There is a crisis in American biomedical research. Severe competition for federal research funding jeopardizes the careers of both new and established scientists. The fundamental problem is not the amount of government funding, but rather the unrestricted expansion of the research enterprise. With every funding increase, deans' eyes widen, buildings sprout, and the biomedical establishment expands well beyond what the increase can sustain. The net result is diminishing support per investigator, and an inexorable downward spiral of the attractiveness of biomedical research as a career.

Image: Creative commons, Polylerus
We scientists can do better for ourselves, our trainees, and the biomedical research enterprise itself, which is an important contributor to the physical and economic health of our nation.Ending the boom-bust cycle of NIH funding requires rationally planning the number of NIH-supported investigators and trainees. Here, I suggest extending the model of the NIH intramural funding system to the entire NIH...
in situfundablei.e.i.e.Jonathan Yewdell is the chief of the Cellular Biology Section at the Laboratory of Viral Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The views in this essay are strictly the personal opinions of the author, and do not reflect official government policies or opinions. For a longer version of this essay, please email the author (

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