Balancing oversight

Last month, the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine;http://www.cirm.ca.gov/ (CIRM) linkurl:pulled 3 of the 76 SEED grants;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56148/ it had given in one of its very first rounds of funding due to inadequate progress -- a 4% revocation rate. On the flip side, the linkurl:National Institutes of Health;http://www.nih.gov/ (NIH), which funds nearly 10,000 research grants each year, says it hardly ever pulls basic research grants. What's the ri

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jan 25, 2010
Last month, the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine;http://www.cirm.ca.gov/ (CIRM) linkurl:pulled 3 of the 76 SEED grants;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56148/ it had given in one of its very first rounds of funding due to inadequate progress -- a 4% revocation rate. On the flip side, the linkurl:National Institutes of Health;http://www.nih.gov/ (NIH), which funds nearly 10,000 research grants each year, says it hardly ever pulls basic research grants. What's the right balance of oversight between giving out free money and thwarting scientific creativity?
Image: Wikimedia commons
On the one hand, science can be unpredictable -- adjusting to the curveballs an experiment may throw at an investigator is "how most discoveries are made, [and] we wouldn't want to squelch that creativity by [excessively] overseeing grants," said linkurl:Stuart Lipton;http://www.burnham.org/default.asp?contentID=242 of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. "On the other hand, [the NIH] wants to make sure you do the work that's in the general purvey to what...
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