If You Ruled the NIH, How Would You Fund the Most Research Possible?

Sally Rockey invites the extramural community to chime in on what the NIH should do to best manage its dwindling funds. She points us to a nice set of slides that lay out how various scenarios would impact the number of awards and success rate (includes links to data tables). In fact, there are cool interactive slides that let you turn the knob on award distribution by size ($250K vs $1M) and the number of RPG awards per PI to see how the number of additional awards, the success rate, and the average award size are affected. You can also see the percentage of funded PIs by their total RPG award dollars (e.g., 12% of NIH-funded PIs receive $1M+ in RPG support, comprising 40% of the NIH RPG budget).

The scenarios covered in the NIH slides lay out the impact of:

  • Reducing or limiting size of awards
  • Limiting number of awards held by an PI
  • Limiting the amount of funds an PI can hold
  • Limiting salaries of PIs

Comments thus far expand the discussion to renegotiating a lower and uniform indirect cost (F&A) rate (this would need to be done at a federal rather than NIH level, though); funding departments directly & uniformly (they redistribute the dollars as they see fit); and limiting the number of 100%-grant funded PIs (soft-money positions).

You can post comments at Rock Talk or send your thoughts to the electronic suggestion box.


  1. Eli Rabett said

    This is actually fairly simple. Universities have to pay their faculty, not depend on NIH grants to do same. Size of groups has to be restricted, esp. at the R1s.

  2. Option #5: Train scientists to manage money.

    How can they be expected to efficiently manage $100,000’s if they are not trained in grad school about finance and money management?

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