Challenges Continue to Mount at NIH

Although the dust has not settled as yet, the NIH has currently accepted more than 18K RC1 applications, with another 11K in the error correction queue. So, at least 20,000 Challenge Grants and perhaps close to my initial estimate of 30K way back when.

For comparison, CSR reviewed 27,360 R01s and 9,483 R21s in 2008.

Of course, while the number of RC1 applications in need of review continues to climb, the days available for review continues to dwindle, and the pool of reviewers has already been heavily tapped. For all of 2008, CSR used 16,000 reviewers (3,104 chartered, 12,136 ad hoc). If each RC1 is to be read by 3 reviewers … well, hello thousands more ad hoc reviewers. I guess at least all the newbies won’t be burdened by prior comfort with the old priority scoring system, and everyone will have the same tabula rasa in terms of how the 1-9 scores will be assigned.

Per the just released Extramural Nexus, CSR expects to engage 10K – 15K reviewers. Scores and summary statements should be available in August, and “while around 200 Challenge Grants will be funded by the NIH Office of the Director through the Common Fund and other monies, it is likely that an equal or greater number of projects will be funded by NIH Institutes and Centers.”

19 Comments »

  1. D said

    Funding 250-300 out of 20,000 apps….Not a very good success rate. A school could submit 300 and get maybe 3-5 funded. Of course, that just makes them more prestigious.

  2. Thankfully, I have not been tapped to review challenge grants. I am keeping my head down and hoping none of my SRO colleagues thinks of contacting me!

    So what’s my silence worth to you, Comrade? Actually, I think your number will come up soon enough on its own. – writedit

  3. whimple said

    I wonder how they’re going to get any volunteers to review grants with a 99% reject rate.

  4. Prefrontal said

    I have a very bad feeling that the NIH is going to receive 29,800 R01 applications in October as all the unlucky proposals get turned in for another go-round. This has the potential to seriously gum up the works for a while.

    My thoughts exactly. And then the need to chase down thousands of ARRA-funded PIs for reports every quarter will hamstring the program side as well. – writedit

  5. Neuro-conservative said

    Wow! Is your source official? Is this info public?

    Now we need to set up a betting pool for how many of these things are going to get funded (remember that 200 was just the minimum). I’ll say about 1500, for about a 5% payline. If they go for a 10% payline, that would still only commit ~$3B of the $10B total — still a possibility, however remote.

  6. pinus said

    I too fear that october will be a blood-bath for R01 submissions. I am hoping that July will be not horrible…although I am wishing I had another 3 months to firm up some preliminary data. stupid ARRA!

  7. I’ll say about 1500, for about a 5% payline.

    Not a chance. My guess is that the ICs will fund about another 200, for a total of 400.

  8. Neuro-conservative said

    NIMH is committing ~$45M/yr to Challenge Grants, which would be 90 grants for this IC alone.

    On the other hand, the equivalent NINDS page makes no commitment to funding any Challenge Grants beyond the 200 from the OD.

    I look at ICs like NIDDK and NEI that are not participating in the RC2 or the P30 as likely to fund a lot of RC1s. They likewise do not give a number or dollar amount on their Website, but I’m not sure how else they’ll blow their ARRA wad otherwise. -writedit

  9. Some institutes (such as NINDS) have stated that they intend to spend the vast majority of their ARRA funds on two-year awards of scored–but unfunded–proposals, while others have stated that they intend to spend the vast majority of theirs on supplements to existing awards (such as NIDCD). No way are their going to be anywhere near 1500 challenge grants awarded.

    And my guess is that when the ICs that claim to intend to award a bunch of them actually see what slapped-together ill-thought-out garbage 99% of these challenge apps are, they will change their tune.

  10. BTW, in relation to NEI, one of my colleagues has told me that she has heard from her PO there that they intend to spend the vast majority of their ARRA wad on supplements to existing grants. The fact that they are not participating in RC2 suggests that they are skeptical to begin with about the value of this whole cockamamie “Challenge” concept to begin with.

    Great advances that overcome “challenges” in biomedical research are not made by identifying such challenges ahead of time and then “attacking” them. Rather, they are almost always made incidentally and fortuitously during the pursuit of ordinary science.

  11. BB said

    My PO at NCI would not return an inquiry about supplements. I was already asked if I could review RC2 grants this summer, as were other folk I know.

  12. D said

    CP said: “Great advances that overcome “challenges” in biomedical research are not made by identifying such challenges ahead of time and then “attacking” them.”

    So true, so true. But, it sounds much better when speaking to Congress than “Funding Excellent Random Science and Hope Something Useful Comes Out of It”

    BTW, did they ever publish the names of the folks who decided on these challenges?

  13. […] number of additional Challenge Grants that will be funded by individual institutes has been the subject of some discussion. Some have speculated that the individual institutes will fund ~1300 more, for a total of 1500, […]

  14. Neuro-conservative said

    Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I can imagine that NIH might raise the overall payline to at least 5% so that they don’t look foolish.

  15. D said

    If this had been realized a month ago maybe. I think most ICs have already decided how to spend their dollars. To make changes now would be…..difficult. But, stranger things have happened.

    I have heard that CSR might be reconsidering how they will do the review of these applications. I would suggest dumping the 2 stage editorial board review and do it all electronically via asynchronous discussions. That is, message boards. I don’t know where they will find the hotel rooms for 100 SEPS in the middle of Summer in Bethesda.

  16. BP said

    Odd, two of mine just made it through processing and assignment and they have been assigned to regular standing study sections. I thought these were being reviewed in SEPs.

    Very odd. Perhaps just the SROs of those sections? The RC1s have been or are being sent out for mail review now (due back early June). Unless, good grief, they’re adding some last-minute additions to the SRGs meeting in May and June? Nah. Must just be those SROs. – writedit

  17. Odd, two of mine just made it through processing and assignment and they have been assigned to regular standing study sections.

    You wrote two challenge grants?? HAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. […] Challenges Continue to Mount at NIH. Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship. 2009 May 5. […]

  19. […] Challenges Continue to Mount at NIH. Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship. 2009 May 5. […]

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