Please read and comment on the new Grants Support Index (GSI) regulations.

The NIH recently released its recommendations on a new cap on research grants. The announcement by the NIH director Francis Collins can be read here (New NIH Approach to Grant Funding Aimed at Optimizing Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars) while a website by the Deputy Director for Extramural Research Michael Lauer – Open Mike – can be found here.

One of the regulation’s intents – increased funding of junior investigators – is laudable. Unfortunately, the new regulations in their current form are objectionable for a number of reasons: I) they are based on flawed analyses and interpretation of NIH data, ii) they effectively kill collaborations, the fabric of science, iii) they will dis-incentivize the most successful scientists and labs, iv) more scientists (esp. younger ones) will spend less time doing research and more time searching for alternative funding sources and iv) there will be many other unintended consequences. In short, the new regulations will impact:

  • Trainees: would be unfairly targeted because the regulations disincentive scientists as serving as Program Directors on training grants and taking even more time away to make up for lost funding
  • Junior staff and faculty: will probably be the hardest hit because current funding into main labs supports their salary and research. This is exactly the opposite of the new regulation’s intent
  • Main labs and those doing translational research: usually require substantial infrastructure needs necessitating funding beyond the 3 RO1 level.
  • Institutions: are already being squeezed by multiple efforts (increasing real estate and operational costs, declining clinical revenues, political efforts to reduce overhead among others).

There are several alternative ways to fix the funding crisis for junior investigators (e.g. increasing the funding pool for junior investigators, allocating recent NIH increases to grants for junior investigators, limiting RFA’s to junior investigators, curtailing wasteful spending, applying rules to the intramural program, others). Please make your voices heard! Send your comments to the NIH.

Here are additional blogs and news articles on the issue:

The new NIH ‘Rule of 21’ Threatens to Give Up on American Preeminence in Biomedical Research Based on a Flawed Concept and Flawed Analysis
The Nih Grant Support Index: Help For Young Scientists Or Collaboration-Killer?
Wall Street Journal and Politico Ad
Full NIH Recommendation Letter with Signatories
NIH scales back plan to curb support for big labs after hearing concerns
NIGMS Council Open Session – May 2017
Letter from Harvard regarding the NIH-GSI proposal
Proposed NIH Grant Cap Criticized

Update on NIH GSI: Introducing the Next Generation Researchers Initiative
NIH’s Next Generation Researchers Initiative

Additional funding cuts

The Administration is proposing a 22% cut to NIH funding for FY18 (nearly 7.2 billion). Cuts of this significance will be detrimental to the research community across the board.