Advertisement

NIH head fields grant questions

NIH is nearing the end of a linkurl:review;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53412/ of the peer review facet of their granting process, and this Friday (Dec. 7) NIH director Elias Zerhouni will linkurl:meet;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53750/ with his Advisory Committee to the Director to discuss, among other things, the NIH grant peer review process. This afternoon (Dec. 4), Zerhouni took the discussion to the internet in a live chat session with researchers across the

By | December 5, 2007

NIH is nearing the end of a linkurl:review;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53412/ of the peer review facet of their granting process, and this Friday (Dec. 7) NIH director Elias Zerhouni will linkurl:meet;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53750/ with his Advisory Committee to the Director to discuss, among other things, the NIH grant peer review process. This afternoon (Dec. 4), Zerhouni took the discussion to the internet in a live chat session with researchers across the nation, hosted on the __The Chronicle of Higher Education__'s linkurl:website.;http://chronicle.com/live/2007/12/zerhouni/chat.php3 The first question Zerhouni tackled was from James O'Rourke of the University of Connecticut Health Center, who asked: "Why cannot more grants for smaller amounts be awarded for innovative start-up projects, to keep alive ideas that need time to show promise?" Zerhouni responded, writing, "We are indeed making more linkurl:grants;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53456/ for Innovative projects and to keep alive ideas that need time," citing the fact that about 470 scientists were funded by New Innovator Awards, NIH Director Bridge Awards, and Pathway to Independence grants this year. Tim Leshan of Brown University asked Zerhouni about the fate of young researchers seeking NIH support. According to NIH data, only 15 percent of applicants under age 40 received NIH grants in 2006. "What can be done to ensure we don't lose a whole generation of scientists?" wrote Leshan. "We have set a goal of no less than 1523 new investigators to be funded per year which [is] the average of the past five years and we achieved 1608 in 2007," Zerhouni responded. "We need to continue to encourage our early career scientists across the board and we are doing so within the budgetary constraints we have." Later in the discussion, Simo Arredouani of Harvard University returned to the topic of NIH's treatment of young investigators, this time asking the director about postdocs. "How can a postdoc live on $30K/year in a city like Boston for example?" Arredouani asked. "Is there a will at NIH to stop this abuse?" "NIH has increased post docs salaries in the past five years and publishes them as guidelines for institutions," Zerhouni wrote, urging Arredouani to visit the NIH linkurl:website;http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-07-057.html where, a starting postdoc salary for 2007 is listed as $36,996. Some questioners probed Zerhouni on the integrity of the peer review itself. Faith Davis of the Ordway Research Institute in Albany, New York, asked, "Why do reviewers not research some of the material they are asked to judge?" suggesting that some reviewers have built-in biases or are not knowledgeable in the materials they review. Zerhouni replied that Davis' comments were some of the most common received by the agency. He then asked her to "stay tuned" as the NIH attempts to improve its granting process.
Advertisement

Follow The Scientist

icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube
Advertisement

Stay Connected with The Scientist

  • icon-facebook The Scientist Magazine
  • icon-facebook The Scientist Careers
  • icon-facebook Neuroscience Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Genetic Research Techniques
  • icon-facebook Cell Culture Techniques
  • icon-facebook Microbiology and Immunology
  • icon-facebook Cancer Research and Technology
  • icon-facebook Stem Cell and Regenerative Science
Advertisement
Advertisement
Life Technologies