NIEHS throws down for Early Stage Investigators!

Jun 18 2010 Published by under Careerism, NIH, NIH Budgets and Economics

Wow!
NIEHS has an RFA (RFA-ES-10-004) out for R01 mech grants reserved Early Stage Investigators. You know, n00bs without any NIH funding yet. They want 6 of them.
Here is what I found especially robust.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards. For this funding opportunity, budgets up to $ 400,000 direct costs per year in years one and two, and up to $275,000 in years 3-5 and time periods up to 5 years may be requested.

That first two years of BSD / Professor BlueHair type funding is a very strong statement. It is very clear that what NIEHS are trying to do is start up a lab with a very strong launch. A necessarily strong launch. Equipment, payed-for collaborations, staff and basically just the ability to throw money at every damn problem that gets in the way is...outstanding.
Bravo, NIEHS, bravo.
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Actually it turns out this is an old program. I don't know why I'm just becoming aware of it now.

15 responses so far

  • Dude, did you read your own post? They've got funds for *six* of them. That's piddly shit.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    If you are one of the 6, that ain't piddly. And the program has been issued for 6 years running now...

  • But dude, I thought you're all about the "fix the system" shit?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Why is this not fixing the system? This is a good thing they are doing. Maybe some other ICs will eventually decide to take a similar approach rather than the "small, limited budget" approach to launching their n00bies.

  • whimple says:

    NIEHS is one of the institutes that NIH could really just let fold up and die without a lot of people missing it. What do you suppose an ESI is going to do with $400k? Hire 5 or 6 grad students? 4 or 5 post-docs? What's an ESI going to know what to do with a stack of post-docs?
    Really, the NIH should make it HARDER for ESIs to get funded. Those that survive will then have it relatively easy to maintain funding throughout their career. There's not much advantage in propping up people in their early years, only to pull the rug out from under them after they're locked in as tenured permanent baggage.

  • nature lover says:

    "Actually it turns out this is an old program. I don't know why I'm just becoming aware of it now".
    Thanks for the link to the RFA first released in 2006. It sounds very timely to reactivate this RFA as to identify outstanding young investigators with an interest and a pioneer mind in the area of prevention and preparedness (in the face of environmental setbacks). The (rather sad and historic) environmental disaster that the country is facing requires preparing leaders in all areas impacted ( environment itself, health, social costs, preventative/regulatory policies).

  • Really, the NIH should make it HARDER for ESIs to get funded. Those that survive will then have it relatively easy to maintain funding throughout their career.

    Yeah! Fuck those sniveling douchebags!

  • whimple says:

    It's more a question of consistency of approach: is the NIH going to fund people, or are they going to fund projects? Nominally, they fund projects, but then they go and mess up the philosophy by putting extra money into ESIs, such as these "Outstanding New Environmental Scientists". Which is it? Are they funding the Outstanding Scientists, or are they funding the Outstanding Projects?

  • nature lover says:

    Wimple,
    I got a PhD in the obvious some years ago and got funding and an independent position in the in the obvious area too.
    With regard to your question my feeling is that they will try to fund outstanding scientists with outstanding projects.

  • Isis the Scientist says:

    NIEHS is one of the institutes that NIH could really just let fold up and die without a lot of people missing it.

    Fuck you, asshole.

  • pablito says:

    This is small change for NIEHS or any other institute. 15 different NIEHS intramural PIs had projects with a budget of greater than $2 million in FY2009.

  • becca says:

    "Are they funding the Outstanding Scientists, or are they funding the Outstanding Projects?"
    Isn't it logically consistent that Outstanding Projects that do not have 20 years of prior work in developing reagents might need a little extra jump start?

  • whimple says:

    Isn't it logically consistent that Outstanding Projects that do not have 20 years of prior work in developing reagents might need a little extra jump start?
    No, it is not logically consistent. You can't make up for a lack of preparation by frenetic spending. If the scientists and/or projects are really so outstanding, NIEHS could award a full-modular R01 for something like 8 years, instead of 5. Better still, they could hire the person as an intramural investigator and get them for life. See also: Earl Stadtman Investigators.

  • nature lover says:

    Wimple,
    I must say that my PhD in the obvious did not allow me to see beyond the obvious this time. Your idea on hiring outstanding investigators for the intramural program is excellent. Anticipating the future of American science (i.e.preparing leaders) should include also making sure that the NIH Intramural Program is invigorated and replenish with young outstanding scientists. Brilliant thought !.

  • neurolover says:

    I have a riff off wimple's concern. I think that one of the things that poisons the pot for young investigators is if their institutions are not robustly committed to them, but instead see them as money pots into which NIH dollars flow. My solution to that concern is that I think institutions should invest in their young investigators, who can then compete for NIH funding.
    I think that if NIH wants to invest in their young investigators, that the right mechanism for that is to hire them in the intramural program (rather than hiring them by proxy for a university that has skin in the game for the investigators success).
    I worry about these props, if they're merely allowing universities to avoid their obligations to their employees to create a sustainable research environment. That's their role in the partnership. If it's not a partnership, then the NIH can set up more institutes and labs of their own.

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