According to a new policy announced this week (August 20) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists receiving more than $1 million in direct NIH grant funds each year will be more carefully reviewed when they submit new proposals. The policy is a variation on one instituted in May that initiated an additional layer of review for researchers with $1.5 million or more in total annual funding. This extra scrutiny is designed to avoid overlap from ongoing research and stretch the flat NIH budget as far as possible.
The switch from $1.5 million in total funding to $1 million in direct grant funding stems from the complaint that indirect costs vary by institution. The change adds some 19 grants to the list of 70 or so that will receive an extra look should they pass initial rounds of review in September, according to NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Sally Rockey’s blog Rock Talk. But even with the increase in doubly-reviewed grants, the new pool still makes up less than 1 percent of all NIH proposals. Furthermore, the agency has yet to enact a strict funding cap, so how much the new policy will affect the overall funding distribution is unclear.
"It's not necessarily going to solve all our problems,” Howard Garrison of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology told ScienceInsider. “But people felt it was an appropriate step."