Interesting NIH grant tidbits

This is a bit science policy wonky, but here’s some interesting news from Medical Writing, Editing & Grantsmanship:

My *favorite* new factoid from the NIH … the oldest “new investigator” to date received his first R01 last year at age … 82. You go, guy!

On the other hand, a nobel laureate was triaged.

As a low-level scientific peon (compared to any Nobel laureate, that is), I find it nice to know that occasionally even the gods of science have a bump in the road to funding. (“Triaged” means that the reviewers all agreed that the grant was in the lower 50-60% of all the grants submitted to that particular study section. Triaged grant applications are not discussed in detail at study section meetings and are not given overall priority scores. This is done to allow time to discuss grants that reviewers consider good enough to be potentially within the funding range.) As for the 82 year old guy getting his first R01…wow. That’s all I can say. Personally, I hope to be retired by age 82, assuming that I even live that long.

More interesting to me, practically speaking as an investigator with an independent lab, though, was this tidibit about the new policy that allows co-principal investigators on NIH grants. It used to be that there could only be one principal investigator and every other investigator with sufficient involvement could only be a co-investigator. Recently, the NIH changed that policy, and here’s one consequence:

Lots of good intel on the multiple PI option, including the fact that the contact PI cannot take the grant with him/her if he/she changes institutions. This is critical knowledge in an era of aggressively recruiting funded investigators … any grant award with multiple PIs ain’t walking. The PI’s share might follow him/her if scientifically appropriate, but not the award.

Well, well, well, well. This isn’t any different from the situation for a co-investigator, but it’s a big change for PIs, because traditionally PIs have been allowed to take their grants with them when they change institutions. This policy will either discourage investigators from signing up as co-PIs or it will decrease the mobility of investigators looking for a better situation, leading to investigators staying put for longer (or at least as long as the grant continues).