A New Paradigm for NIH Grants

Giving out smaller grants, but for larger periods of time, will fix a system in distress.

Nejat Düzgünes and Nejat Düzgünes
Aug 1, 2007
Credit: Mike Bentley
Credit: © Mike Bentley


Making Grants Go Further:
The Perils of Industrialization

The NIH grant funding system is in distress. The success rate for nonamended applications was less than 10% in 2005, 1 with the system overwhelmed by a large number of grant applications that are impossible to distinguish in terms of their significance and merit. Multiple resubmissions are common.

Although the NIH has introduced a new structure for review committees and some pilot changes, success rates have not improved. This crisis cannot be solved by tinkering with peer review, whose many problems I delineated in these pages eight years ago. 2 At the time, the NIH stated that it was seriously addressing these issues by emphasizing innovation, expediting the funding of recently reviewed grants, and improving study sections in its "Boundaries" process. Such minor changes have not improved the funding of biomedical research, and I therefore challenge the...


1. H.G. Mandel, E.S. Vesell, "Declines in funding of NIH R01 research grants," Science, 313:1383, 2006. 2. N. Düzgünes, "Science by consensus: Why the NIH grant review system must be changed," The Scientist, 13:13, April 12, 1999.