High risk NIH grants announced

Forty-seven researchers -- including 31 early career investigators -- will split a pot of $138 million dollars for research recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as bold and potentially transformative. The NIH Director's Pioneer and New Innovator Awards aim to fund high risk-high reward projects that tend to get passed over during the linkurl:peer-review selection;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54893/ for NIH R01 grants. "There's a tendency for investment early in

By | September 22, 2008

Forty-seven researchers -- including 31 early career investigators -- will split a pot of $138 million dollars for research recognized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as bold and potentially transformative. The NIH Director's Pioneer and New Innovator Awards aim to fund high risk-high reward projects that tend to get passed over during the linkurl:peer-review selection;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54893/ for NIH R01 grants. "There's a tendency for investment early in career to be very conservative ... and there's some wisdom in the generic advice about not being too bold, to establish [one's career]," said Jeremy Berg, director of National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), the institute overseeing the two grants. "[With these awards] we are trying to ... give innovative young scientists a chance to do their thing." Pioneer Awards were open to scientists at all career levels, while New Innovator Awards were reserved for researchers who have not yet received R01 or equivalent NIH grants and fall within 10 years of the completion of doctorate or clinical training, Berg explained. Pioneer Award winners will receive each $2.5 million in direct costs over five years and New Innovators will receive $1.5 million over the same time period. Please click following links for a list of recent linkurl:Pioneer;http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/pioneer/Recipients08.aspx and linkurl:New Innovator Award;http://grants.nih.gov/grants/new_investigators/innovator_award/fy2008_awards.htm recipients. "It is a real concern of all of us at NIH that early stage investment tends to suffer more when linkurl:budgets get constrained,";http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/49077/ Berg said. linkurl:Christy Haynes,;http://www.chem.umn.edu/groups/haynes/index.html assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Minnesota and recipient of a New Innovator Award, said she will use her grant money to create an in vitro model of the immune system using a microfluidic chip. "I think the NIH recognizes if you take a risk on a small number of people, you could get a big pay-off," she said. Other award recipients included: linkurl:Aaron Gitler,;http://gitlerlab.googlepages.com/ an assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and New Innovator Award recipient, studies protein misfolding in the yeast model system Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Gitler plans to use this model to study the mechanisms contributing to protein misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases. linkurl:Bruce Hay,;http://www.its.caltech.edu/~haylab/ associate professor of biology at the California Institute of Technology and Pioneer Award Recipient, works with genetic methods to manipulate genetics of wild populations. Hay plans to develop malaria-resistant mosquitoes capable of replicating quickly in the wild. September 22: This post has been updated from a previous version.
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Comments

Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 85

September 22, 2008

I would be very interested to see the complete list of winners. Why just select a couple to highlight? Why not list them all?
Avatar of: Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans

Posts: 2

September 22, 2008

Thank you for your comment. I've added links to the complete lists of the 2008 NIH Director's Pioneer and New Innovator Award winners.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 85

September 23, 2008

Thank you very much for incorporating the link.
Avatar of: DAVID RAY

DAVID RAY

Posts: 3

September 24, 2008

This scheme to support young researchers is to be commended. NIH is right to recognise that the heavy hand of peer review has come to limit the scope of what scientists starting their careers can achieve, especially when overall funding is tight. But in supporting high risk derivative research of the type exemplified here NIH has not fully heeded the Wizard?s warning (The Scientist 25 August 2004). In describing these research projects as derivative I do not intend to be pejorative. They represent imaginative mainstream proposals. But they are founded in our current understanding and to describe them as potentially transformative is misleading or complacent, perhaps dangerously so. Why: because we risk being side tracked from addressing seriously the current dearth of transformative research. The loss of our intellectual seed corn is highlighted by Don Braben in his excellent book Scientific Freedom: The Elixir of Civilization.

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