Rubbing it in: Woo not “sweating to the NIH payline”

Last week, I wrote a quick and (semi-) facetious piece about how my colleague and I are sweating to the NIH payline, as we wait to find out whether our R01 application will be funded or not. With its being rumored that National Cancer Institute (NCI) paylines will be in the range of the 12th percentile, it’s going to be really, really tight whether we make it below that line or not, although my colleague’s being a new PI will certainly help.

Wouldn’t you know it that Writedit, the blogger whose excellent and highly useful blog, Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship I discovered and plugged last week would have to return the favor by showing up in my blog to rub some salt into our wounds.

Yes, he’s informed me that I should really be applying to research woo, because the paylines for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine will be considerably more liberal in FY 2007. Quoth Writedit:

The home of complementary and alternative medicine is upping its projected success rate from 14% in FY06 to 17% in FY07. The usual blah-blah-blah about preferring 4-year grants to 5-year grants and cutting budgets as needed. They still have a remarkably liberal payline policy though.

For R21s, priority scores of 160 and better are most likely to be funded. I bet a lot of you would love to get news like this from your IC!

So, in other words, while the NCI’s paylines remain mired in the 10-12 percentile range (the best scenario this time around is a payline of the 12th percentile) while threatening to fall even further and with the situation even worse at other Institutes, if you do a grant on alternative medicine and submit it to NCCAM, the payline will be at the 17th percentile, a level not seen at the NCI for three years or more now. (The Payline was the 16th percentile when my R01 was originally funded.) Heck, if you’re an new investigator, the payline could well be as high as the 20th percentile. (They cut new investigators a break in order to encourage them.)

I tell you, it’s time for me to get into woo here. As Writedit puts it:

With liberal paylines like these, time to start thinking outside the box, folks.

Of course, there’s “outside the box” and there’s “outside of this planet,” and all too often the woo supported by NCCAM falls into the latter category. As tempting as it is, I don’t know if I can do it. I do have standards, you know.

On the other hand, if the NCI payline falls into the single digits next time, it may be time for Orac to find a way to make woo research pay. Any ideas are, of course, appreciated and might be shamelessly stolen…