publication date: Feb. 15, 2019

NCI Director’s Report

Sharpless: Please stay in oncology, don’t stop sending good research ideas to NCI

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

The mathematical concepts underlying the challenge NCI is facing today aren’t difficult to grasp. In fact, a 14-year-old in an algebra class should be able to get it, NCI Director Ned Sharpless said to the National Cancer Advisory Board Feb. 12.

If NCI wishes to keep the grantees’ success rates at the current level, the size of some research grants will have to be trimmed. Boom. That’s it.

At the NCAB meeting, Sharpless continued to field questions about his recent decision to make adjustments to the institute’s budget in order to keep paylines from dropping.

“Our budget has also increased from 2009. Our budget has gone up to the tune of about $1 billion, or 20 percent. But, our number of applications has increased by 60 percent,” Sharpless said in his report to members of at a meeting Feb. 12. “So, one can use eighth-grade algebra to understand, if the numerator and denominator increase at different rates, what will eventually happen to paylines.”

The number of grant applications NCI is getting these days is on the rise, presumably propelled by the overall increases in funding and a new optimism about opportunities in the field. With fiscal pressures intensifying, something has to give, and Sharpless recently decided to trim the institute’s intramural spending in order to maintain the paylines at the current level.

Also, NCI leadership changed the funding policy reduction to competing new and renewing grants (Type 1s and Type 2s) by 2 percent, compared to FY 2018. Last year, the reduction was … Continue reading Sharpless: Please stay in oncology, don’t stop sending good research ideas to NCI

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