NIH Cuts Back On New And Competitive Grants

Competition for research funds will heat up, but most scientists sat that NIH is making the right decision. WASHINGTON, D.C.--The National Institutes of Health have long struggled with a painful dilemma. Given finite dollars, how can a funding agency manage to reward proven investigators while still nurturing fresh talent? In recent years, NIH's answer has been to trim existing grants in order to fund more new scientists. But in a recent major change in policy, NIH has decided to sharply redu

Jeffrey Mervis
Feb 5, 1989
Competition for research funds will heat up, but most scientists sat that NIH is making the right decision.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The National Institutes of Health have long struggled with a painful dilemma. Given finite dollars, how can a funding agency manage to reward proven investigators while still nurturing fresh talent? In recent years, NIH's answer has been to trim existing grants in order to fund more new scientists. But in a recent major change in policy, NIH has decided to sharply reduce the number of new, competing grants - and use the money to boost existing awards.

The decision, predictably, is a mixed blessing for scientists. Joe Coulter of the University of Iowa, for example, whose current NIH grant had been cut by 10% in each of the past two years, may eventually be able to stop dipping into state funds to pay the stipends of two of his postdocs. Researchers...