities for individuals interested in environmental health sciences. The Recovery Act allowed NIEHS to provide additional development opportunities to students and science educators, funding over 200 summer research positions.
- Fund additional needs in existing research projects. NIEHS used Recovery Act dollars to further the efforts of many researchers already supported by NIEHS dollars. Researchers making significant progress in critical research areas were able to request additional funds to either accelerate or expand their research. These awards also enhance the tempo of science in ways that support job creation and economic development.
Fund innovative new research in high priority areas. The Recovery Act enabled NIH to create many new initiatives to support research in topic areas that address specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that could benefit from 2-year jump start funds. NIEHS participated in two initiatives to fund innovative new research: the Challenge Grant Program and the Grand Opportunities Program.
Challenge Grants - The NIH Challenge Program identified 15 high priority areas that could benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area by addressing specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods. NIEHS funded new research in 8 of the 15 priority areas:
- Translational Science
- Health Disparities
- Clinical Research
- Enabling Technologies
- Smart Biomaterials
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education (STEM)
Grand Opportunities (GO) - The "GO" grant program supported projects addressing large, specific research biomedical and biobehavioral research questions that will have high short-term impact, and a high likelihood of enabling growth and investment in biomedical research and development, public health, and health care delivery. NIEHS used the GO grant program to fund projects in two signature areas:
Bisphenol A: Research to Impact Human Health
NIEHS is supporting research into the health effects of BPA, a widely used chemical with potential links to cancer.
Evaluating the Safety of Engineered Nanomaterials
NIEHS is supporting research into the safety of engineered nanomaterials, including methods for measuring exposure and preventing negative public health impacts.