FoR joins call for NIH to reconsider dropping capping individual investigators: petition and statement

FoR joins call for NIH to reconsider dropping capping individual investigators: petition and statement

FoR recently posted a statement supporting the National Institutes of Health proposal to put a cap on the level of funding that individual investigators can be awarded from NIH. That proposal was dropped on June 8th at the Advisory Council to the Director’s meeting. We however are joining with investigators across all career stages to urge NIH to reopen discussion about capping funding of individual investigators, through a petition you can sign at Change.org: “Cap NIH funding for individual Investigators to save the future of biomedical science” We again ask you to get in touch with NIH about this issue, as detailed in the statement below, which you can also find in PDF format here:   Future of Research calls on the NIH to reconsider abandoning its plans to cap NIH funding for individual investigators   On June 7th, 2017, Future of Research (FoR) issued a statement (https://tinyurl.com/yahvps79) supporting the National Institutes of Health’s proposal to limit grant support by implementing the Grant Support Index (GSI). On June 8th, 2017, at the Advisory Council to the Director, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins announced that the cap proposal would be dropped in favor of the Next Generation Researcher’s Initiative (https://tinyurl.com/ydaxm3b4), which instead will call for reassignment of funds at each individual institutes towards early and mid-career investigators. Juan Pablo Ruiz, a graduate student at NIH, expressed the junior research community’s disappointment in the discussion (see https://tinyurl.com/y8usocwp from 4:11:54 to 4:23:38).   We are extremely disappointed at the sudden abandonment of discussion of the proposed cap on funding. Despite assurances to the contrary, it appears that the concerns of a small...
Future of Research issues statement in support of the NIH Grant Support Index

Future of Research issues statement in support of the NIH Grant Support Index

As described in our recent post, the National Institutes of Health have proposed a cap on the level of funding that individual investigators can be awarded from NIH. In “New NIH Approach to Grant Funding Aimed at Optimizing Stewardship of Taxpayer Dollars“, NIH Director Francis Collins announced the move in an attempt to redress imbalances with funding, and to particularly focus on early- and mid-career investigators.   We have asked you to get in touch with NIH about your opinions on the GSI, and have issued a statement ourselves below in support of the proposed measures, which you can also find in PDF format here:   Overview The Board of Directors of Future of Research (FoR) wish to express our support for the National Institutes of Health’s proposal to limit grant support by implementing the Grant Support Index (GSI): https://www.nih.gov/about-nih/who-we-are/nih-director/statements/new-nih-approach-grant-funding-aimed-optimizing-stewardship-taxpayer-dollars.   We applaud the NIH for using data to shape its policies on the distribution of limited research dollars.  There is ample evidence of diminishing returns as a single lab continues to receive additional funding.  The number of principal investigators who would be affected by the proposed cap is dwarfed by the number of additional awards that could be more efficiently distributed across NIH investigators.  As pointed out in a recent analysis of the distribution of R01s, certain institutions and investigators may be more affected than others.  Investigators and institutions are likely to be biased in the face of a potential loss of funding  – a measure that institutions erroneously use as a metric of their success – and as roughly 65% of NIH-funded investigators have the equivalent of one R01...
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...
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...
The Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Academies: New Study Begins

The Next Generation Researchers Initiative at the National Academies: New Study Begins

A new study commenced work at the start of 2017: the “Next Generation Researchers Initiative,” directed by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce at the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine.   The study originated in a bill introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and has been mandated by Congress in both the 2016 Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. The study is aimed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), members of Congress, institutional administrators and faculty, industry, foundations and professional associations: specifically, to the Office of the Director at NIH, the Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.   The project scope is (taken from the National Academies Current Projects page):   “An ad hoc committee overseen by the Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW), in collaboration with COSEMPUP, BOSE, and HMD, will conduct a study that examines the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, including the full range of health sciences supported by the NIH. The study will examine evidence-based programs and policies that can reduce barriers to, and create more opportunities for, successful transitions to independent research careers. It will also examine factors that influence the stability and sustainability of the early stages of independent research careers. The study will include: • An evaluation of the barriers that...
NIH releases new postdoctoral stipend levels

NIH releases new postdoctoral stipend levels

The NIH has released their “Projected FY 2017 Stipend Levels for Postdoctoral Trainees and Fellows on Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards (NRSA)“. These levels bring the NRSA levels in line with the new salary minimum for overtime exemption that comes into effect on Dec 1st, 2016.   FoR previously issued a statement about it position on the effects of the Fair Labor Standards Act here. As stated in “NIH sets new postdoc stipend levels” published today in Science Careers, FoR believes that the new salary minimum is a good start, but still falls short of the minimum recommended by multiple consortia.   A graphical representation of the stipend levels for 2016 and 2017 is depicted in Drugmonkey’s blogpost, “Projected NRSA salary scale for FY2017“. As you can see from the graph, the NRSA minimum is set much higher for years 0 and 1 – to account for the new federal legislation – but shows little change from years 2-7 (or more). The previous linear salary progression is now essentially static for the first years of postdoctoral employment, albeit at a higher level than currently, before increasing in accordance with the 2016 trend.   There is much discussion about the effects and reasoning for not simply raising all salaries across the range by the same amount as the Year 0 increase, to give a similar linear trend to 2016, shifted higher. It will also be interesting to see what consequences this has for hiring postdocs at different stages of postdoctoral training.   However, what should not be forgotten is that these levels are mandated only for NRSA awards. The majority of postdocs...