Whaddaya mean, "no payline", Varmus?

Jan 11 2011 Published by under NIH Budgets and Economics

Holy crapoli on a cannoli!

I missed the webcast of Harold Varmus' recent townhall and it doesn't appear to be up yet on the web. [UPDATE: Here's the videocast] But a commenter named lula over at writedit's pad says:

Although not is as many words, Varmus said that there will not be a payline for the NCI in FY2011. He indicated that funding selection will be made in a case by case basis with input from program leaders, and taking into consideration programmatic priorities, etc. The only number that he put out there was 7%, by means of suggesting that grants within this or lower percentiles would be funded; honestly he sounded unconvincing (and unconvinced) about the whole process and a bit at loss on how to explain it. He also reiterated the NCI’s commitment to NI/ESI but without any specifics.

This was affirmed by another commenter.

Have we sunk down so far that there is no point in having a payline? Will Program staff be making their priority decisions for *everything* at NCI?

36 responses so far

  • Joseph says:

    Yikes!

    However, if this makes it easier for the NIH to focus on their priorities (and that the funding decisions include consideration of merit based on peer review than this may end up being a good thing).

  • WhizBANG! says:

    Holy Shit, Batman! Makes you want to get out of the grant game, doesn't it?

  • becca says:

    that's a payline, it's just not the one you wanted to hear

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Never, WhizBang, never.

  • I partially listened in to the webcast and those statements sound pretty accurate. So we go from low paylines and lottery-like chances of funding to no paylines and arbitrary dispersal of funding. Fucking great. Thank goodness we aren't trying to submit anything to NCI lately.

  • drugmonkey says:

    he starts talking budget matters at 21:20....

  • drugmonkey says:

    26:30- cuts to existing cancer centers to free up money

    27:00- cuts to noncompetitive renewals 40-50 new grants for every 1% cut to noncompeting renewals. "1-2% or even 3% reduction is under discussion"

    27:59- intramural investigators could see decrease

    28:15- start of discussion of new awards

  • drugmonkey says:

    meh. he's actually talking normal stuff here. I read him as saying the payline is 7%ile (he says priority score but I suspect he means percentile) and then, as is totally normal business as usual for many ICs, he's talking about the gray zone wherein they violate the strict order of review for various Programmatic reasons.

    Nothing to see here, save 7%ile is the lowest payline I've heard mentioned as such...

  • He throws out the 7 at 29:00.

  • drugmonkey says:

    33:00- clinical centers will become line items in the Office of Director's budget, cross NIH sounds like....

  • drugmonkey says:

    33:34- NIDA/NIAAA merger into new Substance Abuse - implications for "our tobacco research portfolio".

    -blah, blah, we're going to keep all we can, neuroscience of addiction will go to the new institute. yeah, it all depends on the $$, doesn't it?

  • Anonymous says:

    Not every institute has a payline. That doesn't mean they ignore peer review. They fund up to whatever the budget allows, with some latitude for early stage investigators, diversity of science, and mission fit. Most applications that fall below the natural break are funded.

    There isn't a conspiracy and the decisions aren't arbitrary. Quit panicking over nothing.

  • Have we sunk down so far that there is no point in having a payline?

    Dude, this kind of bullshitte fake drama is beneath you. You know as well as anyone that plenty of ICs don't even have paylines.

  • Lost ESI says:

    If plenty of ICs don't even have paylines there is no room for arbitrary decisions....no room either for conspiracy so that very mature investigators fail to replenish their NIH multiple grant multimillions dollar portfolio.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Try reading the whole comment thread before emitting your bullshit fake dramatics, PP...

  • granthunter says:

    DM,

    Is in the rest of the thread an opportunity for joyous consolation?.... Leaving priority decisions for everything to Program Staff does leave a lot of room for arbitrariness and inappropriate influences..... that was a fundamental reason why peer review was first instituted at NIH to ensure sound, appropriate and beneficial use of public moneys..... (1946?).... to avoid arbitrariness and inappropriate influences..... I know that you are a voracious reader... so don't ignore the facts.

  • Dude, I'm not the one trolling for pageviews from disgruntled conspiracy theorists like "Lost ESI".

  • Lost ESI says:

    PhysioProf,

    I thought that you were a rigorous, independent thinker.... There is no conspiracy theory here but conspiracy PRAXIS and FACTUAL. You don't need to troll for pageviews to see it, if you want to see it. You'd better Go to NIH webpage and send your feedback because NCRR, sponsoring my research, has been dismantled by greedy academic administrator idiots supported, for years, by Pharma and by the NIH generosity to his mature investigator colleagues. And that Harold Varmus, Francis Collins and most of the SRMB members have not pronounced a questioning word is OUTRAGEOUS and is not a Theory. It is a Fact recorded at NIH Videocast. I tell you more, this greedy idiot and his economic/political supporters have been trying invading NIH for some time now. Or are you one of them ?.

  • Dude, I take back calling you a "disgruntled conspiracy theorist", since you have opened my eyes to the fact that there is a "conspiracy PRAXIS and FACTUAL".

  • Cashmoney says:

    NCRR sponsors your research?I thought they just built infrastructure. If you depend exclusively on them....maybe you shouldn't?

  • Lost ESI says:

    Cashmoney,

    I am trying not to depend exclusively on just one center or institute.... if I survive and NIH keeps eyes wide open to reality and listens to people (not greedy idiots who only care about becoming the bad wall street of pharma (just money and profits for themselves)

  • drugmonkey says:

    btw, granthunter, it looks like the conclusion here is SOP. There is an initial, majority influence by the peer review process. Then there is a gray zone in which Program expresses their own priorities in filling out the rest of the portfolio. The system has been in place for a long time and across many ICs. The only question that is really up for discussion is the relative balance of strict-priority-score versus programmatic interest pickups. Unfortunately the only IC that publishes such data is NIGMS. But their data show that the number of out-of-order pickups is small compared to the total funded pool.

  • granthunter says:

    Thanks DM. My conclusion is that there is no reason for the rest of Institutes not to adopt the same policy than NIGMS. The NIGMS data reflects on the effects of transparency. If I understood you, the # of out of order pickups is small compared to the total funded pool. I think that is in the spirit of NIH founding premises: award public moneys, for the best returns, based on a rigorous peer review process and away from inappropriate influences. Leaving a small portion to the discretion of very specific goals of a particular institute is not, in principle, a bad idea. Going over that is not what we need.

  • drugmonkey says:

    If I understood you, the # of out of order pickups is small compared to the total funded pool.

    You can look at the FY2010 data here

    http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/2011/01/what_about_when_program_does_n.php

    there are also links to the prior FY graphs at NIGMS. You can make that call for yourself.

    based on a rigorous peer review process and away from inappropriate influences. Leaving a small portion to the discretion of very specific goals of a particular institute is not, in principle, a bad idea. Going over that is not what we need.

    "rigorous", "inappriopriate", "small portion"... do you see the problem here? All in the eyes of the beholder, my friend. And since each of us is going to have our own narrow parochial view of what is important in science, well, there's a lot of room for discussion. What I find most hilarious is when people don't seem to recognize their own parochialism for what it is and INSIST that the current system is (flawed, corrupt, biased, ...pick your pejorative) because of what they see (or imagine) are the realities behind "rigorous", "inappropriate influence", "small portion", etc.....

  • granthunter says:

    I agree that subjectivity permeates human thinking and the decision and execution processes that come with it. Subjectivity comes, in the most part, from experience and culture and we might not (should not) erase it or repress it. Yet, we have the option to take our individual or collective subjectivity to a higher order of objectivity by exposing and contrasting our thinking, decision and execution experiences....

    "the current system is (flawed, corrupt, biased, …pick your pejorative) because of what they see (or imagine) are the realities behind “rigorous”, “inappropriate influence”, “small portion”, etc….."

    Let's take a practical and feasible step to unmask "flaws, biases, corruption...." etc and improve or ENHANCE objectivity. Let's make every process of individual funding/not funding/triage absolutely public ( summary statement, reviewers, deliberation and decision info at the two levels of review...). Let's have all that information at the NIH Reporter for every and all applicants.

    We will not reach absolute objectivity (that is not humanely possible) but will certainly help each of us to put together our thoughts before making unintentional spurious comments.

  • Yet, we have the option to take our individual or collective subjectivity to a higher order of objectivity by exposing and contrasting our thinking, decision and execution experiences…

    Jeezus motherfucke. Do we really need to have this painfully boring fucken discussion again?

  • granthunter says:

    Then don't talk about parochialism CPP!.

  • cashmoney says:

    CPP are you trying to claim that you actually understood that sentence?

  • Yeah, it's this whole fucken "my grants keep getting shitcanned and that's because the process is broken and here is my cockamamie scheme for how to fix the process" dealio. SNOOZ!

  • Katharine says:

    Meh. I have a relative at an NIH institute (which I will never, ever apply for grants from, worry not - it isn't in my field) and I find this painfully funny, emphasis on the painfully.

    Question: Do any of you have major compunctions about getting funding from the DoD if it's potentially applicable to what you're doing? More money poured into defense research over time is hopefully less money actually poured into purchasing weapons.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    I wouldn't have any problemo taking DoD grant funds, no. Why would anyone have a problem with that? Same gubbermint, same taxpayers...

  • Do all these hippie-dippie "beat swords into plowshares" fucke-uppes you allude to really think they'd be driving in their Priuses to the Starbucks to buy their lattes and tinker on the Internet if it weren't for our imperial military?

  • I'd rattle my saber for some research funds, having previously worked in a lab that was DoD funded.

  • [...] do hope this is a sign of things to come at other ICs. Do note that this comes in the wake of some announced policy changes from NCI head Varmus which caused some consternation. Check the comments over at writedit's pad. I concluded that this [...]

  • gri says:

    So, instead of having reviewers making arbitrary decisions that don't reflect the scientific/clinical reality now this will be additionally made by the institutes. Nothing really new here. Before 2012 it also depended a lot of the will of the POP to work together with you - or not.

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