The NIH Cull and the K99/R00 cohorts

May 28 2015 Published by under Fixing the NIH, NIH, NIH Careerism

DataHound posted two key analyses on the state of the NIH-funded extramural work force. In the first one he presents the number of unique PIs from 1985-2014. It looks to me, roughly, that there are about 18% fewer PIs than the peak and approximately 10% fewer PIs if we ignore the ARRA interval.

Most of the real drop (i.e., not postARRA) occurred between FY2011 and FY2012 but there has been a downward trend from 2012 to 2014 so this looks to be the new reality.

The Cull is in full view now.

Has it seemed like grants are getting funded slightly more easily lately? If so, you can thank the Cull. (No doubt the pressure is more about applications than funded awards to unique PIs. But if the applications are seeing similar drops, this explains the feeling of relief, if you have it.)

The second post at DataHound presents several graphs on the K99/R00 awardees by original award year.

Transition to the R00 phase did not vary much up through the 2010 cohort and the cohorts are on the same trajectory, given the time function. Importantly the 2007-2009 cohorts follow the exact same trajectory, 2010 cohorts have a little bit of drop-off at the far end, due to less time since original award. Six years after the K99 award is the hard ceiling on transition to R00 in the first three cohorts and 2010 K99ers aren't quite there yet.

Where the K99 awardee cohorts are not on the same trajectory is the transition to R01. DataHound's plots show a clear plateau for the 2007-2010 cohorts. The 2007 awardees topped out at about 58% transitioning to R01 funding and subsequent cohort success rates are lower, year over year. Success in gaining an R01 for the 2009 cohort is about 70% that of the 2008 grouup and about half that of the 2007 cohort. The 2010 cohort is at least 20% less-successful than the 2009 K99 awardees.

It is pretty clear the Cull described in the first linked post is falling harder on the K99/R00 awardees than on the general pool of NIH-funded PIs. Depending on whether you take the ARRA high water mark for unique PIs or something lower that adheres to the normal trend, the Cull is only about a 10-20% as of FY2014.

This is BACKWARDS!

All this talk about getting more new scientists over the hump to faculty level career status. All this whinging and moaning about eating our seed corn. All the handwringing over ESIs.

And the program that is the crown jewel in doing something about transition is....not working.

If history is any guide, it would have taken official NIHdom about 15 years to "suddenly realize" this is the case and to try something new.

Thank goodness for DataHound. I anticipate he has accelerated this process by posting these two key analyses.

75 responses so far

  • physioprof says:

    One issue that I have seen in study section, and definitely tried to push back against, is the notion that R00 awardees need to "prove themselves" as worthy of an R01 by publishing based on the R00 support. This is, of course, totally different from the standard applied to other new PIs, who aren't required to prove anything in this way regarding their use of start-up funds.

  • datahound says:

    Thanks. I just posted PI number results for R01s including the effects of multiple PIs.
    http://datahound.scientopia.org/2015/05/28/r01-equivalent-pis-1985-2014/

  • drugmonkey says:

    Depending on how you look at Multi-PIs who are in that "never the Contact-PI" category, this makes the hit to K99/R00 awardees look even worse.

    Oh, wait. Did you count them only as having an R01 when they were the ContactPI?

  • Anonymous says:

    The rate-limiting step for creating new PI's seems to be institutions opening faculty lines. Has anyone seen the K99 help with this? That is, has your department been able to hire two faculty when you were originally given only one line if the first hire had a K99? If not, then the K99 program can only change *who* gets to become a PI, not how many postdocs make the transition.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Dean/let assessment of the economic wisdom of opening up new TT lines is probably too opaque for a true analysis of this question.

  • Masked Avenger says:

    Get out now, while you can still make some money before you die.

  • qaz says:

    DM: I think you're comparing apples and oranges.

    The cull is decreasing PIs. Clearly true. (And, wow! DH those are remarkable graphs!) But we don't know where. The KangaR00s are coming in at about 58%. But what are the other rookies looking like?

    Are the KangaRoos doing better or worse than their peers?

    Yeah, they're doing worse than the baby boomers did thirty years ago, but ain't we all?

  • mH says:

    There is no plausible rationale for K99s to create more positions... institutions are required to make "comparable" start-up resources available (i.e. the R00 can't replace start-up funds), and it is not at all clear that R00s do better at getting R01s compared to similarly situated PIs. K99s are queue jumping mechs given primarily to the postdocs of PIs who are BSDs or otherwise NIH savvy. Of course, these are people who already had a slew of advantages on the job market, so it's not even clear that it helps that much.

  • Dave says:

    None of this is surprising to me, but of course needs to be shown. CPP has been saying for years that R00s are being held to a different standard and it's not hard to believe that occurs across multiple ICs and SS. And the reduction in PIs? Yep, there is The Great Cull.

  • sad ESI says:

    Dear NIH Center for Scientific Review and Drugmonkey readers:

    Please tell study section members that not all K99/R00's are the same!!!! NIAID K99/R00's are only 3 years in duration. This means that as soon as you get a K99, you need to go on the job market because you only have one year in which to get a faculty position. Then you only have two years of R00 funding as you're getting your lab set up. This amounts to about 120K/year after the university takes its share for indirect costs and some for your salary. This is not an R01 equivalent grant!! It's nowhere near that amount of time or money, so study sections should stop treating our R01 applications as though they are R01 renewals, or at the very least, acknowledge that NIAID K99/R00's are not the same as the 5-year K99/R00's from other institutes.

  • Grumble says:

    Is anyone else going, "Sweet! I survived the cull!"? (I'm thinking of making a T shirt with that legend above DH's graph.)

    More seriously, wouldn't a stable system look flat, with equivalent numbers of unique PIs across time? The graph shows a boom-and-bust cycle, which can't be healthy. If Congress wanted to, what could it do to make the graph flat? And is that a worthy goal?

  • AcademicLurker says:

    If Congress wanted to, what could it do to make the graph flat?

    I think the boom/bust cycle is driven mainly by institutions* expanding during flush times. So unless congress or the NIH wants to start pressuring institutions in ways that they haven't up to now, I don't know how to make the cycle go away.

    *I know I harp on this point all the time in these threads.

  • Dave says:

    I know I harp on this point all the time in these threads.

    But it's true, so harp on.

    This amounts to about 120K/year after the university takes its share for indirect costs and some for your salary. This is not an R01 equivalent grant

    Well, according to my modular budget that I just put together, it's about dead on in terms of what's left after salaries. The $250K don't go far.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Also, the negative slope on that graph still looks pretty steep to me. I'm not sure I'd print up those T shirts just yet...

  • K99 "pending administrative review" says:

    "Well, according to my modular budget that I just put together, it's about dead on in terms of what's left after salaries. The $250K don't go far."

    But that $120K/year must often also pay for salaries?

  • mH says:

    I agree it's not fair for K99s to be held to higher standard, but I see the temptation. Because they are required to get comparable start-ups + the R00, they do have a fuckton more money than a typical new PI. So shouldn't that translate into at least ~0.5 fucktons more output?

    No. The problem for new PIs is not not having money, it's getting your shit together and getting people and projects off the ground, then getting that first batch of papers out. In many of the glammish fields well-represented among K99ers, a paper is could be 3-4 years of a trainee's work. Which is why I say the K99 is less about opportunities for ESIs as a whole (it doesn't create any opportunities, it just biases who they are available to) than a way of buying job market advantages for the postdocs of NIH insiders and BSDs.

    It is ironic that institutions believe that K99s are good hires because they have "demonstrated fundability" (whatever the fuck that is besides pedigree), but they are actually getting dicked around in review. But just another example of how NIH policy and scientist behavior are orthogonal at best.

  • Anonymous says:

    > Are the KangaRoos doing better or worse than their peers?

    I don't know if we can answer this. Since K99ers have gone through a second level of selection, they presumably skew towards the top of the faculty hires each year (in terms of pedigree, publications, grantsmanship, etc.). If they do better, it could have nothing to do with the K99 itself, but rather the selection bias.

    Kind of like comparisons between HHMI vs. other PIs. Since HHMI hand-picks investigators, we could expect them to be more productive than randomly-chosen PIs. It could have nothing to do with HHMI's funding model.

  • Ola says:

    To all the K99/R00 whiners bemoaning what the good Comrade talks about... You got money, others did not. You are expected to DO something with that money. Sure, perhaps not as much as an R01 recipient, but not nothing either.

    When you submit an R01 fresh off of a K99/R00, you WILL be judged to have had an edge, versus PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01). With your lone senior author paper "in revision" in year 3 of your $750k adventure, you'll also be head-to-head with renewal apps from old fuckers cranking out 5 papers a year on a single modular R01 on no cost extension and a bevy of postdocs and students to support plus a bunch of aging equipment and no teaching-free grace period. Guess who the reviewers are gonna look more favorably on?

    So yeah, you've been given a running start, so hit the ground running because FFS everyone else out there is fucking sprinting like its a zombie movie.

    As for your budget being "stolen" for indirects and salary, consider it a valuable taster of the experiences that await you in a lifetime of academic servitude. It only goes downhill from here, as your salary coverage expectations increase and your newbie grace period expires.

  • newbie PI says:

    Dave -- Are you really not getting this? With an R01 your indirect costs are extra money on top of your 250K. Not so with an R00. The R00 is a total cost award. This means the indirect costs come out of the 250K. YOU are the reason that R00ers are so frustrated, and a great example of why study sections should be educated as to what these grants actually are and how they are different from individual institutes.

    mH -- There's also this misconception that just because the NIH says the startup has to be equivalent to "some undefined amount", that there aren't a million ways to get around this. Universities/departments consistently give less to those with R00s.

  • physioprof says:

    "To all the K99/R00 whiners bemoaning what the good Comrade talks about... You got money, others did not. You are expected to DO something with that money. Sure, perhaps not as much as an R01 recipient, but not nothing either.

    When you submit an R01 fresh off of a K99/R00, you WILL be judged to have had an edge, versus PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01)."

    This is completely wrong, at least in the basic cellular, molecular, and genetic neuroscience study sections. The new tenure-track PIs with R00s and start-up budgets are competing against the new tenure-track PIs without R00s and with start-up budgets. This "you have an edge" business is bullshit, because the issue is that the R00 holders are in some cases being forced to wait to "see what they do with the R00" before giving fair consideration to their R01s while new PIs without R00s are not. This is unfair, and unrealistic.

    The "PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01)" are completely non-competitive right now for R01s, as lacking institutional support, and are not who tenure-track R00 awardees are competing against. Not sure if this can be analyzed by Datahound, but it seems obvious to me both on logical grounds and anecdotally that it is non-tenure-track faculty who are shelling out during the cull. Any who are still submitting R01 applications are engaged in an exercise in futility. One could view this as study sections doing the dirty work for institutions and the NIH, who don't want to have to be the ones to tell these people to GTFO.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    When I'm on study section evaluating a R00 recipient, you better have done something with that money if you're in year 2 or 3 of the R00 period. You've had an advantage that others haven't had. For instance, we hired an outstanding asst prof scientist in my dept without any funding coming in while my K99-awardee post-doc got a complete start up + R00 money. I'd expect more of the latter in competing R01 application. You've gotten your bolus, let's see what you can do.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Just noticed another "PDF/RAP" in my field win a R01 and launch her career in a place I doubt very much gave away significant startup money. Can think of a more promising K99/R00 hire in the same rough area of research that hasn't landed his R01 ~2-3 yrs into the R00 phase.

    Not sure your absolutes are valid, PP.

  • When I'm on study section evaluating a R00 recipient, you better have done something with that money if you're in year 2 or 3 of the R00 period. You've had an advantage that others haven't had. For instance, we hired an outstanding asst prof scientist in my dept without any funding coming in while my K99-awardee post-doc got a complete start up + R00 money. I'd expect more of the latter in competing R01 application. You've gotten your bolus, let's see what you can do.

    You are exactly the kind of asshole that needs to be smacked down by other reveiwers with a clearer view of reality.

  • dsks says:

    I agree with mh that the money isn't much of a limiting factor for productivity fresh into a faculty position, and as a consequence, I think CPP is generally correct that it's probably unfair to assume that an R00 holder is going to have much of an advantage over a non-R00 person in those first 2-3 yrs.

    OTOH, I'm not sure I'm convinced that institutions are routinely offering lower startups to R00 holders, is that supported by evidence? The charge has a hint of truthiness about it, and seems based on the assumption that the institution would see these candidates as a good way to cut their own investment, and so would be expected to do just that. But this logic isn't as sound as it seems considering the money involved. Is an institution trying to hire the best investigator really going to risk offering that ostensibly better (on paper) R00 candidate less start up than a lesser (on paper) non-R00 candidate simply to save a $100K or so? Even when it's damn well certain that the R00 candidate will be receiving competing offers? The institution would have to be out of its mind to try that, and the R00 candidate would have to be as dumb as a box of rocks to fall for it, imho.

  • drugmonkey says:

    My view is that time elapsed should be the biggest factor in evaluating newly-appointed PI productivity. From that you can subtract expectations for lack of funding but I don't see why you penalize someone for landing an R01 in year 1. Still takes time to get rolling.

  • drugmonkey says:

    When a dept has a short list >1 they can be choosy dsks. And can stick to their guns wrt startup packages.

  • Anonydoc says:

    Anecdotally: my dept took 25% of salary + fringe out of my R00, whereas normally they would have had to pay that themselves, so you could see it as the start-up package didn't change in size, but the dept still didn't have to pay as much out of pocket.

    Also, what is $250K minus indirects and minus my 25% salary and fringe? Around $130K. I'm happy to have money, but let's not pretend it's like having an R01. Let's also not pretend that the publishing process (writing, reviews, etc) is magically sped up by this money.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    CPP-
    Because clearly we should reward those who are given alot but who have done little with it over those who never got a chance. On the tea party mailing list are you?

  • drugmonkey says:

    PS- what do you expect to see "in year 2" of R00 phase? It can take that long to get a bloody manuscript accepted if submitted on day 1.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    DM-
    I'm not looking for huge publication numbers. I want to see cool preliminary data above and beyond what I would expect with a new investigator only on startup. I want to see that when they have money, they can use that money to put their creative ideas to the test. I want the application to reflect the investment the NIH made in them. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that if you are given roughly $700K (2 years K99, 2 years R00) something cool should be present in the grant application. I expect the same for Burroughs awardees, early stage HHMI, etc.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    Anyone with a start-up has been given a lot, but only R00 funding is visible to reviewers. It is unfair to hold R00 holders to a stricter standard of proving productivity than those whose start-ups are invisible.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    CPP-
    If the applicant has done a post-doc at a separate institution and moved to start their own lab, don't you assume they have startups and put that into the calculation?

  • meshugena313 says:

    In the first 3 years of starting up a new lab, I doubt that anyone finds money to be the rate-limiting factor in success. And if it is, then you did a shitty job of negotiating your startup and your hiring department made a mistake in underfunding you. Seven years ago I had just missed getting a K99 before finishing my postdoc and I am actually quite glad that I didn't have the burden of living up to the expectation of even more productivity... Especially after seeing JB's plots.

    It takes a few years to learn how to manage people, produce results, know how and when to submit a paper for publication - forget about administration and teaching. The R00 money doesn't do any of that for you!

  • becca says:

    Clearly, start up funds should be publicly available info.

  • physioprof says:

    If the applicant has done a post-doc at a separate institution and moved to start their own lab, don't you assume they have startups and put that into the calculation?

    Unless there is evidence presented otherwise, I assume all new PIs have sufficient funds to get their labs started, and I do not apply a sliding scale for new PI productivity that depends on how much money I perceive them as having. You sound like one of these assholes on study section that is constantly trying to stick it to people you perceive as having more funds than they "deserve".

  • drugmonkey says:

    PS- Do you not realize that the differences in the "startup" resources that can be directly applied to a research program across individuals without K99/R00 varies easily by the magnitude of the R00 award? As others note, this variance is invisible to you.

    So if you look at apparent productivity of a group of noob-Profs on no visible means of support other than a presumption of startup how do you apply your financial expectations calculator? Evenly? If so, you are just handing another rich-get-richer bennie to the lucky duck who landed a sweet cashmoney startup package. And screwing over poor little Asst Prof O. Twist who had to settle for a barebones setup.

    Heck, this extends to mid-career and beyond. Do you adjust your expectations upwards for people who have hard money support for their salary since this is such an extra benefit to them compared with SoftMoney Josephine?

  • Dave says:

    YOU are the reason that R00ers are so frustrated, and a great example of why study sections should be educated as to what these grants actually are and how they are different from individual institutes.

    LOL well that's a first. Am I a Grey Beard already? I think you might find that I'm fairly well versed in K funding mechs/budgets etc. Believe me, I'm on your side.

    What I was saying is that when you factor in salaries in an R01 modular budget, there is not as much left as you might think. The senior guys have been telling me this for a long time, but it really becomes apparent when you start preparing an R01 budget. You also have to remember that R01s typically are cut at the time of the award, sometimes as much as 20 - 30%, and that further decreases money available for actual research.

  • lurker says:

    The reason I have not yet landed an R01 is because of study section a-holes like Physician Scientist who have the asinine mindset to expect corresponding author papers in Year 3 of the R00, and probably in a glamour-douche journal no less. And when I did have one such paper 1 year after the R00 expired, I still got dinged because riff-raff like Physician Scientist confused my collaborator as a second post-doc mentor.

    I am Not channeling McKnight here, and I realize the VAST MAJORITY of study section scientists are conscientious, dedicated investigators. But its still likely there will be a few actual riff-raff like a Physician Scientist who will sit on study section, have this warped view on R00 holders and only has to give one criterion Score >4 to put a grant out of payline reach.

  • Dave says:

    The "PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01)" are completely non-competitive right now for R01s

    Well, that's a fucking concern......

    One could view this as study sections doing the dirty work for institutions and the NIH, who don't want to have to be the ones to tell these people to GTFO.

    Ouch.

    We've discussed this issue before, and the consensus was (IIRC) that it didn't really matter whether the PI was soft- or hard-money in SS. Perhaps that's changed in your experience CPP?

  • drugmonkey says:

    there will be a few actual riff-raff like a Physician Scientist who will sit on study section, have this warped view on R00 holders and only has to give one criterion Score >4 to put a grant out of payline reach.

    Remember people, one persons "warped view" is another person's "obvious and logical".

    Sure, most of it comes from a place of personal reference along the lines of "That guy over there has more than me so he damn well better produce more than I have! And that person on the other side that has less than what I do? Too bad, sistah, life is hard for everyone".

    It is difficult for some people to escape the tyranny of their own situation, their own personal grant success and a one-moment jealous snapshot of everyone else when reviewing grants.

    I am no different in this although I hope that I have an orientation, yes honed over the past years by all of my blog commenters, that understands that circumstances vary widely and it is critical to try to remember that if the debate is over "productivity".

  • drugmonkey says:

    Dave- CPPs anecdotes should be taken in stride. As always the best bet to tell what is *possible* is to do your work over on RePORTER. Snoop on the class of newly-transitioning investigators in your field that you happen to know. See if only the most perfect of CV'd Asst Professors are getting funded or if the occasional RAP gets lucky.

  • eeke says:

    "The "PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01)" are completely non-competitive right now for R01s, as lacking institutional support"

    @CPP, this (and the rest of your statement in that paragraph) seems to suggest that you are judging the person and not the science. I know a LOT of TT faculty who have shut down their labs (most were assistant profs). There are buildings on some campuses that stand empty. It shouldn't be up to SS members to ding a grant for a PI having too much or too little money, and if you are, I think the SRO is not doing her job, nor are you doing yours. I can also assure you that if a University is not committed to supporting their PI, they don't need the NIH to tell them so. Also, your assumption that a start-up package is "enough" or a lot is incorrect. I agree with Becca that these packages should be made public. I would guess that there is tremendous inequity.

  • Dave says:

    Dave- CPPs anecdotes should be taken in stride

    No, no, I understand your point. I guess I'm just surprised to see CPP write this. It's not language that I have seen him use before when it comes to the soft- versus hard-money issue.

    And if I'm 100% honest, it's not hard to argue that this is exactly what should be happening. I just think a better approach to doing this would be for the NIH to come down hard, and formally, on salary support and force the institutions hands (one way or the other!). I don't like the idea of a SS, presumably filled with mostly tenured faculty, making these types of passive-aggressive moves. I mean, how does it go in a summary statement?

    Great grant, but PI is a RAP and therefore lacks institutional support. If he/she gets a TT position, we'll allow it. Score = 4

    The PI is a RAP with no institutional support and obviously doesn't have the resources to put together a decent application. The PI should consider a career at Walmart. Score = 9

  • physioprof says:

    This has nothing to do with "soft money versus hard money". It is about "institutional support" meaning space, resources, and long-term commitment to the independent scientific career of the applicant.

  • Dave says:

    This has nothing to do with "soft money versus hard money". It is about "institutional support" meaning space, resources, and long-term commitment to the independent scientific career of the applicant

    The 'institutional support' thing can only be an issue with soft-money faculty, surely. Meaning there is really no distinguishing between 'soft money versus hard money' and 'institutional commitment'. Hard to imagine a TT facing complaints about commitment and, conversely, hard to imagine not finding a way to highlight a lack of such commitment in apps from RAP. Institutional commitment in terms of salary support is, by definition, common to all RAP.

  • physioprof says:

    No one has any idea on a study section which applicants are "soft money" and which are "hard money". All we know is what evidence there is of institutional commitment to the applicant, as reflected in things like job title, space, equipment, publication history, and--if included--letters of support. None of these are singularly diagnostic, but together they generally indicate a pattern.

  • DJMH says:

    No one has any idea on a study section which applicants are "soft money" and which are "hard money".

    Wha? If I see a med school or freestanding institute, I assume less than 50% salary support. If I see an Arts&Sciences affiliation I would assume over 50%. Is that demonstrably wrong?

  • Livin' the Dream says:

    Very emotional line of comments. I think another way to put what PS said (which everyone seems to think is very unreasonable) is that if you have an ESI R01 application and no prior/ongoing funding listed, the tendency is to be quite forgiving about preliminary data. On the other hand, if there is tangible extramural funding (>$100,000), one begins to expect a bit more. I don't see how that's unreasonable and it is no different than how everyone beyond the ESI status is judged.

    One other interesting comment was about the R00 being only really worth $130,000. The person who posted this subtracted 25% FTE and indirects to arrive at this number...and then said, see, this is nothing like an R01. Um, no it's not. My first R01 was funded at $180,000 direct per year. Take away my effort, and you're in the same ballpark. I also only got 2 years (yes, this was all thanks to the ARRA). When I went in to renew this R01 with 5 papers in 18 months, I was criticized for low productivity and it was triaged. Fortunately, during the time I was revising my renewal application, we had several more papers, one of which was "high impact" (JExMed). The grant was renewed, I got tenure, all was well.

    Then, I learned something no one had previous told me previously. Renewal R01 grants cannot be more than 25% increased in budget from the previously funded period. Thus, my renewal came in at $202,000. Yes, both times, I asked for the full $250,000. Take out my pay and fringe, and my animal costs, and a single student, and a single postdoc, and I'm broke without doing a single experiment. Yet, I'm expected to do great things without any "gimmie" room that the ESI group gets (which is fine, I'm not begrudging them at all).

    My point is this: if you have money from the NIH, the NIH will expect a return to keep getting money. Fair or not, this is the game, and I see no reason why this should not apply (at a small/reduced level) to those receiving K99/R00 funding if it applies to everyone else. If they (ESI AsstProf) buckle under a small increase in expectation, they will surely buckle soon thereafter in this climate.

    I wish we could all sit around and sing happy songs and not compare the resources vs productivity score for everyone, but when the pie is shrinking, the reality of the situation is that if you get money, you must show everyone that you can use it effectively and efficiently asap.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    If I see a med school or freestanding institute, I assume less than 50% salary support...Is that demonstrably wrong?

    Yes in the sense that if you see a freestanding institute you should assume 0% salary support.

    And 25% is more realistic for med schools these days (if you're lucky).

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Ack! I somehow failed to notice the "less than". Never mind.

  • eeke says:

    DJMH & CPP - again, it's not the study section's fuckin business where the PI's salary comes from. The PI requests a certain level of salary support from the grant application that is being evaluated (and that is what should be taken into consideration). My former advisor recently wrote to an SRO complaining about the fact that study section members commented about this, saying that it was inappropriate. And it is. It shouldn't be open for discussion or influence scoring.

  • Dave says:

    Yes in the sense that if you see a freestanding institute you should assume 0% salary support.

    That's not true, either. There is surprising variability in salary support across departments of a freestanding soft-money med school, official and otherwise. It can range from 50% to 0% in my experience. Some departments do have more traditional tenured faculty (I'll let you guess the average age of these guys!)

  • physioprof says:

    You are confusing me with someone who considers where the PI's salary comes from as relevant to R-mech review. I never do this, and I have never said I do this, so learn to fucken read.

  • […] any funding traction in subsequent years. He also looked more broadly at all contact PIs. Drugmonkey sums up his findings in more detail, but basically it looks like yes, it’s really declining; […]

  • dsks says:

    CPP said, "The "PDFs/RAPs without such money (who nevertheless managed to submit an R01)" are completely non-competitive right now for R01s, as lacking institutional support"

    Dave said, "Hard to imagine a TT facing complaints about commitment and, conversely, hard to imagine not finding a way to highlight a lack of such commitment in apps from RAP. Institutional commitment in terms of salary support is, by definition, common to all RAP."

    Are ya'll talking about the same category of "RAP" here? I took CPP to mean super postdocs working in another PI's lab, in which case institutional support is given a cynical eye from program regardless of score (which in my personal experience is true).

    Then you have the research-only soft money faculty with their own labs and programs (and thus clear institutional support), some of whom I've seen with titles like Research Assistant/Associate Professor. These groups are going to be judged differently, and I'm not sure I have a problem with that. As my PO put it, an institution is trying to have it's cake and eat it by submitting grants on behalf of ronin RAP's with the promise of support if it is funded, as opposed to showing good faith by guaranteeing it before the funding decision is made.

  • Dave says:

    Are ya'll talking about the same category of "RAP" here?

    God knows.

    In general, I am confused and a little drunk at this point. On a side note, Goose Island Barrel Aged Bourbon County Stout is insanely awesome.

  • jojo says:

    Hey Datahound! Thanks for your great work as always. Do you have any idea how many K99/R00 (or F32?) awardees end up transitioning to NSF or USDA rather than R01 funding? While some segments of biomed may scoff at an NSF grant, for others it's one of several potential avenues considered.

    I personally don't think we should say that K99ers are disproportionately failing to transition if they "only" get an NSF/USDA/DoD rather than R01. And, in my experience, the F32 program especially has often funded people who are more typically going on to apply for NSF funding (and not only BSDs). But I'm not sure about K99 which is why I'm asking.

  • datahound says:

    jojo: I did do an analysis of K99ers versus F32ers some time ago. See http://datahound.scientopia.org/2014/11/06/k99-r00-program-f32-awardees-as-a-control-group/

    I will look into NSF and USDA and K99ers, but I doubt whatever goes on has changed rapidly over time so the trends in the K99 program likely still hold.

  • newbie PI says:

    With regard to the NIH requiring equivalent startup for R00ers -- I was glad to have one job offer and took what I could get with minimal negotiation. Those who think that multiple job offers are common these days are living in a fantasy world from 20 years ago. The only oversight from the NIH regarding my startup was that my department chair had to write a letter saying that my startup was "comparable" to past hires. This didn't involve any specific numbers and could really have meant just about anything. The letter received no pushback whatsoever from the NIH. What they did ask for were pictures of my lab space and office.

    I know for a fact that my friends who got jobs at east coast schools or in Texas got startup packages that were 3 to 4 times the amount that I got in flyover country. So it's frustrating to read that study section members like Physician Scientist expect MORE from me than my colleagues at these other schools because I've had two years of R00 funding. Why is it that institutional funds are not taken into account when examining productivity?

  • newbie PI says:

    Livin' the dream: Your annecdote about your weird 2-year ARRA R01 and how you weren't informed enough to realize that the renewal couldn't be drastically increased in terms of $ amount, really doesn't pertain to whether or not a three-year R00 (which is a total costs award) is the equivalent of a 5-year R01 (which comes with extra indirect costs).

  • Eli Rabett says:

    Interesting graph at DH, just to make everybunny's head explode how much of the decline can be attributed to boomer BSD heart attacks and SSD retirement?

  • jmz4gtu says:

    Well, this has been an enlightening discussion. If I do get my K99, then I'm probably going to stay on for that extra postdoc year, and line up a lot of projects so I can hit the ground running as fast as possible.

    Which is... sort of the opposite of the K99's intended effect.

    It really just seems like analyzing productivity is extremely difficult, and everyone has vastly different valuations and metrics. Not to mention the bruised egos and funding resentment.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Why is that the opposite of the intended effect?

  • jmz4gtu says:

    I thought it was meant to speed people into their independent positions from their postdocs?

  • drugmonkey says:

    The K99 phase is a postdoc phase in my experience. The host institution does not change the job category.

  • Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    The K99 phase is required to be a mentored post-doc phase of a required minimum duration.

  • […] The NIH Cull and the K99/R00 cohorts Reduced public funding for basic research leaves U.S. in the scientific dust Chagas Disease: How A Silent Tropical Parasite Prospers In The US The Mystical World of Mushrooms Thousands of Giant Jellyfish Appear in Swarms off Britain’s Coast (forget Skynet, I for one welcome our Giant Jellyfish Overlords) […]

  • jmz4 says:

    Oh I see. Yeah, I was referring to the whole award. K99/R00 awards I thought were developed specifically in response to the observation that the mean R01 age was steadily increasing, and to help reverse this trend by allowing people to reach independence sooner.

    Encouraging people to stay in their postdocs longer, because they'll be judged more harshly for productivity when they apply for R01s seems counter to this spirit.

    And in my experience, while the K99 phase can last 2 years (depending on IC), most people only take it for between 9-12 months, because the (perceived) requirements for publications and preliminary data mean you have to wait till your 3rd year to apply, and the process takes over a year to resolve. So you're in till year 5.5 at least, and obviously anxious to get out into your independent position, which is why most people cut down the length of the K phase to the minimum.

    Based on this discussion, I think the smart thing is two line up lots of projects in the two years, but then you can't use the fact that you have two more guaranteed years of funding as bargaining chip in your startup negotiations, to make sure you're not getting screwed there.

  • newbie PI says:

    I have heard of some people leaving the K99 phase early to start faculty positions. The NIH might even let you continue the K99 phase at the new institution in some rare cases so that you get the maximum amount of money. However, I think the more common scenario is that it will take you two or three years to find a job unless you are one of the superstars. It seems everyone we have interviewing right now at my university (all with K99s) are in no-cost extension years of their K99 phase because they didn't get jobs on their first attempts. This was the case for me as well. The NIH seemed very understanding of this reality and gave me the no-cost extension pretty easily

  • jmz4gtu says:

    What do you mean by "no-cost extension"?

  • newbie PI says:

    jmq4gtu, I was using "no-cost extension" of the K99 to mean that the NIH will not just immediately take away the possibility of transitioning to the R00 if you don't have a faculty job lined up by the end of the K99 funding period. They will usually give you another year (without any more money, meaning your mentor has to start paying your salary again) to find a job.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    Really? From where I am (admittedly at a BSD-laden environment) 9 month K99 phases actually seem to be the norm. In fact, they even tell us that the NIH will shorten the K99 phase if you can get a university TT job offer commitment before the full year is up.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Huh. I just noticed what I think is one of these "transfer the K99 to what will be the new R00 Uni" deals on Reporter. I didn't know that was a thing. Weird!

  • physioprof says:

    Grant #, please.

  • lurker says:

    As a battle-hardened expired R00, here's my advice to the "young'ins" out there like newbiePI and jmz4gtu, stuff that I wish someone would have told me back when I started:

    Congrats on winning a K99/R00, it may be the one shiny glow that gets you that TT position. It did for me. Once you've started the R00 part though, realize you're now in the shark tank with everyone else treading water harder than you, and your R00 luster will fade fast. Start thinking of R01 apps now, because many of you will run out of chances before you land the first big grant. Some of you will be fine and have good karma on your side, some of you will be very good at pitching your grant to just the right SS and PO. In the end, luck plays a major part, from the very beginning of your scientific ascent to your chances of getting an R01 right now. And as the DH noted, about 50% of R00's have historically moved onto a first R01-equivalent. The NIH would laud that as a success of the program!

    But that also means an equally likely chance that you'll be on the flip side, and face the economics of still way too many mouths chomping for too few grants, and the whole ESI/NI label will be meaningless just because you have a R00. To some SS members like a Physician Scientist, you will be viewed as essentially competing for your first "Renewal", not a new first time grant. And you'll have 2-3 years to amazingly show off your brilliance and independence. Meanwhile, other peers without a R00 but working on similar stuff as you will get to see the ESI/NI bump work more in their favor. Swallow your pride and consider partnering with a BSD, to counteract the "noob" stock critique, even if it means "losing" the NI bump, which I would argue is a non-factor for R00's anyway. Thanks, NIH, for making a program "designed to foster independence" only to make it actually harder for most noobs to gain independence, and fall back on a senior investigator to co-PI for cache. It's right up there with the Emeritus award. Well done.

    Hey, I should have known those would be the shakes, and had I known all this I would have been much less bitter and more zen. Get some NIH dough, better show off some touchdowns. If you fumble, you're going to be done. To invoke a McKnight, R1 biomedical research is like the NFL, and if you're a hot rookie with a Heisman, it doesn't fucking matter if you can't throw spirals (i.e. Tebow). Your ego will be torn to shreds, as grant after grant and manuscript after manuscript will get rejected. Expect it, and brush it off. Revise and resubmit. And write those grants fasts and broadly submitted, churn out at least 3 grants per year minimum, 2-3 different SS. Be able to churn a grant out in 2 weeks max. Find mentors that actually care to read them (do this early), not blow you off and say "sure, you're doing okay!". Know to avoid those BSDs who will be out of touch anyway and at a 'Hole 'Nother Level, because they can write a so-so grant, and their laurels will still carry them to payline.

    And follow Scientopia and DM's blog like you follow CNS journals. At least the stuff you read here has less of a chance of needing to be retracted....

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