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...
Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Being part of Future of Research, I often wonder whether the issues we are facing in the scientific system in the U.S. also exist elsewhere in the world. Although I grew up in Eastern Europe, most of my research experiences have been in laboratories across the U.S. This has definitely given me a great variety of experiences and perspectives. But, as I’ve recently witnessed in the March for Science events, science is indeed global and most likely we all face the same issues and can learn from each other.   Very recently, I had the great chance of remotely attending the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting, entitled “A pan-European Scientists’ Community: Promoting an Open Science in an Open World“, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, and was introduced here. The main goal of this meeting was to foster the creation of a large pan-European community of citizen-scientists supporting the new social contract between science and society. The meeting was divided into 3 areas: 1) initiatives from grassroots organizations and organizers of various European “March for Science” marches; 2) a discussion of citizen science projects/engaging the public with science and 3) open science and broader issues in the scientific enterprise. The Future of Research Executive Director Gary McDowell gave a brief talk and participated in the debate in the final session.   Common themes emerged throughout this meeting, which are great reminders of how science is done or should be done in the future, not just in Europe, but everywhere in the world. To some extent,...
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...
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...
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...