A letter in Science from H. George Mandel (GWU) and Elliot Vesell (PSU) starkly lays out data showing the decline of R01 funding.
From 2000 to 2007, the success rate for new Type 1 applications dropped from 20.3% to 7.2%. The average award per R01 looks to have dropped from $3.38M to $2.69M. For individual institutes, they report new application success rates of 5% for NCI and NIAID and 3% for NINDS. Oof.
For Type 2s in this same period, success rate halved from 53.0% to 25.2%, with the award amount declining from $3.03M to $2.44M. The authors note that “For renewal applications, the decline means discontinuation of 75% of ongoing programs.” What a colossal waste of tax-payer investment.
Now, these are rates for new (A0) applications. The authors note that:
For FY2007, first-time and second-time revisions have provided funding for an additional 1573 and 1272 grants, and $321.1 and $470.5 millions for new grants. For Type-2 amended applications, these numbers are 932 and 626, and $352.5 and $228.3 millions, respectively.
It will be interesting to see how the numbers shake out when the A2 falls off the table and other peer review and application policy changes become fully implemented. Still, I think Neuro-conservative has it right.
Mandel and Vesell also examined R01 funding as a proportion of total NIH funding and of course found a similar downward trend:
Since FY2000, R01 funding has suffered compared with overall funding, so that by FY2007 the deficiency reached almost $1.2 billion. Rectification of this progressive decline in R01 funding would provide about 3200 additional research grants.
The next NIH Director will have some very hard choices to make, and one hopes the maintenance (restoration) of the R01 mechanism as the foundation of biomedical research in the US will be among his or her priorities, if need be at the expense of a few plush rest stops on the Roadmap.
This particular issue of Science, Clinical Trials and Tribulations, also has articles on the spiraling (upward) costs of conducting clinical trials, the ethical and scientific concerns of conducting trials overseas, the conduct of trials to promote rather than test drugs, moves to make clinical trial data more widely available, the gains of women enrollment in clinical research, and the twists & turns of cholesterol research as a cautionary tale. Also of interest may be an editorial on the misuse of the impact factor and a story about a U Wash program to teach bioethics in secondary school classrooms.