publication date: Jun. 16, 2017

NIH plans to set aside up to $1.1 billion a year to fund more young investigators

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

NIH is revamping its grant funding process to provide additional support to meritorious early-stage and mid-career investigators by freeing up funds from NIH’s base budget.

The policy, called the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, would set aside about $210 million this year and ramp up that amount to $1.1 billion a year after five years—pending availability of funds.

NIH officials describe the initiative as an effort to address “a biomedical research workforce dangerously out of balance” by bolstering support for younger investigators.

“While we have made progress in reversing the decline in grant funding to early-career investigators through various programs and policies, the percentage of NIH awards that support this group remains flat,” NIH Director Francis Collins wrote in a blog post. “Unfortunately, gains for early-career investigators have been offset by a decline in the percentage of NIH awards that support mid-career investigators. The only group for which the percentage of grant funding is increasing is late-career investigators.”

It’s unclear how NIH would reshuffle its dollars to grow the program, given that the Trump administration has proposed to cut the NIH budget by over 20 percent in fiscal 2018.

NIH is committed to implementing the initiative even if Congress reduces the level of funding in coming years, Collins said.

“This initiative aims to take advantage of new and powerful ways to assess the effectiveness of NIH research investments to be sure that the funds we are given are producing the best results from our remarkable scientific workforce,” Collins wrote.

“We would pursue this strategy regardless of the level of budget support.”

The distribution of NIH grant funding is highly skewed, with 10 percent of … Continue reading NIH plans to set aside up to $1.1 billion a year to fund more young investigators

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