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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).

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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