NIH Grants Funding Drops

The success rate of the government agency's grant applications has hit an all-time low.

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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Oct 17, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, ILDAR SAGDEJEV

Grant proposals submitted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are less likely to be funded than ever before, according to a sneak peak at this year’s success rates obtained by ScienceInsider last week. According to the new estimate put out by the NIH’s Office of Extramural Research (OER), the fiscal year that ended on September 30 saw the funding of just 17.4 percent of research grant applications—a historic low, according to a comment from NIH Director Francis Collins.

The numbers are still “preliminary,” and may rebound slightly in the final release of the data next month, OER chief Sally Rockey told ScienceInsider. Still, it’s a significant drop from the 32 percent of grants the agency was funding around the turn of the millennium, and the first time in NIH history that the success rate has dipped below 20 percent. And the drop in...

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