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...
FoR response to NIGMS RFI on Modernizing Graduate Education

FoR response to NIGMS RFI on Modernizing Graduate Education

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on how to catalyze the modernization of biomedical graduate education. You can read the RFI here.   The Board of Directors at FoR has responded to the RFI and as part of our commitment to transparency, has also posted the response publicly.   You can read the response in: Future of Research Response to NIGMS Request for Information (RFI): Strategies for Modernizing Biomedical Graduate Education (NOT-GM-16-109)...
Effects of an Aging Scientific Workforce on Funding Success: Interview with Labor Economist Misty Heggeness

Effects of an Aging Scientific Workforce on Funding Success: Interview with Labor Economist Misty Heggeness

  This new paper, “Policy Implications of Aging in the NIH-Funded Workforce,” has people talking again about the aging biomedical workforce. The authors’ aim was to investigate how this “graying” population is affecting funding of science in the U.S. A key finding was that older scientists do not have a greater individual advantage than younger investigators, but that there are just more of them and so older scientists, as a group, receive more funding than younger investigators. However in some of the reporting of the story, such as, “Why Don’t Young Scientists Get More Grants? Often They Don’t Apply,” there seemed to be an implication that young researchers choose not to apply, whereas in fact it is likely the case that there are fewer young investigators than in the past. To find out more, I spoke to the lead author of the paper, Misty Heggeness, previously a labor economist at the Division of the Biomedical Research Workforce at NIH, and now with the U.S. Census Bureau.     What question(s) were you looking to answer with this research?   I am an economist, but I trained with demographers. When I came to NIH, there was a general anecdotal opinion in the community that the average age of NIH R01-Equivalent Principal Investigators was increasing because those with less experience (usually younger) were getting funded less because funding was harder to attain. The question we were looking to answer is whether or not older principal investigators had higher funding rates than their younger peers.   There seems to be some confusion about the term ‘workforce’ in the paper, and in the Supplementary Materials...