The NIH need to hear from YOU about the Grant Support Index

The NIH need to hear from YOU about the Grant Support Index

On June 8th and 9th the National Institutes of Health Advisory Council to the Director will meet. On the afternoon of the first day, the Grant Support Index (GSI, which is being used with reference to the proposed cap on NIH funding), will be discussed. Given the intense debate about the new NIH grant cap proposed that occurred at the NIH Council of Councils recently it is very important to make sure that all voices are heard in this discussion.   The voices that the NIH are most likely to hear from on these issues are the ones with the largest megaphones, including the very people who may already are above the cap, and the few institutions that support large numbers of these investigators. We at Future of Research think it is vitally important that NIH hears from all NIH-funded, or potentially NIH-funded, investigators and researchers, including early career researchers. We are asking you to let the NIH know what you think in at least one, but preferably ALL, of the following ways, before June 8:   Send a letter (we provide a template below which you are free to edit as you see fit) to: Francis Collins: francis.collins[at]nih.gov Lawrence Tabak: lawrence.tabak[at]nih.gov Michael Lauer: michael.lauer[at]nih.gov The director of your specific institute(s), if applicable Comment on the NIH blog post. Send comments to info[at]futureofresearch.org if you think there are points we should consider for the statement we are drafting. If you are in DC June 8th, consider attending the open session at the Advisory Council to the Director’s meeting to express your opinion. The GSI will be discussed at 1pm on Thursday June 8th (and it is...
Which institutions may be hardest hit by the proposed NIH funding cap?

Which institutions may be hardest hit by the proposed NIH funding cap?

At the recent NIH Council of Councils (viewable in this webcast), Michael Lauer presented the proposed cap on the NIH grants using the Grant Support Index (GSI) (see our previous post on the cap) and the presentation was followed by an active discussion. The talk begins at 1 hour 23, and the subsequent discussion at 1 hour 57 minutes. The discussion highlights that the cap is constantly being revised, and currently now may affect only 3% of researchers, rather than the 6% suggested earlier. As Lauer points out, 65-70% of NIH-funded investigators are on one R01 or less.   Jonathan Epstein, at the University of Pennsylvania, claimed that 70 investigators – he claims their best investigators – at University of Pennsylvania were affected by the proposed cap. Epstein also claimed that two PIs are even moving overseas, discouraged by this proposed move. Epstein also asks, “How many potential Einsteins do we have to lose in favor of this ‘equality for all’ approach that many of us will believe will favor mediocrity in science?”   Epstein points out that other things may affect this distribution of funds, such as where in the country investigators are located. So, which institutions are likely to be affected by the cap?   Chris Pickett, from Rescuing Biomedical Research, has kindly passed along data gathered from NIH RePORTer. He downloaded all active projects data, sorted by activity code (R01, R21, etc) and inserted point totals for each grant based on Table 1 from the preprint, “Marginal Returns and Levels of Research Grant Support among Scientists Supported by the National Institutes of Health“, by Michael Lauer et al. to associate...
Needed: Flexible Mentors in Science

Needed: Flexible Mentors in Science

This post originally appeared on the GCC Carpe Careers blog published on the Inside Higher Ed website on May 1, 2017. Re-posting with permission from Inside Higher Ed. Adriana Bankston provides advice for how research scientists can positively influence the personal and professional development of the trainees who work in their labs. I’ve written a lot of articles about what junior scientists can do to navigate their own career transitions, but I would now like to urge mentors to help and support them in those endeavors. In a recent Open Forum discussion on graduate education at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, it became clear that research faculty are key to the future of science. They have the single most important influence on a trainee’s personal and professional development. Recognizing the needs of your trainees, and how they may differ depending on each person’s goals, is crucial to ensuring success — both during training and later in your trainees’ lives. Below, I would like to offer some specific advice on being a flexible mentor in science today. Train the trainees. This point seems obvious, yet it is often overlooked, given that the culture of academe is based on the number of high-impact publications in which one’s research is published. Mentors thus rightly demand this from trainees so that they can stay afloat in science today. But let’s not forget that before they can publish something of value from your lab, trainees first need to be trained in how to perform high-quality research. Remember that the ability of your trainees to go out into the world and...
Enhancing the connections between institutions and professional societies in advancing postdoctoral training

Enhancing the connections between institutions and professional societies in advancing postdoctoral training

This post was originally published on the Genetics Society of America (GSA) blog ‘Genes to Genomes’ on May 15, 2017. Re-posting with permission from GSA. This post was co-written by Future of Research activists Adriana Bankston and Sonia Hall. Postdocs often lack the professional development opportunities they need. Many stakeholders are working to address this critical gap, including the academic, non-profit, private, and government sectors. While postdocs benefit from the great variety of resources and providers, it is important to minimize duplication of efforts. To maximize the contributions of all invested groups, the Genetics Society of America and the Future of Research collaborated to organize a workshop for the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting: “Enhancing the Connections Between Institutions and Professional Societies in Advancing Postdoctoral Training.” Our goal was to bring together the various stakeholders to map out a collaborative framework to provide the best professional development for trainees. The session included a panel discussion and five concurrent breakout sessions. The panel discussion revealed how different groups are currently enhancing postdoctoral training. Career development professionals have carefully developed, tested, and evaluated a variety of programs. They have invested substantial time and effort in understanding the needs and interests of their local communities. At the same time, professional organizations are increasingly offering career and professional development training at regional and national conferences, as well as through online webinars. The overlap between these groups provides an opportunity to begin working together to maximize the investment that career development professionals have made in developing quality programming. Because professional societies work at the intersection of the academic, private, government, and non-profit sectors, they...
Tracking Postdoc Trends and Outcomes at the NIH: a Talk by Dr. P. Kay Lund

Tracking Postdoc Trends and Outcomes at the NIH: a Talk by Dr. P. Kay Lund

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston, who moderated this plenary session at the 2017 NPA meeting.   In a recent post, we summarized the talk given by Dr. Nancy Calvin-Naylor in one of the plenary sessions at the 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Annual Meeting entitled “Data driven approaches to tracking postdocs.” The second of the two main speakers in this session was Dr. P. Kay Lund, Director of the Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW) at the National Institutes of Health.   What is the mission of the DBRW? Dr. P. Kay Lund began her talk entitled “Tracking postdoc trends and outcomes at the NIH” by describing the mission and structure of the Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW). The mission of the DBRW is develop, maintain, enhance and assess NIH policies and programs that support innovative research training, career development and diversity of the biomedical research workforce. To achieve these goals DBRW advises trans-NIH on policy and programs for training and career development, and conducts research and economic analyses related to biomedical research workforce and the associated career options and labor market.   NIH trends in training of postdoctoral researchers and early faculty One of the goals of the DBRW is to examine the trends in training and career development support for postdoctorates and early faculty according to NIH data from 1998-2015. For training purposes, the number of postdoctoral training grant appointments slightly decreased since 2011, whereas the number of individual fellowships remained relatively the same. In terms of career development, there has been an increase in individual career development awards...