Thanks to an exchange with PhysioProf after this comment, I dug up the summary statement for the first R01 proposal I ever submitted to the NIH as a PI. I was trying to remember how badly I got hammered on the "investigator" criterion.
They were pretty nice about it but it boiled down to a pronounced skepticism that some noob-ass not-yet-assistant-professor upjumped postdoc was going to be able to pull off an R01 sized, collaborative study.
Of course, within a 12 month interval from that review I was heading up at least 2X that amount of work and the eventual publication record was, I would argue, adequate at the least.
This is not to brag and I don't think this is unusual at all. This comment is to further reinforce my assertions that questioning the ability of a newly minted Assistant Professor of the current usual type in biomedical researchdom to handle a $250K direct cost R01 project is absurd.
I mean sure, if there are unusual circumstance yes, you can raise an eyebrow. But for someone of the usual training duration (3+ years of postdoc after 5+ years of grad training), with at least some first and middle author publications who is now in their mid 30s or later and has competed successfully for a job.... I mean come. on.
They can handle this. The only thing between them and producing is the grant award.
sorry, the "hilarity" part is my reaction to reading such an old dusty pink sheet. man, I was but a wee grantwriting tot back then.