Monday, May 8, 2017

Well, this is interesting...

Scientists will be restricted in the number of grants they can receive from the National Institutes of Health under a new policy the agency released this week. 
The move is an attempt to spread the wealth to more scientists in the current hypercompetitive research environment, where grant award rates hover around their lowest level in history. The agency estimates the move will free up 1,600 grants to help early- and mid-career scientists, who have been finding it harder to get grants in recent years. 
The new Grant Support Index will assign a number value to each grant an investigator has on the basis of the type of research, type of award, and responsibilities, explains Lawrence Tabak, NIH’s principal deputy director. He says the index is an attempt to estimate how much bandwidth each investigator has to continue doing high-quality research. 
Although the agency is still working out the details, it estimates the index will limit each investigator to three NIH grants and impact 6% of the agency’s grantholders. The policy would go into effect in this fall for grant applications that would be reviewed in the fall of 2018. Now, 10% of investigators with NIH grants receive 40% of the agency’s funding....
I can't imagine this will have a big effect, but it will be until 2019 that we find out... 


  1. The idea sounds reasonable on the face of it, but implementation will be critical here. Spreading the wealth to more labs isn't a bad thing, but it's something that CAN be botched.

  2. Definitely a step in the right direction. Don't need to give all our money to just a few big name scientists.

  3. This is more than a matter of "being reasonable" and "don't need to give all our money to just a few big name scientists". The NIH announcement cites research showing that, as funding to a PI increases, the research impact begins to taper or level off; it does not continue to increase at a steady trajectory. Therefore, those monies beyond the inflection point may well have higher impact if spent elsewhere. That inflection point appears to average at about the level of three NIH grants, which is why that number was chosen (or was estimated, to quote the NIH statement above).

  4. They'll find a way to game it.