A Rockey post that I originally missed last spring tells us that the median age of first R01 for Early Stage Investigator (ESI) applicants is 39. This is of comfort to my longstanding inability to match the 42 year old number with my experience- I, of course, mentally ignore a key part of the NI distribution from which that median derives.
Three year difference from the 42 yo median that includes the ESIs, so we can assume the difference from New Investigators (NIs) is larger...5-6 yrs?
We don't know the relative numbers but a birdy suggested maybe 60/40 ESI/NI back when they invented ESI. I bet it is still within 60/40 to 40/60.
Policies, like Rep Harris' proposal, that don't recognize the 42 yo numerical target includes substantial numbers of established investigators previously funded with major, non-NIH grants will have odd consequences. Remember, the NIH itself evinced astonishing ignorance over this when they issued the ESI designation. How many years of the NI checkbox mysteriously not working was it? Ignorance of the data led, apparently, to an undesired outcome. Not learning this lesson lets proposals like Rep Harris' become more dangerous than it has to be. IMO.
The picture is further complicated because the nonESI NI population also contains some people who have not previously had major funding. These are probably people who simply aged past the ESI limit, which is based on time since degree rather than time since first faculty appointment (which would have been better). For Rep Harris' stated goal, perhaps these should be further separated from the NI pool.
I'm sure we can disagree over which slice of the NI pool should be helped and how to do so. But I think we can agree that we should base decision making on comprehensive data and not smear together qualitatively different PI types.