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NIH stimulus to fund old grants

Rather than funding new grants, the NIH's Office of the Director will spend the vast majority of its $8.2 billion stimulus check to finance grants that have already been reviewed and to supplement existing grants. A smaller sliver -- some $100 million to $200 million -- will fund new two-year "challenge grants," which will support cutting-edge short projects, and will require researchers to report the number of jobs created or preserved by the grant to show that the money is boosting local econ

By | February 19, 2009

Rather than funding new grants, the NIH's Office of the Director will spend the vast majority of its $8.2 billion stimulus check to finance grants that have already been reviewed and to supplement existing grants. A smaller sliver -- some $100 million to $200 million -- will fund new two-year "challenge grants," which will support cutting-edge short projects, and will require researchers to report the number of jobs created or preserved by the grant to show that the money is boosting local economies. A new Request For Applications (RFA) is expected to be issued in the coming week or two. The NIH will also consider the geographic distribution of the grants it gives in order to target regions where the economy is especially faltering, the NIH's acting director linkurl:Raynard Kington;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/index.htm said at a news conference yesterday, according to__ linkurl:ScienceInsider.;http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/02/nih-grant-pipel.html __Because the NIH needs to invest the stimulus money within two years, it is opting not to issue wide calls for new applications. Rather, it hopes that by backing applications already in the funding queue or injecting capital into existing research, it will be able to rapidly save and create jobs for postdocs, technicians and summer students, as well as finance the purchase of new equipment and other lab resources.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:NIH wins stimulus jackpot;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55418/
[12th February 2009]*linkurl:How to spend the NIH stimulus;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55413/
[11th February 2009]
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Comments

Avatar of: Gerard Harbison

Gerard Harbison

Posts: 2

February 19, 2009

Great. So instead of rewarding merit, funding will go to states based on political criteria.\n\nFeel the hope and change!\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

February 19, 2009

I don?t think spending 82% of these funds on grants that were already reviewed is an optimal situation. While a certain percentage of this money should go to grants that have already been reviewed we should take time to develop innovative solutions to promote long-term growth of science. Basically this allows established well funded labs to get more money and results in more of the same type of science, instead of being utilized to create more opportunities for young scientists to establish new labs with new ideas and new projects. While I am not currently seeking a job, many of my friends have been unsuccessful at landing academic jobs with multiple first-author Cell, Mol. Cell caliber papers. Just making large labs larger is detrimental to science and the plight of the postdoc. Young scientists are better-trained working one-on-one with up and coming young PIS full of energy as opposed to just being another number in a large academic factory style lab. This will create jobs for postdocs (allowing them to move into academia), grad students that can now be better trained as post-docs working for newly minted young investigators in small groups, and finally for new grad students working for new PIs in smaller group setting. I have also read numerous other innovative approaches for the use of this money ? will scientists actually have a say or will the old-boy network of established PIs dominate the distribution of how these funds are spent?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

February 19, 2009

Gerard, it's quite clear you didn't even read the story. Rather, you opted to have a knee-jerk reactionary hissy fit based on intellectual dishonesty fit for Fox "News" and am hate radio. Grow up.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

February 19, 2009

Funding the old grants that were based more on politics rather than sound science would just end up being bailouts or porks.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

February 19, 2009

"Grants that were based more on politics"??\n\nAre you serious or just being foolish on purpose? And which grants would these be? Have you ever been to a study section? Have you ever been funded? Have you ever published a single article? Clearly the answer is "no" to all judging by your complete and utter obtuse and naive statements.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 19, 2009

While this likely will preserve the jobs in the short term, it will have a significant negative impact on development of young faculty. The likely long term consequence is loss of future potential, shift of talent to other areas and overall negative impact on the quality of science. \n\nA better approach would be to divide the funds in a more even fashion between the support for funded projects and new proposals in established areas of emphasis. This is not incompatible with giving higher priority to proposals from the areas of greater economic need - provided those proposals are of equal scientific caliber as the competing ones from the financially "stable" areas.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 19, 2009

From what we read, seems like the NIH is more interested in saving time in reviewing the grants that potentially could make an impact. Instead they take the easy way out and fund these existing grants! So the big groups with 5 grants are going to get another one or more supplemental money. How does that help science in the long run?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 125

February 19, 2009

"Are you serious or just being foolish on purpose? And which grants would these be? Have you ever been to a study section? Have you ever been funded? Have you ever published a single article? Clearly the answer is "no" to all judging by your complete and utter obtuse and naive statements." \n\nTell me that research establishments with the dominant hypotheses which are based more on their self-serving biases, rather than proven science, have not had more successes in securing the NIH grants, while suppressing the others that refute or offer alternative hypotheses. Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and, even, cancer are just main examples where controversies abound but the research that are based on the prevailing yet refuted hypotheses get funded overwhelmingly while others are rejected. All those things you mentioned ultimately don't mean a thing, if they don't result in significant and useful contributions towards science and medicine, except subsidzing the undeserved paychecks of the scientific politicians masquerading as research scientists.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 34

February 19, 2009

This is anonymous 02061972, not the other anonymouses who already posted. Just want to know if there are more stimuli coming.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

February 20, 2009

"it will be able to rapidly save and create jobs for postdocs, technicians and summer students"\n\nDoes this mean that more post-doc positions will open to help the "fat cats" on the top get more cheap labor or will the NIH realize that after 5 years, and only one increase in the NIH Gold standard pay scale, post-docs deserve better pay? There is a reason why the post-doc has been termed "educated slave labor." There are plenty of post-doc positions available, just not enough tenure positions. Those that are available require you to show a history of funding, which has been very difficult for the past 8 years due to the lack of insight to invest in science. The current trend is that the number of tenure positions is decreasing and the number of post-doctorate and instructor positions are on the rise.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 20, 2009

This is a big mistake, to save time they take a short cut that will hurt us much more in the long run. There are wonderful new ideas that are out there that may well prove the present dogmas wrong (remember DNA- RNA -Protein dogma, just a couple of decade ago until reverse transcriptase came along).\nPlease "DO NOT GO THROUGH IMPLEMENTING THIS IDEA" progress in science will suffer, it will just be more of the same ideas. \nA key element of science is generating a pool of fresh ideas do not poison this pool.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

February 20, 2009

"it will be able to rapidly save and create jobs for postdocs, technicians and summer students"\n\nAre you serious? This just means that the Univeristies will continue to rake in more money while the science takes a back seat.\n\nWhat about the small companies that employ a number of scientists that are struggling in this economy?
Avatar of: Bjoern Peters

Bjoern Peters

Posts: 1

February 20, 2009

Consider the context: The congress stimulus plan set a deadline for NIH to spend the allocated funds by fall 2010. Spending this quickly rules out several proposals made by the commenters. Specifically setting up new labs (and closing them in 2 years?)\n\nAlso: Two things are mentioned in the article, funding 'already reviewed grants' and 'existing grants'. I read the first to be reviewed grants that did not get funded because they were just below the (ridiculously tight) percentile of funding. Several of these are likely to come from 'young and innovative' PI's. \n\nFinally: Any completely new initiative with a thorough review process would likely not have been able to start paying out funds before the end of this year. This would go against the whole idea of a stimulus. Note again that the purpose of spending these funds is not to create the best possible science, but to spend quickly to revive the economy.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 23

February 20, 2009

Let's face it: folks who have 2-5 NIH grants already do not need a stimulus boost. Those who do not have any grant now need the help. It is very puzzling to me why NIH decides to spend the money on those who do not need. Yes, two years are short, but any money for any duration would be a HUGE help to most (>90%) folks who actually do good work in their fields. Is there any way to let NIH leaders know my view (and perhaps some of yours too)?\nIt is not too late to write to NIH directors or the congress to voice your objection to how NIH plans to spend the stimulus money.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

February 23, 2009

To the poster who criticized Gerald for his reasonable comment by attacking Fox News and AM radio....your hatred (more obvious than what you claim is on the AM airwaves) is blurring your ability to think clearly. His comment was a sharp criticism of the use of political geography for these awards. It was a completely reasonable point to make, yet you find it necessary to make some ridiculous left wing comment. Why do you find it necessary to denigrate somebody who disagrees with you? That is not very scientific (or mature) at all. As a reader of the Scientist you should relish the opportunity to debate openly. \n\nAs others have pointed out, there are serious constraints on this funding due to the timeline written into the bill. \n\nFunded investigators (and their projects) have, in essence, been vetted. Unfunded projects with scores of 150 would have been funded in the majority of the past 15 years. They have passed peer review. I have served on study sections, and while the systems is far from perfect, the projects with priority scores of 150 or lower are almost always superior to those that score 250 or higher. While I would love to see more of the challenge type grants, it is just not feasible given the timeline. \n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 14, 2009

Little funding for new Grants? Why???

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