The National Institutes of Health (NIH) extramural research Chief Sally Rockey announced on her blog last week the success rate for research grants in 2011, and it wasn’t a pretty picture. At just 18 percent, it’s the lowest the agency has ever seen, down 3 percent from the previous year. Among the factors involved in the drop are increased competition—it was a record year for the NIH with a total of 49,592 research grant proposals received, 8 percent more than 2010—and tighter budget, ScienceInsider reported.
One of the most noticeable differences in the NIH’s grant stats last year was the 17 percent rise in proposals for short-term R21 grants. By comparison, applications for R01 grants, the more common individual investigator-initiated grants, increased by just 3 percent, though NIH funded fewer R01s than it did in 2010, due to both the increased size of individual awards and a 1 percent budget cut for this grant type. Also playing into the overall drop in funding rates is the fact that more R01 money than usual—$189 million more, according to Rockey—belonged to grants that had already been awarded, which last 3 to 5 years.
"This demonstrates how carefully we need to manage our funds since funding decisions in any one year have implications for the out years," Rockey wrote on her blog.